Home | About Australia | Ghost Towns and Sidings of the Nullarbor Plain

Ghost Towns and Sidings of the Nullarbor Plain

On a map you will see a plethora of names noting remote communities once home to the railway men, fettlers and anyone else who could scrape together a living around the railway line. Very little of these settlements remains. A rubble of stones might demark an old water bore, sometimes even the outline of a stone hut is often all that can be seen today. Some sites with tourist or historic value have been partially preserved - such as the site of the Prisioner of War camp which housed 300 Italian prisoners of war who worked on the maintenance of the line during World War II. Others, long since deserted, have been razed by bulldozers.

The following are the sidings and remnants of towns on the Trans Continental railway across the Nullarbor Plain between Tarcoola (where The Ghan line branches off to the north) and Kalgoorlie in the Western Australian Goldfields.

A goldmining ghost town, Tarcoola as named after the Melbourne Cup winner of 1893, the year in which gold was found here and European settlement commenced. It was a busy railway town in the days of steam when trains stopped here for coal and water before continuing into the Nullarbor.

Since the Central Australia Railway was rebuilt as standard gauge in 1980, it has been the site of the junction of the line to Alice Springs and later to Darwin as the Adelaide-Darwin railway. The station has two triangles, one for turning locomotives, and a larger one that gives direct access from the Darwin line to the Perth line. A Babkery was built at Tarcoola to provide freshly baked bread to the passenger trains over the Trans Australian line and workers along the route.

When the gold petered out, Tarcoola almost died, but was given a new lease of life when the Transcontinental railway to Western Australia was pushed through Tarcoola South during the First World War. The historic Wilgena Hotel, which still stands today, was moved down from the main town block of Tarcoola North at that time to service the collective thirst of the railway construction and maintenance gangs. When it closed, it was one of only two iron hotels left operating in South Australia. While at its original location, it was well patronised by shearing teams from the extensive pastoral runs of the area including Commonwealth Hill which is easily the biggest contiguous sheep run in SA and arguably the whole of Australia.

In 1980, when the old narrow gauge Ghan line through Marree and Oodnadatta was closed, a new standard gauge line to Alice Springs was built and it spurred north from the Transcontinental line immediately west of Tarcoola. The town then became a significant railway maintenance, crew-change and service centre with its own school, hospital, church, hotel, police station and community hall. However after 1998, when Australian National transferred the responsibility for the Indian-Pacific and Ghan lines to the Australian Railtrack Corporation Ltd., rail services and crew changes were increasingly facilitated from Port Augusta and Tarcoola began to be progressively closed down.

Today there are only a handful of people living permanently in Tarcoola while relief and maintenance crews use the railway quarters during the working week. Most of the infrastructure is still intact and in reasonable order. The hospital is used periodically as a clinic and people from the surrounding sheep stations use the building intermittently for meetings and social purposes. The hall is an impressive structure; there is still a town power generating system and water is available from the extensive railway dams nearby.

The name is taken from the nearby Malbooma station. Australia's north-south dog fence passes through Malbooma. The siding has a 1,975 m loop & spur line.

354 Mile Siding/Lyons
The railway settlement of Lyons was located 3.9 km from 354 Mile Siding. Lyons was named after Australian Prime Minister Joseph Aloysius Lyons (Period in Office 19th December 1931 to 7th April 1939). In October 1929 Lyons was appointed to the positions of Postmaster-General and Minister for Works and Railways. He was responsible for the North Australia Railway in the Northern Territory, the Trans Australian Railway, the Federal Territory (ACT) Railway, and the Central Australian Railway in South Australia. The siding was named 354 Mile Siding to mark its distance from it to Peterborough.

A small siding with a 1,852 m loop, it takes its name from a pastoral station which in turn adopted the Aboriginal name for the locality. Wymbring is an Aboriginal name meaning fiery or burning spring.

