After nearly 150 years of hope and promises, the first train from Adelaide to Darwin left Regency Park for its 3000 km journey on 15 January 2004 watched by some 3000 well wishers.
With three diesel locomotives in front, the 1.3 km freight train, carrying 1300 tonnes of mixed freight, was driven by Barry Walging.
Stops were made at Port Augusta, Alice Springs, Tennant Creek and Katherine before it pulled into Darwin at 1.30pm on Saturday 17 January having travelled at speeds of up to 110 km/h on the world's longest seamless rail line.
As many as 10,000 people watched it arrive at the new East Arm port at Darwin where it is planned that five trains per week will be loaded and unloaded. The Ghan, Australia's longest passenger train, will travel the route once a week. The first one, with a length of 1.069km and made up of two locomotives and 43 carriages with nearly 400 passengers, left Adelaide on 1 February 2004.