News National On This Day: The first Ghan passenger train journey travels from Adelaide to Darwin

On This Day: The first Ghan passenger train journey travels from Adelaide to Darwin

ghan covid northern territory
The Ghan was halted in Adelaide because of the Northern Territory's COVID rules. Photo: Getty
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It’s Australia’s most famous railway journey, attracting tourists from all over the world to admire our sprawling outback from inside the luxury of the Ghan train.

Originally called the Afghan Express, the iconic trans-continental train was named the Ghan after Afghani camel-drivers who helped build infrastructure in the Red Centre more than 150 years ago.

When the train first began operating in 1929, it carried passengers from Adelaide through the pastures and hills of South Australia to the rusty red sands of Alice Springs.

But that all changed on this day in 2004, when the Ghan set off on a new route that had been extended even further.

Onlookers cheered and watched the Ghan train leaving Adelaide on its inaugural transcontinental journey to Darwin in 2004. Photo: Getty

For the first time in history, the Ghan completed Australia’s longest passenger train journey by travelling roughly 3000 kilometres from Adelaide all the way to Darwin.

It was the first time a passenger train had crossed the Australian continent from south to north.

The Ghan setting off from Adelaide in 2004 on its 3000km journey. Photo: Getty

Some 330 passengers were on board for the entire 54-hour journey, which included a four-hour stopover in Alice Springs.

Hundreds of Northern Territory residents turned out in Darwin and along the track to watch the train make the final leg of its three-day journey.

Veteran David Mattingley, 92, rides The Ghan ANZAC Tribute train as a special guest on April 24, 2014. Photo: Getty

Between Darwin and Katherine, the track was surrounded by flooded wetlands after a heavy wet season, but thankfully the train made it to its destination without any problems.

Engineers said the new railway had been built to withstand a once in a century flood.

The Ghan winding through the outback north of the Finke river in the Northern Territory. Photo: Getty

The Ghan train journey still travels from Adelaide to Darwin today, but has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic.