** AUSTRALIA 2011 - SOUTH AUSTRALIA **
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BACK-PACKING TRIP TO AUSTRALIA 2011 - Final week in and around Adelaide:
A day out at Port Adelaide: the morning after our arrival back in Adelaide from Kangaroo Island, we were away early to catch the free city tram along King William Street to Adelaide Railway Station in time for the 10-37 train out to Port Adelaide today in the city's NW outer suburbs (see map of Adelaide right).
History of Port Adelaide: the earliest colonial settlers in 1836 had to wade ashore through swamps and tidal mudflats from their ships anchored off the South Australian coast at what would later become Port Adelaide. The early port was plagued by mosquitoes, distant from Adelaide city, with few amenities, and at risk of inundation at high tide; it was appropriately nicknamed Port Misery. Colonel Light's visionary flair as SA's Surveyor-General was not only to found the city of Adelaide at the healthier inland location on the River Torrens plain, but 4 years later in 1840 to establish Port Adelaide on the coast at the mouth of the wide Port River. Here ships could dock to serve the new city as a commercial port for both cargoes and passengers. Wharves were built and the newly established Port Adelaide flourished, becoming the thriving commercial heart of the developing colony. By 1870 it had become a substantial shipping port with expanded harbour facilities, wharves, stone warehouses and all the expected commercial infrastructure of ships' chandlers and shipping agents, serving a busy port. Like any port-city, it also had its rougher side, with many corner pubs along with vice and crime. The construction of the Outer Harbour took place at the beginning of the 20th century, accommodating larger ships and reducing the time needed to sail up the Port River to the inner harbour. After WW2, the nature of mercantile shipping began to change. The introduction of containerisation in the 1960s had a major impact on the Port, changing cargo handling methods and significantly reducing the size of the local workforce. The older dockland fell into decline, replaced by immense container terminals out on the coast at Outer Harbour to serve the modern huge container vessels. The dereliction of the redundant former inner dockyards has now largely been demolished, and replaced by soulless redevelopments of waterside trendy yuppie-apartment blocks; in a sense exchanging one form of featureless dereliction for another!
In its heyday, Port Adelaide had developed an impressive range of commercial and institutional buildings, many of which have survived, with Port Adelaide having one of the best concentrations of colonial buildings in South Australia. Some of the former dockland architecture has been conserved from the port's commercial buildings and warehouses, and many of the traditional corner pubs with their wrought iron filigree lacework balconies have been preserved as heritage pubs (Photo 1 - Port Adelaide heritage pub) (see below left). The original railway line from Adelaide out to Port Adelaide, built in 1878 to serve the city's port, had once terminated at a station down by the docks. But in the early 20th century, the line was extended across the river, running along the coast and serving the popular resorts of Semaphore and Largs, out to the enlarged Outer Harbour. The new Port Adelaide Station was built in 1916, high on cast iron stilts above Commercial Road.
Setting off from Adelaide by train to Port Adelaide: today we should travel out to Port Adelaide on the train from Adelaide. At Adelaide Station, our two tickets for Port Adelaide cost a remarkably good value $5.60, and we made our way through the subterranean station out to the train (see left). Sitting immediately behind the driver, we followed the line out through the NW city suburbs, passing through station-halts with noticeably English/Irish-sounding names like Croydon, Kilkenny, Woodville, Cheltenham, even Cheltenham Race Course, and in 15 minutes the train reached Port Adelaide. Descending from the lofty station platform, we were directed by another helpfully friendly local man along Commercial Road. Somehow this area had a seedier, more run-down air than the affluence we had become accustomed to in Adelaide city, and the local job centre seemed to be well patronised. Port Adelaide perhaps was where Adelaide's 'have-nots' we had wondered about existed.
An entertaining but non-productive episode at Port Adelaide Visitor Centre: we walked into the town, found Port Adelaide Visitor Centre and raided their racks of leaflets which we sat and rapidly absorbed to formulate an outline plan for our visit. There certainly seemed enough of interest to merit a second day out here. Now came the TIC Test: could they cope with the intensity of our questions? Sheila's opening gambit was intended as a complement on their stock of information leaflets, but it threw the girl who served us into complete panic. We had found a detailed brochure on the Port River Dolphin Trail, which seemed to be centred around Torrens Island in the Port River estuary (see map at head of page), and mentioned a board-walk around mangrove swamps at the neighbouring Garden Island. We had read about something similar under the name of St Kilda and assumed it was the same place. But, already on the defensive after our opening questions, the girl immediately denied all knowledge of St Kilda; that was further up the mainland coast and outside her council's jurisdiction. Ok, can we walk out to Garden Island? Fearful negative response – No, it's not possible. Well why not, there is a road? How far is it? But things went from bad to worse, and the helpless lass summoned reinforcements. She could order us a taxi, but not knowing where to pinpoint a destination, the taxi firm could not give us a price. We were getting nowhere. She then volunteered to phone the Adelaide Metro Office to find out if we could get a bus to St Kilda, but was unable to figure out the Metro Office web site. The panic was evident on her face; she had never faced enquiries like this before. We gave up, and even spared her the further embarrassment of an ultimate test question about the origins of the Port Adelaide Workers' Memorial statue that stood outside on a granite plinth. We could see from the Port Adelaide Heritage Walk leaflet that it had been erected by public subscription in 1921 to honour members of the trade union movement and Labour Party who had contributed to promoting workers' rights in the Port Adelaide dockland community.
Despite the entertaining if non-productive episode in the TIC, we now had our plans: today we should walk around the remnants of the former dockland with its conserved architecture, keeping an eye open for Port River Dolphins in the river, have a pub lunch on the Heritage Pub Trail, and visit Port Adelaide's 3 museums on a second day.
Pub lunch on the Port Adelaide Heritage Pub Trail: at the corner of Todd Street and Stevedore Place, we found the Port Dock Hotel with its own microbrewery. The public bar was acceptably basic, but the lounge bar with its glazed screen looking into the brewery and its plush seating suitable only for the boutique attire of the usual yuppie customers was Heritage Trail in the extreme; we naturally chose the public bar. The pub had a colourful history, including as a brothel of some repute, which its present Heritage embodiment scarcely matched. But the girl serving in the public bar was friendly enough, and the seating here more suited to our non-yuppie attire. We ordered the $10 specials lunch of barracuda burgers in a bun with a schooner of their pub-brewed beer. The girl told us a little of the future redevelopments which were planned to fill the void of now cleared former docklands area with estate agent-enriching water-side yuppie-apartments.
So-called redevelopment of the former Port Adelaide inner dockland: after lunch, we walked around to the now open, cleared space of what was formerly the frantically busy Port Adelaide inner dockland, now an empty, soulless desolation. We continued across to the stone-edged basin of what once had been Dock Number One of three such docks, where Adelaide's maritime traffic had formerly been off- and on-loaded to ships of the Empire. All that remained were the large dock-side bollards to which ships were moored and the rails of dock-side cranes now partly set into the tidy tarmac (see above left and right). But as we walked further around the Port River embankment, we passed the first of three blocks of des-res apartments, with estate agents tacking up for-sale signs, their eyes gleaming at the prospect of the fortunes to be made from all these characterless developments. Here even the rails of the former dock-side cranes disappeared, replaced by notional lines of darker bricks set in the pavement.
Beyond here was another larger area of former productively industrious dockland, now all demolished and neatly, tidily cleared and trimly fenced ready for the next phase of yuppification to begin. Behind here stood the conserved Dockside Tavern (Photo 2 - Dockside Tavern traditional pub), with the tell-tale BMWs belonging to the future occupants of Port Adelaide's redeveloped water-side parked outside. As if to add the final touch to the make-believe environment of contemporary Port Adelaide, a sailing ship was moored at the dock-side (see above right) (Photo 3 - Port Adelaide sailing ship), close to the former Adelaide Steamship Building, the 1868 Telegraph Office, and 1869 metallic lighthouse (see left) (Photo 4 - 1869 lighthouse) which originally guarded the entrance to the Port River and was re-erected here at the present dock-side location in 1986.
As we stood looking out across the wide waters of the river, we were able to see Bottle-nosed Dolphins rising occasionally to the surface in the distance. It was remarkable that these marine mammals, which must rise to the surface to breathe through their blow-holes, should inhabit these inner river waters so close to an urban area. Doubtless this provided yet more features to supplement estate-agents' promotional material and amplify the value of redevelopments, making them even more des-res. A group of elderly New Zealanders were just disembarking from the midday dolphin river-cruise, and we stood talking with them about the recent Christchurch earthquake. Further along by the modern Fishermen's Wharf building, which houses the Port Adelaide Sunday market, we got into conversation with an elderly couple from Mount Gambier on the SA/Victoria border who were on their way to Alice Springs in their campervan. We ambled around Walk Round Corners (see above right) and the conserved older buildings of the former dockland, trying to find the plaque recording the site of the original Port Adelaide Railway Station. We found the 1856 Railway Hotel, but there was no trace of the memorial plaque, and the site of the station was now occupied by Port Adelaide's modern Police Station.
