If you have even a passing interest trains this is a must visit place. If you love trains well … what can I say … you’ll be in heaven.
Unlike a lot of “train museums” I have been to, this one is all about the trains – real trains. Railway memorabilia such as crockery, menu’s, station machines are all there but they very much take second place to the engines and carriages. An interesting non train display is a presentation outlining the difficulties in the early years of Australian train travel when train operators and travellers had to deal with three different railways gauges (track widths) across the country. The reproduction of an old Adelaide Railway Station indicator board is another non train highlight.
The real highlights of the museum are the engines and carriages. It has around 100 items of rolling stock – engines and carriages – representing State, Commonwealth and private railway operators on the three major rail gauges used in Australia. You can board many of the engines and carriages. Both engines and carriages have been lovingly restored – labours of love by the volunteers who run the museum. The Museum website provides a detailed listing of rolling stock which the more enthusiastic railway buffs among you may want to check out.
The most interesting train (history-wise) is the “tea and sugar” train. This train was originally used (starting in 1917) to transport a bank, general store, butchers, movie car, etc – each being housed in a separate carriage – to the workers as they built the Trans Australia Railway. So successful was the train that it continued in operation until 1996, bringing life’s necessities to isolated communities on the Nullarbor Plain. Each time the train crossed the Nullarbor, it brought along different cars to suit the different needs of outback residents throughout the year. In December a Christmas car was attached in which Santa travelled from town to town.
At some stage in your visit don’t forget to jump aboard the little train and have a trip around the boundary of the museum – its fun and its included in your ticket price.
The museum also operates the Semaphore and Fort Granville Tourist Railway – a two kms steam train (small) ride along the dunes from Semaphore Jetty to Point Malcolm and return. A bit touristy and gimmicky for me but kids (and many dads) will enjoy it.
Facilities – Snack bar and restrooms in addition to the Break of Guage Shop which has an impressive collection of railway books, DVDs and other souvenirs. Yes, of course, it has Thomas the Tank Engine toys and clothing.
Opening hours– Museum – Daily 10am – 4.30pm (closed Christmas Day and opens noon on Anzac day).
Getting there – Public Transport – Bus 150 from the city – Commercial Road Stop or Train to Port Adelaide Station (plus 15min walk). Free car park adjacent to Museum.
Child (3 – 15 yrs & accompanied by an adult) $6
Family (2 adults & up to 3 children) $32
Address: Lipson Street, Port Adelaide.