Pichi Richi Railway and Southern Flinders
Four Days: 29 April – 2 May 2021
Twin Share: $1365 per person. Sole Use: $1575 per person.
- Home pick-ups & set downs (most metro areas – please contact us for details)
- Picnic-style morning teas & all meals as per the itinerary
- All accommodation & admissions to all attractions
- Experienced & informative tour driver/guide.
The oldest and last remaining operating portion of the original ‘Ghan’ railway, the award winning Pichi Richi Railway is a unique journey through deep rock cuttings, along stone wall embankments and spectacular iron bridges. Step into the past and be taken through timeless southern Flinders landscapes to Quorn in genuine 1920’s timber carriages powered by an original Ghan locomotive. While here, we explore the southern Flinders, with its fascinating heritage, rural towns and ancient landscapes. Join us as we experience this fascinating piece of South Australia’s history.
Day One – THURSDAY 29 APRIL 2021
(includes light lunch and two course dinner)
We depart this morning after completing home pick-ups (limited areas*) heading up through the northern suburbs. We pause at Gawler for our morning tea before continuing through the Clare Valley.
The famous Clare Vineyards roll out toward the horizon as we pass through the pretty towns of Auburn and Clare. We have a comfort stop along the way as we head to Gladstone, nestled in the Rocky River Valley at the southern end of the Flinders Ranges.
After stopping to enjoy lunch, we journey to Wirrabara, a town known for its forestry heritage being the home of the first Government Forest nursery in Australia in the 1870’s. While here, we will stop to admire the stunning artwork which adorns the town’s silos. The artwork celebrates Wirrabara’s connection to the forestry industry, as well as the local flora and fauna. It was completed in late 2018 by artist Sam Bates, better known as ‘Smug’.
From here, we take the opportunity to detour towards the coast to view the picturesque countryside that surrounds Germein Gorge Road. Stopping in the Upper Spencer Gulf town of Port Germein, there is the chance to stretch our legs along the longest wooden jetty in the state. Measuring over 1.5 kilometres the jetty was constructed back in the 1880’s to service one of the largest grain loading ports in Australia.
Continuing alongside the Gulf we reach our destination of Port Augusta in the late afternoon. Colonised in 1852, it was a thriving commercial centre and port that served the needs of northern hinterland pastoralists. When the Indian Pacific Railway was completed in 1917 the town started to become the pivotal transport hub we are more familiar with today. Its geographical position has seen it become a major service centre for trucks crossing the Nullarbor or heading into the Northern Territory.
Our accommodation for the next three nights is at the Standpipe Golf Motor Inn (Ph. 08 8642 4033).
Day Two – FRIDAY 30 APRIL 2021
(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)
After breakfast we set our for a day of stunning scenery in the Southern Flinders Ranges. As we journey to Quorn we pass Mount Brown, named after Robert Brown who was the naturalist aboard Matthew Flinders’ ship, the first to circumnavigate Australia. We drive through the Richman Valley and see views of Devils’ Peak, so named because it was thought to resemble the face of the devil looking towards the heavens.
We continue through Quorn, taking the back roads past the rocky bluff of Dutchman’s Stern to Warren Gorge. The jagged orange rock formations are a colourful contrast to the greenery from the native Cypress pines that surround. Our morning tea will be enjoyed here while we explore the area.
As we continue our journey, the next stop is at Proby’s Grave. Hugh Proby founded Kanyaka Station, the ruins of which we will visit this afternoon. The story of his passing and the location of the grave site here, some 30 kilometres from the station homestead, is fascinating.
A detour along the Buckaringa Scenic Drive provides stunning views that are not to be missed, before we continue to Hawker for our lunch break. As the hub of the Flinders Ranges, this outback town was established in 1880, along with the railway which became a vital link between Adelaide and Darwin during World War II.
While in Hawker, we visit the Jeff Morgan Gallery to see the Wilpena Panoramic. This 30 metre, 360 degree painting is a panorama of the magnificent scenery as seen from St Mary’s Peak, the highest point of the Wilpena Pound. We have time to soak up the beauty of this and other large panoramas as we listen to special sound effects of birds of the area. There are prints of fauna, flora and Flinders Ranges scenes, plus other memorabilia that can be admired.
We return south to visit the Kanyaka Station ruins which have survived better than the neighbouring properties. What remains of the 16 room homestead and outbuildings, were built by John Randall Phillips Jr who managed the station after Proby’s death. Restoration work has now halted the crumbling of the stone buildings which harbour a long and impressive history.
From Kanyaka we continue travelling through the southern Flinders back to Quorn, before returning to our accommodation in Port Augusta.
Day Three – SATURDAY 1 MAY 2021
(includes cooked breakfast, light lunch and two course dinner)
We head to the Port Augusta train station this morning for the highlight of our tour, a fantastic 78 kilometre return train trip on the Pichi Richi Railway from Port Augusta to Quorn, on the original Ghan route.
We step aboard the restored ‘Afghan Express’. Immaculately restored timber carriages up to 100 years old and are pulled by the original steam or diesel locomotives. At the relaxed pace of years gone by, we sit back and watch gum-lined creeks, bluebush-studded hills and ancient rocky outcrops roll past.
As we travel over the red earth, the Flinders Ranges landscape unfolds as we enter the Pichi Richi Pass with its rocky outcrops, dry riverbeds and beautiful hillside scenery.
After travelling through the pass we emerge at the historic town of Quorn. In 1917 Quorn became the junction of any north–south or east–west rail travel in Australia. As a result, many fine buildings were established as the town expanded. We enjoy our lunch here in Quorn as part of today’s experience.
This afternoon we reboard the train for the return journey. Volunteers of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society have proudly restored the ‘narrow gauge’ (1067mm or 3’6”) on this 39 kilometre section of track, along with the train and carriages.
On our arrival back at Port Augusta we return to our accommodation with time to freshen up before dinner.
Day Four – SUNDAY 2 MAY 2021
(includes cooked breakfast and two course lunch)
We farewell our hosts this morning to begin our travels home. We leave the Spencer Gulf and journey through the ranges at Horrocks Pass. Discovered by early explorer John Horrocks in the 1840’s, this is a stunning drive where the country varies between soft undulating farming landscape to ranges ‘hugging’ either side of the road. We will venture up to Hancock’s Lookout for our final views of this spectacular landscape before continuing to Melrose, the oldest town in the Flinders Ranges. We enjoy our morning tea in this historic town in the shadow of Mount Remarkable.
Continuing south we come to Laura, famous as the home of Golden North ice cream and the town where writer and poet, CJ Dennis spent most of his youth. We take a drive around this lovely township before continuing to Clare where our lunch will be waiting for us.
Our afternoon journey leads us south through Sevenhill, Auburn and Roseworthy before we reach the outer suburbs of Adelaide. Travelling towards home we reflect on the heritage of the Pichi Richi Railway and the remarkable landscapes of the Southern Flinders Ranges.