Saturday, May 29, 2010

Return to Port Augusta and the Pichi Richi Railway.

The engine driver checks the piston steam engine and linkages that will drive the wheels on the old steam Locomotive.
The Pichi Richi Railway's restored old Ghan steam locomotive - NM25 and its 1930's wooden carraiges at Quorn railway station ready for the return trip to Port Augusta.

Return to Port Augusta and the Pichi Richi Railway

This morning the sun shone through at Leigh Creek but there were still storm clouds on the horizon and the wind was just as strong as it had been yesterday. The only difference was that yesterday, the wind came from the north and today it came from the south. I still had concerns about travelling on to Arkaroola so the decision was made to return south into the Flinders Ranges. I planned to cut through from Parachilna on to the back road and down to Wilpena Pound. After eleven kilometres on this dirt track, we turned around and return to the main tar sealed road. This put the second plan for today out the window so it was now continue on to Port Augusta for tonight. The car and caravan were covered in thick mud. Soon after we encountered a creek crossings on the main road where gravel and large rocks had been washed over the road and we had to negotiate a track through this build up. A little further on it was creeks flooding across the road from the overnight rain. The road had been clear when we went through yesterday. We took the opportunity to stop at one of these creeks and wash the thick build up of mud off the front of the caravan.

We made it to Quorn at 2.05 pm and it was raining fairly heavy. I had hoped to photograph the Pichi Richi steam engine which was due to pull out of Quorn station at 2.30pm. I wrapped my camera in a towel and went out on to the railway line to try and get some shots. You would not believe it, within five minutes it had stopped raining and the sun was out enabling me to get my photos. Ten minutes later it was raining again so it was back to the car and caravan and we pulled out for the forty kilometre trip to Port Augusta, our planned stop for tonight.

The Pichi Richi Railway operates on the old Ghan line that runs over the Pichi Richi Pass between Port Augusta and Quorn. It is run by a voluntary group of steam enthusiast between the two towns. At present the steam train runs on Saturday and Sunday and the return Adult fare is $44.00. The original Ghan steam Locomotive – NM25, and 1930 wooden carriages have been restored from the original Ghan rolling stock and the steam engine looks as good today as the day it was first put into service. It is kept clean and spotless and is the pride of the collection. There is also an original 1927 Barwell Bull Rail Car that is also used on this rail track by the group.

Note. While listening to the news tonight we heard that they were getting the car ferry out of mothballs where it had been for the last 25 years and putting it back into service on one of the rivers near Marree. It was expected that some properties in this area could be cut off by road for six months due to the rain. To think that we had to plan our trip into this area to coincide with this weather pattern.

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