A splendid part of Aussie history
With a history dating back to the 1870s, the old, narrow gauge railway line running north-south through Outback Australia formed an important part of the historic Ghan Railway which provided a vital link to Central Australian regions well over a century ago.
When the Central Australian rail line was realigned to the west of its old original route back in the 1950s, it unfortunately seemed that the remnants of this historic old line would simply be abandoned and forgotten.
Not prepared to see the old narrow gauge track (3 foot 6 inches wide) completely consigned to the history books however, a group of locals got together to work out a way of keeping at least a section of the old rail line going.
As an obviously dedicated bunch of volunteers, the group set out in 1973 to restore a 39 km section of track between Quorn and Port Augusta and to once again see the line in active use. By this time, the section of narrow gauge line between Stirling North and Port Augusta had been removed and it was therefore necessary for this section to be replaced and another section between Woolshed Flat and Stirling North also needed much work, including replacement of sleepers, some rail sections, re-timbering of several bridges and even a turning triangle to be constructed at Stirling North.
During these years of rebuilding, the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society (PRRPS) as they became known, really had its hands full, both in the physical work involved and fund-raising through a variety of sources, including the Port Augusta City Council, SA State Government and Federal Government all being convinced to lend a helping (financial) hand.
Set in the central regions of the beautiful Flinders Ranges, winding through valleys and gorges, rolling hillsides, red gum lined creed beds, old stone walls, abandoned settlements and picturesque grazing country, it is not hard to see why the work in getting this line back up and running (and nowadays operating a variety of historic train journeys) has always been in fact, a real ‘labour of love’ for all involved.