Brisbane, QLD

Wednesday, January 25, 2012


 We were driving from Port Augusta to Burra in South Australia. On the way we stopped at Orroroo for morning tea (last post) and we stopped at Peterborough to visit the 'Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre.'
Peterborough was settled in 1875. It was called Petersburg but the name changed during WW1 due to anti german sentiment, as were many towns in S.A. They had german names because of the big german migrant population there.

Peterborough is situated in wheat  country and has a population of 1,700. It has an interesting rail history. It used to be on the intersection of the east west and north south rail lines. Both lines were narrow gauge (3'6") until 1970 when the east west line changed to standard gauge (4'8½") and the line south to Terowie was converted to broad gauge (5'3"). (One wonders why this happened) However, it made Peterborough become a triple gauge junction there were three in the country at that time. This meant an awful lot of changing trains when travelling across the country. It also meant that triple gauge turntables had to be built at the junctions. Now most of our railways are standard gauge. When the conversions took place lines were also moved and Peterborough was no longer a junction but the east west line, (the Indian Pacific train) still passes through Peterborough.
On the map you can see Adelaide at the bottom and Port Augusta at the top left. You can see the Pich Richi railway to Quorn.(past post) Peterborough is on the right. The red line is the north, south railway with the "Ghan"train going from Adelaide to Darwin. The blue line is the east/west line with the"Indian Pacific" train going from Sydney to Perth.
 We took a guided tour of the museum.  The triple gauge turntable is still in working order. The roundhouse where locomotives were serviced now houses many different heritage engines and carriages.

 It was well set out museum with easy access to all the engines and carriages.

 Bill and the boys were having fun.

 An early diesel engine.

 They had a variety of carriages this one was the travelling nurse's carriage.

 This one the club car.

It took over an hour to see everything but for an outback town it was a splendid museum.

The centre also provides work for the unemployed who cannot find jobs but are receiving 'the dole' (social security payments.) After so many weeks on the dole they must do some kind of work to continue receiving the dole. So here they  help restore old rolling stock.


  1. This looks like a wonderful museum. I must say that Bill looks as if he was having a wonderful time. Although I liked all the engines, that club car is really something.

  2. I guess I'd be one of the boys. I'd love to check out all of those trains. Since Daddy worked for the railroad, I've always had a real love for trains...

    When I was 8, my parents and I went across country by train to my brother's wedding in California... I remember the Club Cars, Dining Cars, Finger Bowls, Berths, Compartments, etc.... Awesome trip!!!!


  3. Did you venture into the "haunted" carriage there? It was like scenes from the movie "Psycho" - darn near gave me heart failure much to the mirth of the rail museum guide.
    A bloody corpse like female "aka Norman's mother" in the movie fell on me.
    One way to cure you of seeing railway museums!
    Glad Bill had fun. It was far cheaper when I saw through it and I was the only one on tour.
    Great post.
    Colin (HB)

  4. My earliest memory of a train trip, was from Southern Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) to Durban, South Africa. I was about three years old and the trip took three days! I grew up in the train era and loved it. Fortunately trains still operated while our sons were growing up and they had several trips to remember. Today South African Railways is non-existent. The photo of the triple guage and the carriage looks like a scene from a Western movie. What a delightful and interesting post, Diane. (PS I like your "actor" who seemed to be enjoying himself immensely)

  5. I think this railway kid would also be going back in time.

  6. Very impressive for a small town. It is not the only transport museum that uses work for the dole labour. Is is good that some are learning skills that could end up being lost.

    Now shall we adjourn to the club car for a rousing up tempo piano sing along of Advance Australia Fair on the eve of Australia Day?

  7. A travelling nurse's carriage? Somebody somewhere must have had a lot of interesting stories to tell!
    It looks like a very well loved and tended museum, and worth a special trip.

  8. The club car looks great, I could have a ride in there. Nice you were allowed to enter all the carriages.

  9. Great to see inside this museum. It is on my list to visit one day.

  10. Amazing collection. The club car is indeed fantastic.

  11. This looks like a wonderful museum. I LOVE the club car, that must have been like flying first class. :-)

  12. What a lovely tour around the train museum. I love to get up close to these old steam engines. There are a few in the American History Museum in Washington DC. Did you get to see them when you were here I wonder?

  13. that diesel looks very much like what we used to ride behind. never got to see a club car, but i love this one. I would have liked being with the boys on this trip

  14. Bill seems to have a lot of fun ! The club car really looks like a club !
    How interesting !

  15. Oh boy, would my grandsons love this trip. They are all CRAZY about trains. Looks like Bill was having a blast too!

  16. It looks like a super museum. i have seen a similar museum in Munich but it is almost always closed.


  17. Hi Diane, what a fantastic post. The men in my family would love this museum. We have something similar in Baltimore at the B&O train museum. The round table is cool and I love the club car. Wonderful post and info. Great photos.

  18. BILLY B. would probably lerrrrve our central Victorian steam train which runs from Maldon to Castlemaine, and return. Old, restored steam trains pull the carriages, including a club car.
    Like you, Diane, we got soot in our eyes when taking the little granddaughters out onto the viewing platform on the last carriage back in the Sept. school hols.

    The engine has to do a turn-around and pull the carriages back the reverse way to the way it left Maldon station.

    Billy B. might also like Bendigo's tram museum, the oldest continuously working one in Oz.
    Not only have the volunteers there preserved old trams from Melbourne and Geelong, once restored they do the daily tourist route from a mine site just outside the CBD to North Bendigo, where the Chinese Joss House from the Gold Rush days has been lovingly preserved.
    So on a day like Aust. Day 2day, the trams will be running non-stop, driven by volunteers with conductors on board.

    The regular Bendigo suburban tram service stopped in the 1960s. But that p[articular line survived altho' requiring constant maintenance.

    And from a previous post about Aust. native flora, we too saw an all-Australian plants garden on Kangaroo Island in the mid-2000s.

    Of course, that's also in S. Aust and that particular garden had only Aussie plants.

    No good to Judyth and I. We love our northern hemisphere plants, especially our 135-year-old elms which line the street out the front.

    Not to mention 30-odd different rose plants. But not those odd-shaped ones with all stick and just the flowers at the top.

    The traditional roses.

  19. Yeah, the guys would love this, but looks like enough history (as well as the mechanical/train stuff) to keep me happy too!

    Very interesting about the dole and I wonder how come we don't do that.

  20. The nurses carriage reminds me of the 'ambulance train' we saw in Blackall, Qld (past post of mine).

    I think the decline of the railway, and susequent shifting of all traffic to the roads is one of the most tragic, costly and ill-advised political bungles ever made.