Trans Australian Railway celebration on track

ONE HUNDRED: Spokesman for the Organising Group, TAR 100, Kym Welsby and former railways worker Ted Gade at the Pichi Richi Railway Extension Project Plaque.

ONE HUNDRED: Spokesman for the Organising Group, TAR 100, Kym Welsby and former railways worker Ted Gade at the Pichi Richi Railway Extension Project Plaque.

Railways and locomotives have played an integral part of Port Augusta’s history, and the town will get to celebrate the Centenary of the Opening of the Trans Australian Railway with a fun-filled family day at the Railway Station Platform on Sunday, October 22.

The list of activities taking place on the day is almost as long as the track itself, including the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society running a special train from Quorn for the day and a special shuttle to Stirling North.

Local musicians will provide entertainment throughout the day and the “Living and Working on the Trans Australian Railway” exhibition will be on display at the Platform Gallery.

The railway line was started in September, 1912, and the final rails were joined at a point near Ooldea in South Australia on October 17, 1917. 

Spokesman for the Organising Group TAR 100 Kym Welsby said that it is an important milestone to celebrate and there will be a few more ‘special surprises’. 

“The event celebrates 100 years of history and by the time the next one comes around we will all be just a memory, fading photograph or rusty memory stick antique that no-one remembers how to use or what to plug it into!” he said.

“There was a time when history meant little to me, but as I get older there is more relevance about those who went before me and made me who I am.

“It is important to embrace the present and look to what the future holds, but that cannot be done without remembering what the past and its people, and in this case the railways, gave you.”

The 1051-mile or 1691-kilometre railway was built through some of the world’s most inhospitable and largely uninhabited country.

The entire line never had to cross a major watercourse and summer daytime temperatures were well above 40C. 

As there were no settlements on the route, food, water and materials had to be railed from either Port Augusta or Kalgoorlie, Western Australia.

It is believed one of the reasons that Western Australia joined the Australian Federation in 1901 was the promise of a railway line linking east and west.

Adding to the problems was a shortage of workers and materials due to World War I.

At that point Australia was finally united as a federation of states and territories. 

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