Nuriootpa Railway Centenary

Historical research

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railway,
Nuriootpa,
centenary

Stone train passing Nuriootpa railway stationToday (15 May) is the centenary of the opening of the railway from Gawler to Nuriootpa. On this day the government took over control of the railway from Smith & Timms, the contractors building the line through to Angaston. Passenger trains had actually been running since 15 February, operated by the contractors, but from this day official government services began. There were no festivities to mark the occasion - the government decided to wait until 8 September 1911 when the final section from Nuriootpa to Angaston was ready, and celebrate the opening of the whole line from Gawler to Angaston.

Passenger trains to Nuriootpa ceased running on 16 December 1968. Freight operations continue to this day with regular stone trains from Penrice Quarry. The disused Nuriootpa station building (the subject of a recent court case) is now fenced off, and it seems that the centenary will soon be marked by its demolition. The photo by Wayne Morris shows the train rolling through Nuriootpa station yard recently.

Roger Sallis’ book Railways in the Barossa Valley (1998) gives a detailed account of the building and operation of the line.

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Great to know that our line is 100 years old this week. To "celebrate" the Barossa Council organised the commencement of the demolition of the Nuriootpa Railway Station this week - a fitting move to mark the centenary of opening of rail services to Nuriootpa. This follows the Barossa Council "investing" over $24,000 in legal fees PLUS officers time over a 2.5 year period to ensure the demolition occurred in 2011. We have a warped way of marking 100th anniversaries here in the Barossa.

I am wondering if anyone has a plan to mark the centenary with some sort of history project - an oral history project perhaps or maybe a dedicated blog where people can record their experiences of using the line?

I have become somewhat cynical in relation to the centenary of Barossa rail - what was spent by all parties in fighting the court case could have stabilised and preserved the Nuri Railway Station. What was spent engaging a consultant to research and then fund the Interpretation panels on the history of the rail corridor could have funded interpretation of real history by presenting the building to the public. I gathered (with the help of my rail heritage consultants) a significant amount of information on the Nuri Railway Station that would make a great basis for a Barossa Rail History project. No doubt Council will try to cover up their destruction of real heritage by announcing yet another costly project or event to "celebrate" their destruction of the Nuri Railway Station. I for one will not be a part of it.

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