Category Archives: Trains

Double Headed Steam: Pichi Richi Railway

So far in this series of posts, we’ve followed the Pichi Richi Railway’s Afghan Express heritage train from Port Augusta up into the Pichi Richi Pass as far as Woolshed Flat in:

Head full of steam

and

Heading for the hills

This third post starts at Woolshed Flat and what attracted me to come up to see the Pichi Richi Railway on this particular weekend is revealed – the rare opportunity to see a steam double-headed train. Waiting at Woolshed Flat for the Ghan Express to arrive was the Pichi Richi Explorer, a second heritage steam service that had come up to Woolshed Flat from the other end of the line at Quorn.

W22, Pichi Richi Railway

The Pichi Richi Explorer

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Heading for the hills: Pichi Richi Railway

NM25, Afghan Express, Pichi Richi Railway

Continuing on from the prior post, we follow the Pichi Richi Railways’ Afghan Express as it heads out of Port Augusta and up into the Flinders Ranges through the Pichi Richi Pass.

If you haven’t taken a look at the earlier post Head full of steam: Pichi Richi Railway I suggest you take a look there before continuing with this post.

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Head full of steam: Pichi Richi Railway

Yep, I’m back to posting about trains again. It’s been a year since the last post dedicated to trains, so that’s not too bad for self discipline!

There are two historical railway societies within South Australia running regularly scheduled tourist railways. One is the Steamranger Heritage Railway operating in the Adelaide Hills and along the southern coast of the Fleurieu Peninsula  and which I have previously looked at in several posts. The other society is the Pichi Richi Railway located some 300 kilometres (200 miles) north of Adelaide in the southern Flinders Ranges.

In early October 2013 I took a major detour on the way from Adelaide to a camping weekend along the Murray River to first head to Port Augusta and check out the Pichi Richi operations. Photos from this trip were to have been posted to Photo Morsels but an unexpected visit to the National Railway Museum in suburban Port Adelaide later in October yielded an extensive collection of photos. Those photos rather than the Pichi Richi photos ended up appearing on Photo Morsels in late 2013.

I still intended though that the Pichi Richi photos were to have been a follow-on series published soon thereafter. The ‘soon thereafter’ didn’t eventuate, so with considerable delay, let’s now take a look at the Pichi Richi Railway.

The Pichi Richi Railway is headquartered in the township of Quorn, historically an important railway junction straddling the east/west line across Australia and the railway that headed north to Alice Springs. The heritage railway workshops are in Quorn, but rolling stock is also stored in Port Augusta. This allows heritage services to be operated out of either location.

Joining Port Augusta to Quorn is 39 kilometres (24 miles) of lightly built narrow gauge railway. This section of line was built in 1878 as part of the South Australian Railways’ Port Augusta & Government Gums Railway, and later formed a part of the Commonwealth Railways Central Australian Railway and the east-west Transcontinental line. The original Ghan passenger service operated on the line initially to the remote South Australian community of Oodnadatta and later to Alice Springs in the Northern Territory. The section of track maintained by the Pichi Richi Railway is the oldest remaining section of this now abandoned and largely removed narrow gauge track. The Ghan still runs, but on standard gauge track built in the late 1970’s on a completely different alignment to the original.

This post looks at the assembly of an Afghan Express heritage service prior to its run from Port Augusta to Quorn and back.

NM25, Pichi Richi Railway

After building up steam, former Commonwealth Railways 4-8-0 locomotive NM25 brings the some of the original Ghan’s wooden railway carriages out of the storage sheds located at the Port Augusta railway station.

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National Railway Museum (Part 3 – Everything Else)

This is the concluding post of a three part exploration of the National Railway Museum located in suburban Port Adelaide. If you haven’t already visited the first two posts, I invite you to first visit Part 1 and Part 2. Part 1 looks at the narrow gauge steam locomotives that powered South Australia’s mid-north narrow gauge network, while Part 2 explores the history of the State’s broad gauge network. This third post is a bit of a catch all, covering a selection of the museum’s other rolling stock.

First up, a quick look at some of the South Australia’s private railways.

BHP Steam Locomotive No. 4

BHP Limited operated a short line between the company’s Iron Knob iron ore mine and the town of Whyalla.  Rather than turn to British types like the government railways, BHP sourced two 4-6-0 steam locomotives from the US maker, Baldwin Locomotive Works, in 1914. BHP 4 has that classic US look, even though a cow catcher wasn’t fitted.

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National Railway Museum (Part 2 – Broad Gauge)

This is the second post of a three part exploration of the National Railway Museum located in suburban Port Adelaide.

Rather than repeat the introduction to the museum and South Australia’s railway systems, I invite you to visit Part 1 if you have not already done so. Part 1 looks at the narrow gauge steam locomotives that powered South Australia’s mid-north narrow gauge network.

In this post, attention will turn to South Australia’s 5 foot 3 inch broad gauge railways.

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National Railway Museum (Part 1 – Narrow Gauge)

I’ve found myself going through a plane, train and ship spotting phase this year, and recently spent a day visiting two of the three transport related museums situated in the Port Adelaide area.

I should mention at this point that I don’t plan for Photo Morsels to morph into a machinery-spotter’s paradise to the exclusion of all else. I will revert to other subjects once I have worked off all this machinery spotting!

I’ve previously posted images from the South Australian Aviation Museum here. In this and some following posts, I’ll cover the second museum visited, the National Railway Museum.

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SteamRanger Cockle Train (Revisited)

Back in March I posted a photo essay of the SteamRanger historic railway featuring photos of the largest of the steam engines currently in service, the Duke of Edinburgh.  You can find that post here.

SteamRanger is a volunteer run society operating a number of tourist railway services on the now isolated Mt Barker to Victor Harbor broad gauge line. The Cockle Train service runs along the Goolwa to Victor Harbor section of the track, 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. This section of line is the oldest in South Australia and was established in 1854 as a horse drawn railway to move freight from Goolwa (the lowest river port on the Murray-Darling river system) to nearby ocean ports (initially Port Elliott and later Victor Harbor). The railway allowed the mouth of the Murray River to be bypassed as it was unsafe for navigation, being shallow and directly facing the treacherous Southern Ocean swell.  The line was rebuilt for steam in 1856.

A number of different rolling stock units are used to operate the service. Last weekend I drove down to Goolwa and followed the Sunday morning train from Goolwa to Victor Harbor and back.   This service was operated by a former South Australian Railways 500 class diesel locomotive, No 507.

The 500 class was introduced in the 1960’s as shunters in marshalling yards across the State, replacing steam locomotives used to that time.  Ultimately, as trains became longer and heavier, they became obsolete.  Most were scrapped in the 1990’s, but a few remain in service.  I can recall seeing these locos working in Adelaide’s Mile End good yards in the 1960’s and 70’s, along with the last few steam tank engines.

The 500 class was built locally at South Australian Railways’ Islington workshop.  They were diesel-electric with English Electric 500hp motors, and a mix of standard and broad gauge examples were produced.  SteamRanger uses No 507 to run the the Cockle Train on quieter services where the cost of running steam is too high.

We commence the pictures at Goolwa station shortly before the train set off for Victor Harbor.
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