Outback Tracks : Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail

Post Number: 368

Old Ghan Trail


Our plan was to follow the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail from Alice Springs to Oodnadatta, but it didn’t really turn out that way.  As the track followed the old Ghan Railway, we saw ruins of sidings, each being identical to the last.  The track was also really corrugated and we were concerned about our shocker rubbers, which didn’t last long.


Chambers Pillar

One location we had wanted to visit months ago was the Chambers Pillar Historical Reserve.  Unfortunately, the road leading in was pretty shitty so we had to ask ourselves whether the excursion was worth it.


Old Ghan Trail


Chambers Pillar was named by John MacDouall Stuart after one of his sponsors, James Chambers.  It is a 50m tall sandstone pillar that was used as a landmark during the exploration days.  The base of the pillar is riddled with names carved into the soft sandstone, including initials by Alfred Giles from 1870 and scribbles by recent tourists.  From the base, you can see the nearby Castle Rock.


Camping at Chambers Pillar is available at a small fee, and toilets and BBQs are provided.


Old Ghan Trail


Once we left Chambers Pillar, the road did not improve.  We found that the track follows alongside the Finke Desert Race track so we switched lanes to see if the conditions were better.  While the race track was smoother, it was also consistently undulating, and after 20 minutes, we had to get off because we made ourselves seasick!


We camped at Engoordina Ruins, a crumbled siding for the old railway.


Old Ghan Trail



We got into Finke 8am, just as some local men started work to the sounds of sappy love songs.  Is this a common thing in the Centralian desert – to listen to 90s love ballads about lost love and broken hearts?


While Dave fitted some makeshift shocker rubbers fashioned from scrap tyre, Juz wandered around and noticed she was being followed by stray dogs.  We considered continuing along the Old Ghan Heritage Trail but figured that this would be a better time than any to head back to the highway.  We were tired of seeing the same ruins over and over, and the corrugations were going to shake the doors off the Troopy, so we turned towards Kulgera.


Lambert Centre

On the way back to the highway, we stopped in to check out the geographical and gravitational centre of Australia.  Established in 1988, the Royal Geographical Society of Australasia determined the Lambert Centre to be the geographical centre of Australia.  Lambert was a former director of the Division of National Mapping.


Old Ghan Trail


There is a monument that resembles the flagpole atop the Parliament House in Canberra and a visitor’s book, as well as a large camping area, smelly toilets and millions of flies.


Old Ghan Trail


2 thoughts on Outback Tracks : Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail

  1. Pat on said:

    Next time prepare for the journey!!!As a resident of Alice, its clear you weren’t prepared for the off road experience of the Red Centre!!! We often follow the same track to Mt Dare in South Australia, just for a week end get away!! 3.5-4.5 hours, never had a break down… but we are prepared with good shockers, and a prepared 4WD… As for the flies… mate its Australia!! I’m sure you had a CD player in your vehicle, the workmen obviously didn’t get your music requests!!As for the undulating race track, at 150-200 km hour in an off road buggy you wouldn’t have felt them as much!!!(you were on a RACE TRACK!) My advice stay on the black stuff, and google the real outback from the comfort of your motel room.

    • juz on said:

      Hey Pat,
      Thanks for your input.
      It seems that no matter how much you prepare, there is always a case when you need something you don’t have.
      Lucky we did find some tyres on the side of the track to fix the Troopy up. Otherwise we might have actually ‘broken down’.
      Not sure where you got the CD player idea or how that would have affected our experience in the Red Centre.
      We had an awesome time and look forward to trekking through the area in the future.
      Our Naked Australia

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