No passengers were hurt in the incident, which happened Sunday night near the small town of Kulgera in the Northern Territory, said Sophie Dent, spokeswoman for Great Southern Rail, which operates The Ghan.
The train was on its 1,850-mile run between the Northern Territory capital of Darwin and the South Australia state capital of Adelaide when it slammed into the cow. The locomotive ran off the tracks, but there was no damage to the train, Dent said.
"It's not uncommon to hit animals if they're in front of the tracks," Dent said. "We can't stop suddenly."
A new locomotive was brought in and the train resumed its journey Monday morning, she said.
The Ghan cuts through Australia's harsh central desert, offering passengers breathtaking views of the Outback's majestic landscape.