South Australian Aviation Museum: it was by now 2-45pm and there was time this afternoon only to visit one of the three Adelaide museums. We had decided that, before returning to the city later, we should catch the train out to Outer Harbour to see at least some of the modern area of container docks which had replaced the inner Port Adelaide original dockland. There was a train out at 4-20 and a return train to the city at 5‑06; this would give us just over an hour to visit the SA Aviation Museum which was back along Lipson Street closer to the railway station. We hurried along past the National Railway Museum to the former WW2 hangar relocated from Darwin which now housed the South Australian Aviation Museum, a not-for-profit trust operated by volunteers to preserve SA's aviation heritage. The two volunteers manning the museum had just about given up for today, when we rushed in asking if they could manage two more Pommy visitors. They seemed glad to welcome us, and told us something of their magnificent collection of restored aircraft. The site had no runway access of its own, and all the planes had been delivered by low-loader.
Aircraft collection at South Australian Aviation Museum: the first exhibit was a Westland Wessex helicopter (see above right) which had seen extensive service with the Royal Australian Navy in Vietnam aboard the carrier HMAS Melbourne. In the corner was an Avro Ansen which had been used during WW2 for aircrew training (see above left). After the war, the aircraft had been purchased from RAAF by a farmer and donated to the museum in 1985; it was now undergoing restoration. Nearby was a gleaming white Canberra bomber from 1955 (Photo 5 - Canberra bomber) which had been used for airborne photography throughout the Woomera atomic weapons tests. Next to that stood a de Havilland Vampire with its distinctive twin fuselage (Photo 6 - Twin fuselage de Havilland Vampire) which entered service with the RAAF in 1946, and a similar twin fuselage de Havilland Sea Venom with folding wings for Royal Australian Navy aircraft-carrier operations (Photo 7 - de Havilland Sea Venom). These two quite small early jets nestled under the wings of a Douglas C47 Dakota, huge by comparison, sporting the blue, white and red kangaroo roundels of the RAAF (see above right); this had been used as a VIP aircraft and had carried dignitaries such as Australian Prime Minister Sir Robert Menzies and Governor General Sir William Slim. Opposite this was a Mark V Supermarine Spitfire which had seen WW2 service in the Pacific with the RAAF against the Japanese (Photo 8 - Mark V Supermarine Spitfire) (see above left); the Australian roundels were modified to just blue and white, the red centre spot removed to avoid battle-confusion with the red Japanese aircraft markings. From the balcony we were able to take overview photos of the full collection of aircraft displayed in the museum (see right).
We hurried around taking photos of the aircraft in the brief time available to us. At almost 4-00pm, we excused ourselves in order to catch our train, apologising for having to leave their superb display of aircraft and the offer of being shown the preservation workshops. Given that all the museum's preservation work was carried out by volunteers, it was a truly magnificent collection of which they could be rightly proud.
Port Adelaide modern container terminal at Outer Harbour: we hurried back around to the railway station and up onto the platform-on-stilts for the 4-20 train along to Outer Harbour. The line passed through a vast area of featureless single-storey housing estates on one side and the coastal resorts-ville of Semaphore and Largs on the other. It was all gloomily unattractive, and the train stopped at every little halt until finally reaching the end of the line at Outer Harbour Station. The entire area had an end-of-world feeling out here at the tip of the Le Fevre Peninsula, the whole coast being covered now with vast container docks. Perhaps the container ship we had passed on the Cape Jervis ferry had been heading for here. Opposite the station was a huge parking compound for cars awaiting export, all assembled at General Motors Plants near Adelaide. In the gathering dusk, this whole area had an empty, soulless air about it. We walked around for 10 minutes, seeing nothing but endless container docks. There was clearly still very active maritime trade out of Port Adelaide, but of such a different feel from the charactersome dockyards that had once filled the inner harbour. Rather dispirited, we returned to the end-of-line railway station for the 30 minute train journey back to Adelaide. By the time we reached the city, it was fully dark.
Stirling in the Mount Lofty Hills: our intention for the following day was to catch the bus up to the small town of Stirling in the Mount Lofty Hills (click here for map of Adelaide), and we set off to catch the tram along King William Street to Rundle Mall. Having checked bus stops at the ever useful Metro Information Office, we waited for the Mount Barker bus in Currie Street. The helpful bus driver instructed us to get off at stop number 36 for Stirling, and we followed the route on the plan in the detailed timetable. Out through Adelaide's SE suburbs, the bus climbed the Freeway past the turning to Mount Lofty summit, and shortly after we got off in leafy Stirling. Up here in the Adelaide Hills at some 2,000 feet (Mount Lofty is 710m in height), the temperature was noticeably cooler in spite of the bright autumn sunshine.
Stirling had been founded in 1854 by the wealthier citizens of early colonial Adelaide's inhabitants to provide a more exclusive escape from the summer heat of the city. The town had been designed by Peter Prankerd and named after his friend and fellow Scot Edward Stirling. The mainly English and Scottish founders of the Adelaide Hills town had transposed a homeland environment to the new settlement, planting quintessentially English gardens and deciduous trees which flourished in Stirling's moist and cooler climate. From its earliest days, Stirling grew rapidly as a centre for apple-growing orchards and market gardens. The result was that today we found ourselves standing amid the autumn leaves of what still felt to be an English town.
Our afternoon in Stirling: our guide books had given little detail of Stirling and it was 12-30 by the time we got off the bus. To begin our visit we found Druids Avenue and the Organic Market Café for lunch. The avenue was lined with stately oak trees planted originally in 1890 by local free masons on land owned by a member of the Druids Lodge. The Organic Café was full of terribly, terribly twee ladies sipping cups of tea and pretentiously impersonating English manners, and the menu was simply, awfully, awfully organic, ... and pricey to match! We ordered bowls of soup, and browsed a selection of brochures from the racks which provided details of historic sites around Stirling, including the very English Beechwood Gardens, for our walk this afternoon before our bus back later.
After lunch, we kicked up the autumn leaves as we walked along oak-lined Druids Avenue (Photo 9 - Autumn leaves) (see above right). The walk took us along Mount Barker Road, following the commentary on Stirling's past, down to the turning into Snows Road. Here the early wealthy inhabitants had built their exclusive summer residences, planting the large gardens with deciduous trees and English flowers (see above left). We had assumed that the largest of these gardens at Beechwood was open to the public, but when we eventually found the house, the gate was firmly locked. A lad working in the garden responded that the gardens were only open on set days, and today was not one of them. But the walk out along this very English lane was pleasant enough. Back along to Mount Barker Road, we stopped off for a beer at the Stirling Hotel, the town's only pub, and sat under a very English birch tree on the sunny terrace (Photo 10 - Stirling Hotel) (see right). From the bus stop just outside the hotel, we caught the 3-15 bus back into the city.
Food shopping at Adelaide Central Markets: back at Rundle Mall, we made further enquiries at the Tourist Information Centre about public transport out to the St Kilda mangrove swamp walk near to Salisbury, a town of some 7,500 residents 25 kms to the NW of the city beyond Port Adelaide. The TIC had no information about St Kilda since it was in another local authority area, but the lady did her best to help us. The tram took us back along King William Street to the Central Markets to buy supper foodstuffs. The Friday afternoon market was busier than ever, and the arrays of meat, fish and vegetables on the market stalls bewildering. Back at our daughter's apartment, Sheila and Lucy cooked a delicious supper of baked barracuda fish, sliced calamari and huge juicy prawns with haricot beans, accompanied by a bottle of excellent Viognier bought from the Adelaide Hills winery. After supper, we watched an Australian League football match on TV, with Port Adelaide playing a team from Melbourne. AFL football is a curious game, seemingly involving teams with a bewilderingly large numbers of players, with even more bewildering hand gestures from the match officials. Where this uniquely Australian game originated and how it evolved was equally mysterious; it seemed more akin to American football than to Rugby.
Willunga Farmers' Market in Mclaren Vale: the following day, we were away early for today's drive down to Willunga in Mclaren Vale. Out along Anzac Highway and South Road, we turned off onto the Southern Expressway over a shoulder of the Adelaide Hills. At Nuorlunga, we turned off again onto the Victor Harbour Road across McLaren Vale to the small rural town of Willunga (click here for map of Adelaide). Founded in 1839 just 3 years after the first European colonisation of SA, Wilunga had prospered as the centre of a thriving slate industry from quarries on the slopes of the Adelaide Hills behind the town. As towns and cities developed across SA, NSW and Victoria, slate was in much demand for roofing, street paving, kerbing, bridges, fence-posts, flooring, work benches, water troughs and tombstones. Willunga slate was considered by many to be superior to that from Britain, and many Cornish miners came to Willunga to work in the slate quarries. The quarries continued working until after WW1.
Today Willunga forms the local township for sheep and cattle farming on the hill slopes and across the vale, for market gardens producing fruit, vegetables almonds and olives, but more importantly for vine production in nearby McLaren Vale. Every Saturday a well-established farmers' market is held in the town square, our reason for coming here today. We parked at the local primary school and walked along to the market. There were over 50 stalls selling fruit, vegetables, cheeses, honey and other produce from local farms and producers around the Fleurieu region (see above left) (Photo 11 - Willunga Farmers' Market). Not only was it a source of fresh produce, but also a regular social gathering for people from the countryside around. The autumn sunshine was bright and warm, and the atmosphere of the market lively and convivial. We wandered happily among the stalls, admiring the range of fruit and vegetables (Photo 12 - Browsing produce stalls) (see above right), including enormous pomegranates, and tasting the products. As we sat to drink a coffee (Photo 13 - Coffee at Willunga Market) (see left), a girl approached Lucy; by some remarkably serendipitous coincidence, it turned out to be someone she had known at her Upper School some 15 years ago, who had also moved out here and now lived at Belair.
