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Thinking about my next Australian trip - with a bike this time and just watched a travel programme about railway journeys in Oz. The guide took the Ghan up to Alice and then rode a camel (allegedly) back to Adelaide along the old Ghan route passing through some interesting old towns - Oodnadatta, Farina etc. Have you any of you guys rode bikes along the old route and can you take the bike on the train to Alice (not because I don't want to ride the bike but because I really want to ride the train) when would be the best time of year to ride and what kind of day/night time temperatures would you expect then?
I suspect that you won't be able to take your bike on the Ghan, though they do have a website so do a search and ask them.
However, IMHO that's beside the point. If you train Adelaide-Alice you will miss some of the best riding and wilderness Oz has to offer. If you're interested in the story of the Ghan then by riding the route you will gain an infinitely better understanding of what the old Ghan was all about than if you jump on a new train. The new Ghan bears as much resemblance to the ledgendary old Ghan as a McDonalds hamburger does to a real one. It doesn't even follow the same route - the old Ghan terminated at Oodnadatta, which was as far north as this particular section of track ever got - the modern line cuts through to Alice far to the west. For many years the railhead at Oodnadatta was the main transport link into this part of the outback, a frontier post which was the focus of communities for many hundreds of miles around - this is the real Ghan. In Oodnadatta you can climb aboard the hulking locomotives that are now rusted to their tracks - you'll miss it all if you catch a train to Alice. Check out the stories of the overland telegraph line, oodnadatta/birdsville tracks, opal mining towns around andamooka, the flinders ranges...
You can even ride alongside or on top of the old Ghan track - I did this about 10 years ago. Also, if you're into trains then don't miss the Pitchi Ritchi railway in the Flinders Ranges - I rode across the old railway bridges (ka-thump ka-thump) when the roads were washed out by floodwaters.
You could do Port Augusta to Alice via the Oodnadatta in a week easy. Make me happy, tell me you'll ride it...
we did The Gahn last year and it was great! As Barry mentioned, following the Old Ghan on the Oodnadatta-Track is one of the best things to do.
A few k's before you hit Alice, you'll find a museum also containing some cars and locos of the Old Ghan. They used to carry passengers 30K's on the Old Ghan serving a little dinner. But it seems as if they had to finish their service. You may have a look at http://www.maintraxnt.com.au
If you're there ask for Chas Pole. He did a lot of restauration works and know much about the Ghan.
If you don't want to ride back on the Stuart Highway you can take the bike on the New Ghan.
I am definitely seriously considering this before I get too old! biggest problem is finding a mate to go with me, perhaps posting on this forum is the answer to that.
Tried the websistes you provided Dirk unfortunately this came up on the "Old Ghan" site, looks like something else to blame bin Laden for!
"DUE TO PUBLIC LIABILITY DIFFICULTIES AND THE SHARP DOWNTURN IN THE AUSTRALIAN TOURISM INDUSTRY MAINTRAXNT AND THE GHAN PRESERVATION SOCIETY REGRET TO ADVISE THAT ALL TRAIN OPERATIONS CEASED ON THE 30TH MAY 2003, UNFORTUNATELY SOME PRINTED BROCHURES AND BOOKLETS MAY INDICATE THAT SERVICES ARE STILL OPERATING DUE TO EARLY PUBLISHING BEFORE THE LATEST WORLD EVENTS THAT HAVE IMPACTED ON THE TOURISM INDUSTRY."
i did the old ghan track from alice springs - finke (about 230km), then out to the stuart highway to get around floods and onto the oodnadatta track for a dirt trip to melbourne. oodna's a motorway if the weather's dry, but i'm sure there's info elsewhere on that.
the old ghan line is fun, plenty of deep sand where they made cuttings through the dunes and at the finke river xing, good places to camp too. plenty of sleepers left in parts, dogspikes too.
not much traffic, and if you need to you can get fuel at finke and at maryvale station.
i've also done oodnadatta to finke via dalhousie springs and mt. dare station, lots of big rocks out there but some cool stuff to see inc. ghan and overland telegraph line ruins. take a mozzie net for dalhousie (or better yet, camp away from the springs - christmas creek, i think it's called, about 10 km away), and a hangover cure for mt. dare.
There is a new train service opening up very soon - if not already - from Adelaide to Darwin. There was a new story on TV the other night mentioning that the last tracks were being laid to link the Top End with Sth Australia...
Maybe it is The Ghan - see the link for more info....
I know this is a bit of an old thread so I hope I'm not too late for you. If you're planning a trip up the Oodnadatta track to follow the old Ghan line, and you like steam trains, then you should check out the Pichi Richi railway. It is based in Quorn and they run steam trains along a section of the old Ghan.
Check out these links : www.prr.org.au http://travel.flindersranges-secrets.com/
From Adelaide go up to The flinders ranges, Gammon Ranges .. Oodnadata track, Fink (yes the train line did go all the way to Alice), Alice. Then go east on the Plenty or Sandover Highways (dirt roads) to Innaminka ... join the Oz Adventure riders group to find out why I'm suggesting this route and time... http://www.users.bigpond.com/rto/ozhome.htm
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