Mount Christie
The siding consists of a 1,855 m loop with a spur line that is still used today to service an iron ore mine at nearby Mt Christie. At 9.30pm on 1st September 2008 a train carrying goods to Perth from Melbourne derailed near Mount Christie. The intermodal train was proceeding into a passing loop in order to cross with a train travelling in the opposite direction. Approximately 20m before the loop, 12 of the train s wagons derailed, falling onto their sides and blocking the line. The oncoming train was immediately halted. There were no injuries associated with this incident.

The west end points and approximately 2.2km of track has been damaged on the east side of the east end turnout and 300 mtrs of damaged track west of the west end points. In another incident, a collision occurred not far from Mount Christie Siding on 22nd February 1997.

Ziggy's house

Situated 1,708 km from Perth, this railway settlement of just three or four dwellings clings to the line amid the rolling red sand dunes which mark the eastern boundary of the Nullarbor. Barton's airstrip lies close the train tracks. When approached from the east, what remains of Barton has taken on the appearance of a fortress sprawled against the north facing slope of a sand dune, the sort of place one would expect Mad Max to emerge from. Outside of the official settlement is the home of a recently decesed Polish born man named Ziggy who built the foundations of his house with the sleepers of the old railway, laboriously wheelbarrowing each one to his site.

Over the years he added outbuildings which he erected from old sheets of corrugated iron, disused sleepers and anything else he could find that had been abandoned by railway workers at the nearby settlement. Though a few hundred metres away a rest house with modern facilities has been erected for telecommunications and railway workers, the man was content to survive with has no phone, no electricity and a kerosene lamp for light at night. The siding was named after Prime Minister Sir Edmund Barton (Period in Office 1 January 1901 to 24 September 1903). Barton has an 1,860 metre loop, spur line and triangle.

One of ten cameras installed across the Nullarbor by a team of scientists from Curtin University, Perth. Part of the Desert Fireball Network (DFN) cameras take hundreds of photos every night while a video camera detects meteor movement.

1,679 km from Perth, this siding named after Mrs Daisy Bates CBE who, in 1917, predicted the decline of the Aborigines of the Nullarbor and who devoted her life to their welfare until she retired to Adelaide, where she died in 1951. She spent many years of her life teaching Aboriginal children at a mission at Ooldea. Bates siding has a 1,822 m loop and spur lines.

This siding has a Block Point. A block is a section of track protected by signals. A block point gives entry to a section of line into which only one train at a time is permitted, allowing trains on a single line track such as the Trans Australian line to pass each other. Immarna is 231 kms NorthWest of Ceduna, 302 kms SouthWest of Coober Pedy, 371 kms South of Mintabie and 730 kms South-East of Warburton.

Ooldea is a tiny settlement in South Australia 1,628 km from Perth, 863 km west of Port Augusta and 143 km from the bitumen Eyre Highway that holds a special place in the history of the line. It was here that the two teams who constructed of the line - one workin g eastwards from Kalgoorlie and the other, westwards from Port Augusta - met on 17th October 1917. Ooldea was also the site of a mission for Aboriginal children that was home for many years to Daisy Bates, a woman concerned with understanding and protecting Aboriginal culture. Ooldea soak and its sandhills has long been a place of significance for Aboriginal people. Ooldea lies on the edge of the scrub country and at the eastern edge of the Nullarbor plain. To the north and northwest is 'spinifex country'.

The permanent water of Ooldea was important in ceremonial and social life, and a focal point for trade and travelling routes. Ooldea was an important camp during construction of the railway, as it is near a permanent waterhole, first discovered by Europeans when Ernest Giles used it in 1875. The railway relied on Ooldea's water which was pumped away to supply the steam trains which stopped to take on water, and for the houses of the rail workers along the line - it was the only natural water supply on the railway line. Here water bubbles to the surface from what is thought to be a massive underground river flowing from the Musgrave Ranges to the north.