Wine-tasting in Mclaren Vale: we enjoyed a lunch of egg and bacon cobs at the market, and after a final wander around the stalls, returned to the car. Lucy drove us up Willunga Hill, the road winding alongside the folds and deep valleys of the southern Adelaide Hills which descended to the flat plain of McLaren Vale. The hill-sides looked to provide rich grazing for the sheep and cattle of the farms here.
Returning downhill to the Vale, we passed through the town and paused at the first of today's McLaren Vale wine producers, Penny's Hill and Mr Riggs, a medium sized establishment; the staff were welcoming and hospitable and we tasted a range of their wines:
With limited time this trip for drinking all our wine purchases before we left Adelaide and no means of transporting them home, we bought just one bottle of the Watervole Riesling.
Salopian Inn in Mclaren Vale: driving along to the next producer, we passed the Salopian Inn and stopped here to turn our tasting attention momentarily from wine to beer. This was the home of the Vale Ale microbrewery, and we were offered samples of their Pilsner Lager and their fruity, well-hopped Pale Ale. We sat in their garden in the glorious afternoon sunshine to sample their excellent beers (Photo 14 - Salopian Inn McLaren Vale) (see right). Just along this side-road, we stopped to taste the wines at another medium-sized producer, Wirra Wirra; they were friendly and welcoming, but the wines were disappointing:
Further wine producers in Mclaren Vale: we drove on into the town of McLaren Vale, to turn off to a larger producer, Serafino Wines. Here we were greeted, to our surprise, by a lady of Slovak origin who had emigrated from near to Bratislava. She chattily introduced their wines, and we shared experiences of her home country:
Return to Adelaide: it was now beginning to get dusky as we drove over the steeply winding hills to Clarendon and from there over even more tortuous roads to the hill-town of Belair. The terrain was wildly impressive but it was too dark to see any detail. Beyond Belair, we began the winding descent towards the city, pausing at a look-out for views of the lines of lights that were Adelaide, spread out across the plain towards the coast (Photo 15 - Distant Adelaide at dusk) (see left). We were very grateful to Lucy for all the driving today, especially negotiating the winding hill roads in the dusk and darkness. Supper this evening was another baked fish dish, this time small fillets of Gurnard, a firm, white-fleshed fish, with calamari and king prawns in a white wine and parsley-lemon sauce, with steamed mange-touts and asparagus. This was a delicious supper and a fitting conclusion to another splendid day of South Australian experiences.
Goolwa and the Murray River: our plan for Australian Mothers' Day was to drive down to Goolwa, the former river-port set near the mouth of the Murray River. With the weather rather cloudy and uncertain, we set off for the 1½ hours drive down the Southern Expressway and Victor Harbor Road, past Willunga to the small cattle farming settlement of Mount Compass (click here for map of Adelaide). Soon after, we turned off over attractive, hilly country to drop down to the shores of the huge estuary of the Murray River at Currency Creek. The road continued across the flat river plain alongside the railway from Mount Barker and Strathalbyn, which during the winter months of June~November now operates as a steam heritage service. Reaching Goolwa at 12-00 noon, we pulled into a car park by the Tourist Information Centre where the staff provided us with an excellent local map of Murray Mouth and Hindmarsh Island area, and advised us on local features.
River trade on the Murray and history of Goolwa as a river port: Goolwa was surveyed in 1840 and founded in 1841, along with the town of Currency Creek, at the point where the Murray River outflows to the Southern Ocean. The Murray is Australia's longest river at 2,508 kms, and along with its catchment tributary the Darling River drains much of New South Wales. It meanders across Australia's inland plains, forming the boundary between the states of NSW and Victoria before flowing into South Australia (click here for map of Murray River). The river turns south for its final 315 kms, before reaching Goolwa near Lake Alexandrina and discharging into the Southern Ocean at Murray Mouth (click here for map of Murray Mouth). In the early days of colonisation, the mighty Murray waterway had had contributed significantly towards inter-state communications and developed a huge river-borne trade: paddle-steamers towing barges travelling from NSW and Victoria loaded with bales of wool and other agricultural produce into South Australia, returning up-river with general goods and building materials. But the vast quantities of alluvial silt brought down by the river and deposited at its mouth had created sand-bars and islands, forming the massive Lakes Alexandrina and Albert behind the river delta. Large ocean-going vessels were unable to pass through the treacherous waters of the unstable gap in the sand-bars at Murray Mouth, making Goolwa impracticable as a sea-port. The town did however develop as a thriving inland river-port, connected initially by horse-drawn tram and later by South Australia's first railway line in 1854 to Port Elliot, later extended to Victor Harbor, as sea ports for river-borne trade from the interior. Goods were off-loaded from Paddle-steamers at Goolwa's river–port wharf, and transported by rail along to the sea-ports for re-loading onto ocean-going ships, so that neither vessels had to negotiate the treacherous waters of Murray Mouth. Goolwa's wharf, built in 1852 saw the town prosper for the next 40 years, making it one of Australia's major river-ports. In the 1880s however a new railway line connecting Murray Bridge further up-river to Adelaide allowed all the former river-borne commerce to reach Port Adelaide for out-shipping, bringing an end to Goolwa's role as a river-port town. During its heyday, it had been a rip-roaring port with almost 100 taverns, courthouse and the state's biggest police station. Today only a few reminders of those glory days remain along Goolwa's main street with its old buff-coloured sandstone buildings. With the decline of the river trade, Goolwa became dependent on local farming and fishing, as well as a popular tourist destination. Controversy raged during the 1990s over plans to construct a road bridge linking Goolwa with Hindmarsh Island, much of which was claimed as sacred lands by local aboriginal Ngarrindjeri peoples. Court cases eventually ruled against the protesters, and the bridge went ahead; but an appeal gave protection to the aboriginal sites.
Our visit to Goolwa: from the TIC, we walked down to the Goolwa waterfront, site of the original river-port wharfs, where pelicans swam lazily around the river (see above right) (Photo 16 - Murray River Pelican). One of the surviving preserved wood-fired paddle-steamers stood moored at the waterfront (Photo 17 - Murray River paddle steamer) (see above left and right); the PS Oscar W was built in 1908 by Franz Oscar Wallin at Echuca Victoria, named after his son Oscar Junior whom he hoped would follow him into the river-boat business. But young Oscar was killed in action in WW1. The Oscar W worked the Upper Murray trade carrying cargoes of wool, and after 1919 became one of the vessels working for the Murray Shipping Company, an amalgamation of the shipping interests of a number of companies, carrying wool and general cargoes on the Darling River. After 1942 when Murray shipping turned to the tourist passenger trade to survive, the old boats were sold off. After a chequered working history as a river trading vessel, by 1964 the Oscar W was moved back to the lower end of the river, and a long term restoration project began in 1987. She is now owned by Alexandrina local authority, cared for by a charitable trust, and operates pleasure cruises from Goolwa Wharf. Two motorised coaches from the 1920s pulled by diesel railcar stood waiting in the small station by the waterfront (Photo 18 - Port Elliot train) (see right). This line had once formed the rail link taking freight off-loaded from Murray River barges to Port Elliot for re-loading onto sea-going craft for onward shipment; it now carried tourists the short distance along the coast. Before beginning our further exploration at Murray Mouth, we enjoyed a special Mother's Day lunch of delicious Coorong mullet in the former Signal Point visitor centre, a modern glazed structure overlooking the waterfront with the high arch of the Hindmarsh Island Bridge rising behind (see above left) (Photo 19 - Hindmarsh Island Bridge).
Hindmarsh Island in the Murray delta: our first visit was to Hindmarsh Island, which now blocks the river estuary, in order to see the actual mouth of the Murray River on the island's southern coast. The river's wide channel around by Goolwa seemed to us perfectly normal, as did the prospect of the many other channels from the trapped lakes which penetrated the mud- and sand-banks and the islands of the delta. But local people expressed almost disbelief that this year the river was flowing in such quantities after the wet summer and floods in Queensland. So much water is now extracted from the higher reaches of this mighty river, both for agricultural irrigation and urban water supply; water extraction from higher upstream combined with the droughts of recent years have caused the once mighty River Murray to become sluggish and in places almost dry. On the day of our visit however, the water seemed to flow normally as we drove across the high-arching Hindmarsh Island Bridge, over onto the island which was named in 1837 after South Australia's first Governor Sir John Hindmarsh. From the 1850s, the island had been farmed for cattle and sheep, and areas of it were clearly still farmed today. But the expansionist growth of the dreaded holiday homes estates and a vast leisure marina were already spreading their malignant presence.
Murray Mouth and Coorong National Park: along the island's central road, we turned off south to reach a look-out point on the sandy southern coast directly opposite the actual mouth of the Murray, now part of the Coorong National Park (see above left). Across the dunes and the breadth of the inner lagoon trapped by the outer coastal sandbar, there in the distance we could see the mighty surf of the Southern Ocean crashing through the narrow gap which formed the final outflow of the Murray River (Photo 20 - Mouth of Murray River) (see above right). This was almost a reverential moment standing looking across to the mouth of the river which, both today and across South Australia's brief history since European colonisation in 1836, has formed the life-blood of the State. Constant dredging was necessary to prevent the mouth from silting up and blocking the inflow of saltwater and outflow of fresh water which protects the ecosystems of the lagoon which now constitutes the western end of the Coorong National Park. We walked down onto the sand flats along the grass-fringed dunes and down to the water's edge where the tide seemed to be coming in. Large pelicans dwarfed the Oystercatchers and other smaller birds standing out on a low sandbank (Photo 21 - Sea birds at Coorong Lagoon), and Terns were wheeling around, hovering and swooping over the water. We stood here awhile on the foreshore, taking Murray Mouth souvenir family photos (see above left and right) (Photo 22 - Coorong Lagoon) and watching the birdlife at this remarkable spot on South Australia's southern coast as the tide washed over the Coorong Lagoon beach (Photo 23 - Tide washing over beach) (see above left).
