Wednesday 31 August 2022.
Highlights: The Ghan Journey begins, Epic helicopter experience Katherine Gorge, Amazing meals and service
Today the main focus of this trip, at least for me, begins today with The Ghan experience!
Pick up and check in was at our hotel (Hilton Darwin). Ghan staff were there approximately 30 minutes before the transfer bus and we checked in and got our main bags tagged, we won’t see them again until Adelaide. The transfer process was incredibly smooth. And the we were at the Darwin Berrimah Rail Terminal staring at the 29 carriage Ghan train for this trip.
Our cabin while small has enough room for two people and has everything you could ask for. Kara and me will be in a Gold Twin Cabin for the next 4 days. Gold passengers get to use the Outback Explorer Lounge. Which was 2 carriages down from us. The Queen Adelaide Restaurant is our dinning carriage and is connect to the Outback Explorer.
Our Carriage attendant Kaitlin explained the cabin and took down our preference for the off train excursions ahead. We later learned we got our preference limited availability helicopter flight over Katherine Gorge in Nitmiluk National Park. We heads to the Outback Explorer Lounge and found we were the first ones there and ordered some drinks and as our passengers arrived we all chatted about our holiday’s so far and the trip ahead.
Our train left just before 10.00 am and we were away. Before we knew it where sitting down for our for lunch service. For the main I had the buffalo curry and for dessert the amazing mango parfait.
At 2 pm we arrived at Katherine and with our excursion option passes in hand we headed off to the Nitmiluk Heli-Touring Scenic Flights. On check in they weigh you and you then get assigned to your flight. The helicopters were 4 seaters, 1 for the pilot and 3 for passengers with 1 passenger in the front. The front two seat don’t have a door so you are directly feeling the elements.
There were 24 passengers who selected this option meaning 7 flights of 20 minutes with 2 helicopter ope rating on the day. Kara and myself were allocated a flight in the middle of the 3 hour excursion window, our seats were in the back so we had side doors although we could put our hands out if we wanted.
You were only allowed to take a camera or phone onboard, nothing in your pockets and for our phones no covers. Felt like I was going to drop my iPhone as never held it out mt side it’s cover. Front passenger Elizabeth has too sacred to take photos. I don’t blame her and both Kara and me were happy to be in the back two seats 🙂
The helicopter once set takes off fairly fast. The pilot gives us some good commentary on the various gorges. Apparently you can only see all 13 gorges in one day via helicopter. This was an epic experience.
After our flight we had to wait for the rest of the passengers turns. It was 36 in Katherine and it was extremely hot waiting. I know I went though a water bottle very quickly to try to keep hydrated and cool.
Back on the train we grabbed some drinks, among them for me as a vodka and lemonade before dinner. For dinner for entree I had Crocodile dumplings, for the main Grilled Saltwater Barramundi and dessert coconut and raspberry ice cream. Very nice meals today.
When we eventually got back to our cabin, after some nightcaps, the cabin had been transformed into our beds for the night. A small chocolate left on our beds as we settled into a night sleeping on a moving train as we head to Alice Springs.