By 1926, Ooldea's water source had been exhausted and the railway pumping station closed. Ooldea was also important as the railway siding servicing the nuclear testing at Maralinga to the north. The town was dependant on the Tea and Sugar Train for the delivery of supplies until 1996 when the train was withdrawn. The longest straight of railway track in the world starts west of Ooldea before Watson at the 797 km point and continues to between Loongana and Nurina, a distance of 478 km. Ooldea is the local Aboriginal name for a meeting place where water is available. Ooldea has a 1,962 m loop, siding and spur lines.

Maralinga nuclear testing control centre, Watson (1960s)

The siding was named after Prime Minister John Christian Watson (Period in Office 27th April to 17th August 1904). The Old Railway Station stands near the road to Maralinga. Watson is 1,595 km from Perth. North of the railway track at Watson is the vast and controversial area known as Maralinga which was a British nuclear bomb testing ground in the 1950s. Watson has a 2,593 m loop, siding and spur lines.

The siding was named after King O'Malley, a Canadian born insurance salesman and politician, who was one of the main promoters of the east-west railway line that became the Trans Continental Railway. In 1896 he was elected as a member for Encounter Bay in the South Australian House of Assembly as a radical democrat, opposed to the wealthy landowners who then dominated colonial politics. O'Malley first sat as an Independent in the newly elected Federal Parliament but in June 1901 joined the Australian Labor Party. O'Malley is located just off the Trans Access Road in west South Australia, a distance of about 850km west-northwest from Adelaide. O'Malley had a Block point.

Trans Access Road

The siding was named after Prime Minister Andrew Fisher (Periods in Office: 13th November 1908 to 2nd June 1909; 29th April 1910 to 24th June 1913; 17th September 1914 to 27th October 1915). Fisher is located just off the Trans Access Road in the far west of South Australia, a distance of about 860km west-northwest from Adelaide. The Trans Access Road is an unsealed road linking Western Australia and South Australia. It goes from near Stoneville in Western Australia to near Ooldea Range in South Australia. Fisher has a 1,905 m loop and spur lines.

Before World war II, Cook was a thriving community with about 200 residents. Today, Cook is the only place on the line with permanent railway staff; one couple remains to manage the servicing facilities for the Indian-Pacific (today's Sydney-Adelaide-Perth passenger train operated by Great Southern Railways). The Indian Pacific has only four scheduled stops on its journey from Sydney to Perth: Broken Hill, Adelaide, Cook (the only stop on the Nullarbor Plain) and Kalgoorlie. Organised tours are available at each stop except Cook.

The halfway point on the train journey across the Nullarbor, it is here that the Indian Pacific takes on water, changes drivers and passengers have an opportunity to stretch their legs on terra firma. Cook has a floating population that rises and falls between eleven and three. The hospital and school are closed down, the only sign of life is the small souvenir shop where tourists coo over Cook-inscribed teaspoons and teddy bears. The above ground swimming pool, now filled-in with dirt and turf, is the makeshift golf course.

The main street, a dusty expanse between the railway and a line of unoccupied fibro homes has a hand-painted sign warning Cook - last fuel for 868 kilometres  as if to say "venture beyond this point at your peril". It comes as no surprise that few people use this route, because if you get into trouble you are very much on your own. From what the locals at Cook say, the tracks only get used from time to time by Telstra engineers maintaining and checking the east west optical cable which has replaced the Telegraph Line. Since the optic cable was laid, little remains of the telegraph line with the exception of one or two poles every now and again.

Alongside the railway line are the historic gaol cells of Cook, which are, essentially, two very small corrugated iron sheds that look more like outhouses than anything else. Built in bygone days to house criminals caught wandering around on the Nullarbor and held here until the next train arrived, the two cells are matching "his" and "hers", complete with bars, padlocks and their own "gaol house rock". The siding was named after Prime Minister Sir Joseph Cook (Period in Office 24 June 1913 to 17 September 1914). It has a 3,939 m loop, low level platform, triangle, sidings, fuel sidings and spur lines.

