Mon, Jun 08, 2009 - Page 5 News List

US tourist survives adventure clinging to Outback train

DPA , Sydney

The Ghan recreates the age of luxury train travel in the Australian Outback as it speeds the 3,000km of desert and scrub between Adelaide and Darwin.

But only if you are on the inside of the carriage.

US tourist Chad Vance spoke yesterday of how he clung to the outside of the Ghan as it thundered through the chilly night at speeds of up to 110km an hour.

‘HIGHLIGHT OF THE TRIP’

“I never thought I’d have an adventure like this when I arrived here,” the 19-year-old Alaskan told the Sun-Herald newspaper. “And I’m sure this will be the highlight of the trip.”

Vance got off the train to stretch his legs when the Ghan stopped at Port Augusta, returning to find it pulling out of the station.

He managed to clamber aboard, expecting to raise the alarm while perched in the stairwell between two carriages.

He was there for the next 200km.

“I was getting worried my hands would get so cold and numb that I might lose my grip and fall off,” he said, recounting last week’s wild ride. “After about two hours I saw one young staff member so I started banging and yelled and he heard me.”

That young employee was Marty Wells and he proved a lifesaver.

SAFE AT LAST

“He was shaking uncontrollably for several hours and complained of numbness to the left side of his body and arms and said his face was also stinging,” Wells told the paper.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before and I sure hope I don’t ever see it happen again,” he said.

Vance was upgraded and got a hot shower, a bed and the service of a butler for the rest of the two-day run to Alice Springs.

“I felt I’d won a million dollars when the train finally stopped because I would never have been able to get back on otherwise,” Vance said.

“Marty was absolutely a life saver. He was amazing. I could have died without his help,” he said.

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