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Railway Opening

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of event Public Works

Town or locality Mallala
Date occurred or began April 20, 1917

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For many years the population of the Mallala District felt disadvantaged when new rail routes throughout the state were constructed in other areas.

To market their grain the settlers were taking their bagged goods to the coast to be loaded onto the ketches at high tide, or to the Wasleys Station to have it transported by rail.

Another alternative was a long haul, for a three day return trip, with the wagons to Port Adelaide.

There had for some time been much agitation calling for the construction of the narrow gauge line, as there were severe delays as goods negotiated the change of gauge at Hamley Bridge.

Mallala was not alone in calling for this extension, and articles in the Advertiser relate the many calls for action over the preceding decade. Mallala was, however, the focus of the argument to extend the line.

These growing calls caused the establishment of the Narrow Gauge Railway Extension and Break-of- Guage Royal Commission which visited the regions and gathered submissions, which eventually lead to the decision for the railway to proceed.

On Friday 23rd October 1909 the Mallala Railway Extension Committee hosted the visit of a Parliamentary Party to inspect  the country which would be served by the extended railway line. The legislators were transported, in eight hired motor cars, from Adelaide to Mallala and throughout the countryside. At the end of the day a banquet was held at the Mallala Institute.

As reported in the Advertiser of 15 February 1910, 'Mallala is the centre of the disturbance, and it is at Mallala the agitators against the continuance of a system which, it is alleged, directly handicaps the producers in the whole of the north country, and those on the cattle stations between Adelaide and Oodnadatta, are making their stand.'

The opening of the railway through Mallala was a milestone in the history of the town as it opened up new avenues for the future of the district. The line to Long Plains was another link in the plan for a railway line from Adelaide to Port Augusta.

The farmers welcomed the venture and the benefit was twofold. Here would be a cost efficient way to dispose of harvest and the opportunity for some work to help alleviate the financial difficulties that were created during the 1913/1914 drought years.

On 20 April 1917,crowds gathered on station platforms to see the offical train travel from Long Plains to Adelaide. The Governor of South Australia, Sir Henry Galway,declared the line open for rail transportation and waved the signal that the line was clear. The train slowly steamed up to the Long Plains platform and the ribbons of vice regal colours,which were stretched across the track,were snapped by the engine.

This was a great day of formal speeches and celebration and and was marked with numerous festivities for the occasion. At last the first extension of the Adelaide to Salisbury line with 34 miles of broad guage rail terminating at Long Plains was built. Eventually,with further construction,the line would take trains to Port Augusta.The railway was not merely a local concern but was an undertaking of national importance. The special train left at 3:50pm and transported the offical guest and visitors to Adelaide.

The opening of the rail created many opportunities for Mallala and district.

Related Articles


  • The Advertiser
  • 15 February 1910
  • Mallala Museum research notes
A Banquet in the Mallala Institute 1909
A Banquet in the Mallala Institute 1909
First train
First train

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