Denman has a 1855 m loop and spur lines. The name recalls the Governor General of Australia, Lord Denman (1874-1954), who turned the first sod for the Trans Continental railway at Port Augusta, SA, on 12th September 1912. On 12th February 1913, a like ceremony was performed at Kalgoorlie by the Prime Minister, Andrew Fisher, and the line was thus commenced at both ends. Denman is one of the westernmost localities in South Australia. The nearest ocean is the Southern Ocean about 100km south of Denman. Denman is located within the Nullarbor Regional Reserve.

The first siding on the SA side of the border, it has a 2567 m loop and spur lines. The siding was named after Prime Minister William Morris Hughes (Periods in Office 27 October 1915 to 9 February 1923; 14 November 1916 to 9 February 1923). Hughes is 1,403 km from Perth.

The first siding on the Western Australian side of the border, Deakin has a 1,850 m loop and spur line. The siding was named after Prime Minister Alfred Deakin (Periods in Office 24 September 1903 to 27 April 1904; 5 July 1905 to 10 October 1908; 29 April 1909 to 13 april 1910).

All that remains is a 1,854 m loop and siding. The siding was named after Prime Minister George Houston Reid (Period in office 17 August 1904 to 5 July 1905).

A siding with a 2,500 m loop, which has a back road siding and spur lines for maintenance and equipment storage. A road leads to an airstrip where a few people live, and look after it, as it is a stepping off place for light aircraft travelling across Australia. Its traditional arched hangar and runway can be seen from the train.

In May 1929, Norman Brearley's West Australian Airways (WAA) began an air service between Perth/Maylands and Adelaide/Parafield. WAA operated three-engine, 14-passenger de Havilland D.H.66 Hercules aircraft. For the first time in Australia, the service schedule required night flying during winter. A night stop was also required at the half-way mark and the remote fettlers' settlement on the trans-continental railway at Forrest was chosen as the location.

WAA constructed three identical hangars to house the new Hercules (the largest aircraft in Australia at the time) at Maylands, Parafield and at Forrest. Additionally, at Forrest a hostel capable of accommodating 20 people (passengers and staff) was constructed. The former WA Airways hangars at Maylands and Forrest are the oldest aircraft hangars still standing in Australia today. The hostel was demolished in 1972.

Though it is not directly on the regular flight path between Perth and the eastern states' capital cities, the airstrip has been designated as and is equipped to function as the main emergency runway for commercial aircraft flying east-west across the Nullarbor, should they encounter situations that require a forced or emergency landing midway through their flight. The airstrip is capable of taking aircraft up to the size of a Boeing 747, having two runways that are both sealed and lighted.

Forrest is named after the Premier of Western Australia in the 1890s, Sir John Forrest, who was a major driving force behind the building of the trans continental railway. He was also the first European to make a successful crossing of the Nullarbor Plain on foot (some years earlier, explorer Edward John Eyre followed the coast, touching the edge of the plain at the head of the Great Australian Bight).

A siding on the WA side of the border with a 1852 m loop and spur line but no buildings. A house once stood there but it has been demolished, all that remains is the chimney. The siding takes its name from Mundrabilla station, the first sheep station on the Nullarbor, which was established by William Stuart McGill (a Scotsman) and Thomas and William Kennedy (two Irishmen) in 1872. During the 1920s drilling teams were a common sight throughout the Nullarbor at the time, and numerous boreholes were sunk in the hope of discovering water to power early steam locomotive boilers.

At Mundrabilla the mother of all boreholes was sunk to a depth of 472 metres. At that depth the drilling team were dismayed to discover that they had reached a bedrock of solid granite - and more to the point, there was absolutely no water whatsoever. A huge meteorite was found in 1911 some 26 kilometers northeast of Mundrabilla Siding on the Trans Australian railway. The 840 kg chunk or meteorite is on display at the WA Museum. Other meteorites from the 1911 shower were found in 1966 and 1979 in the vicinity.

