From the Red Centre to the Top End - A Medical Study Tour via The Ghan

6 - 12 Jun 2023
  • Medical & Professional Tours

About the tour

From the Red Centre to the Top End, this tour encompasses Australia at its most remote, historic and starkly beautiful. Encompassing vast Indigenous heartlands, dramatic landscapes and fascinating history from ancient to pioneer to the modern day, the tour is supported by the RACGP.

Starting in Alice Springs, visit the striking MacDonnell Ranges, go stargazing at pristine night skies at the Earth Sanctuary, explore the historic town and learn about the work of the Royal Flying Doctor Service and outback medicine, meet a local GP and visit Purple House. Board the Ghan for a magnificent 24-hour journey – a top bucket list experience.

In Katherine, explore unspoiled wilderness on a cruise along Nitmiluk Gorge and learn about Indigenous culture. Arrive in Darwin and explore the city through guided visits and learn of its history. Visit the Botanical Gardens and learn about the dramatic history of Darwin with a medical focus. Take a sunset cruise for dinner, visit beautiful Litchfield National Park and learn about traditional Indigenous healing.


“The tour ran like clockwork…the local guides were excellent. It was one of the best run tours I have been on. The highlight of this trip definitely was our night on The Ghan. What a spectacular way to see the NT. The trip had a great mix of medical visits, local sites and scenery. Every moment of the tour was filled with great activity and interesting information.” Emma Whalley, From the Red Centre to the Top End, June 2021

Your tour leader

Picture of JBT tour leader, Tom Matthews

Tom Matthews

Dr Tom Matthews grew up in a dry wheatbelt town in WA and started as a Registered Nurse working in rural and remote locations in WA including an Aboriginal settlement in the Great Victoria Desert. He later became a GP and now subspecialises in obstetrics, skin cancer medicine and aged care. He has been an examiner for medical students and GP diplomates with the WA, Curtin and Notre Dame Universities and the RANZCOG college. He practises in Mandurah, coastal WA and provides Locum Obstetric service to rural areas. Tom's interests include philosophy, music, horology, sport and coastal conservation. He has travelled in Europe, the US and Asia and feels he is done nowhere near enough. However, he has done many miles running marathons, triathlons and adventure racing over the years along with bush walking in the beautiful south west of WA and Tasmania.

Need more information?

  • Tel: (Toll Free) 1-8777-398-764
  • Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
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Itinerary at a glance

  • Day 1: Alice Springs (Tues, 6 June) Arrive and check into the hotel. Meet with Dr Sam Heard, who will provide background to health care in Alice Springs and discuss how to train GP’s to provide health care to regional and remote communities. Welcome dinner and star gazing at the Earth Sanctuary.
  • Day 2: Alice Springs (Wed, 7 June) Drive out to the MacDonnell Ranges. Stop off at Simpsons Gap and take part in a guided walk learning of the geology of the region. Continue to Standley Chasm and take a relaxed walk to the Chasm. Enjoy morning tea on the café veranda. Continue to the ochre pits and hear about the local Indigenous groups and the ochre trade. Enjoy a buffet lunch before walking to Ormiston Gorge with the option of a quick dip. Drive to Ellery Creek Waterhole. Arrive back in Alice Springs in time to enjoy a spectacular outback sunset from Anzac Hill.
  • Day 3:The Ghan / Alice Springs (Thurs, 8 June) Visit Purple House, an innovative Indigenous-owned and run health service providing mobile dialysis units and remote clinics. Learn about their operation and about bush medicine. Visit the Royal Flying Doctor Service and learn of their history and the provision of medical care to outback Australia. Visit the Alice Telegraph Station and the School of the Air. Transfer to the train for evening departure and board The Ghan. Enjoy modern Australian cuisine with regional fine wines onboard. Socialise with your fellow travellers before retiring to your comfortable private cabin for the night.
  • Day 4:The Ghan / Darwin (Fri, 9 June) Enjoy the pristine wilderness of Katherine from the water with a cruise along dramatic Nitmiluk Gorge. Learn of the ancient Indigenous rock paintings and gain insight into the culture of the traditional owners of Nitmiluk, the Jawoyn people. Reboard the Ghan and have lunch onboard. Take part in a private meeting as the train makes its way through lush, green tropics to arrive at the terminal in Darwin in the early evening. Arrive Darwin and transfer to the hotel.
  • Day 5: Darwin 2 (Sat, 10 June) Take a tour with a specialist guide visiting Darwin Botanical Gardens. Follow in the footsteps of pioneers, hear about history including the World War II bombings and Cyclone Tracy through to the current day. See many of the surviving buildings such as the old Court House and the police station and the old Palmerston Town Hall ruins. See hidden treasures including public artwork, architecture, historic buildings and the memorials to squadrons, corps and units that were stationed in Darwin during WWII, including Z-Force. Visit the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre at the Royal Darwin Hospital. Sunset dinner cruise on Darwin Harbour.
  • Day 6: Darwin (Sun, 11 June) Onto Litchfield National Park and explore some of its dramatic sites, including the magnetic termite mounds, Wangi Falls and Florence Falls, where you can take a dip. Return to Darwin and the hotel to freshen up before dinner. Visit Mindil Markets for sunset dinner and drinks.
  • Day 7: Darwin (Mon, 12 June) Depart Darwin after breakfast.\

Extension to the Tiwi Islands

  • Day 7: Darwin / Tiwi Islands / Darwin (Mon, 12 June) Take the ferry to Wurrumiyanga in the Tiwi Islands - 'the islands of smiles'. The Tiwi people are internationally renowned for their individual style of art including carvings and bright textile designs and many Tiwi artists have exhibited around the world. On a tour with a Tiwi guide learn of their community and culture and visit the Patakijiyali Museum and the Mission Precinct. Box lunch. Visit the community clinic and meet with the health worker. Continue to Tiwi Design to see their wonderful gallery and shop. Take the ferry back to Darwin and arrive early evening. At leisure to enjoy the restaurants and bars of the city.
  • Day 8: Darwin (Tues,13 June) Depart Darwin.

Tour cost

The cost of the tour is AUD $5,580 per person sharing. The cost of the tour with a room to yourself is AUD $5,990.

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