Adelaide River Heritage Centre

The Adelaide River Railway Siding and Railway Bridge, which are now part of Adelaide River Heritage Centre, were constructed as part of the first leg of the North Australia Railway (NAR) which operated from 1888 until 1976. The centre has an excellent collection of The Ghan railway memorabilia and staff who run it are very happy to explain what the various items on display were for. The Centre is closed during the wet season.

The Adelaide River Railway Siding was the first main Station complex on the North Australian Railway line. During World War II it was of major significance as Adelaide River was an important military centre, with the main hospital situated north of the township along with a number of Australian and Allied bases in the area.

The Adelaide River Railway Bridge was one of the first main bridges to be constructed on the Palmerston to Pine Creek railway line (known as the North Australian Railway) and was one of the largest bridges on the line. Constructed in 1887-88 the bridge was first crossed on 3rd December 1888. The last train crossed the bridge on 30th June 1976, after which it was used for road traffic until the Edwin Verburg Bridge was opened on 27th March 1980.

Adelaide River was settled by the telegraph workers who arrived in the area to construct the Overland Telegraph Line. The discovery of gold at Pine Creek in 1892 had a major impact on the settlement. In 1886 a contract was signed to build a railway between Palmerston (Darwin) and the goldfields at Pine Creek, Northern Territory. By April 1888 the railway had reached Adelaide River and for many years was a refuelling point for The train on the journey north to Darwin. The North Australian Railway was always intended to be linked to the original Ghan line from Adelaide to Alice Springs, but this never happened.

It was not until February 2004, when a new standard gauge line from Tarcoola, SA (a siding on the Trans-Australian Railway) to Darwin was completed, that The Ghan finally made it to Adelaide River. The town is not a regular stopping place for the new train, however it does pass through the town's siding on track laid alongside the original line.

During World War II, there were up to 30,000 Australian Army and United States soldiers based near the town. An ammunition dump, including a spur railway line, was established at Snake River, 3.2 km to the north. Whilst the facility became operational towards the end of the war, it was too late to be useful in the war effort.


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The Adelaide River Railway Bridge was one of the first main bridges to be constructed on the Palmerston to Pine Creek railway line (known as the North Australian Railway) and was one of the largest bridges on the line. Constructed in 1887-88 the bridge was first crossed on 3rd December 1888. The last train crossed the bridge on 30th June 1976, after which it was used for road traffic until the Edwin Verburg Bridge was opened on 27th March 1980. Alongside the remnants of the old bridge is a new structure used by the current standard-gauge Ghan train and freight trains.

An original NSU class locomotive stands alongside the highway opposite the restored railway station of the Adelaide River Heritage Centre. The locomotive was built by Birmingham Railway Carriage & Waggon Co., England. It entered service in 1955 and was withdrawn in 1982. Though an original Ghan locomotive, NSU 63 never saw service at Adelaide River, as it only operated on the old narrow gauge Ghan line which stopped at Alice Springs.

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