Named after the Afghan cameleers who were vital in the development and
exploration of the Australian outback, The Ghan is an epic train journey
that spans close to 3,000km across Australia’s vast and inspiring landscape.
This past August, writer Stephanie Zubiri and I traveled together nearly 3,000km from Darwin to Adelaide aboard The Ghan, an epic rail adventure across Australia’s vast and inspiring landscape. “Named after the Afghan cameleers who were vital in the development and exploration of the Australian outback from the 1860s to the early 1930s”, The Ghan — which this year celebrates its 90th anniversary — is the world’s longest north-to-south railway journey. We undertook this three-night cross-country train ride through Australia’s Red Centre for the October 2019 cover story of SilverKris, Singapore Airlines’ inflight magazine.
Stopping each morning for off-train excursions to experience “Indigenous paintings that adorn the rock face of Nitmiluk Gorge to the ghost gum trees that surround the historic frontier town of Alice Springs, and the wide, empty spaces of the South Australian desert, each stop [presented] a different landscape and a fresh insight into the rich local culture and pioneering frontier spirit that makes up this journey through the very heart of Australia.”
Over the course of my four days aboard The Ghan, there are two experiences that stand out to me. Firstly, I met so many fascinating new people from
Australia, New Zealand and beyond. The Ghan’s slow travel philosophy, coupled with every meal being shared with other passengers, means that conversing with new friends is easy and enjoyable. I am a people person — I love meeting them, sharing with them, getting to know them — and there is no better place for making new friends than on a cross-country train journey.
Secondly, as a photographer who lives in densely populated Singapore — a nation with the highest light pollution in the world — catching glimpses of the Milky Way is nearly impossible. However, every night when the sun set in the vast Australian outback, we were graced with its magnificent presence. My fondest memory of the entire rail adventure was in Manguri — at the train station just outside Coober Pedy — on the final night of our cross-country adventure, when the glorious galaxy magically appeared in the desert’s crisp night sky, stretching from the train to infinity.
It was the photography that I made here, as blue hour enveloped me, “the waxing crescent moon hover[ed] above, its thin outline making a perfectly round circle with just a smiling sliver at the bottom” and the stars exploded a billionfold across the night sky that graces the cover of this month’s SilverKris.
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