Route Information - North Australia RailwayComrails Logo

Route Information

North Australia Railway

This section contains information about the North Australia Railway (NAR). The NAR ran from Palmerston (Darwin) in the north to Pine Creek in south. It was 234km (145 miles 78 chains) long, opened on 1.10.1889 and officially closed 14.2.1981.

The NORTH AUSTRALIA RAILWAY was the name given to the Northern Territory 3 ft. 6 in. gauge railway that extended south from Darwin to Birdum. The South Australian Government commenced this line, known then as the Palmerston to Pine Creek Railway, and opened it in 1889. When the administration of the Northern Territory passed from South Australia to the Commonwealth Government on 1 January 1911 the railway was transferred to Commonwealth ownership, under the control of the Administrator of the Northern Territory. At this time it was known as the Northern Territory Railway, but was transferred to the control of the Commonwealth Railways Commissioner in 1918. Prior to this date the Commonwealth Railways seemed to have exercised a large influence over decisions about the railway, as well as providing some locomotives and other rollingstock. It was renamed the North Australia Railway in 1926 and extensions to Birdum were completed in 1929, but during and following World War II the effective railhead was Larrimah, a few miles north.

The railway gained increased importance in the 1960's and early 70's through the haulage of iron ore from the Frances Creek deposits, about 140 miles south of Darwin. Ore traffic exceeded one million tons per annum, but unfortunately world ore prices dropped forcing the mine to close and other traffic was not enough to justify keeping the railway open. The line eventually ceased all operations in 1976.

Stokes Hill Jetty -- Town Jetty

1887First jetty (timber) completed. [jh nnl]
1897Timber jetty closed because it was in danger of collapse. [jh nnl]
1898Construction of new iron jetty commensed - it was reported completed a decade later. [jh nnl]
1922One rail track along the bridge section replaced by a cattle race to facilitate of live beasts. [jh nnl]
1930sA small side jetty built leading to the eastern side of the bridge and used as a flying boat terminal. [jh nnl]
19.2.1942Part of the bridge section destroyed by Japanese air-raid. [jh nnl]
1942Army engineers built a temporary bridge to enable loading to continue.[jh nnl]
1957New concrete wharf replaced Stokes Hill Wharf. [jh nnl]

Boom Jetty

1941A substantial depot was built at the foot of Fort Hill with a shallow draught concrete jetty. It was connected by a spur line which ran from the Darwin yard. [jh nnl]

Palmerston (0 m) -- Darwin (0 m) -- Frances Bay Freight Yard (0 m)

-Orinally named Palmerston
-Renamed Darwin
1926Railway/Government store and siding built. [jh nnl]
1934Sorting Shed (Bond Store) burnt down and replaced by a more modern structure [jh nnl]
11.1972Major collision between ore train and NJ engines in yard.
1973Yard renamed to "Frances Bay Freight Yard". [jh nnl]

Petrol Sidings (Peel Street) (0 m 73 c)

WWIIArmy petrol station and distribution centre for Darwin. [jh nnl]
before 1963Sidings disconnected. [jh nnl]

Public Works Vacuum and Naval Victualling Sidings (1 m 51 c)

1914Noted a Government Works Store at this location[jh nnl]
1926Abolished when new storehouse built in the Darwin Yard. [jh nnl]
1930sSiding estabilshed to serve Vacuum Oil. [jh nnl]
WWIIAdditional siding built at location to serve the Naval Victualling Store. [jh nnl]
1963Tank siding Disconnected. [jh nnl]
1967Navalsiding Disconnected. [jh nnl]

One and Half Mile (1½ m)

1932One and Half Mile - Mentioned in general Appendix [GA]

B.I.O. Co. Oil Store

1932B.I.O. Co. Oil Store - Mentioned in general Appendix [GA]

Parap (2 m)

-Triangle junction built to serve the Meat Works siding. The junction was in the form of a triangle to enable cattle trains from the south to enter and frozen carcasses to process to Darwin without reversing.[jh nnl]
1950sMeat Works siding removed. Triangle retained as a reversing point for diesel electric locomotives. [jh nnl]

