A few month’ back, I found myself armed with a camera down on Adelaide’s South Coast region. I was finishing up a couple of hours of filming, taking photos of nothing in particular when I heard a steam engine whistle in the distance. And just happened to be in the exact spot for a great photo. Some days just want to turn out well!
The train concerned is the Cockle Train, run by the SteamRanger Historical Society. The volunteer run society operates a number of services on a now isolated section of the former Mt Barker to Victor Harbor broad gauge line. The Cockle Train runs from Goolwa to Victor Harbor, along the edge of the Southern Ocean, for a distance of around 12 miles. Cockles, a local shellfish prolific near the mouth of the Murray River, provide the name for this service that runs regularly on weekends and school holidays. A number of different rolling stock units are used to operate the service, including some heritage rail cars. This day I struck lucky, as the Duke of Edinburgh, the largest of the SteamRanger locos currently in service was pulling the Cockle Train.
Enough of the intro, onto the photos. All shot with a Pentax K-x dSLR with a Tamron 17-50 lens mounted, and with a UV filter and Hoya CPL on the front to combat the extremely strong sun and high UV (we’d hit 45C (113F) two days earlier in Adelaide).
First, the obligatory occ health and safety advisory…
I just happened to be photographing the bridge in the next image when I heard the distant train whistle, and immediately abandoned an intended return to Adelaide, figuring I had a hour or so I could juggle.
Here we have the Cockle Train pulled by the Duke of Edinburgh crossing the Hindmarsh River, coming into the township of Victor Harbor. The Duke of Edinburgh is an example of the 620 class Pacific type (4-6-2 wheel arrangement) locomotives designed and built for the South Australian Railways. The 620s locomotives came into service in 1936, the State’s centenary year and were used for regional passenger express services. The introduction of air-conditioned diesel-electric Blue Bird railcars in the 1950s heralded the demise of the 620s and by 1969 all except the Duke of Edinburgh and one other preserved engine had been scrapped.
Victor Harbor station is at one end of the line, so after arrival the Duke of Edinburgh is run back past its carriages towards the station’s turntable.
Time to turn. Electric powered turntable controlled from the yellow hut on the right. Apologies for the unintended product placement!
Done, and exiting the turntable…
Running back to rejoin the carriages.
The old style level crossing gates remain at Victor Harbor. Hand operated.
The nicely maintained Victor Harbor station building.
Bogies of the carriages. Pretty simple stuff. The design of these carriages is now around 100 years old.
More of the passenger cars. This design was in South Australian Railways service from 1912 to the 1950’s.
Ready to head back to Goolwa.
Leaving Victor Harbor, the Cockle Train passes Boomer Beach, heading up the rise towards Port Elliott. Yes, the sea close to shore was that intense aqua/turquoise colour you see. It was deeper greenish blue after about a mile out. I suspect the mixing of fresh water coming out of the mouth of the Murray River at Goolwa with the sea water was responsible for the unusual colour of the water close to shore. Once upon a time, many moons ago, I used to race a catamaran out in that bay.
And lucky last, and I then had to head back to Adelaide rather than keep chasing across to Goolwa. By now I was meant to be somewhere else!
And should you would like to learn more about the Cockle Train or other SteamRanger services, please visit the SteamRanger website. Victor Harbor and Goolwa are both approximately one hour by car south of Adelaide and make an ideal full day outing. The Cockle Train can be boarded from either town.