Marree to Oodnadatta
The Central Australia Railway extended from Port Augusta, in South Australia, to Alice Springs, in the Northern Territory.
Work on the first section of this railway was commenced by the South Australian Railways (SAR) in 1878, and it was opened to Quorn in 1879. Under South Australian Railways the 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway, known as the Great Northern Railway, was extended in stages and reached Oodnadatta in 1891.
The South Australian Government subsequently made offers to several syndicates to construct a line north from Oodnadatta to Pine Creek on the land grant system, however negotiations were unsuccessful and Oodnadatta remained the railhead.
This railway passed to Commonwealth ownership on 1 January 1911, but continued to be operated by the South Australian Railways until the Commonwealth Railways took over operations on 1 January 1926.
The Commonwealth Government also undertook the extension of the railway to Alice Springs, and this was completed in 1929.
In the years following World War II large tonnages of coal were railed from Leigh Creek and heavy demands were placed on the railway.
In many ways the original line was inadequate; sharp curves and heavy gradients limited train loads, whilst light track and bridges restricted speeds and axle loads.
Consequently a new railway, of 4 ft. 8½ in. gauge, was constructed to avoid the heavier graded terrain, and extended from Stirling North, via Telford (Leigh Creek) to Marree.
Completed in 1957, the new line enabled much larger quantities of coal to be carried.
The old 3 ft. 6 in. gauge line between Marree and Hawker was closed, but between Stirling North and Hawker it was retained and used to a limited extent for some years.
The track between Stirling North and Hawker was closed in 1972 and the section between Stirling North and Quorn handed over to the operations of the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society.
The country traversed by the 3 ft. 6 in. section of the Central Australia Railway from Marree to Alice Springs was subject to periodic flooding, and rarely a year passed without washaways and traffic disruptions.
It was eventually decided that a railway constructed on higher terrain further west of the existing line would offer a route less subject to flood damage, and so a 4ft. 8½ in. gauge railway, between Tarcoola and Alice Springs was constructed causing the narrow gauge section of the original Central Australia Railway to be closed in 1981.
|15.12.1879||Section from Port Augusta to Quorn opened - 24 miles 46 chains (39 km) long|
|28.6.1880||Section from Quorn to Hawker opened - 40 miles 58 chains (65 km) long|
|17.5.1882||Section from Beltana to Farina opened - 54 miles 62 chains (88 km) long|
|7.2.1884||Section from Farina to Hergott Springs (Marree) opened - 32 miles 59 chains (52 km) long|
|1.2.1888||Section from Hergott Springs to Coward Springs opened - 80 miles 7 chains (128 km) long|
|1.6.1889||Section from Coward Springs to William Creek opened - 45 miles 17 chains (72 km) long|
|1.11.1889||Section from William Creek to Warrina opened - 67 miles 18 chains (108 km) long|
|7.1.1891||Section from Warrina to Oodnadatta opened - 54 miles 39 chains (87 km) long|
|1.1.1911||line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta passed to Commonwealth Government ownership but continued to be operated by the South Australian Railways until 1926|
|1.1.1926||Commonwealth Railways took over operations of the line|
|23.12.1928||Section from Oodnadatta to Rumbalara opened - 170 miles 64 chains (274 km) long|
|2.8.1929||Section from Rumbalara to Alice Springs opened - 122 miles 14 chains (196 km) long|
|7.3.1957||Section from Beltana to Brachina closed|
|27.7.1957||Section from Leigh Creek to Marree closed|
|17.7.1958||Section from Brachina to Leigh Creek closed|
|1.6.1972||Section from Port Augusta to Hawker closed|
|1981||Section from Marree to Alice Springs closed|
This section contains information about the Central-Australia Railway narrow gauge Marree to Oodnadatta railway.
Hergott Springs (231¼ m) -- Marree (231 m 14c)
Callanna (240 m 03c)
Alberrie Creek (263 m 66c)
Bopieche (273½ m) -- Bopeechee (273½ m)
Lake Eyre (284 m)
Stuart"s Creek (294 m) -- Curdimurka (293 m 77c)
Coward Springs (311 m 20c)
Beresford (325 m 69c)
Strangways Springs (333½ m)
Irrappatana (343¾ m) -- Irrapatana (343¾ m)
William Creek (356 m 36c)
Edward"s Creek (413 m 47c)