A remote siding on the WA side of the border and a former watering stop for steam trains. The locality is noted for its stalactite caves which are common beneath the limestone surface of the Nullarbor. The area is the site of a lime mine and processing plant. The settlement relied on the Tea and Sugar Train for the delivery of all supplies until 1996, when the train was withdrawn. The Indian Pacific train still stops here on request twice a week. The longest dead straight track in the world extends from west of Loongana to west of Ooldea in the east, a distance of 478km. A lime process building is still there. Loongana is an Aboriginal word meaning swift. Loongana has a 2,500 m loop, a siding, and a triangle & spurs that are no longer operational.

Located 490 km east of Kalgoorlie on the WA side of the border, Nurina was the site of a World war II Prisoner of War camp. It was officially known as the Cook POW Labour Camp No. 3 POW Labour Detachment. In April 1942, approximately 300 Italian prisoners of war were put to work on the Trans Australian Railway to expedite sleeper renewals. These men were placed at six locations where camps had been prepared for them. A Military camp was established at Cook for the headquarters staff. During the twenty months the prisoners of war were engaged on this line, the highest effective strength was 240. Most of the POWs were repatriated to their homelands by the middle of 1947 although some were given permission to remain in Australia. Very little remains today of the camp.

Nurina siding has a 1,945 metre loop a siding with 6 cattle wagons stored there, which have not been moved in years, and spur lines. The siding is today a drop off point for mail to a nearby station that carries both cattle and camels. On 24th December 1975, 14 of the 25 carriages on the eastbound Indian Pacific train derailed due to a collapsed bogie on the leading carriage, between the remote Nullarbor sidings of Haig and Nurina. Three of the 200 passengers were injured, and they were flown from Forrest to Adelaide.

Very little remains here, even the 2,068 metre loop line has been removed. The siding was named after Field Marshal Douglas Haig, (1861-1928), a British soldier and senior commander (field marshal) during World War I. Between 20th to 24th March 1999 there were reports about a UFO sighting on the Nullarbor Plain. Apparently three stranded aliens and their 2km wide UFO were said to have crash-landed 160km North of Haig. A Sydney woman raised more than $50,000 from benefactors and proceeded to Kalgoorlie to go out in the Desert and find the aliens. She was convinced they needed help in the form of lifting and welding gear and water. The next report was said to have brought a Japanese team of UFO hunters to Perth who claimed to have satellite photos showing a strange array of lights in the desert. These later proved to be the lights of the Indian Pacific train. No evidence of UFOs or alien visitors were ever found.

A 2,490 m loop remains. There is also a disused cabin or storage shed made out of railway sleepers upon which someone has painted the words "Wilban Hotel".

A remote locality and railway siding 1,001 km from Perth, Rawlinna is the site of the Loongana Mine where lime is extracted from the limestone that is prevalent in the area. The lime is mostly used in the gold production process at Kalgoorlie. The closest locations on the Eyre Highway are Caiguna and Cocklebiddy, more than 100 km to the south. Passengers on the Indian Pacific can alight or disembark here on request. Rawlinna siding has a 1856 m loop, a siding, triangle and some spur lines. There are also a few intact station buildings, a Post Office and phone, barracks and a few homes occupied by lime plant employees and kangaroo shooters.

This siding was one of the main depots during construction of the Trans Australian Railway. Rawlinna was the destination of Len Beadell and his Gunbarrel Road Construction Party when they pushed the Connie Sue Highway south from the siding through Neale Junction to Warburton in 1960. Another dirt track to the south to Cocklebiddy is also gazetted as a main road. It was used as a supply route for material arriving by train via Rawlinna for use in the rush construction of the Eyre Highway during 1941-42. This lineside settlement marks the western extremity of the Nullarbor Plain and the end of scrub vegetation for trains heading east. The word Rawlinna is Aboriginal for wind.

