Pichi Richi Railway and Southern Flinders
Four Days: April 2021
- 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, over 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.
(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 also make 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.
We have lunch on arrival before taking a tour of the Old Gladstone Gaol. Built in the late 1870’s at a cost of £21,640, it was originally used for male and female ‘inebriates and debtors’. During World War II it was an internment camp, and for a short period it operated as a military prison. We can also walk through the B and C wings that were used for the film ‘Stir’.
During the afternoon we venture across to the Spencer Gulf and Port P irie, South Australia’s first provincial city and the site of the world’s largest lead smelter.
Continuing alongside the Gulf we reach Port Augusta, colonised in 1852 it was originally the 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 the Standpipe Golf Motor Inn (to be confirmed) where we can unpack and get settled in before coming together for dinner.
(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 78km return train trip to on the original Ghan route – from Port Augusta to Quorn on the Pichi Richi Railway.
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. Sitting back we watch gum-lined creeks, bluebush-studded hills and ancient rocky outcrops roll past at the relaxed pace of years gone by.
As we travel over the red earth the Flinders Ranges landscape unfolds, the peaks creeping ever-closer before we enter the Pichi Richi Pass with its rocky outcrops, dry riverbeds and beautiful hilly 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.
We reboard the train once more in the afternoon for the return journey. This ‘narrow gauge’ (1067mm or 3’6”) 39km section of track has been proudly restored, along with the train and carriages, by the volunteers of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society since 1974.
On our arrival back at Port Augusta we return to our accommodation with time to freshen up before dinner.
(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’ll drive through the Richman Valley and see views of Devils’ Peak, so named because it was thought to look like the face of the devil looking towards the heavens.
In Quorn, we stop to enjoy morning tea before continuing our scenic drive. Taking the back roads, we travel past the rocky bluff of Dutchman’s Stern and detour to look at Warren Gorge with its red rock rising vertically from the tree lined creek and Buckaringa Gorge.
Next we come to the Kanyaka ruins. This station, founded by Hugh Proby, has survived better than its neighbours and restoration work has now halted the crumbling of the stone buildings which harbour a long and impressive history. What remains of the 16 room homestead and outbuildings helps us imagine what it would have been like to live here.
Our lunch today is at Hawker, the hub of the Flinders Ranges and an interesting little outback town. This town was established in 1880, along with the railway which became a vital link between Adelaide and Darwin during World War II.
From Hawker we drive south through Carrieton to Wilmington. Originally named ‘Beautiful Valley’, Wilmington is a farming community known for sheep, wheat and barley.
We make a stop in the town that has retained many of its stone buildings and old-town charm.
On our way back to Port Augusta we pass through the Ranges at Horrocks Pass. Discovered by early explorer John Horrocks in the 1840’s, this is a stunning drive where the country changes from a soft undulating farming landscape to where the ranges ‘hug’ the road. On the other side of the pass we return to our accommodation in Port Augusta for our last evening together.
(includes cooked breakfast and two course lunch)
We farewell our hosts in this morning to begin our journey home. After leaving the Spencer Gulf behind we stop in 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 through Murray Town and Wirrabara to 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.