Sturt and Barker Memorial on Hindmarsh Island: returning along the length of Hindmarsh Island, we paused at a stone obelisk raised in 1930 as a centenary memorial to the English explorers Captain Charles Sturt (1795~1869) and Captain Collet Barker (1784~1831) who had originally surveyed the island (see left for memorial plaque), and whose explorations opened up South Australia to subsequent European colonisation. Sturt was the first European to set foot on Hindmarsh Island in 1830 and had used it as a surveying vantage point to establish the exact location of the river mouth. This followed his epic journeys of exploration along the Upper Darling River in 1828~29 and down the length of Murray in 1829~30 (see above right). Despite Sturt's unbelievable journeys of discovery and exploration, he died in obscurity on his return to England and is buried in Cheltenham. Barker, after whom Mount Barker and the Barker Inlet at Port Adelaide were named, had previously been the first to ascend Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills, from there sighting the Port River inlet. He completed Sturt's survey of the Murray Mouth in 1831 but was killed by Indigenous Australians after swimming across the river mouth. Barker had shown conciliatory understanding of the aboriginal inhabitants, unusual for the time, and ironically was killed by them perhaps being mistaken for a whaler many of whom abducted native women; had he lived, his next posting would have been to North Island of New Zealand to help suppress unrest among the Maori population.
Goolwa Barrage and Coorong Lagoon: we re-crossed the Hindmarsh Island bridge, and, through the town of Goolwa, drove around the coast of the outer lagoon and along the southern sandbar to park at the Goolwa Barrage (see right); this controls the outflow of Murray River fresh water into the brackish Coorong Lagoon beyond, where the Murray Mouth opens to the ocean 8 kms further east. The western sun shone through branches of shady pines and sparkled on the reed-filled waters along the southern banks of the Lagoon (Photo 24 - Shady pines along Lagoon banks). We followed a walk-way halfway across the barrage as far as the lock at its centre which allowed the passage of boats out into the Coorong Channel. As we reached the channel, two boats, including a large pleasure cruiser, passed back through the lock into the flaring western sun (Photo 25 - Boat passing through barrage lock) (see left). Today's visit to Murray Mouth had produced a wealth of birdlife: we had seen Pelicans swimming by Goolwa waterfront and standing on the sandbar in the outer lagoon, with Terns soaring over the water. Here by the Coorong Lagoon lock, Black Swans glided around (see below left), and on returning to the southern shore, we spotted a couple of Egrets wading in the shallows. Sheila also managed to photograph a large bird of prey, either a White-bellied Sea Eagle or an Osprey, carrying a fish in its talons (see right) (Photo 26- Bird of prey). Returning to Goolwa in the golden sunlight of late afternoon, we set off northwards on the return drive across the broad plain of the southern Murray. This was fertile cattle grazing countryside, and we passed a number of herds. The low down-slopes of the hills rose on our left-hand side, and we made good progress to reach the attractive town of Strathalbyn, founded by Scottish settlers in 1838. On from here, we gained height into the hills, winding up to the far less attractive and functional town of Mount Barker, the largest town in the Adelaide Hills with a population of 16,700 residents. Just beyond, in busy traffic we joined the Expressway for the return drive past Stirling and Mount Lofty, down the steep slopes towards the outskirts of the city.
A second day at Port Adelaide to visit museums: our plan for today was to make a second rail trip out to Port Adelaide to complete our visits to the National Railway and Maritime Museums there. At Adelaide Railway Station, amid much banter with the jovial gent at the ticket office, we bought our tickets for both the outward and return journeys, remembering that tickets bought later in the day were more expensive. We caught the 10-37 train for the 20 minute ride out to Port Adelaide (click here for map of Adelaide), and walked round past the Aviation Museum, pausing to examine one of the distinctive flowered Crimson Bottle-Brush bushes (Melaleuca citrina) (see right) (Photo 27- Crimson Bottle-Brush), which grew wild by the road-side.
Given that the chance of being shown the preservation workshops at the Aviation Museum had been squeezed out on our visit last Thursday by time pressure in order to catch our return train, we called in while passing in the hope that the same man was on duty. In fact we were welcomed by a charming elderly gent who had done RAF service in Burma at the end of WW2; he must therefore now have been in his late 80s. He readily took us through and showed us all their work in progress on restoring a collection of both piston, turbo-prop and jet engines, and reconstruction work on a Fairey Battle early WW2 light bomber. The work was as impressive as the completed aircraft displayed in the museum, given that it was all carried out by volunteers.
National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide: we continued along Lipson Street to the National Railway Museum (see left), built on the site of the former Port Adelaide goods depot just near to where the former passenger terminus station had stood by the port area. We were welcomed at the museum by the enthusiastic volunteers, including one who, before emigrating to SA, had worked at the Swindon railway workshops; he took us through to see an interactive map showing the development of railways in South Australia, and the mix of standard (4' 8½"), broad (5' 3") and narrow gauge (3' 6") lines. Before looking at the displays of locomotives and rolling stock, we learned more of the history of railways development in South Australia and the later evolution of Commonwealth Railways and Australian National Railways.
History of the development of South Australia Railways and Commonwealth Railways: in the early years, Australian rail transport was largely a state-based operation. Each of the states operated independent state-owned rail systems with a limited number of inter-state border connections. South Australian Railways (SAR) (see right) was the corporation through which the Government of South Australia built and operated state railways in South Australia from 1854 until 1978, when its non-urban railways were incorporated into Australian National Railways. During the colonial period, the railway out to Port Adelaide had opened in 1856 and was the first railway in Australia to use steam locomotive traction (the short line from Goolwa to Port Elliot and Victor Harbor was horse-drawn), and also the first government operated steam railway in the Empire. While the metropolitan systems ran on broad gauge, railways in mid-north and south-east of the state were originally laid with narrow gauge (3' 6") track. Locomotives and rolling stock were bought from builders in the UK and United States.
By 1922 however, the SA railway system was showing its age, unchanged from the late 19th century: wear and tear, lack of maintenance, an ageing fleet of small and outdated locomotives and rolling stock, lightweight rail network, declining revenues due to mine closures, and drain on the economy caused by the WW1, all contributed to South Australian Railways reporting significant trading losses, and the entire infrastructure decaying to the point of collapse. After SAR's worst financial deficit in 1922, the State government appointed American railroad manager William Webb, from the Missouri-Kansas-Texas Railroad as Chief Commissioner with a brief to modernise the ailing State Railways (see left). Webb introduced a rehabilitation plan based on American railroad principles of large, standardised locomotives, and steel bodied freight wagons with automatic couplings, to enable a significant increase in productivity. He recruited Fred Shea as SAR's Chief Mechanical Engineer to prepare specifications for new locomotives and rolling stock. Shea prepared locomotive designs based on American plans but built by Armstrong Whitworth in UK; these became the 500, 600 and 700 Class locomotives. To carry the heavier trains, the Webb rehabilitation plan included strengthening of track and bridges with focus on the broad gauge sections of the SAR network. Webb returned to the US in 1930, having revolutionised the SAR.
The Australian Commonwealth Railways were established in 1917 by the Federal Government (see right) to administer the Trans-Australia Port Augusta~Kalgoorlie and Port Augusta~Alice Springs transcontinental lines. The new federal railways inherited a network of lines of narrow, standard and broad gauges, and progressively upgraded main lines to standard gauge. One of the inducements held out to Western Australia to join the new Commonwealth in 1901 was the promise of a federally funded railway line linking Western Australia with the rest of the continent; construction of the standard gauge 1,000 miles railway line across the Nullarbor Desert from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie was completed in 1917. The Great Northern Railway, completed in stages northwards from Port Augusta between 1878 and 1926, originally reached only as far as Alice Springs; the onward extension to Darwin took until 2004. In the 1972 general election the Whitlam Federal Government had made a commitment to invite the states to hand over their railway systems to the federal government to create the nationalised Australian National Railways in 1975. The Government of South Australia took up the offer, but elected to retain the Adelaide metropolitan rail services that were transferred to the State Transport Authority. Commonwealth Railways was absorbed into Australian National Railways in 1975 along with the former state railways.
