Gladstone, S.A.

A Wheatbelt service town, it was once a major railway head. It boasts the largest grain silos in South Australia. Gladstone is the southern gateway to the Flinders Ranges via the Horrocks Highway (previously Main North Road).

Where is it?: 209 km north of Adelaide; 21 km north east of Crystal Brook.

The Southern Flinders Discovery Centre is a Community administered Tourist Information Centre situated in the main street (Gladstone Street) of Gladstone. Comprehensive tourism information is available through a wide selection of brochures from the Flinders Ranges, including the Southern Flinders Regional Guide, plus guides from other regional areas of South Australia. Both self-guided and guided walking tours are available to visitors from the Discovery Centre.

A walk around the town provides much of the town's interesting past. The small but shady Tresylva Park provides electric barbecues, a large lawn covered area, public and disabled toilets, playground and ample parking. There s plenty of room to walk the dog or stretch your legs too. Gladstone Street has public and disabled toilets and now offers long vehicle parking facilities and a new children s playground. Eat out but under cover in the street shelters.

Train spotters once came to Gladstone to see one of the wonders of the railway world. It is here that three railway gauges - narrow (3'6"), standard (4'8.5") and broad (5'3") - all meet. At the railway yards it was possible to see the three gauges beside each other as well as one of the world's few junction points of 3 gauges integrated together in a single siding.

The town's main attraction is Gladstone Gaol, located in Park Terrace at the northern end of town, which was built between 1879-81. The slate was quarried at Mintaro and transported by bullock draying. It was originally used for 'inebriates and debtors'. It was never a large gaol and from the time of its opening until the 1920s it never housed more than 20 prisoners. From its earliest days it was always a gaol for both men and women. During World War II it was used as an internment camp for Italians and Germans.

After 1943 it remained unused until 1953 when it became a corrective training complex for 18-25-year-old offenders. It was reasonably secure. There were only 20 escapes in the gaol's 100 year history. It was eventually closed down in 1975 and opened to visitors in 1978. It is open now for inspection on weekends and public holidays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; weekdays from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. Accommodation is available in the cells. Bring your own bedding for budget style, or stay in our affordable style with made up beds in the cells (linen provided at extra cost). Ward Street, Gladstone. Phone: (08) 8662 2200.

Surrounding Area

The Booyoolee Pastoral Lease was taken up in 1846 where Herbert Bristow Hughes occupied 770 sq. kms. of untamed land that he turned into a prosperous sheep and cattle station. The eastern boundary extended north to Mt Lock, westwards through the site of Stone Hut and across to the Southern Flinders Ranges as the western boundary. As the young colony expanded this land was resumed by the government in 1870, but the Hughes family managed to purchase a large area. They continued with their sheep and cattle and introduced many new ideas.

Purchasing Kinchega Run, a sheep station on the River Darling in NSW and Nocatunga, a cattle station where horses were also bred on the River Wilson in Qld, Booyoolee was used for fattening stock before transportation to Herbert s paddocks at Netley before sale. Herbert Hughes was one of the first pastoralists to use wire fences to form paddocks and introduce lucerne into the area. In 1854 Herbert married Laura White, after whom the nearby town of Laura is named. The station although now smaller in size is still administered by Hughes Family descendants.


Caltowie is a nearby settlement on the Wilkins Highway and the Crystal Brook-Broken Hill railway line between Gladstone and Jamestown. Caltowie was first known to European settlers as 'Carcowie' (meaning lizard's water hole), and became a popular stop for teamsters where they crossed the Yackamoorundie Creek. The small out-of-the-way settlement was orginally the principal outstation of a local pastoral property known as 'Redbanks', sometimes called 'Carcowie' (Aboriginal for 'lizard waterhole'), subsequently corrupted to 'Caltowie'. The nearby Yackamoorundie Creek provided a good supply of water for teamsters hauling timber when settlement began in the mid 1800s.

Dominating the township are the huge concrete wheat silos. A couple of grindling wheels dating from the 1880s from the town's former mill adorn the median strip of the main street. The historic Caltowie Hotel has a reputation for good food and comfortable accommodation. It is the hub of the small but close-knit community; close by is a childrens playground and bowling club. In 1970 Caltowie had a brief moment in the spotlight when the inaugural Indian Pacific train crossed here, a quirk of fate because one was running late.


Geoergetown, a few km to the south, is quite close to Gladstone, but stayed small while Gladstone grew as it was on the railway. The largest township surveyed in the Mid North (in 1869), Geoergetown sits on land once held by Bundeleer station. It has some notable regional SA architecture and a fine wall mural depicting a record day's reaping of a wheat crop. Geoergetown was at the heart of the development of grain crop expansion of the region.

Brief History

The first Europeans into the area took up the 'Booyoolie (sometimes spelt 'Booyoolee') Run' in 1851 - some of the original buildings dating from this period are still standing. It wasn't until 1871 that the town was formally surveyed and the name Gladstone (an honour to the British Prime Minister William Gladstone) was given to the new settlement. This resulted in the strange situation where there were two tiny settlements - Booyoolie and Gladstone until the 1940s when they finally agreed to accept Gladstone as the term to apply to both of them. The town developed rapidly with the arrival of the railway in 1877. It was built to ship wheat from the town's grain silos to Port Pirie. Today trains still use the line but the largest use is for the transportation of lead and zinc from Broken Hill to Port Pirie.

Gladstone railway yard

Caltowie's former Bank of Adelaide, now a private residence, in what is today a side street

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