Special heritage steam trains are keeping the golden age of rail travel alive and well in a variety of locations in South Australia. Many of these trains run on semi-regular timetables on isolated branch lines, however, the ideal way to explore them in one go is to jump onboard a Railway Adventure tour of South Australia. Where possible, trains are chartered and run to a specially designed itinerary making the most of the colourful character, history, and scenery of the state.
South Australia was at the crossroads of numerous railways coming in from the east and west and radiating north on the famous route of the old Ghan. The state hosted a variety of rail gauges creating busy ‘multi gauge’ rail hubs which today are isolated by the more recent standardisation of the main line railway network. The Steamtown museum in Peterborough showcases a great age in our railway history centred around the diabolical situation where three gauges met at the one major railway junction. From the west, across the Nullabor Plain, the standard gauge, (4’8 ½”) of the Commonwealth Railways entered the yard. North and south were the mixed gauges of ‘Cape Narrow’, 3’6”, and the larger gauge of 5’3” that dominated the southern part of South Australia and Victoria. The infrastructure for transshipment and servicing is preserved at the Steamtown historical complex which makes for a fascinating exploration complete with a sound and light show in the evenings.
On the southern foothills of the Flinders Ranges is a very special section of our early railway history centered around a preserved section of the original Trans-continental Railway at the scenic Pichi Richi pass. Little steam trains chuff out of Quorn and take the winding route through the pass to a delightful catered lunch at Woolshed flat, an isolated station halt on the way to Port Augusta. This narrow-gauge line is run by a dedicated team of volunteers and the chartered train is rich with stories and characters from another age.
South of Adelaide is an equally appealing train journey taking in the mountains, rivers, and spectacular coast of the Fleurieu Peninsular. The SteamRanger Heritage Railway is a 77 kilometres long tourist railway and runs on a broad-gauge track. It is operated by the not-for-profit South Australian Division of the Australian Railway Historical Society and the big engines of this once-busy line put on a mighty show as they traverse the Mount Lofty Ranges and hug the coastline to the terminus at Victor Harbor where all the joys of this charming coastal city are on show. Among the museums, cafes and shops are one of Australia’s first railways, the horse-drawn tram to Granite Island, which started operation in the 1850’s and is still going strong today.
Creating a mix of train journeys, linked together by a coach that follows the tour all the way, calling in on a myriad of old towns, villages, museums, galleries, and grand homesteads, it’s an adventure with a bit of everything. You can also top and tail your tour with journeys on either the Indian Pacific or the Ghan, both of which call Adelaide home. Playing trains must be one of South Australia’s most attractive travel options and a tailor-made Railway Adventure may be just the ticket for a holiday close to home.
RAILWAY ADVENTURES 2023
SOUTH AUSTRALIA STEAM SAFARI29 April–08 May / 09–18 September • ADELAIDE • PETERBOROUGH • • WILPENA POUND/FLINDERS RANGES • PORT AUGUSTA • Visit www.railwayadventures.travel SOUTH AUSTRALIA STEAM SAFARI for more details
Scott McGregor’s Railway Adventures tour is more than just a holiday, it is a unique way to experience the world. By train you are completely immersed in culture and adventure, exploring the most scenic corners of the world in the comfort of a luxury train. Whether you are an experienced traveller or just beginning to explore this wonderful world, Railway Adventures have something for everyone. Transform your holiday into the most unforgettable adventure of a lifetime with Railway Adventures.
Call 1300 800 977 to request a brochure on our tours in 2023.