Darwin to Adelaide with The Ghan and the Proud Mary
Earlier this year, two of our superstar Homeowners from Lifestyle Berwick Waters (Wendy and Pat) set off on a holiday which had long been on their ‘bucket list’. The following recap was written and kindly submitted to us by Wendy upon her return.
We flew to Darwin where we spent 2 nights exploring the city and the Adelaide River. On Tuesday, we cruised the river with a guide who had to be seen to be believed! Armed with a glock pistol and a hunting knife to rival Crocodile Dundee’s. We were briefed on safety precautions and with trepidation, slowly boarded the boat. This had protective mesh panels through which we could photograph the crocs as they jumped for chickens suspended on a long pole (which wasn’t long enough). They were literally half a metre from us.
Next was a visit to Fogg Dam, a top end eco system in a failed rice growing venture before a lunch stop at the iconic Humpty Doo pub. Not sure how you could face a croc burger after staring them in the eye only a couple of hours earlier?
We then visited the museum and walked around the sights of Darwin, determined to soak up as much of The Top End as possible. The next morning we hopped on the bus to the railway station where we boarded ‘The Ghan’ to glide through the tropical north, enjoying the most spectacular views. The train delivered the experience we were told (and dreamt) of and certainly didn’t disappoint. The standard of service, the meals and fine wines were second to none.
Our first stop in the afternoon was at Katherine, where we chose to explore the gorges. Unfortunately, the Top End has had a very dry wet season and we only travelled into the first 2 of the gorges. Sleeping is rather cramped as are toilet and shower facilities, and took a little bit of adjusting. As this was only for 2 nights we went with the experience, knowing that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip.
We awoke to the nation’s geographic and spiritual heart, the Red Centre. Alice Springs was exciting to explore as we chose to visit the ‘School of the Air’ and ‘the Overland Telegraph Centre’. Both were amazing, we would have liked to see the Flying Doctor Centre if time permitted. After dinner on the train we had an extraordinary stop at Manguri, where in the pitch black of the desert, we viewed The Milky Way. A huge bonfire was lit as we enjoyed chocolates and liqueurs. Something special and quite breathtaking!
The next morning we travelled through the Flinders Ranges before arriving at Adelaide. The temperatures throughout the trip had been in the 40’s and Adelaide was no exception. The visit to the Haigh’s Chocolate factory was interesting but in hindsight not the best time to buy chocolate, only to have it melt as soon as we reached outside.
We met the coach to take us to Murray Bridge where we boarded ‘The Proud Mary‘ for the next leg of our adventure. Flood lights illuminated the shores of the Murray River as we glided along on our way to Mannum where we tied up for a night of peace and tranquillity in the Australian bush.
After exploring historic Mannum we cruised to Teal Flat where we went on a flat bottomed boat with an ecologist to see the birdlife and wildlife at close range. That evening was scheduled for a bush BBQ but the extreme heat put paid to that and we ate on board listening to a great entertainer. The following morning we caught the bus to the Reedy Creek Environment Park where we had a guided bush walk through Aboriginal land, learning of the significance of the permanent watercourse through swamps and wetlands.
We began the final leg of our journey back to Murray Bridge where we returned to Adelaide. Pat and I wanted to make the most of our time here so we caught a bus through the Adelaide Hills to Harndorf, a charming German town for some further exploring.
All good things must come to an end, and we came home feeling that we had seen and experienced so much in a such a short time. But as things go, we’ve already started planning our next ‘bucket list’ adventure.