The National Railway Museum's displays on social history of life on the railways and rolling stock collection: just inside the Museum, a very moving exhibition on Women in the Railways showed the primitive life of the wives of railway builders in remote, basic camps, the life of families manning remote railway outposts, railway travel during the early~mid 20th century, and WW2 when women took over men's jobs operating the railways. One of the first lanes of exhibits displayed rolling stock which formed the Tea and Sugar Trains, bringing weekly food supplies to remote settlements of railway workers and their families, both during the railways' construction and during their 20th century operation right up to 1986. This display showed a provisions van, grocer's shop on rails, and a refrigerated butchery van where an interactive display gave information about the supply of meat and the working of these supply trains to railway families strung out at remote outposts along the hundreds of miles of track. Among the rolling stock displayed was a Travelling Post-Office (TPO) (see left). Another lane displayed the South Australian Railway Commissioner's broad gauge luxury carriage Murray, which entered service in 1934 and was withdrawn into preservation in 1997. Murray was also included in the Royal train for the Duke of Edinburgh, when he travelled from Murray Bridge to Adelaide in March 1974. It was from the steps of a similar railway coach that General Douglas MacArthur made his famous speech "I came through, and I shall return" when he reached Australia, arriving in Melbourne by train in March 1942, after his evacuation from Corregidor following the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. The tracks in the former goods yard sidings between of the Museum's two pavilions showed clearly their multiple gauge formation. The second shed displayed further aspects of the Commonwealth Railways, with maps showing the development of trans-continental lines westwards across to Perth, and northward to Alice Springs and Darwin, and the central part that Adelaide and South Australia played as the rail cross-roads.
The Museum's collection of historical locomotives reflecting railway history: the museum's collection of preserved locomotives was set out in lanes in two large pavilions, to illustrate the history, development and workings of railways in both South Australia and the national network. These locomotives, representing the mix of gauges, included both steam engines from the late 19th century through to the early~middle years of the 20th century, and diesel-electric locomotives which hauled later 20th century inter-state passenger expresses. The exhibits included locomotives worked by both State and Commonwealth Railways and by private railway operators. The exhibits showed the importance, both for passenger and freight traffic, of locomotives designed for the increasingly more powerful haulage capacity required for tackling the distances involved on the trans-continental routes, and for taking heavier trains over the severe gradients of the Adelaide Hills eastwards towards Melbourne. Haulage capacity of heavier trains became particularly important with coal and mineral extraction which became more fundamental to the Australian economy. The Museum's collection of preserved locomotives duly reflected this evolution of locomotive design, particularly the big power designs of the Webb/Shea years for South Australian Railways (SAR).
Late 19th and early 20th century locomotive development: the earliest steam engine on display was No 97, introduced in 1890, representing the South Australian Railways narrow gauge Y-Class of 2-6-0 locomotives (Photo 28 - Y-Class No 97 locomotive) (see above right). The 129 engines of this class, built by Beyer Peacock of Manchester between 1885~1898, saw service in every colony in Australia except Victoria, and in South Australia it became the regular narrow-gauge locomotive of this early period. By 1903 ore traffic on the line from Broken Hill to smelters at Port Pirie was rapidly expanding, and the Y-Class locomotives were proving too small for the increasingly heavy hauls. A larger engine of 4-8-0 wheel arrangement was therefore designed and ordered from James Martin and Company of Gawler and from Walkers of Maryborough in Queensland. The 4-8-0 T-Class remained dominant on the Broken Hill line for half a century until the conversion of the line from narrow to standard gauge and advent of the large Beyer-Garratts in the 1950s (see below). In all that time the T-Class remained the biggest power on all the South Australian narrow-gauge lines. Locomotive number 253, which came into service in 1917, was displayed to represent the T-Class (see above right and left) (Photo 29 - T-Class No 253 locomotive).
Another of the engines displayed at the Museum represented locomotive development in the early years of the 20th century for South Australian Railways suburban passenger services. In 1902 the SAR's then Chief Mechanical Engineer, Thomas Roberts, produced a design for a 4-6-2 tank locomotive, to be known as the F-Class, to replace earlier outdated P-Class 2-4-0 engines which were incapable of hauling the increasing sizes of suburban passenger trains. The new engines were built by the SAR Islington Railway Workshops and by James Martin and Co, with the last entering service in October 1922. For over 50 years, the F-Class 4-6-2 tank engines operated the majority of Adelaide’s suburban passenger railways network until replaced by diesel multiple unit railcars in the 1950s. Although somewhat slow in accelerating away from stations, they were capable of speeds in excess of 60 mph, even with quite heavy loads. In their day, the F-Class engines were considered both attractive and efficient for their purpose compared with the predecessor P-Class. The F-Class was represented at the Museum by the final member of the Class number 255 (see above left) (Photo 30 - F-Class 4-6-2 locomotive No 255).
Another display represented early 20th century locomotive development for hauling long distance Commonwealth Railways expresses on the Transcontinental Railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie. The G-Class standard gauge 4-6-0 locomotives entered service with Commonwealth Railways in 1914. Based on an earlier NSW Railways design, the G-Class were the first passenger locomotives built for the standard gauge Transcontinental Railway then under construction. Twenty-six were ordered, built between 1914 and 1917 by Clyde Engineering of Sydney, the Baldwin Locomotive Works of Philadelphia USA, and by the Toowoomba Foundry, Queensland. The G-Class hauled the Transcontinental Australian Express between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie for twenty years, until displaced by more modern and powerful 4-6-0 engines in 1936. After this they were relegated to working mixed traffic between Port Pirie and Port Augusta, and during WW2 hauled troop trains. The first of the class, number G1, has been preserved and is now on display at the Port Adelaide National Railway Museum (see above right) (Photo 31 - Commonwealth Railways G-Class express locomotive No G1).
Mid-20th century development of larger engines: one of the NRM's prize exhibits was the enormous Class-500 4-8-4 steam locomotive Number 504, Tom Barr-Smith (the same family who owned Beechwood at Stirling). This hugely powerful broad gauge express locomotive was one of ten Class-500 locomotives designed by Fred Shea, and ordered from Armstrong-Whitworth of Newcastle-on-Tyne in 1924. They were shipped out to Port Adelaide in 1926, and named after noteworthy South Australians. The Class-500s regularly pulled the Overland Express from Adelaide to Melbourne as well as heavy freight trains over the steep 1:45 gradients of the Mount Lofty range, which climbed 1,534 feet in 19.4 miles, passing through 8 tunnels to reach the summit of the Adelaide Hills. Prior to the introduction of the powerful Webb/Shea engines, the heaviest of earlier locomotives needed double-heading and even a banker at the rear to haul heavy trains over Mount Lofty. In contrast, the 500-Class locos were 2½ times more powerful, and, with later modifications, could haul 540 ton trains over Adelaide Hills in contrast with 190 tons of earlier unaided engines. During the 1930s the engines underwent another change in appearance when they were semi-streamlined, and with their silvered smokebox doors they became known as Palefaces (see above left). One of the Museum volunteers gave us more details of the locomotive's working: the Class-500s were coal-fired, some fitted with automated stokers; the manually stoked locos would have given the fireman a massive task maintaining steam on these gigantic engines. The 500-Class was over twice the size of the biggest pre-Webb era engine, and was the most powerful locomotive in Australia in its day. The Class-500s were withdrawn in 1961 with the advent of diesel-electric traction, and only Number 504 survived into preservation at the Port Adelaide Museum (see above right) (Photo 32- SAR 500-Class 4-8-4 locomotive No 504).
Completion of the South Australian Railway route between Adelaide and Port Pirie in 1937 created a need for a fast, light passenger locomotive to operate this service, as well as for other traffic on the South Australian rail network. Fred Shea, South Australian Railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer, designed two classes of Pacific locomotives for service on SA Railways, both based on the US Railroad Administration Light Pacifics. The first, the powerful 4-6-0 600-Class, built in 1924 by Armstrong-Whitworth, revolutionized the working of heavy express trains such as the Adelaide~Melbourne Overland Express. The second was the 620-Class, ten of which were built at the SAR Islington Workshops between 1936 and 1938, for use over such lines as Adelaide to Port Pirie. 620-Class Number 624 entered service in 1937, and for the next 30 years performed those duties on secondary lines for which the Class had been constructed. The first of the class, Number 620, was Australia’s first streamlined locomotive painted with Hawthorn green and cream stripes (see left), introduced in 1936 to coincide with South Australia's Centenary. The smokebox was covered with a chromed steel grille emblazoned with the SAR crest (see right). As part of the Centenary celebrations, the streamlined locomotive hauled the Centenary Limited, a train made up of coaches in a matching livery of green and cream. The rest of the Class remained un-streamlined. Two of the 620-Class engines survived into preservation: Number 621 operates on the Mount Barker~Victor Harbor Steamranger heritage railways service, with Number 624 displayed at the Port Adelaide Museum (Photo 33 - SAR 620-Class light Pacific No 624)
Historically one of the most important engines in the NRM collection was SA Railways 2-8-2 heavy freight locomotive Number 702 which entered service in 1926. The South Australian Railways 700-Class was one of the most successful designs of Fred Shea's updating of motive power during the so-called rehabilitation of South Australian Railways in the 1920s. These sturdy engines were British built by Armstrong-Whitworth of Newcastle-upon-Tyne for South Australian broad gauge main line freight working and were capable of hauling 400 ton freight trains over the Mount Lofty gradients. Earlier heavy steam locomotives, which the Class-700s replaced, could in comparison manage only 200 tons working. The Class-700 engines continued successful working until finally withdrawn in 1964. Number 702 is the only one of the 700-Class to survive into preservation at NRM (Photo 34 - SAR 700-Class heavy freight loco No 702).
