A four hour drive from Adelaide will get you to the town, more famous as the location for films such as Sunday Too Far Away, The Shiralee, Gallipoli and Wolf Creek, than as the crossroads of any north-south or east-west rail journey, as it was from 1917 to 1937.
Since the days when it was first surveyed by Godfrey Walsh in 1879, the town that started as a small stop on the railway line to Port Augusta, became an important stopover for railway travellers until 1937 and again during World War 2 when thousands of troops passed through the town on their way to Darwin. The town continued to expand to accommodate the rail traffic until 1956, when the establishment of the standard gauge railway to Marree, saw the town's significance decline.
Whether you enter Quorn from the Horrocks Highway or the Flinders Ranges Way, the first impression of the town reinforces the fact that Quorn is one of the older South Australian towns. A visit to the Information Centre, located in the Railway Station, should be your first stop. Built from local stone and locally manufactured bricks in 1915, the historic railway building is the place to collect a Historic Town Walk brochure and map, so you can explore the some of the towns older and interesting establishments.
Quorn Institute, built in 1875, is one of the older buildings in the town. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
With buildings dating back to the late 1800s and early 1900s, a walk around the town will take you past hotels such as the Transcontinental, the first two-storey hotel, and Austral Hotel, formerly The Pinkerton, both built in 1878 and the Grand Junction and Criterion Hotels built in 1890.
You may have noticed one of the more prominent buildings, the Old Flour Mill, as you entered the town. The second flour mill built in Quorn, it was built in 1878 and managed by John Dunn & Co. until it closed in 1900. The building is now attached to motel units. For something different, head over to the Agricultural Implement Museum on Pichi Richi Pass Road. An outdoor museum this is an interesting collection of historic farm machinery.
In addition to the meals available at the hotels in Quorn, there are several other cafes in town. Emily's Bistro is a favourite, with visitors and locals. A restored 1950s emporium, the retro décor and display of collectables provides an interesting backdrop to homemade sausage rolls and pies, a delectable selection of cakes, quandong pies and the famous Sunday lamb spit roast meals. Open 7 days, the building, formerly Fosters Emporium, is owned by Sally Brown, younger sister of the business namesake, Emily. Ask the staff for a turn on the cash flying fox, a fun remnant from the 50s.
Emily's Bistro in Quorn with retro decor and a money flying fox inside. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Pichi Richi Railway Since its formation in 1973, the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society has operated on a voluntary basis to restore and preserve the Pichi Richi Railway. Incorporating the first section of the old Central Australian Railway to Alice Springs, the track follows the old Ghan route extending through to Port Augusta. The Society runs tourist railway journeys between Quorn and Port Augusta. For more details or timetables contact (1800) 440 101.
Quorn Railway Station and Information Centre. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Bushwalking An ideal place for bushwalkers looking to warm up for the Flinders Ranges, Quorn is home to a variety of walking trails, The 1200km Heysen Trail passes through nearby Mt. Brown on a tough hike or an alternative route through the town. There are walking trails, ranging from 5km to the 10.6km circuit, in the Dutchmans Stern Conservation Park, located about 6 km west of Quorn or if you travel 8km south-west of the town, the two hour hike up Devil's Peak will get your legs working overtime.
TheDutchmans Stern Conservation Park has three bush walks which overlook Quorn. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
If time permits, a drive of about 40km north toward Hawker will take you to the Kanyaka Ruins and Waterhole. Formerly a large station supporting almost 70 families, the buildings include the ruins of the stables, overseers cottage and woolshed. About 1km from the ruins is the Kanyaka waterhole and the 7 metre Death Rock, a place of cultural significance to the Aboriginal community.
Quandong Apartments are an accommodation option in Quorn. Photo: Hazel Cochrane
Where to Stay
If you're planning to stay a few days, a variety of accommodation options are available right in the heart of the town. From the Quorn Caravan Park on Silo Road, to the Flinders Ranges Motel and hotels in the town, as well as the self-catering Quandong Apartments, there is a place to hang your hat that will suit any budget.
It might look like a small town when you first arrive in Quorn, but stay awhile, explore and you'll be pleasantly surprised at what you find.