Backpacking around the world on a budget: Darwin & the Ghan Part 4

Finishing Hong Kong and Singapore, we make our way to Australia, starting off in the Outback. A perfect beginning point for the Northern Territory, Darwin is a contrast of dusty, untouched landscapes and a cosmopolitan, boom town, which allows the chance to experience indigenous Australia

RTW Pt04

The flight from Singapore was horrendous. They told us it was like flying through a hurricane and I can’t lie, it was terrifying. I have been lifted off my seat a couple of times in planes before, and it’s never a good feeling.

The weather around Timor Sea is always a bit rough and this time was no exception. We arrived into Darwin International Airport at the crack of dawn and rocked up at our hostel soon after. With the hostel not open this early, we had to wait in a bus shelter outside.


We had purchased a dorm room but while sitting in the shelter, a private room seemed more and more appealing – especially as our eyes felt like they had cuts from tiredness! A quick walk opposite to Elkes Hostel, a private room was booked, and we were in and asleep before we knew it!


The hostel itself was great and the breakfast facilities were good. Catherine and I decided on visiting Darwin for a few reasons, but the main draw being to get to Uluru. Alice was the place to stay and The Ghan Railways was the way to go, so here we were.

The first thing on the agenda was booking The Ghan to Alice Springs, as that was essential to moving forward with our travels. After that the town centre itself was pleasant, with a lot of local bars and nice parks with views over the water.

A few days in, we visited The Crocodylus Park, a massive collection of Crocodiles and dangerous creepy crawlies. This was an amazing experience to get us introduced to the animals of Australia. On the last day, we packed up and went to Darwin train station to catch The Ghan. Waiting there was a double locomotive with shinny silver carriages. Seats found, and we were off.

For more info on what to see in the city, click here.


The Ghan is a very historic train that I had wanted to go on for some time. It had been built in 1929 with the Darwin extension added in 2004. I’m lucky to have a partner who wants to join in with my interests.


With four hours on the clock we arrived at the small town of Katherine. After looking around the centre we were moved onto the main event, the Katherine Gorge river cruise. Speeding through the gorge it suddenly sunk in how isolated most parts of Australia are. Passing alligators in our tour boat we arrived at a massive rock formation with cave drawings on it.


Amazed and impressed with what we just saw of historical Australia, we got back in and onto the train. Katherine was a nice little stopover and essential income for the town.


After a bumpy night, on semi-comfy seats, we arrived into Alice Springs. The town is the third-largest town in the Northern Territory. The area that Alice Springs is situated in is known as Mparntwe to its original inhabitants, the Arrernte, who have lived there for tens of thousands of years.


Alice Springs has a population of 24,000 residents and makes up 10% of the Northern Territory. A quick taxi ride through the town to our hostel, Toddy’s Backpackers Hostel, and we finally have a dorm. I had the top bunk; Catherine bottom and an Italian lady had a whole bunk to herself.IMG_0894IMG_0893

The hostel had a breakfast spread and small but necessary pool as the weather was so hot the river had dried up. We grabbed some leaflets about Uluru from reception and ventured into town. The heat was insane and sticking to shadows was the optimal way.


Once in town, we climbed ANZAC Hill and bought a bag as Catherine’s backpack had given up. Back in the hostel pool, we bumped into a lady from Christchurch, New Zealand who was visiting Uluru just like us. The funny thing was that she was from an English town near where I grew up.


After a conversation about how she ended up in Christchurch and learning we were heading there after Australia, she offered us a room when we were to arrive a few months later. After a few nights in the small dorm room we were off to see Uluru on a tour from reception.

For more info on what to see in the city, click here.

Click here for part 5.

Trip details:

Changi Airport Singapore to Darwin International Airport

Elkes Hostel

Things we did:
Crocodylus Park
George Brown Darwin Botanic Gardens
Mindil Beach
Katherine Gorge


Getting around:

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