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Published April 22nd 2015
Don't wait for the train
A Steam Engine at Port Pirie Railway Station 1930 (State Library SA)
The South Australian railways network was once a massive enterprise that spanned much of the state. SA country rail provided important links to Adelaide for passenger and goods traffic in the days before car ownership was common.
However the arrival of affordable motor cars soon killed the tram network in Adelaide, while country railway lines also became less profitable and fell into disuse. Even the mighty Islington Workshops were not immune to the winds of change after the Commonwealth assumed control of SA country rail in 1978.
As railway lines closed around South Australia many communities in the mid north have been left with the legacy of a railway station without trains.Some such as Hamley Bridge and Riverton in the Gilbert Valley have been put to good use for housing. Sadly the local railway station in many mid north towns has been left to fall into disuse.
The Disused Railway Station at Manoora is State heritage Listed
The state heritage listed Manoora railway station lies only a short distance from a bustling part of town, but it might as well be light years away. A beautiful stone building with waiting room and a decorative verandah over the platform, this disused railway station is unloved by the community it once served.
Merildin Railway Station (Formerly Mintaro) in South Australia's Mid North
Merildin Merildin railway station (once known as Mintaro) sits in solitary splendour in a paddock with the living legacy of the station master's garden. It too is state heritage listed, but is so remote from the rest of Mintaro that it's unlikely to find a new purpose in life.
Burra Railway Station, Once Part of SA Country Rail
Burra Burra railway station has recently been restored and is open to the public free of charge during the About Time history festival. Part of the station is now rental accommodation to fund ongoing maintenance for the future. It's a wonderful example of volunteers in the local community saving part of their built heritage, and a shining example to the rest of the mid north of South Australia.
Mount Bryan Railway Station - a Forgotten Part of Railway History
Mount Bryan Mount Bryan railway station still boasts a platform, station name sign and a crane, but everything else has disappeared into railway history. I'm not sure if there were ever station buildings here in the past.
Terowie Terowie is now just a shell of its former self. The Terowie railway station buildings and platforms still stand, together with commemorative plaques and interpretive signage for a heritage walking trail. Little else remains of the railway yards that sustained the town for so long.
Peterborough Roundhouse at Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre
The present Peterborough railway station does not rate as one of the Peterborough attractions, however the former South Australian Railways workshops have been reborn as Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre. The original roundhouse - the only triple gauge roundhouse in the world - is now the centrepiece of a huge display of railway history. A huge collection of railway carriages, diesel and steam engines will appeal to all railway enthusiasts.
Quorn The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society have adopted the Quorn railway station and restored it faithfully. They now operate heritage rail services in the mid north to Port Augusta through the scenic Pichi Richi pass in the Flinders Ranges.
Port Pirie Railway Station and National Trust Museum
The state heritage listed Port Pirie railway station is quite unique in appearance, and has been repurposed as a museum by National Trust SA. There are displays of regional and railway history, and the steam engine Port Pirie is at the rear of the museum.
I live opposite the old Bowmans station. All that remains is the long platform. Next door out the back of one of the railway homes the station masters office/residence still stands. Bowmans station had refreshment rooms and broken up SAR coffee cups and soft drink bottles can still be found around the platform and nearby paddock.
Mount Bryan actually had a proper stone station building set back from the platform at ground level. When I visited it in 1984 it was in the process of demolition. Sadly the camera I had when I took a picture was dropped, and the film was lost. When I returned a few years later, all had gone except for the platform shown.
Having grown up near a country Railway Station and in my youth travelled a lot on country rail and city trams,I still retain that love of rail.Recently passed through Riverton, the station was not accessible.The Burra was and they have done excellent restoration work there.
Great article Dave. I have always loved those wonderful buildings. They were certainly built last and it is great to see many of them still being used. I know the Quorn station very well, having been a volunteer with the Pichi Richi Railway in the past. My family and I spent many hours in that lovely old building.