The Ghan, April-May 2022

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This was the second half of our June 2021 holiday that stopped when Covid caused closure of the SA border as we were in Alice Springs heading South from Darwin. We reversed the original plan this time, and went to Adelaide, Kangaroo Island, the Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs, and then a few days in Uluru before flying home. 26 April to 6 May 2022.

Wed 26 Apr 2022: We flew from Canberra to Adelaide and found Chinatown just near our Hilton hotel in time for tea.

Wed 27 Apr 2022: We found the information centre in Adelaide to get our free seniors tickets for the public transport. We caught the light rail to Glenelg where we rode the Ferris Wheel, and walked out on the jetty. You can see the remains of a larger pier that used to be a continuation of the jetty. They had an interesting museum and we had lunch at the Glenelg Jetty Hotel.

Thu 28 Apr 2022: Back in Adelaide we walked along the Torrens River and checked out the Elder Park rotunda. We found an excellent ice cream shop in Chinatown, and some interesting cranes down near the Adelaide central railway station. Well, Stuart and Lance found their operations interesting anyway.
Then we travelled to Cape Jervis to catch the ferry to Kangaroo Island.

Fri 29 Apr 2022: The sea lions were a highlight of Kangaroo Island. The rangers were familiar (very familiar) with the behavioural patterns of the Sea Lions, and directed us to walk in single file to the left of a sea lion on the path, and told us when to bunch up so we looked like one large mass to the sea lion, and thus not threatening or edible apparently. It worked and no tourists were lost despite mixing quite closely with the sea lions. A number of sea lions were catching waves and body surfing in to shore. Impressive.

Then we went to see Remarkable Rocks and Admiral’s Arch, and a wildlife park. The koalas were cute and there is a photo of one of them having a good old scratch with his or her hind leg.

Sat 30 Apr 2022: Still on Kangaroo Island there was a raptor show with well trained and happy looking birds. We went to a honey farm and there is a pic with a queen bee in the centre that has been marked with a white dot. We went to Pennington Bay and finally back on the Kangaroo Island ferry at night.

Sun 1 May 2022: All aboard the Ghan from Adelaide to Alice Springs. We saw the Finke River with water in it, a rare sight left over from floods earlier in the year.

Mon 2 May 2022: We arose on the Ghan at 5am to join in breakfast under the stars and sunrise.

Tue 3 May 2022: Off to Uluru after an overnight stay in Alice Springs. Mt Conner along the way is called “Fool-uru” by the locals because of the number of tourists who think they have reached Uluru when they haven’t.

Wed 4 May 2022: We stayed at Desert Gardens resort with a lookout to the real Uluru just over the road, and talks and activities at the resort. We went on an Uluru Sacred Sites Tour passing the old Ayres Rock climbing track and walking to the base of Uluru to hear stories and see Aboriginal rock art. Then we went on an Uluru Sunset tour with champagne and nibbles as Uluru changed colour with the setting sun. There is a pic of the Olgas on the horizon on our way back to the resort.

Thu 5 May 2022: A pic of the Uluru Desert Gardens Resort, “Bush Yarns” talk about aboriginal weapons and tools, Camel Farm visit, and the Imalung lookout to Uluru, across the road from the Desert Gardens Resort.

Fri 6 May 2022: Boarding the plane at Uluru Airport.

Darwin & The Ghan, June 2021

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Darwin and Litchfield. The Ghan to Katherine and Alice Springs. 22-30 June 2021.
And some videos:
Stokes Hill Wharf Jet skis, dinner cruise from Stokes Hill Wharf. Light show on Australia’s tallest travelling Ferris wheel seen from the cruise.
Litchfield Waterfall.
Katherine Gorge
Fruit Bats Katherine Gorge

We had a great time in Darwin and left on the Ghan one day ahead of the declared start date of various COVID hotspots along the way.

But 12 hours before we were due to cross the border into SA they closed it, so our Ghan came to a halt in Alice Springs. No way forward, no way back. They gave us a very nice breakfast but then asked us if we could leave the train please, because it was going into a shunting yard. Fair enough, they run trains and know nothing about accommodation and travel outside their train track. There were around 300 people on the Ghan, so it was better for everyone to make their own way than to expect the train staff to arrange all our accommodation and travel home. A mad scramble for air seats and the limited accommodation in Alice Springs in other words.

Our travel agent Bruna from Holidays of Australia did an amazing job. We were enjoying dinner under the stars at the old Telegraph Station on Sunday night when the word came through, and although the travel agent office was unattended of course, Bruna replied to our email cry for help on Sunday night and got things moving. Working from home no doubt.

We decided to stay in Alice for a couple of nights so that we could get more reasonably priced flights, and use some of our credits from our now cancelled flight home from Adelaide.

We feel sorry for all those folk much worse affected than us. We heard a worker on the phone walking down the train corridor saying he had just learned that he had lost his job. Huge disruption and unexpected expense for lots of people. The Ghan are offering 50% credit for future travel but no refunds.

But we were well and arrived home late on the Wednesday, and had a wonderful half-holiday. They locked down Alice Springs at 1pm, but we managed to get a taxi to the airport just before then, in the midst of traffic chaos, panic buying etc. Then our plane was delayed as Qantas scrambled to find seats for folk like the family in the row in front of us, whose holiday had become a flight to Alice Springs airport and another straight back to Melbourne.

The ACT Government declared Alice a hot-spot from 6pm on the Wednesday onwards. Fortunately we flew out at 3pm, so no quarantine needed. Another lucky escape.

Love From
Barbara and Lance