Centenary of the joining of the Trans Australian Railway Line - October 17, 2017.
Mark the date! An official Centenary Ceremony and replacing the memorials is going ahead.
The debate in the Friday Five about the dilapidated state of the memorials marking the joining of the Trans Australian Railway Line has been going on for a few years now with many and varied solutions put forward. In addition, we have been discussing a formal event at Ooldea. A group of Westprint FF readers and local 4WD club members have been planning to go to Ooldea to mark this centenary, even if it was nothing more than a few 4WDs assembling in the area to acknowledge the significance of the event.
I am very happy to report that there has been considerable progress over the past few months.
Late in 2015 I saw a concept paper prepared by Bob Sampson, Executive Officer of the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide regarding options for the event. In September 2016. Rural Development Australia – Whyalla and Eyre Peninsula (RDAWEP) came on board. I know that many people have been working behind the scenes to have this occasion recognised with due ceremony and it now looks a certainty that their hard work will pay off.
Leon Ashton, from Quorn, has been appointed as the Event Coordinator to project manage the logistics for holding the celebration at the rail link site near Ooldea. Leon is the former Caretaker and Manager of Maralinga Village, and has extensive knowledge and experience of working in the vicinity of the Nullarbor Plain and Trans Australian Railway line.
The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) has built steel replicas of the 1967 monuments from the original plans. They will be unveiled at the centenary.
A database has been established of people who have indicated interest in attending the celebration. If you are interested please register with Bob Ramsey, Special Projects Manager RDAWEP. firstname.lastname@example.org
Details required: your email address, number of vehicles interested, approx. number of people attending, your location (home town), contact mobile phone number.
The National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide is handling the list of official guests and speakers. This information will be advised when known.
The Shire of Port Augusta, Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society and the National Railway museum have also been working on events to be held in the commemorate this event. Activities being investigated include
A steam train re-enactment from Quorn to Port Augusta on the weekend of 21st and 22nd October 2017. The original 1917 route from Adelaide, was via broad gauge to Terowie, then a change of trains onto narrow gauge from Terowie to Quorn and through Pichi Richi Pass, and onto Port Augusta. It is planned that the PRR special will be formed using an appropriate similar locomotive and carriages from that era. Other historical displays and activities at Port Augusta railway station are planned for that weekend. The National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide will also launch a Trans Australian Railway Centenary exhibition during September 2017, which will centre around the original 1917 built steam locomotive G1, which was operated by the Commonwealth Railways, and is now on display at the museum.
The following information is from the Track & Signal Magazine.
The linking of the Trans Australian Railway line on 17 October 1917 marked a momentous occasion in Australia’s infrastructure development.
The simultaneous construction of the 1,692km railway line west from Port Augusta and east from Kalgoorlie during 1912-17 was an incredible achievement given the circumstances at the time. Much of the construction occurred during World War One when communications, men, machinery and materials were scarce. The work was manually intensive and the line was built across a remote, vast and desolate environment, which entailed complex and difficult management, operational and supply logistics.
The railway was built using two separate track building teams – starting from Kalgoorlie and from Port Augusta. Two Roberts track laying machines, imported from the United States of America, were used to achieve good steady progress with the laying of sleepers and rails – albeit with a lot of manual help. The joining of the rails took place when the two track laying teams met a few kilometres west of Ooldea – approximately 995 kilometres from Kalgoorlie and 697 kilometres from Port Augusta. This occurred at 1.45pm SA time, on Wednesday 17 October 1917.
Use of the railway line was quickly implemented. The first westbound train left Port Augusta railway station on the morning of Monday 22 October 1917, arriving in Kalgoorlie on the afternoon of Wednesday 24 October – nearly 43 hours after leaving Port Augusta.
The train was hauled by no less than ten separate G class steam locomotives throughout the journey, due to mechanical problems en route.
The first return eastbound train left Kalgoorlie on Thursday 25 October, arriving in Port Augusta on Sunday 28 October 1917. The linking of the rails connected the east and west coasts of Australia by train. However, the route from Sydney to Perth was time consuming, disruptive and costly, due to the need to change trains to travel across the three different rail gauges (narrow, broad and standard) being used at the time.
It took until January 1970 for a standard gauge railway line to link Sydney and Perth, however different gauges were still in use between Melbourne, Adelaide and Port Pirie. Melbourne and Adelaide were eventually linked with standard gauge in 1995. This enabled a train to operate on the same rail gauge from Brisbane through to Sydney and onto Melbourne and Adelaide, before continuing to Perth.
50th Anniversary Monuments
The monuments unveiled at the 50th anniversary in 1967 were designed, built and installed by the Commonwealth Railways. The main structure was comprised largely of a timber frame sealed with plywood, supporting rail steels and commemorative signage. However, the timber fabric was not sufficiently robust to withstand the environmental conditions, and the monuments deteriorated and collapsed.
A primary objective of the rail link centenary event, as proposed in Bob Sampson’s 2015 concept paper, is to replace the monuments. Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) – the owner and operator of the Trans Australian Railway - has consequently constructed replicas of the 1967 monuments in steel from the original plans, which will be installed at the link site and unveiled at the 100th anniversary celebration.
Question for FF Mob.
On the existing memorial are two pieces of steel track, one from each state. The SA track is marked BHP while the WA steel is marked USA. I was told that the reason for this was that the two states were in competition to build the longest part of the railway. Consequently, the South Australia team held up supplies of BHP steel from Broken Hill to Western Australia. The Western Australian team eventually had to source their steel from USA.
Can anyone verify this story?