After WW2 there was a need for more and bigger motive power to haul the heavy ore trains between Broken Hill and Port Pirie. The earlier and less powerful T-Class engines were doing a sterling job, but there was too much traffic for them to handle on their own. In 1951 South Australian Railways placed an order with Beyer-Peacock of Manchester for ten of their powerful Beyer-Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4 type articulated steam locomotives to meet the need for greater motive power to haul heavy ore trains between Broken Hill and Port Pirie (see below for diagram drawing of the SAR 400-Class Beyer-Garratts). Number 409 preserved and displayed at the Museum was one of ten such engines ordered in 1951 from Beyer-Peacock (see left and right) (Photo 35 - SAR 400-Class Beyer-Garratt heavy freight loco No 409). The engines were delivered in 1953, and by 1955 the 400-Class articulated Beyer-Garratts had taken over most of the working on the Broken Hill line. Identical in specifications to the world-famous East African Railways articulated locomotives, the SAR 400-Class were oil-burners, but with provision for the installation of a mechanical stoker if converted to burn coal. We had earlier seen the only other of the Class-400 articulated engines to survive, number 402, in un-restored state at the Zig Zag Railway. Less than ten years after these engines were fully in service, they were replaced in 1963 by diesel-electric traction for ore traffic.
Privately-operated railways transporting ore traffic: further displays represented engines operated on the privately operated Broken Hill Proprietary and Silverton Tramway hauling ore trains from the mines at Broken Hill and Iron Knob in NSW to the SA border and onward on SAR lines to the smelters then being established at Port Pirie. To enable silver ore to be shipped from the rich lodes at Broken Hill to the Port Pirie smelters, a company was formed in 1886 to construct and operate a 35 mile narrow gauge line between Broken Hill and the SAR railhead at Cockburn on the NSW~SA border via Silverton. Since only colonial governments were permitted to operate railways, it was called the Silverton Tramway Company (STC) and formed a link between the standard gauge NSW Government Railways and narrow gauge SAR lines, becoming a highly successful venture. The line survived until 1970 when, as part of the project for completion of a standard gauge transcontinental line between Sydney and Perth, a more direct route was built by the SAR between Cockburn and Broken Hill, bypassing Silverton.
When in 1888 the Silverton Tramway Company was originally considering purchase of its first locomotives, it was logical to follow South Australian Railways practice for main line power and to order four 2-6-0s engines identical to SAR Y-Class from the Beyer Peacock Company. These were the first of nineteen Silverton Tramway Y-Class engines built by Beyer Peacock and placed in service between 1888 and 1907. Y12 was delivered in 1893 and saw just over 70 years of service. This engine's major claim to fame was that of being the locomotive involved in the notorious Battle of Broken Hill on New Year's Day 1915. Y12 was hauling a picnic train to Silverton, when it was ambushed by two Afghan camel-drivers working at the Broken Hill mines who fired rifle shots into the open trucks carrying the passengers. Two of the passengers along with a local resident and a constable were killed and seven passengers injured in the incident. This terrorist act was claimed by the two Afghans to be in support of the Ottoman war effort, and they were shot dead in a gun battle with police and militia. In the aftermath, the incident was seen as provocation by enemy aliens, and Germans in the area were the focus of violence: an angry mob burnt the local German Club to the ground, and afterwards the mob marched over to threaten a nearby camp used by Afghan camel drivers.
Just before WW1, the Silverton Tramway Company needed new locomotives for the increasing ore work on the line from Broken Hill. South Australian Railways had replaced its Y-Class with the larger T-Class in 1903, but Silverton Tramway still operated its section of the line with the smaller Y-Class; three of these have been preserved including Y-12 at the Port Adelaide Museum (Photo 36 - Silverton Tramways Y-Class loco Y-12) (see above left). They were superseded in 1915 by four 4-6-0 tender engines ordered from Beyer-Peacock of Manchester and designated A-Class numbered A-18 to A-21. Like their SAR T-Class counterparts, these engines were to be long lived. Although limited to speeds of 35mph, they lasted for almost 40 years on the strenuous 35 miles route of the Silverton Tramway to Cockburn at the NSW~SA border, pulling heavily loaded ore trains of up to 830 tons. A21 survives and is displayed at NRM (see above right) (Photo 37 - Silverton Tramways A-Class loco A-21). As ore trains became heavier, the A-Class in their turn were to be replaced in 1951 by larger engines. Silverton Tramway Company placed orders with Beyer-Peacock for four 4-8-2 heavy freight locos, to a design based on the tried and tested Western Australia Railways W-Class. These larger STC W-Class engines were turned out in Cotswold green livery with a streamlined casing covering the funnel and dome, and named after directors of the company. In service these engines could haul 1,200 tons of ore, in contrast to the 800 tons that predecessor A-Class engines could manage; this performance matched that of their SAR counterpart 400-Cass Garratts (see above). The STC W-Class performed well for the next nine years until replaced by diesels in the sixties. Number W25 named H F (Gerry) Walsh survived into preservation and is displayed at National Railway Museum (Photo 38 - Silverton Tramways W-Class loco W-25) (see above left).
In 1914 Baldwin Locomotive Works, Philadelphia USA, built two 4-6-0 locomotives for use on the privately operated Broken Hill Proprietary Tramway running between Whyalla and Iron Knob, to take over the haulage of ore trains from the small British-built tank locomotives then in use. These locomotives were typical North American products supplied with an engine bell which was removed shortly after arrival in Australia. They handled all main line ore working and could haul 850 ton trains away from Iron Knob. Their reign was short lived, however, and as increasing ore production placed ever increasing demands on them, the Broken Hill Proprietary (BHP) mining company placed orders with Baldwin for two additional 2-8-2 locomotives with almost twice the power. These later locomotives, which were placed in service in 1920, were then the most powerful in use in Australia and could haul 2,000 ton trains unaided from Iron Knob. Engine numbers 4 and 5 were relegated to secondary duties, shunting, work trains, and banking empty ore trains up the 1:95 grade out of Whyalla. Number 5 was written off and scrapped in 1956, but BHP Number 4 survived and in 1969 was donated to the Mile End Railway Museum, for refurbishment. BHP Number 4 is now displayed at the NRM complete with its American engine bell (Photo 39 - Broken Hill Proprietary Tramway 4-6-0 loco BHP-4) (see right). When removed on its delivery to BHP, this had originally been given to Iron Knob School and was subsequently donated to the museum for restoration on its engine.
Diesel-electric locomotives of the mid-late 20th century: displays in the first shed were dominated by the huge streamlined diesel-electric locomotive of the 1950s, Commonwealth Railways number GM2 (see left) (Photo 40 - Commonwealth Railways diesel-electric loco No GM2). This was turned out in striking maroon and silver lined livery, with a matching luxury air-conditioned dining car for use on transcontinental expresses. Commonwealth Railway's transition to diesel-electric traction got off to a slow start because of a lack of Australian companies capable of manufacturing this type of locomotive. Fred Shea, who had been South Australian Railway's Chief Mechanical Engineer in the 1920~30s and who had worked as CME to implement the Commonwealth government's standardization of Australia's railway gauges during WW2, joined Clyde Engineering Company of Granville NSW in 1946 as Director of Engineering. The Company gained the licence to build General Motors locomotives for the Australian market. Shea modified a well-established GM American design to conform with Australian loading gauges and axle load restrictions, to produce this highly successful and aesthetically pleasing design of diesel-electric locomotive. Eleven of the GM-Class locomotives were ordered by Commonwealth Railways and entered service in late 1951. Originally they were restricted to the transcontinental route between Port Pirie and Kalgoorlie, but as the standard-gauge network expanded, they ranged further afield. Eventually they were to work in all mainland states except Queensland, and continued working until withdrawn in 1988. GM2 is preserved at the NRM.
The first main line diesel electric locomotive to be placed in service on South Australian Railways was 900-Class Number 900, Lady Norrie, which was delivered in 1951. Built at the Islington Workshops using English Electric engines, this was the first of ten 1580 hp diesel-electric locos which were to change the face of railways in South Australia for ever. Number 900 entered traffic hauling the Express running between Adelaide and Port Pirie on 12 September 1951, and continued to work this train until Number 901 entered service in November. Trials were run on goods trains through the Hills, and on 20 November both engines hauled the Overlander between Adelaide and Tailem Bend on the Murray River. As more units became available, they began working through to Serviceton on the Victoria-SA border. This finally displaced the 500-, 600-, 700- and 720-Class steam locomotives from the mainline route over the Adelaide Hills. The 900-Class was soon working over all SAR main lines, hauling both goods and passenger trains, and was to enjoy a long life beyond that normally allotted to diesel-electric locomotives. After Australian National Railways took over the country lines in South Australia in 1978, the 900-Class began to be withdrawn as they became due for major overhauls. The last of the class were withdrawn, and Number 900 Lady Norrie passed into preservation for display at the NRM (see right) (Photo 41 - SA Railways diesel-electric loco No 900 Lady Norrie).
Lunch at the Railway Hotel pub: we had learnt much from the displays in the National Railway Museum about development of railways in South Australia, but fascinating as the collection was, our time was running out: it was coming up to 2-00pm and we needed to get some lunch before moving on to the Maritime Museum this afternoon. One of the Railway Museum volunteers recommended the Railway Hotel pub (see left) (Photo 42 - Railway Hotel Port Adelaide), just opposite to where the original Port Adelaide station had once stood, the site of which was now occupied by the hideously incongruous, red-brick cop-shop, which contrasted garishly with the conserved Victorian character of the hotel-pub. The hotel-pub first opened in 1856, the same year as the railway; it served railway passengers arriving at Port Adelaide station, and provided accommodation for captains of vessels berthed at the docks. The current landlord and his wife were exceptionally hospitable giving us a warm welcome for lunch of fish and chips and Coopers' Pale, and requested we make an entry in their treasured visitors' book.
