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Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide

Home > Adelaide > Vintage and Retro | Trains | Lunch | Cafes | Breakfast
by Graeme Fanning (subscribe)
I'm a tour guide who is passionate about South Australia and love to showcase to locals and visitors. Visit my facebook page at
Published August 22nd 2016
Make tracks to some great cafes in Adelaide
Long gone are the days when rail travel was a glamorous pastime in Adelaide and in fact the main method of travel around the suburbs and outlying country areas. Today rail in the metropolitan area is limited to several lines and some stations are only stopped at intermittently on journeys out to either the northern, western or southern areas of Adelaide.

Both the North Adelaide as well as the Bowden Railway Stations are two interesting examples of buildings that have been ideally re-used following abandonment as working stations, which at one time had stationmasters and other rail staff on site, who sold tickets to travellers and ensured the trains ran smoothly onward to their ultimate destinations.

The North Adelaide station is now occupied by an establishment which would be regarded as contemporary Australian cuisine, the Red House Shop and Cafe and has been operational since July 2015.

Meanwhile, over at Bowden Railway Station, The Loose Caboose has also been set up as a contemporary cafe, well established since 2012.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
North Adelaide Railway Station c 1880 Courtesy: State Library of South Australi 3903

Red House Shop and Cafe

Long before its current owner, Emily Pescod had a vision to open the Red House Shop and Cafe at the abandoned railway building, the North Adelaide Railway Station started life in 1857, with the infrastructure including a waiting room, ticket office, ladies waiting room as well as an attached four room residence and garden.

North Adelaide station building is the third oldest surviving railway station in South Australia and the fourth oldest in Australia. It is also one of the few original station houses remaining in our nation. Emily Pescod certainly saw a huge potential in resurrecting the location, fuelled by her passion for vintage clothing.

In fact, Emily's original intention was to focus on the vintage and retro fashions with a small cafe attached. Little did she know at the time that the popularity of the cafe would exceed all expectations to the extent that today the cafe has overwhelmingly taken off, with the vintage fashion being a lesser but still important part of the business.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Cosy fireplace in Red House Shop and Cafe

Red House is very much a family concern as I discovered the day I visited, being greeted by Emily's Mum, who was very much hands-on assisting in the day-to-day running of the business. Emily's grandmother, who is in her 80's was also there and she also assists to make Red House the successful venture it has become.

I was impressed with the adaptation and signature that Emily has created in the space provided by both the cafe and vintage shop, which has still encompassed some of the old railway fittings, including the old ticket window and office, an area now used for food and beverage preparation.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Old Ticket Window

The old waiting room of the station is now a space for patrons to enjoy their meals and drinks and upon one of the walls is an appropriately framed railway fare schedule, a great link to a former era.

The cafe menu offers some great mouthwatering choices for both breakfast and lunch. Prices range from $8 per person for one of their delicious dip plates comprising home-made dips served with a variety of breads and crackers right up to the ultimate big breakfast valued at $17.90 per person, allowing to you choose 5 items from a list of 18 different options.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Spacious Cafe ex Waiting Room

If you are into vintage fashion and accessories, then Emily has a great range of pieces for sale in one of the rooms near the cafe, which is ideal for browsing before, during or after your meal or coffee.

The Cafe and Shop is open currently for the winter 7 days a week from 7.30 am to 4 pm and meals are usually served up to 3 pm. Hours will be reviewed during the upcoming seasons and the cafe has a great outdoor area which takes full advantage of the finer weather.

Emily has done a great job from the time of her original vision/dream to bringing the cafe to life and witnessing its success. The word is out there folks - more and more people are becoming acquainted with the Red House Shop and Cafe.

Red House is located off War Memorial Drive at North Adelaide and has ample parking facilities.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Vintage Clothing

The Loose Caboose

The Loose Caboose has a cosy atmosphere and is great for either breakfast or lunch, allowing to you watch the trains come and go at regular intervals.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
The Loose Caboose

Bowden Railway Station was built as one of the original stations to service the Adelaide to Port Adelaide rail line (South Australia's first steam railway) in the 1850's. Due to the construction of the gas works at Brompton, rail sidings were built to cater for the delivery of coal, from Port Adelaide.

The station today retains its original 1856 brick and stone station building and is close in proximity to both the Adelaide Entertainment Centre and Hindmarsh Stadium.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Historic Bowden Railway Station

Access, apart from catching a train to the cafe can be made by tram, which runs up Port Road, and it is then simply a matter of taking a short walk up Station Place.

The menu is diverse, and if you are into all day brunches, then a good range of food is on offer, from a fruit and nut bircher muesli with spiced poached pear, toasted coconut and yoghurt for $14 per person, right up to the "Conductor's Brunch", which consists of Chorizo, Bacon, Mushrooms, Tomato, Avocado and Poached Eggs on toasted sourdough for $21 per person.

A focus for The Loose Caboose is locally sourced products used in their menus including Fleurieu Milk, SA Free-Range Eggs, as well as cheese and smallgoods.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Busy Kitchen

The Loose Caboose also offer a great range of fresh juices including one called a "Green Ranger" - with Spinach, Cucumber, Apple, Lemon and Parsley. Their coffees are also well worth trying, particularly their own Caboose blend for Espressos, which are thick and creamy.

The weekends do get busy and you may find that if you don't get there early, you may not get a table, and car parking can also be a bit of an issue, hence the great options in public transport.

The cafe is open on Mondays to Fridays from 7 am until 4 pm and on weekends 8 am until 4 pm. Be also aware that on public holidays there is a 15% surcharge for their menu.

The Loose Caboose Cafe is located at 21 First Street, Hindmarsh.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Cosy Cafe

It is great to know that we have two cafes of high quality so close to the city which have embraced and combined history, heritage and contemporary cuisine.

Railway Stations Re-used as Cafes in Adelaide
Red House Shop and Cafe

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Why? An opportunity to try contemporary cuisine in historic and heritage railway buildings
When: 7 days per week
Phone: Red House Shop and Cafe 0414184166 Loose Caboose 08 8340 0809
Where: Red House Shop and Cafe, War Memorial Drive, North Adelaide SA The Loose Caboose, 21 First Street Hindmarsh SA
Cost: Dependent upon your menu choices
Your Comment
There's another one too Graeme, at Gawler station. Mitcham Council recently advertised to lease Mitcham station which also would be perfect for a cafe, while Blackwood Action Group would love somebody to open a cafe at their station.
by Dave Walsh (score: 4|11307) 1797 days ago
Lunched at The Loose Caboose. The whishing of the trains just past your ear is so divine. Food and service excellent too. Open on a MONDAY!!!!!!!
by daviddon (score: 2|230) 1631 days ago
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