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Relive a troop train experience
Quorn Railway Station, Part of World War 2 Railway History
Quorn is an attractive small town in South Australia's scenic Flinders Ranges. Until 1937 it was a cross roads of the mid north railway network and an important place. The town blossomed and many grand buildings were constructed, not the least of which were a number of hotels.
During World War II Quorn SA was an important service point for trains from Terowie travelling north to Alice Springs. These troop trains carried over 1,000,000 troops to Darwin and from there to Papua New Guinea. More than 50 troop trains passed through Quorn every day during and immediately after World War 2. While stopped at Quorn passengers on the troop trains were often fed meals in their railway carriages before continuing on to their destinations. Over 350,000 meals were served to troops and evacuees who arrived at all hours aboard wooden carriages.
Trains also carried coal mined at Leigh Creek to the newly opened power station in Port Augusta.
WW2 Service Personnel in a Troop Train Cattle Truck 1945 (Image: State Library SA PRG-1435-4-9
In the 1950's trains began to take alternative routes, and Quorn mainly serviced freight trains from Peterborough and Hawker. Quorn's importance dwindled and in the 1980's the railway line was closed.
Fast forward to 1973 and the Pichi Richi Preservation Society was formed. They recognised that the railway lines passed through spectacular Flinders Ranges scenery in the Pichi Richi Pass, and for 40 years have worked to preserve a working rail service to commemorate the railway history of the area.
In this Anzac centenary year the Pichi Richi railway is holding a special event to celebrate the importance of Quorn's railway history in World War 2. Tracks to War: ANZAC Day 2015 at Quorn on Saturday April 25 will recreate the wartime activity seen years ago when troop trains passed through.
Steam Engines Pull a Passenger Train Near Quorn to Port Augusta (Image: State Library SA B-55506)
On Anzac Day come to Quorn and explore an original troop train carriage (car 5) on display at Quorn railway station for free public viewing. Unfortunately the organisers were not prepared to release an image of the railway carriage, so we have located appropriate wartime images from the State Library SA to illustrate.
Board a railcar shuttle to the Pichi Richi railway workshop and travel a couple of kilometres for a unique behind the scenes tour: tours departs from Quorn railway station at 12pm and 1pm ($10 per person). (Sorry, no strollers, wheelchairs or childen under 8 years old can enter the workshop).
Railway History: A Wooden Railway Carriage in Pichi Richi Railway Workshop
The Country Women's Association will also serve authentic recreations of the meals once served on troop trains. You must book ahead by phone or via the website, and the meal cost is $20 per person.
Take a 2.5 hour journey on the Pichi Richi Explorer steam train through magnificent scenery to Woolshed Flat and return. The trip costs $47 for adults and $16 for children. Bookings strongly recommended.
At 7.30pm on Anzac Day evening settle in to enjoy a free screening of the movie The Water Diviner which was filmed in Quorn against the stunning backdrop of the Flinders Ranges.
For more information about the Pichi Richi Preservation Society and this unique event celebrating our Anzac Day centenary, please see their website. You can also find them on Facebook.
Funny I have been sorting through old photo albums and had just found the photos from a trip we did to Quorn and our ride on the Pitchi Richi train . I am booked to attend the Anzac Camp Gallipoli , otherwise this would have been a good day out . ,
Another interesting article Dave.Thankfully, there are people like you who are giving we South Australians a picture of our colourful past.I did this train trip many years ago and the German Tourists next to me,absolutely enjoyed the experience as I think most people would.