South Australian Maritime Museum: just across St Vincent Street among the restored Victorian buildings of Port Adelaide's dockland area (see right) we found the South Australian Maritime Museum, housed in a stone-built former wharf. The museum not only displayed a unique collection of maritime memorabilia and ships' figure-heads, but its exhibits recorded the experiences of emigrants, their voyages to a new life in the South Australian colony, and the history of the working port of Port Adelaide.
We began on the lower storey where the displays represented the experiences of migrants to SA from three periods: the 1840s, 1910 and the £10 Poms of the 1950s. The physical displays recorded the contrasting conditions of life aboard the emigrant ships of the three periods, particularly for the steerage class poorest passengers. The displays were enlivened by gruellingly moving recordings describing their actual experiences. Life on arrival at the Adelaide of the 1840s was not much better, especially for the poorest who had to work two years' indentured service as payment for their passage out to their new life. Conditions aboard ships of 1910 and 1950s seemed a total lottery, and although steam ship voyages look less time, conditions were pretty arduous with 6 weeks of sea sickness in desperately confined living quarters deep in the hold. A computer-held database was available to search for details of those who had made the passage.
On the first floor, we clambered over a replica of a Port Adelaide coastal sailing ketch (Photo 43 - Coastal sailing ketch) which once would have traded the waters around South Australia. The upper storey of the museum showed displays giving details of the voyages of exploration and mapping undertaken by Matthew Flinders and Nicolas Baudin, together with an abandoned anchor from Flinder's ship HMS Investigator, recovered from the seabed off SA. Another display described the life pattern and eco-systems of the Port River's Bottle-nosed Dolphins. Of particular interest was the section describing the history of working conditions in the port of Port Adelaide. In the days of traditional dock working, over 2,500 stevedores were employed at the docks as manual labourers loading and unloading ships; with the advent of containerisation, the numbers employed were reduced to less than 200. It had formerly taken 2~3 weeks to unload and reload a cargo boat at the docks; now a container ship could be turned around and out of port again within 36 hours. Industrial relations in the port had been bitter, and employment was tightly controlled by an oppressive unionised structure. The Adelaide Institute was developed to provide adult education among dock-workers.
But again our time was running out. The museum closed at 5-00pm and we walked back around the quayside by the lighthouse to see the preserved building of the 1868 Telegraph Station (see above right). Back along to Port Adelaide railway station, we were expecting to catch the same train from Outer Harbour as on our previous visit. But as we reached the ramp up to the platform, the previous train was still there and just about to depart. Seeing us rushing up the ramp, other passengers signalled to the driver to wait, which he duly did, and we boarded the train waving our thanks to the helpful fellow passengers.
Our final day in Adelaide and South Australia: plans for our final full day in Adelaide were tentative: we had seen reference to the St Kilda Mangrove Swamp board-walk trail on the Barker Inlet near to Port Adelaide and hoped to get out there, but public transport details were uncertain. Our plan entailed catching the Gawler train as far as the small town of Salisbury some 20 kms north in the outermost suburbs of the city, and with no known public transport from there out to the coast, we should probably have to take an expensive taxi to reach St Kilda.
Train north to Salisbury: as usual we caught the tram up King William Street to the railway station and, experienced users of Adelaide's excellent public transport system that we now were, bought our outward and return train tickets for Salisbury (click here for map of Adelaide and surrounds). Leaving Adelaide, the train passed through a series of suburban halts (see left and right) (Photo 44 - Train to Salisbury), with names like Devon Park, Dudley Park, Regency Park, Kilburn, and Islington. After passing a huge rail freight terminal near to Dry Creek and a military airfield at Parafield, the train finally dropped us at Salisbury Interchange alongside a bus station but seemingly some distance from Salisbury town centre.
Determined enquiries to find details of St Kilda Mangrove Swamps: our enquiries at the bus station ticket office produced the first of a number of memorably helpful encounters today. The chatty gent firstly assured us that the town centre was less than five minutes' walk from here; he also confirmed, as we feared, that there was no public transport out to St Kilda. He was not sure about a Tourist Information Centre in Salisbury, but gave us details of the Salisbury Town Centre Association which may be able to help. Duly reassured, we therefore walked along towards the centre, passing an information kiosk; but this was closed, as was the Town Centre Association when we found it. We made enquiries in the Library which resulted in our next helpful encounter: the staff at least knew of the St Kilda mangrove walk, but had no maps or brochure. They also feared that taxis would be expensive, and suggested we may be able to get a bus part-way to save on cost. They pointed us in the direction of the Council Offices where we may get more information: just keep going along there, they said, and you'll walk straight into the Council Office. Sure enough, 200m further and we did walk into it. They had a rack of brochures, and bingo, here at last was a pamphlet about the St Kilda Mangrove Swamp board-walk. In fact it turned out to be nothing more than a publicity postcard, but at least it did give a phone number. We tried ringing, but the answer was a private business: we're at St Kilda, they said, but nothing to do with the mangrove board-walk. The Council Office receptionist soon established why this phone number produced no response: a pair of the digits was transposed. She gave us the correct number which we dialled; this produced a recorded message with the mangrove walk warden's number. Piece by piece, we were gradually getting there.
Steve the warden answered our call, and was both surprised and impressed with our determined persistence in ferreting out details. He finally gave us the information we needed, and even suggested that we may find nothing of interest there. Not at all, we insisted, we have never before seen a mangrove swamp; even further impressed, he added that we should simply leave our names on the honesty-box envelope but not bother with the $5 each entry charge, as a reward for our persistence! He further gave details of Waterloo Corner Road, about half-way out to St Kilda, to where we might get a bus to save part of the taxi fare. Thanking him and the Council receptionist, we walked over to the nearby shopping centre where there was a taxi rank. We were almost there; all we needed now was to negotiate a reasonable charge for the taxi ride there and back.
First of all at the shops we bought packs of sandwiches and meat pies for lunch, then approached the first taxi waiting there. The taxi driver confirmed he knew of St Kilda Mangrove Walk and could take us, but the fare for the one-way journey would be $20; could we arrange for him to collect us later? Yes, another $20. How about $30 for the round trip, we suggested; that was agreed and we shook on that. So we had our transport fixed at a reasonable rate, without having to involve part-bus complications.
Finding the St Kilda Mangrove Trail: the journey out from Salisbury to St Kilda on the Barker Inlet was much further than expected (click here for map of Adelaide and surrounds); were we literally being taken for a ride? But sure enough, we turned off the A1 Port Augusta Highway along a side-lane past the St Kilda Tramway Museum (closed today) to the end of the road at the edge of a coastal lagoon. It was now 12-45, and we arranged for the driver to collect us here at 3-00pm, paying him $15, half the agreed sum. We just hoped it would all work out and he would honour the arrangement to collect us at the agreed time! But there was a hotel nearby where we could arrange another taxi if need be as a last resort, and if all else failed we did at least have a mobile phone signal out here. The driver assured us that the entrance to the mangrove board-walk was straight ahead along a gravel track, and to turn right at the end; he drove off leaving us to find our way.
We set off along the track, but there was no sign of mangroves, not that we knew at this stage what mangroves looked like! The track followed the line of coastal mud-flats and salt-marshes, to reach an adventure playground referred to in our Lonely Planet guide. But there was still absolutely no trace of entry to the mangrove trail. We asked a family at the adventure playground; they clearly were equally unsure, but suggested heading towards a building some 300m across a large car park. It still all seemed totally uncertain; it felt so near, yet still so far. After all our persistent enquiries, had we been misled and dropped at entirely the wrong place? The building turned out to be a café-cum-fishing-tackle-shop, but someone there pointed to an area some distance away by a yacht marina; hopefully we were getting closer. We continued round, and at last found what we were looking for, the elusive entrance to the St Kilda Mangrove Swamp board-walk trail. We had been dropped at the wrong place; finding the entrance had taken almost half an hour of our precious time, but we had made it
The St Kilda Mangrove Swamps on the Barker Inlet: the Barker Inlet is a tidal inlet off St Vincent Gulf, named after Captain Collet Barker who first sighted it in 1831 from the heights of Mount Lofty in the Adelaide Hills. It contains one of the world's southernmost Mangrove forests, and is an important fish and shellfish breeding ground. The inlet separates Torrens Island near Port Adelaide from the mainland to the east near to Salisbury, and is characterized by a network of tidal creeks, artificially deepened channels and wide mudflats. The now decreasing belt of mangroves are bordered by Samphire saltmarsh flats, Seagrass meadows and low-lying sand dunes. A 1.5 km boardwalk through the Mangroves swamps was constructed in 1984 by the City of Salisbury to encourage appreciation of the Mangrove's ecological importance, and the St Kilda Interpretative Centre was opened by the entrance to the boardwalk with presentations on the flora, fauna and ecology of the mangrove forest. Since 1997 the mangrove trail has been privately managed, hosting school visits as well as individual visitors such as ourselves, although our experience showed that nowadays it needed considerable initiative and determination to find a way out to St Kilda and to locate the boardwalk!Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees (halophytes), growing in saline and marine shorelines. Trees growing in such harsh coastal conditions require special adaptations if they are to survive. They have developed a complex salt filtration system to extract excess salt from sea water immersion and excrete it through glands on the underside of their leaves (Photo 45 - Mangroves leaves with salt crystals) (see above right). Another of the problems they face is how to ensure their roots receive sufficient oxygen, and they have duly adapted to the low oxygen conditions of waterlogged mud and wave inundation. In much the same way that humans use snorkels to breathe underwater, Mangrove trees with submerged roots have evolved specialised root structures known as pneumatophores (Mangrove Root System); these breathing-tube roots project like snorkels about 20cm above the saturated mud (Photo 46 - Mangrove Pneumatophores projecting through swamp) (see above left), and absorb oxygen from the air through minuscule pores in the bark (lenticels). They also hang from the lower trunk or branches as adventitious aerial roots (see right) (Photo 47 - Aerial root Pneumatophores). Another problem for Mangrove trees growing in unstable, waterlogged mud is that of structural support. The trees' solution to this is a system of aerial roots that arch over the water; this distinctive feature of mangroves takes the form of stilt-like branching roots that loop off the trunk and lower branches, extending away from the trunk and broadening the base of the tree like flying buttresses on a medieval cathedral. These stabilize the shallow root system in the soft, loose mud providing structural support for the trees. This tangle of roots allows the trees to handle the daily rise and fall of tides by slowing the movement of tidal waters, causing sediments to settle out of the water and to build up the muddy bottom.
