Ghan, 23 January 2007


For an INFP like me there is no better place on earth than a hut on board of the Ghan. Such a hut is a miracle, small but complete, with two chairs, a table, two beds with reading lights, two cupboards, a luggage storage rack, mirror, sink, radio, garbage can and plenty of electricity for a laptop.

All of make it sound like an enormous space, but in fact it is quite small. Two passengers would have to sit knee to knee, opposite each other. The hut is at its widest at the sink, I can touch the wall with a flat hand from my chair at the window.

The Ghan is usually not to busy. I'll have a twin hut all to myself. The space is wonderful big in size, a quiet small office on wheels, the perfect spot to read a book or program tricky things in perfect tranquility. Here there is no Internet, no incoming e-mails, the mobile phone is far out of reach of the networks.


The Northern Territory appeals to me. At the border between South Australia and the Territory you can not see any tangible change. The desert remains desert. The border is just a straight line on a map.

Yet it feels different. This is the Territory mate! This is the sparsely populated piece of land where it is always too hot, too wet or too dry. It is a enormous piece of land that no white fellow wanted. South Australia used to govern it, but since the line is drawn, the Territory exists as a piece of Australia that refuses to be a state. This is the place for pig headed folks, lone rangers, odd fellows. The INFP percentage here must be higher than anywhere else in the world. This is not just a territory, it is Nut's territory, perfect for tranquility seekers like me.

The centre of Australia is dry, very dry. The Fink River is the oldest river of the world. It has never changed course yet. It would be hard to do for a river that is usually dry, in a landscape unchanged for thousands of years. But, thanks to the many recent showers, there is water in Fink River. The on board speaker announces it as something very special, last time was 3 years ago.

During the stop in Alice Springs I quickly head for Todd River, crossing the town midway. This river is also usually dry. Those who have seen the river flow several times, may call themselves a local. And yes, I can't be any more happy. There is water in the river, just a small stream, a couple of meters wide and just a few centimetres deep. But hip hip hurray... I do see water in the river, feel it flow between my toes! Get my feet wet in Alice Springs, what a special experience. I am as happy as can be mate!


North of Alice Springs the Ghan is even more quiet. The steward at the sleepers greets me with a big smile when I return from my walk. Are you waiting for me, I ask as a joke. The answer surprises me: Yes, mate, you are now the only passenger in the sleepers. So don't make too much noise tonight he adds with a big grin.

The steward continues: There are just 20 passengers in the seaters so the restaurant will have limited facilities tonight. I'll come and take your order later, as it is not worth the effort to set up the whole buffet for such a small group.

A few hours later the roasted chicken tastes very well. After dinner I head for the lounge. Normally this is full of chatting tourists, but now it is almost empty. It suits the tranquility of the Northern Territory. My holiday really started.

From the left window I see the sun go down. The book closes. I'll go to bed for an early night.

After breakfast, I'll detrain in Katherine. What will the water level be in Katherine river?

Till next nut,