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Australian History

Thursday, January 15, 2004. :   The first freight train departs from Adelaide, bound for Darwin, on the newly completed AustralAsia Railway.

     Early settlements in central Australia were isolated by more than distance. Tracks were rough and unsuitable for standard coaches. For many years, outback sheep and cattle stations and other remote settlements such as mining outposts relied on camel trains to bring them necessary goods, supplies and news from settled areas. These trains followed the route taken by explorer John McDouall Stuart, the first recorded European to successfully cross central Australia from south to north, and to return alive.

The concept of a railway line to replace the camel trains was proposed largely as a result of Stuart's exploration, which was instrumental in the building of the Overland Telegraph Line. Construction of the original Ghan track commenced in 1878, and the first section of the railway reached Government Gums (now Farina) in 1881. The next stage of the line reached Marree in 1882, followed by Oodnadatta in 1891. It was several decades before the next stage of the railway began, in 1926, and this was to be the section that would connect Oodnadatta to Alice Springs. It was finally completed in 1929.

The original Ghan train was called the Afghan Express, a name which was soon shortened to just "The Ghan". Its purpose was to transport passengers as well as goods between Adelaide and Alice Springs. It was named The Ghan because it followed the tracks of the Afghan camel teams which used to make the trek across central Australia. The first trip of the Ghan pulled out of Adelaide station on 4 August 1929, with 120 passengers on board.

Mr William Jervois, the premier of South Australia who turned the first sod at Port Augusta that signalled construction of the railway line, envisaged that eventually the train line would run from Adelaide to Darwin in the north. This moved closer to reality upon the establishment of the Asia Pacific Transport Consortium in 1999. The purpose of the consortium was to build the Darwin to Alice Springs section of the Ghan railway line. Prime Minister John Howard turned the first sod in April 2001, and the line was completed in September 2003. On 15 January 2004, the first Adelaide-Darwin freight train departed Adelaide, and arrived in Darwin two days later. The freight line was known as the AustralAsia Railway. The first Ghan from Adelaide to Darwin commenced its inaugural run on 1 February.

Today in History

Thought For Today
Ants: they are weak, but they store up their food in the summer.
Proverbs 30:25 (c) GNB
Try and have a stash of money kept safe for a rainy day. A small amount put away every week soon adds up. Take a lesson from the ants and survive the tough times.

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