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The Tailem Bend Train Graveyard

Home > Adelaide > Travel | Trains | Museums | Free | Escape the City
by Dave Walsh (subscribe)
I enjoy writing about Adelaide and its many attractions. If you think Adelaide is boring, the problem is not with Adelaide. adelaideunearthed.blogspot.com.au/
Published February 10th 2013
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tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
A Heritage Carriage Covered in Graffiti

Way back in the 1990's some entrepreneurs had a vision of operating heritage trains out of Tailem Bend as an SA tourist venture.

Changes in railway operations around the country had resulted in the availability of surplus rolling stock, and the businessmen acquired two 900 class locomotives and around 20 assorted carriages.

The trains were used on a few occasions - bringing children from Port Pirie to Adelaide once, and also used for a race trip to Broken Hill.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Locomotive Number 907, Now 60 Years Old

Sadly the carriages have seen little use since then, and have become a magnet for all the vandals and graffiti artists in the area.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
EF190 Series Employee Sleeping Car

In 2010 expressions of interest to buy the rolling stock were sought, but seem to have achieved little interest.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Locomotive 909 Also Entered Service 1953

More recently the company was struck a major blow when copper thieves stole cabling from one of the locomotives that was partly restored and converted to standard gauge.


On a recent trip to Tailem Bend to see the Railway Museum and obtain photos of railway infrastructure, I was able to see these railway carriages that are slowly rusting away in the weather. Although as one wit remarked, at least the graffiti will help deter further rust.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
More Grafitti

It was rather sad. The heritage carriages (some of which are nearly 70 years old) are arranged around a fenced turntable area. This is located within a large private rail yard, but unfortunately police can't patrol it all the time.


The Director of Australian Locomotive & Railway Carriage Company gave me permission to view the carriages, and after seeing them it was disappointing to think how the initial dream of heritage tourism trains failed.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Water on Tap For Passengers

Many of the carriages have a style and even luxury only seen in days gone by.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Excursion Car Bk 714


tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Carriage BK 714 Was Designed For Comfort

Excursion car BK 714 was built in Islington SA in 1941 and converted to First Class in 1947. Prior to Tailem Bend it was operated by West Coast Railway, and has an attractive polished wood panelled interior with plushly upholstered seats.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Damaged Carriage Interior

It has not escaped damage.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
700 Series Carriages @ Hamley Bridge (Courtesy Chris Drymalik)

A 1986 photo of 700 series carriages crossing Hamley Bridge is deeply evocative of days gone by.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
BK 714 at Tailem Bend Today

BK 714 looks very different today.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
VRS232 Buffet Car

Another carriage with quite a history is VRS232, which entered service in 1938. It seated 27 diners at a counter running the full length of the car, and operated in Victoria and NSW before coming to SA.

While all of these carriages have given lengthy service, their future today remains uncertain. Unless a rail enthusiast or an entrepreneur buys them they may well end up as scrap.

The National Railway Museum which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year already has two 900 class locomotives, so is unlikely to want more.

In the meantime, they are a sad reminder of Tailem Bend's once proud railway history.


The author is grateful to Steve Moritz, Chris Drymalik and Scott McCarten for their assistance with this article.

tailem bend, adelaide rail, sa tourist, photo of railway, railway carriages
Second Class Air Conditioned Sitting Car BA 147-151
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Why? Urban exploration in the country
Where: Tailem Bend, SA
Your Comment
Loved your article Dave. And what nice shots and plenty too. I can only imagine how amazing it would have been if we had heritage trains running or even used for some other purpose.

A train restaurant perhaps?
by Yin-Yin Ow (score: 3|1589) 1506 days ago
Top article -restaurant train simlar to melb tram restaurant,great idea!
by leske (score: 0|8) 1501 days ago
Hi Dave
I am interested in the train carriages who do I contact the railway museum in tailem bend or the australian locomotive and railway carriage company.
jenny
by jenny (score: 0|8) 974 days ago
A graveyard for trains. How interesting. Gosh if I could take such stunning images I would be so proud of myself. Alas!
by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (score: 3|4298) 1487 days ago
Very depressing site seeing all that heritage rolling stock just sitting there going to waste/rustting away/getting damaged & graffitied,like they are. begs the question if everyone/someone know about them been there why for isn't anyone doing anything so as too save these pieces of heritage rolling stock before its to late!
by col.f (score: 0|5) 371 days ago
Hey! Is this place still around? Who did you call for permission to have a look around? :) This would make an amazing photoshoot location! Thanks!
by bekyy (score: 0|5) 593 days ago
We are at Callington near Tailem Bend and are these still around and are they for sale
by bubbl (score: 0|5) 947 days ago
Hi Dave great article what sort of money do these carriages cost m
by paulb (score: 1|11) 1333 days ago
Omg I love these . Would live to buy one how much? And are they still there?
by tdfri (score: 0|5) 1391 days ago
Good work. Onya Gunzels!
by koj77 (score: 2|142) 1505 days ago
I would love to purchase an old carradge to restore as a granny flat on my property. Would like more info re lengh and transport to my property and of course cost
by Karla (score: 0|2) 87 days ago
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