Country towns in South Australia often hide their charm from passing travellers. Indeed many highways bypass all but the largest country towns in SA. But one can be lucky enough to find a town with lots of fun things to do for kids and adult visitors.
Peterborough is located adjacent to the Flinders Ranges region of South Australia and has a rich railway history. Once the junction of the east-west railway line between Port Pirie and Broken Hill and the north-south line from Adelaide to Alice Springs, in 1970 Peterborough became one of only three triple-gauge railway junctions in Australia.
Luckily much of the district's railway history has been captured and is now on display at the Steamtown railway museum - the premier attraction in town.
Luxurious Railway Rolling Stock at Steamtown Railway Museum
Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre The Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre is one of the biggest Peterborough attractions, showcasing the railway history of the region from Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges. Housed in the former South Australian Railways workshops, it boasts the only triple gauge roundhouse in the world.
There are many steam engines, diesel locomotives and old carriages to see. See working interactive displays, admire the opulence of the old carriages, and take a guided tour with one of the knowledgeable and friendly staff who once worked there.
At night watch the colourful recreations of bygone times in a sound and light show using the latest technology. It's worth spending the day here to explore all the railway history.
Vintage Motorcycles at Peterborough Motorcycle Museum
Peterborough Motorcycle Museum The Peterborough Motorcycle & Antique Museum is not just for motorcycle enthusiasts. Although motorcycles are on view as soon as you enter the museum, hesitant wives and motorcycle widows can take heart. At the rear of the motorcycle museum and in an adjacent room is a esoteric collection of antiques and collectables for you to browse. While the rev-head of the family is drooling at the two wheeled toys, you can enjoy browsing the rest of the collection. Bed and breakfast is also available through the motorcycle museum in neighbouring Tennyson Hall.
Greg Duggan Nature Reserve and Lookout A short distance south of town is one of the outdoor Peterborough attractions. The Greg Duggan Nature Reserve and Lookout is home to over 70 species of native birds and 60 types of native plants. Take a walk to the lookout and admire the natural environment. If you're travelling with children take time out for some nature play - see how many fun things to do you can find.
A bird list is available from Visitor Information Centre.
Identify Native Wildlife Easily at Greg Duggan Nature Reserve
Peterborough Art & Cultural Festival
The Peterborough Art Show is a highlight of the year's events. For 10 days before the Easter long weekend there are free things to do for all ages, although some activities require a gold coin donation. The Peterborough Art & Cultural Festival runs from March 27 to April 6 in 2015.
Take the History Walk
The Peterborough History Walk takes visitors on an 80 minute walking tour of the eclectic built heritage near the main street. There is interpretive signage near many of the buildings to fill you in on Peterborough history. Pick up a map from the Peterborough Visitor Information Centre or download it here.
Climb into the Steam Locomotive
Finding fun things to do for children when travelling can be a challenge. The 1880's Y class steam locomotive on the main street once operated between Silverton, Peterborough and Port Pirie, and will fascinate kids of all ages. Dream of the days when it whistled its way through town, billowing black smoke and blowing its whistle.
Peterborough YMCA, Part of the Town's Fine Built Heritage
Journey the Heritage Rail Trail
The Heritage Rail Trail is one of the newest of Peterborough attractions. Pick up a brochure, download a copy, or use your phone to learn the fascinating railway history of the towns as you travel between Broken Hill and Port Pirie.
Peterborough History Displays
Peterborough History Group are a small group of people who try to keep the history of Peterborough alive for local people and visitors. Visit the display in their rooms on Jervois Street, a short distance from the town centre.
Peterborough History Group Are Located Near the Motorcycle Museum
Dragons Rest Habitat Gardens
Just down the road from the Steamtown railway museum you can find the Dragons Rest Habitat Gardens. It's home to a variety of native wildlife including lizards, birds and insects. Enjoy the biodiversity of the native plants in this mini ecosystem.
Peterborough Country Markets
People love markets in South Australia, and the Peterborough Country Markets bring you locally grown produce, hand made crafts and artisan goods. They are held monthly on a Saturday - check here for dates.
There's plenty of choice in Peterborough accommodation. I stayed at the Peterborough Motel where host Rick was faultless in his attention to service. Although I forgot to put in a breakfast order the night before, Rick was happy to provide a hearty meal at short notice.
As with many country towns in South Australia, it's wise to view your accommodation before choosing it when possible. One of my main complaints is lighting - despite the low cost of providing a well lit room, many publicans choose to skimp on decent lighting in rooms. In another country town that I visited it was too dark to even see the far corners of the room with the light switched on. Luckily that isn't a common complaint.
Enjoy visiting the Peterborough attractions - you can find even more fun things to do listed here, or pick up a glossy brochure from the Visitor Information Office..