A regular drop off point for mail to nearby stations and the occupants of an old ANR (Commonweath Railways) guards van. Naretha was also known as the '205 mile' camp. It featured rock piles and a crushing plant for the creation of railway line ballast. A bakery was built at Naretha in the 1950s to provide freshly baked bread for the passenger trains on the Trans Australian line and workers along the route. Naretha is the local Aboriginal name for Saltbush. Naretha has a 1,850 m loop and siding.

A disused siding; a 1,978 m loop remains.

The name honours Chief of the British Imperial General Staff Lord Kitchener. During his visit to Australia in 1911, Lord Kitchener publicly criticised the country's bewildering railway gauges. He observed the railway network favoured an enemy invasion, rather than a defence. He stressed the importance of the Trans Australia line in the defence of the nation to the Federal Parliament and urged them to commence its construction without delay. Hence following the introduction of a bill into Federal Parliament by the Minister for Home Affairs, King O'Malley, a vote for the new Transcontinental Railway was passed on 6th December 1911. kitchener is 250 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie. A 1,885m loop and siding remains.

Goddard Siding
Goddard Siding consists of a Reporting Point/Block Point. It takes its name from the only watercourse on the Nullarbor Plain, Ponton Creek. Ponton Creek rarely flows but it is a long creek - 300 kilometres in length - and begins with overflow from Lake Raeside (W.A. s longest lake) and Lake Rebecca.

The name Goddard Creek recalls W.P. Goddard, a surveyor who discovered the south end of the creek was examining the country east of Lake Lefroy in 1890. Another section of the creek was named in the following year by D. Lindsay in September, 1891 after its discoverers, Stephen and William Ponton, pioneers of Balladonia Station. For many years the creek was also known as Yandallah Creek, as in 1919, a Mines Department geologist, H.W.B. Talbot, crossed the centre of the creek and gave it the local Aboriginal name of Yandallah. The confusion over the name of the creek continued until 1964 when the name of Ponton Creek was adopted. The creek crosses the railway at a point 230 km east of Kalgoorlie near Zanthus.

A remote outpost approximately 210 kilometres east of Kalgoorlie. The original stationmaster's cabin at Zanthus is now on display at Bassendean rail museum in Perth. The Trans Australian Railway was the main route for the movement of Australian troops during World War II. In the photograph, RAAF personnel enjoy a stopover, probably to allow the steam locomotive to take on water, at Zanthus circa 1940. On 18th August 1999 the westbound Indian Pacific train was accidentally directed into a crossing loop and collided with a stationary steel train in the loop. The name Zanthus is derived from the Latin genus name for the Kangaroo Paw (Anigozanthus/Anigosanthus), the floral emblem of the stste of Western Australia. Zanthus has a 1,830 metre loop, siding, a triangle and spur lines.

The highest point on the Trans line is between Chifley and Coonana (404 metres). Coonana Siding is named after a nearby hill that was first recorded as Coonaanna by W.P. Goddard in 1890. The possible meaning of the word is "hill of ashes". Coonana has a 1868 m loop and siding ss well as an old steam ash pit.

The siding was named after Prime Minister Alfred Deakin Joseph Benedict Chifley (Period in Office 12 July 1945 to 10 December 1949). The name has been in use since 1957. Chifley consists of a Reporting Point/Block point.

Cardunia Rocks catchment

Sandalwood cutters discovered gold near Karonie in early 1963. Karonie has a 1,852 m loop and an rusty spur line that runs up to an old dam off the main line, once used to provide water for steam locomotives. The line to the dam is still intact but is not used. Cardunia Rocks, 5 km north-east of the Siding, is the name of the water catchment. The rock is terraced by stone walls constructed to channel water to a dam and a covered reservoir. The reservoir was covered to reduce evaporation - which can be as high as 2250 mm per annum - although the roof is now missing.

The average annual rainfall in this area is only 300mm. The terracing work at Cardunia Rocks is similar to the constructions at Northam Army Camp - much of it being done by Italian internees from Cook during World War II. The origin of the name Karonie is unknown, but is likely derived from an aboriginal word. Cardunia is an Aboriginal name first recorded by W.P. Goddard during his explorations of the area in 1890.

