If you ride The Ghan the 2,977km (1,850 miles) from Darwin to Adelaide, as a friend and I did in August 2016, you will stop at Manguri in South Australia. There is nothing in Manguri. There isn’t even a train station. This enormous train, which on average is 774m (2,540ft) long but can be up to 1,096m (3,595ft), slowly — very slowly — sighs to a halt in the desert. Manguri is, however, the gateway to Coober Pedy, aka the opal capital of the world. And when passengers return from touring the mines, the underground houses, the underground church, and the desert golf course, they gather beside the train for drinks and nibbles as the sun sets (feature photo at top). Quite marvellous.
This stop also gives an unprecedented opportunity to get up close to the train without stations or fences or people getting in the way, although a rather belligerent guard did prevent me from walking across the track to take a photo that included the entire train stretching away into the distance around the bend. (It’s the middle of a desert, I hardly think that another train would have taken me unawares!!) So although The Ghan’s vanishing point is not quite as impressive as it should be, the train itself most assuredly is.