We couldn’t turn down the opportunity to enjoy a sunrise breakfast at Marla this morning. So once again the alarm was set at 5.30am (holidays can be so tiring!) and joining the crowds to celebrate the sunrise. Marla is a tiny speck 160kms from the Northern Territory border. It marks the start of the famous Oodnadatta Track, and was the original path of The Ghan before the new stretch of railway was laid in 1980. Climbing down, we followed the lanterns towards bonfires, food, hot drinks, picnic tables, and of course, the pink morning sky.
The Ghan parked at Marla
Blazing bon fires and the morning sky
People were milling around, collecting a bacon and egg burger, coffee, or juice, and enjoying the atmosphere. We thought it would very nippy so early in the morning, but in fact the temperature was rather mild.
Just to prove we’ve been here
Sun rise at Marla
Back on board again, the train carried us across quite a variety of landscape. The ground cover was much greener than we had anticipated, scrubby cover, then a little further along all sorts of different trees. Not much wildlife to see, except for a few beef cattle, and as we got ever closer to Alice Springs, many burnt out car bodies beside the railway track.
Views from the Ghan
It was almost a case of “blink and you will miss it” a 1m high monument called The Iron Man. This was built by railway workers to commemorate the one millionth concrete sleeper laid between Tarcoola and Alice Springs.
The Iron Man
We crossed over the dry bed of the Finke River, which features rocky riverbeds dating back a staggering 300 million years.
After such an early start, we enjoyed a late brunch, where I just happened to mention that today was Robin’s birthday. The staff overheard, put their heads together, presented him with a little something, and led the whole restaurant carriage in a noisy version of Happy Birthday.
From the staff
The train pulled in to Alice Springs at 2.00pm. We will be enjoying a birthday meal tonight, and the next stage of our adventure happens tomorrow.