Departing from Darwin, the Ghan Expedition leaves on Wednesdays at 10:00am.
Because each Ghan can have upwards of 300 some odd passengers, the process to get to the Ghan and onboard is a logistical game of musical chairs…that goes right.
So, here’s what I didn’t know until the day before departure. Great Southern Rail offers a free shuttle from several Darwin hotels to the Darwin train station, which is NOT within the city center – it’s actually about 10 miles outside the city. The hotels the shuttle busses visit are pretty much every hotel you’d want to stay at within the city, so you’re more than likely covered (yes, it covers both Doubletree hotels and the Hilton).
When you get down to the lobby of your hotel, there’s actually a Great Southern Rail hospitality attendant waiting there for you – something I didn’t know would happen. They’re there to begin checking you in. They’ll take your name, verify your ID and then also give you your boarding card so you don’t have to do anything once at the rail station.
If you’re checking bags, they’ll check those for you too. At about 8:00am, a large motor coach arrives to take you to the station. To my surprise (though I guess I shouldn’t be surprised) the bus ended up filling completely. The bus will stop at several hotels if it isn’t filled up at your departing hotel. Within the hour, you’ll be bussed over to the station.
On the way, an attendant will introduce you to the train and give you some essential statistics – the length of the train, car locations, staff info, etc. All of the info you’d need to know for your journey.
Upon arrival into Darwin station, a cadre of rail attendants are there to remove your bags from the bus. If your bags are checked, you won’t touch them, but if they’re not checked and you’re taking it into your cabin, you’ll grab your stuff and then walk to your designated car, which, depending on the letter you’re assigned to, could be quite a walking distance away, so be prepared.
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