Our visit to the St Kilda Mangrove Swamps: after a cloudy start this morning, the weather had brightened with some sun, but cloud was now beginning to gather again as we set off on the Mangrove Trail (click here for map of St Kilda Mangrove Trail). We entered our names together with a note of thanks on the honesty-box envelope for Steve the warden, and set off along the course of an embankment. This sea-wall had been constructed through the mangroves in the late 19th century to keep the Barker Inlet salt tidal wash from the inner mud-flats and to create protected coastal grazing on the reclaimed land. It had all been long abandoned and Grey Mangroves (Avicennia marina) were now re-colonising the inner areas of the tidal swamps at St Kilda. The raised mud-flats on the landward side were now covered with dense meadows of red and green Samphire growth (see left) (Photo 48 - Mangroves and Samphire).
We followed the trail which advanced along the top of the former sea-wall and some 500m along, the elevated board-walk began, meandering through the tidal salt marshes, mangroves forests (Photo 49 - Start of board-walk) and sea-grass channels of the inner Barker Inlet. The board-walk across the Mangrove swamps reached a small bird-watching hide, and as we sat here to eat our sandwiches, we were lucky enough to see a Blue-Headed Fairy Wren (Malurus cyaneus) (see library photo above right). A native bird of SE Australia and Tasmania, the male has a spectacular breeding plumage of bright, iridescent blue around its head, fully justifying its alternative name of Superb Fairy Wren; in contrast, the female is a plain fawn colour. As the board-walk reached the denser Mangrove forest, we saw the first evidence of what the information panels described as snorkel roots (Pneumatophores) protruding up through the swamp in masses all around the walk-way (Photo 50 - Mangrove snorkel roots) (see below left). The board-walk continued out through the forest, seeming to turn every-which-way around the swamps (Photo 51 - Twisting board-walk) (see left), and the Mangrove forests became thicker and trees taller (see right), arching over the walk-way forming a canopy (Photo 52 - Arching Mangrove canopy). In some places the muddy surface of the Mangrove swamp looked dry enough to support weight, but in others the Mangroves were growing in deep-looking standing water (Photo 53 - Mangroves in standing water). Rotting sea-grass washed in by tidal flow covered the boards and draped over the lower branches of the mangroves (Photo 54 - Rotting sea-grass). We seemed to be approaching a less forested area bordering onto open sea of the Barker Inlet along the coast (Photo 55 - Outer limit of board-walk), when suddenly the way forward along the board-walk was blocked off by a locked gate. The plan by the entrance had warned that repair work on the board-walk was taking place where recent high tides had caused damage. We had reached that point of closure, and now had to turn back and re-trace our steps to the sea-wall by the boardwalk entrance rather than being able to complete the return half of the trail's circuit.
Turning along the old sea-wall with the sun now shining again lighting the Mangrove bushes (Photo 56 - Mangrove bushes), we identified the other inner end of the board-walk circuit; at least we could walk out along here to the far outer end of the blocked-off damaged section. As we re-entered the Mangrove forest, the now brighter sunlight lit the arching canopy of Mangroves (Photo 57 - Mangrove board-walk) (see right), making it tempting to pause for further photos looking along the board-walk. But our time was beginning now to run out, and we hurried around to the end section of walk-way in the dark canopy of mangrove trees (Photo 58 - Mangroves trees canopy). Here we took further photos under the cover of the trees among the silent, mysterious, darkened swamps (Photo 59 - Dense Mangrove forests among swamps), with the rotting smell of stagnant mud and decomposing vegetation filling the air. In our hurry, care was needed not to slip on the masses of wet sea-grass which still caked the board-walk from the last high tide. Just before the locked-off section, we reached a high wooden vantage point, and from the top of the ladder, were able to look out over the canopy of mangrove forest across to the wide Barker Inlet (see below left) (Photo 60 - Barker Inlet over Mangrove trees). In the distance across the width of the inlet, we could see Torrens Island with the chimneys of its power station (Photo 61 - Torrens Island from Mangrove look-out), and beyond this the huge grain-silos and container terminal of Port Adelaide Outer Harbour.
Return to Salisbury: by now however it was 2-15, and our time was seriously getting short if we were to make it back to the rendez-vous point for when the taxi returned (we hoped!) at the agreed time of 3-00pm. As we hurried back around the wooden board-walk, our footsteps disturbed an Ibis which flew up out of the mangrove swamps. Approaching the Interpretative Centre, we wondered if Steve the warden might be there; while however it would have been rewarding to thank him personally for his help, this would inevitably have meant delay and we still had to find our way back past the adventure playground and around the gravel track-way. It was now gone 2-45 as we returned along the track, and in the distance could see what appeared to be a taxi waiting at the parking area. Much to our relief when we got back, it was our taxi driver; true to his word, he was there in good time waiting for us.
On the drive back, we chatted with the taxi driver; he was originally from India or Pakistan, and had been in Australia for 3 years. We asked him if he found life in his new country satisfying, and with a degree of irony he complained bitterly about the current wave of illegal immigrants who were causing such problems in trying to force an entry into Australia. He admitted to resenting this, having fulfilled all the requirements for legal entry, following the system, working hard, earning a living and paying taxes, and yet after 3 years was still awaiting confirmation of his right to stay. He dropped us back at the shopping centre in Salisbury, and we paid him the balance of the fare along with a generous tip for his help. All in all it had worked out well, resulting in a very rewarding venture: very satisfyingly, we had managed against the odds to sort out details of the mangrove trail, arrange transport at a reasonable charge; we had enjoyed an entirely novel experience, enabling us quite unexpectedly to learn much about Mangrove tree swamps, a subject of which we had previously known nothing. And contrary to the rather jaundiced impression we had been given about Salisbury, it had seemed to us a perfectly reasonable little town with a pleasant centre and very helpful citizens.
Return to Adelaide and a search for a book present: we arrived back at Salisbury Interchange Station just as a return train to Adelaide drew in, and we were back in Adelaide therefore by 3-45pm. This gave us time this afternoon to try and track down a copy of the History of the Flinders Ranges book which Lucy had been reading at Wonoka, as a thank-you present for hosting our stay in South Australia. Along at Rundle Mall, we paused to photograph the imposing domed façade of Adelaide Arcade (Photo 62 - Adelaide Arcade) which incorporated the Kangaroo and Emu crest and Advance Australia motto (Photo 63 - Kangaroo and Emu crest) (see right). The staff at Dymocks bookshop confirmed that the book was now out of print, but suggested trying the second-hand bookseller just down a side alley in Twin Street. The helpful man at the antiquarian book shop said he knew the book well; he had no copies himself, but thought he knew a man who might. He telephoned another bookseller and calmly announced his success: a copy awaited us at O'Connell's second-hand bookshop at Hindley Street across the far side of Rundle Mall. Battling our way through the hordes of school children, we returned along to King William Street as the rain began. Earlier on a radio news report in the Salisbury taxi, we had heard of a major gas leak caused by building work in Hindley Street which had resulted in building evacuation and road closure to traffic; was this now going to frustrate all our efforts? But as we walked past, repair work was in progress. We found the bookshop, and our copy of the History of the Flinders Ranges was waiting. The book was in good condition and actually signed by the author in 1974. The couple who kept the bookshop said they regularly bought up second-hand copies of the book which always sold well; they seemed pleased to be able to help with our reason for wanting to buy it.
Our final ride on the Adelaide tram took us along past Victoria Square to Halifax Street for the last time. During our five weeks in Adelaide, we had certainly got to know both the city and key places in the southern part of South Australia well. Along at the Earl of Aberdeen, we sat and enjoyed our final glasses of Coopers Dark, before returning to Lucy's apartment. We wrote our wording of dedication in our book gift of thanks and presented it to our daughter, telling her the story of our serendipitous tracking it down. Later that evening, we took concluding photos of our daughter (Photo 64 - Our daught Lucy) (see above left) as a souvenir of our stay in Adelaide.
Coming soon: tomorrow we should fly on to
Perth in Western Australia, for a two day stop-over to conclude our time in
Australia. But that is the story for the
next edition, coming soon.
to be published quite soon
Published: 20 July 2021
Next edition to be published quite soon
Published: 20 July 2021