Inside The Ghan train across Australia, new carriage interiors elevate a classic trip

The Ghan’s new carriage interiors designed by Woods Bagot reimagine modern rail travel for this epic trip between Darwin and Adelaide

the ghan train
(Image credit: Courtesy of Journey Beyond)

The Ghan train – which makes the epic journey across Australia between Darwin and Adelaide, via Alice Springs – just got an upgrade courtesy of design studio Woods Bagot. Having already transformed The Ghan’s Platinum carriages in 2019, the service’s 90th anniversary year, Woods Bagot last year announced its commission by operating company Journey Beyond to reimagine the interiors of its Gold Premium carriages, including the cabins, lounge and restaurant. The completed redesign – seen here – is both sustainably minded and inventive, and fit for a new era of multi-day train travel for solo, duo and design-inclined travellers.

Discover The Ghan’s new cabins designed by Woods Bagot

the ghan train

(Image credit: Photography by Nicole England. Courtesy of Woods Bagot)

To reflect Australia’s history and topography, rich reds and blooming burgundy hues were juxtaposed with walnut timber and polished brass detailing. With sustainability a key focus, Woods Bagot reused and uplifted existing joinery, furniture and materials across the carriages to cleverly repurpose existing assets, with construction wholly executed onsite at the home of The Ghan in Adelaide’s historic Churchill Yards.

New materials were selected for durability and longevity, while an approach to craft brought an authentic sensitivity to the design firm’s intention to support local industry. ‘Restoration and renewal is not only the more sustainable alternative for its reuse of existing materials; it also beautifully preserves the historical narrative of the project,’ explains Woods Bagot principal Rosina Di Maria.

the ghan train

(Image credit: Photography by Nicole England. Courtesy of Woods Bagot)

As such, original, custom-made brass handles and fittings still in premium condition were reused, while original seats were reupholstered with Melbourne-based Willie Weston’s fabrics, championing the Aboriginal dot prints Durrmu ‘Terra’ by Kathleen Korda, whose ceremonial dot designs are found on cabin, lounge and restaurant seating, reflecting the Indigenous style of paintings of the Red Centre and the Traditional Owners of the Country.

The carriages’ historic pressed-metal ceilings were recreated by a local manufacturer in Adelaide, while in the lounge, hand-blown glass ‘Poke’ wall lights were made by artisans at Adelaide-based creative hub and design brand JamFactory (featured in Wallpaper’s 2021 Global Interiors round-up).

the ghan train

(Image credit: Photography by Nicole England. Courtesy of Woods Bagot)

Gold Premium Twin Cabin

Gold Premium Twin Cabin

(Image credit: Courtesy of Woods Bagot)

‘Rail is a nostalgic form of travel long associated with romance and wonder,’ Di Maria notes, adding, ‘Our design is deeply contextual, responding to the textures and topography of the Australian outback in the colours of Arrernte artist Albert Namatjira.’ The tones in Namatjira’s landscapes are referenced in flora motifs, such as the silvered ghost gums found on custom carpets made by Modieus.

the ghan train

(Image credit: Photography by Nicole England. Courtesy of Woods Bagot)

On board, lounge seats convert to sleeping berths by night for the three-night journey, complete with turn-down service and nightcap, and an in-room coffee order service scheduled for sunrise viewing outside. In the lounge, Australia’s wines and native ingredients are championed in daily changing, regionally inspired menus of the two-course lunch and four-course dinners.

Off-board, all-inclusive activities support Indigenous operators and the National Parks they protect. Di Maria explains, ‘Rail has opened up access to communities and views that aren’t available to other forms of travel. The purpose of the redesign is to attract a wider demographic; to experience and connect with Country in a more intimate form than just flying over it.’

The Ghan journeys across Marla South Australia

The Ghan journeys across Marla, South Australia

(Image credit: Courtesy of Journey Beyond)

woodsbagot.com, journeybeyondrail.com.au