In addition to a sunrise breakfast outside the town of Marla in the outback, The Ghan made two additional stops: Alice Springs and Katherine.
In Alice Springs I opted for the “Simpsons Gap Discovery Walk,” which promised “a moving experience.” Not so much. Our guide took us on three short walks. One to see a large tree (not pictured here). Another which took us to a lookout (also not pictured here). Finally the third very short hike brought us to Simpsons Gap which boasts a permanent watering hole and a nearby population of Black-footed Rock Wallabies. The scenery was quite lovely, and we even saw one of the area wallabies, though at quite a distance.
In Katherine most of the passengers (having few options, to be honest) chose the Nitmiluk Gorge Cruise through pretty stunning sandstone structures. Actually, there were two gorges we cruised, requiring a short hike to get to the second boat. Along that hike we could see some ancient Rock Art painted by the Jawoyn people. I was particularly struck by how trees, shrubs, and grasses grow even when rooted in what appears to be nothing more than solid rock. Finally, during the rainy season known simply as “the Wet” (which according to the calendar should have started by now but hasn’t yet), the river rises so much and flows so powerfully that some trees simply grow sideways.