In 2019 The Ghan celebrates 90 years of outback adventure – a legendary rail journey renowned for its rich place in Australian history and its connection with this awe-inspiring country.

From South Australia’s verdant vineyards and rugged coastline, through the deserts of the Red Centre to Darwin and the tropical Top End, the outback landscape is timeless.

Much has changed since 1929, when the original Afghan Express steam train and its motley mix of passengers, livestock and supplies completed the inaugural journey to Alice Springs.

Today, guests stepping aboard The Ghan are welcomed into a world of heightened wonder, style and adventure that only a truly epic transcontinental journey can evoke.

Choose this milestone year to book your Ghan journey. Our anniversary celebrations reach their peak throughout June, July and August 2019. Join us for an exciting array of special events and festivities, both on and off the tracks. It’s a celebration 90 years in the making. 

90 days of celebrations

Culminating in The Ghan’s anniversary month of August, you are invited to celebrate in style with us. Guests booked on any Ghan departure throughout June, July and August 2019 can expect a few surprises to make their journey extra special – just a little birthday gift from The Ghan to our treasured guests.


The Ghan has always been more than just a train journey. Experience the landscapes, cities and culture beyond the tracks with a range of tailored 90th anniversary Ghan holiday packages, now on sale. Book today and join the celebrations.



Early Days

The story of The Ghan dates back to the 1830s, when Afghan cameleers ventured into the outback, opening up trade and transport routes. These desert pioneers were immortalised in 1929 when the first steam train travelled to Stuart (later renamed Alice Springs). This trailblazing train was dubbed ‘The Afghan Express’, soon shortened to ‘The Ghan’.

Call of Duty

The Ghan was a critical link in Australia’s infrastructure during WWII, transporting troops partway to Darwin for training and deployment.

Different Directions

In the 1970s, The Ghan helped to develop major industries across the Australian interior. Mining, transport and agriculture all benefited from The Ghan’s service.

In 1980 the track we use today replaced the ‘Old Ghan’ railway that travelled further east via Quorn across some of the most flood-prone regions of central Australia.

A New Century

In 2001, 90 years after the promise of a transcontinental rail link between Adelaide and Darwin, work began on the final 1420km section of rail between Alice Springs to Darwin. The inaugural Adelaide–Darwin crossing departed Adelaide on 1 February 2004, with 43 carriages stretching for more than 1km.


The Ghan’s dedicated 90th Anniversary Journey in will depart Adelaide for Darwin on 4 August 2019 – 90 years to the day since the original ‘Afghan Express’ left for Alice Springs. Guests can look forward to unique on-train experiences and Off Train Excursions, plus a birthday party like no other in the outback. This anniversary journey will be bookable only as a holiday package, comprising the full three-day rail journey and one night’s hotel accommodation in Darwin.

If you’re interested in travelling with us, expressions of interest are open below:

© 2018 Great Southern Rail. A part of the Journey Beyond Group.