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Pichi Richi Explorer

Home > Adelaide > Escape the City | Family | Outdoor | Railway Journeys | Volunteering
by Steve Hudson (subscribe)
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All aboard for the time of your life
The band of volunteers gather early in the morning. The weather is checked, instructions are issued, supplies loaded, uniforms dusted off, and the team all head off in different directions. We are at Quorn, and today a steam train trip on the world famous Pichi Richi Explorer beckons.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
All Aboard - Steve Hudson


Arriving at lovingly restored Quorn Railway Station, we purchase our tickets before wandering the historic station noting the photos of years gone by, the restoration efforts and the Souvenir Shop. But our wander is cut short by the sound of the Pichi Richi Explorer as it makes its way to the Station in readiness for its departure.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Quorn Railway Station - Steve Hudson


Like shoppers at the Boxing Day sales we await the instruction that the doors are open, and on board we rush to grab our preferred window seat in our favourite carriage. Our bags are parked alongside, and the camera is readied and we await the departure.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Guard's Van - Steve Hudson


The historic bell in the Railway Station courtyard sounds, and we know that we are only minutes away. The horn on the engine sounds and movement is noticed, and we are now on our way on a trip that has been a Flinders Ranges tradition since 1974.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
On the way - Steve Hudson


Our friendly conductor offers us a few safety instructions, and arranges for the clipping of tickets, much to the amusement of the younger members of the carriage. We now leave the township of Quorn, pass the railway workshops on the south with glimpses of the various engines and carriages and commence the journey alongside the long distance Heysen Trail through the Pichi Richi Gorge.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Carving a trail - Steve Hudson


With the windows down, and the heads and cameras hanging out, the views through the Gorge are second to none as we pass over gum lined creeks, through saltbush country, and alongside some ancient rocky outcrops on this rail line that first saw rail traffic in 1879.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Through the Gorge - Steve Hudson


Before we know it, we have arrived at the turnaround point of Woolshed Flat, and all passengers disembark and make their way to the facilities or the canteen where hot drinks and food beckons. Our conductor doubles as a waiter in the tea rooms, while the Driver and his immediate crew disconnect the engine from the carriages and commence the process of turning the train around for the return journey back to Quorn.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Old Water Tank - Steve Hudson


Returning to our carriage we change sides for the return journey, and it is not long before the whistle shrills, the horn sounds, the green flag falls and we are off again on the slow and steady climb past the old stations of Pichi Richi, Willows Halt and up to the place known as Summit, being the highest point on the line.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Woolshed Flat - Steve Hudson
Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
The Summit - Steve Hudson


From this point it is all downhill back to Quorn, and the Pichi Richi Explorer gathers some speed as it descends for the final few kilometres. Arriving back at the Station now, it is time to hop down from the carriage and make our way inside to the Souvenir Shop to grab a few items as mementos, and to show our appreciation to the volunteers for another great trip.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Quorn Railway Station - Steve Hudson


The Pichi Richi Explorer is run by the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society with trips on most weekends between April and October, and other selected days during school holidays. Trips to and from Woolshed Flat take around 2.5 hours. Booking details and prices are available from the Pichi Richi Railway website or from their facebook page.

Pichi Richi Railway, Things to do in Quorn, Woolshed Flat, Pichi Richi Gorge, Pichi Richi Pass, Pichi Richi Explorer
Pich Richi Pass - Steve Hudson


The Pichi Richi Preservation Society also run other trips through the Pichi Richi Gorge on various other trains throughout the season. For further details, times and booking information refer to their website.
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Why? One of Australia's Great Rail Journeys
When: April - October each year
Phone: 1800 777 245
Where: Quorn, South Australia
Cost: As per website
Your Comment
What a great shot of steam locomotive 22 Steve.I took my children on this trip many years ago and we thoroughly enjoyed it.For those heading up that way for the trip, they could call into Alligator Gorge and whilst in Quorn or nearby,visit Warren Gorge.If they do not wish to stay in Quorn..then Pt. Augusta..not too far away would be ideal.Steam locomotives are fascinating machines...steam will not let you down...they are gaining popularity again all over the world.What a pity we cannot travel from Adelaide to Mt.Barker anymore, on a locomotive like this.
by noelp (score: 3|1164) 143 days ago
What a wonderful trip, Steve - well done with the Gold - well deserved!
by Elaine (score: 3|3963) 183 days ago
What an awesome ride that would be. I love the old stations; they remind me of my home town in Victoria and my grandad worked most of his life on the railways.
by Gayle Beveridge (score: 3|5676) 138 days ago
I can definitely recommend this steam train adventure. There is good accomodaton for those who like clean comfortable accomodation. There is also a very good caravan park (uness it has changed since we there last). Last time we went up there we took a couple from country Victoria with us and also did some tours with a local tour operator.
by r.eng (score: 2|268) 141 days ago
I don't think the steam locomotive is used during the fire danger part of the year. I think they may run a diesel one. Not sure.
by r.eng (score: 2|268) 110 days ago
If you are planning on sitting next to the window I suggest you wear some form of glasses. The day we went one of the children got soot in his eyes and had to have treatment at the end of the trip.
by r.eng (score: 2|268) 34 days ago
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