The name honours Field Marshall Sir Thomas Blamey. Born in Wagga, New South Wales, in 1884 and serving at Gallipoli and France in the First World War, Blamey went on to become Commander in Chief of the Australian Army in World War Two. When he died in 1951, 300,000 people line the route of his funeral procession in Melbourne to pay their respects to Australia's greatest soldier. Blamey, which consists of a 1852 m loop and spur lines, is 712 km from Perth.

Consists of a Block point.

The siding was named after the 14th Prime Minister of Australia, John Joseph Curtin (Period in Office 7 October 1941 to 5 July 1945). Curtin consists of a 1978 m loop and spur line.

Golden Ridge
Golden Ridge is the site of an early goldmining settlement. The siding consists of a 1958 m loop and spur line.

Parkeston is a refuelling point for all trains going to Perth or East. Additionally there is a lime processing plant and a power station (gas) for Kalgoorlie. All old train buildings are now gone. A carriage from the Indian Pacific has been detached on an unused siding at Parkeston. It was part of a breakdown train and is now being used as a crew car. As well as a 1,678 m loop there are some yards and a Triangle. A junction gives yard access.

The Trans Australian Railway Towns
Australia's east-west railway line, known as the Trans Australian Railway, was completed in 1917. On the Nullabor Plain across which it passes, surface storage of water is such that, in normal times, it was common for all reservoirs to be exhausted at least for part of each year, and recourse to underground supplies was necessary. On no other railway in the world were the supplies of underground water more deleterious to locomotive boilers than those on the Trans Australian Railway. On one stretch of more than 400 miles, there is no permanent source of supply.

To facilitate the maintenance of the line, it was decided to establish small settlements of six houses per siding and 30 km apart along the most isolated sections of the line on the Nullabor Plain. A number of these sidings were named after early Australian Prime Ministers. The three roomed corrugated iron houses at these sidings were T-shaped, with each room being linked by open latticed-walled corridors. All cooking done on a wood stove. Without refrigeration food could not be kept, and meat especially had to be cooked as soon as it had been purchased from the Tea and Sugar Train, which serviced the communities on the line.

A 'pit' or 'dry' toilet (a long drop) at the bottom of the yard, and tin (galvanised) tubs and baths were all that served as conveniences. The rain water tank was filled from the catchment area provided by the roof of the house when it rained. This precious water was for drinking only. Water for their domestic purposes came from tanks filled with water carried from Port Augusta in water wagons included with the weekly train. Water was carried to the homes in buckets.

Cook had a school where students attended normal lessons. Students - known as line kids - at places such as Barton were able to enrol in the Open Access College at Marden through which they could do their correspondence lessons, or they could enrol in the Pt Augusta School of the Air. Students enrolled in these colleges had direct access to teachers through a telephone bridge. Their written work was railed in to their teachers who would mark it.

The switch from steam to diesel powered locomotives in the 1960s improved conditions for the train crews considerably. Diesels locomotives shortened the time taken to serve the remaining camps, although the distance was still the same. In the 1980's railway engineering advanced rapidly and with some urgency adopted a range of low maintenance materials that essentially eliminated the need for local maintenance gangs. Most notably the use of highly durable concrete sleepers was adopted, and together with the ability of modern diesel locomotives to travel very long distances without refuelling, the staff along the line dwindled away.

Settlements along the Trans Australia line ceased to exist and the families from these communities were settled elsewhere. But not all the towns were 'dead men's camps' and the Tea and Sugar Train still supplied isolated communities along the railway line out on the Nullarbor for a number of years. The Sugar Train last trip was made on 30th August 1996 ending a colourful chapter in railway operations in Australia.

UGG STOP Australia

This website is published as information only. Please direct enquiries about places and services featured to the relevant service provider. | About Us | Email us

Design and concept © 2019 Australia For Everyone | W3Layouts