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Railway Services

From Mallala
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Fast Facts
Type of organisation: Government

Town or locality: Mallala
Date established: 1917
Ceased operation: 1983

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The railways arrived in Mallala in 1917. The railway opening was a major step forward for the township of Mallala.

For several years there was great competition between the agents for the ketches and the railway, eventually the railway took over the majority of the freight. For many years the line terminated at Long Plains until in 1923 an extension was built to Bowmans. At harvest time the railway yards were busy as bagged wheat and barley was stacked in mouse proofed compounds and later loaded by lumpers into rail trucks.

It provided a passenger service which included the transport of many secondary school children daily to Adelaide, where they attended Technical and High Schools, and Independent Church Schools. It also provided a commuter service for people employed in the city or near the stations along the route.

Transporting of freight, dispatching of mail, daily newspapers and grocery deliveries were an important part of the rail service.

Mr Colin Brooks was a clerk at the Mallala Railway Station from 1943 to 1948, and Station Master from 1960 to1981. He joined S.A.R. in 1938 and retired from A.N.R. in 1981. A marvellous service to the railways.

In a paper presented by Mr Brooks, he said:

In 1943 when I arrived at Mallala, the Mallala RAAF base provided much of the work for the railways. Each alternate Friday a leave train ran to Adelaide, and this train consisted of up to 16 side loading carriages and carried 500 to 700 personel. The return trip was made mid morning on Monday and the fare for the personnel was 2/4 (two shillings and fourpence) for a second class ticket.

At that time there were three passenger trains a day, to and from Adelaide.

The early train taking commuters and school children was a rail car, and the other two were steam trains.

General freight was received from Mile End on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday on the local goods train which terminated at Snowtown. This returned late on the same days and carried our eggs, crates of live poultry, wool, sheep skins, empty kegs, and crates of bottles to Mile End and other more distant stations.

Goods arriving consisted of beer, wine and spirits for the Mallala Hotel 'and for the Officer's Mess at the aerodrome, steel for East Bros, corn sacks and wool packs, petrol and oil in 44 gallon drums. Groceries, vegetables, hessian wheat bags filled with potatoes, fruit packed in wooden boxes or crates, and icecream packed in canvas bags and surrounded with dry ice, were some of the items transported.

Chaff was sent to numerous places from Lindsay's chaff mill, and East Bros forwarded elevators, ploughs, other machinery and spare parts, to all areas of South Australia and Western Victoria.

Prior to 1957, millions of tons of bagged wheat and barley had been transported from Korunye, Long Plains, Calomba and Mallala with all railway sidings controlled from the Mallala Station. Super phosphate was also transported by rail.

Eventually because of falling use of passenger and freight rail, the new operators A.N.A. decided to no longer accept local goods. This decision made the Mallala Station redundant, and it finally closed in 1983.

Grain is still carted from the Mallala silos to Port Adelaide.

The Ghan and the Indian Pacific trains pass through Mallala, and numerous long freight trains pass through without stopping. With the completion of the Alice Springs to Darwin line at the end of 2003, there has been a significant increase in freight movement.

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Mallala Station Master's Residence
Mallala Station Master Colin Brooks
Mallala Station Master Colin Brooks

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