Route Information - Oodnadatta to Alice SpringsComrails Logo

Route Information

Oodnadatta to Alice Springs

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.

15.12.1879Section from Port Augusta to Quorn opened - 24 miles 46 chains (39 km) long
28.6.1880Section from Quorn to Hawker opened - 40 miles 58 chains (65 km) long
17.5.1882Section from Beltana to Farina opened - 54 miles 62 chains (88 km) long
7.2.1884Section from Farina to Hergott Springs (Marree) opened - 32 miles 59 chains (52 km) long
1.2.1888Section from Hergott Springs to Coward Springs opened - 80 miles 7 chains (128 km) long
1.6.1889Section from Coward Springs to William Creek opened - 45 miles 17 chains (72 km) long
1.11.1889Section from William Creek to Warrina opened - 67 miles 18 chains (108 km) long
7.1.1891Section from Warrina to Oodnadatta opened - 54 miles 39 chains (87 km) long
1.1.1911line from Port Augusta to Oodnadatta passed to Commonwealth Government ownership but continued to be operated by the South Australian Railways until 1926
1.1.1926Commonwealth Railways took over operations of the line
23.12.1928Section from Oodnadatta to Rumbalara opened - 170 miles 64 chains (274 km) long
2.8.1929Section from Rumbalara to Alice Springs opened - 122 miles 14 chains (196 km) long
7.3.1957Section from Beltana to Brachina closed
27.7.1957Section from Leigh Creek to Marree closed
17.7.1958Section from Brachina to Leigh Creek closed
1.6.1972Section from Port Augusta to Hawker closed
1981Section from Marree to Alice Springs closed

This section contains information about the Central-Australia Railway narrow gauge Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway. 3.1925 - Central Australia Railway Ghan at Oodnadatta Railway Station - the sleeping car is most likely SAR car <em>Nilpena</em>

Oodnadatta (478 m 13 c)

2.1917Oodnadatta 478¼ m - [SAR PTT 2.1917]
11.1934Oodnadatta 478¼ m - [SAR PTT 11.1934]
6.1953Oodnadatta 478¼ m - [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Oodnadatta 478¼ m - [PTT 2.1973]

Wire Creek (501 m) -- Todmorten (501 m)

11.1934Wire Creek 501 m - [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Todmorden 501 m - [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Alberga (503 m 43c)

11.1934Alberga 504 m - [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Alberga 504 m - [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Alberga 504 m - [PTT 2.1973]

Macumba (505 m)

6.1953Macumba 505 m - [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Mount Sarah (522m)

6.1953Mount Sarah 522 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Mount Sarah 522 m [PTT 2.1973]

Mount Rebecca (532 m)

6.1953Mount Rebecca 532 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Pedirka (543 m 73c)

11.1934Pedirka 544m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Pedirka 544m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Pedirka 544m [PTT 2.1973]

Mount Emery (555 m)

6.1953Mount Emery 555 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Ilbunga (563 m 64c)

11.1934Ilbunga 564 [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Ilbunga 564m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Ilbunga 564m [PTT 2.1973]

Bloods Creek (577 m)

6.1953Bloods Creek 577 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Bloods Creek 577 m [PTT 2.1973]

Abminga (586 m 66c)

11.1934Abminga 587m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Abminga 587m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Abminga 587m [PTT 2.1973]

Wall Creek (599 m)

6.1953Wall Creek 599 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Duffield (609 m)

6.1953Duffield 609 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Duffield 609 m [PTT 2.1973]

Crown Point (619 m)

6.1953Crown Point 619 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Finke (629 m 27c)

11.1934Finke 629 m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Finke 629 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Finke 629 m [PTT 2.1973]

Finke Stockyards


Musgrave (639 m)

6.1953Musgrave 639 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Rumbalara (648 m 77c)

11.1934Rumbalara 649 m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Rumbalara 649 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Rumbalara 649 m [PTT 2.1973]

Mount Squire (658 m)

6.1953Mount Squire 658 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Mount Squire 658 m [PTT 2.1973]

Engoordina (669 m)

6.1953Engoordina 669 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Bundooma (683 m 15c)

11.1934Bundooma 683m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Bundooma 683m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Bundooma 683m [PTT 2.1973]

Maryvale (697 m)

6.1953Maryvale 697 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Rodinga ( 709 m)

11.1934Rodinga 709 m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Rodinga 709 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Rodinga 709 m [PTT 2.1973]

Deep Well (722 m)

6.1953Deep Well 723m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Deep Well 723m [PTT 2.1973]

Ooraminna (730 m)

6.1953Ooraminna 730 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Mount Polhill (741 m)

6.1953Mount Polhill 741 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]

Ewaninga (751 m)

11.1934Ewaninga 751 m [SAR PTT11.1934]
6.1953Ewaninga 751 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Ewaninga 751 m [PTT 2.1973]

Mount Ertiva (761 m) -- Mount Ertwa (761 m)

This location seems to have been rather confused about what it was actually named. It sometimes appears as "Mt Ertwa" and at others as "Mt. Ertiva". Given that "Mt. Ertwa" is the name of a mountain approx 40 miles south-west of Alice springs it is likely that the correct spelling of the location should be "Mt. Ertwa".

1.11.1943Mount Ertiva [WTT 1.11.1943]
29.8.1949Mount Ertiva 761 m [WTT 29.8.1949]
6.1953Mount Ertwa 761 m [SAR PTT 6.1953]
15.12.1954Mount Ertwa [WTT 15.12.1954]

Macdonnell (765 m)

2.1973Macdonnell 765 m -[PTT 2.1973]
Circa 1930 - Central Australia Railway <em>Ghan</em> -- Heavitree Gap Alice Springs. The car behind the locomotive is the "NRP 24"


NJ 4 arriving at Alice Springs Circa 1930,Central Australia Railway -- Alice Springs station

Alice Springs (771 m 11c) -- Alice Springs 1335.00 km

11.1934Alice Springs 771m narrow gauge [SAR PTT 11.1934]
6.1953Alice Springs 771m narrow gauge [SAR PTT 6.1953]
2.1973Alice Springs 771m narrow gauge [PTT 2.1973]
-Alice Springs narrow gauge - 771 miles 11 chains
2.1.2004Alice Springs - Defined as Block Location - Terminal with nil loop - South Yard Location Board 1334.000km, Center 1335.00km, North Yard Location Board 1338.60Km [ASR Network Operating Guide Pt32]