North Australia Meat Company Ltd -- Vestey"s Siding (2 m 63c)

1918Knowen as Vestey"s Siding [jh nnl]
1932North Australia Meat Company Ltd. - Mentioned in general Appendix [GA]
1950sMeat Works siding removed - the remnants of the branch used as a private siding by the Hastings Deering Co., to unload earth moving machinery. [jh nnl]
-[jh nnl]

Locomotive Depot and Workshops -- 2½ Mile (Old Loco) (2 m 40c)

1917Staff Station opened [jh nnl]
1917Staff Station closed [jh nnl]

Three Miles (3 m)

1918Cattle trucking yards installed on the up side of main line [jh nnl]

RAAF Siding (6 m 07c)

WWIISpur siding leading to to the RAAF base at the up end of the Winnellie Loop [jh nnl]
1950sA triangle was built leading off the spur. This was used to reverse trains and unload wagons of stone from Darwin River. [jh nnl]

Winnellie (6 m 51 c)

WWIILoop Siding of 633 feet established. [jh nnl]

Knuckey"s Lagoon (10 m 10 c)

-Siding 600 feet in length. [jh nnl]
1967Siding extended to 1335 feet. [jh nnl]

Southport Road

1932Southport Road - Mentioned in general Appendix [GA]

McMinns (20 m 2 c)

-Loop siding of 689 feet. [jh nnl]
1967Loop extended to 2104 feet. [jh nnl]

22 Mile (22 m) -- Wishart (22 m)

-Appears in some working time tables as a stopping spot without loop - a number of fettlers cotages were here as headquarters for a maintenance gang. [jh nnl]
-Nmaed "Wishart" after a contractor who built the first Palmerston jetty. [jh nnl]

Millar (22 m 50c)

1968Loading point for iron ore from Mount Bundey mine. [jh nnl]
1972Siding was disconnected. [jh nnl]

Firdan (27 m 17c)

WWIISiding near Stuart Highway that served the Army field supply depot. The siding was 2350 feet in length. [jh nnl]
by 1973Consisted of a crossing loop only of 3630 feet. [jh nnl]

Noonamah (29 m 16c)

WWIIWar time facility that consisted of a triangle on the down side to serve as a RAAF depot.[jh nnl]
-Closed shortly after the end of WWII[jh nnl]

Southport (37 m 54 c)

-Original SAR loop siding of 650 feet. [jh nnl]
1958Shown as a crossing place. [jh nnl]

Darwin River (42 m 56 c)

-Water spot during steam days [jh nnl]
1952Triangle installed on down side to act as loading point for quarry rubble used for construction of Darwin RAAF base [jh nnl]
by 1958Shown as a crossing place[jh nnl]
1968Siding used to store surplus cattle wagons [jh nnl]

Beetson (46 m 28 c)

1915Fettlers camp established [jh nnl]
WWIISite of 800 foor crossing loop [jh nnl]
1967Loop extended to 2530 feet.[jh nnl]

Kanyaka (51 m 3 c)


Rum Jungle (56 m 42 c)

-SAR station with a single loop siding of 669 feet.[jh nnl]

58 Mile camp (58 m)

1932Listed in General Appendix as a Fettlers Camp [jh nnl]

Batchelor (60 m 20 c)

1912Station established to server "Batchelor Demonstration Farm". Consisted of a loop siding of 477 feet [jh nnl]
WWIILoop extended by 624 feet and a petrol unloading point installed [jh nnl]
1950-60sUsed as the loading point by the Rum Jungle uranium and cooper mines[jh nnl]
1967Reverted to a simple loop siding of 2081 feet [jh nnl]

Simms (62 m 57 c)

1943Crossing station with 800 foot loop [jh nnl]

Ballast Siding (67 m)

-Millars second ballast pit was located here. [jh nnl]
WWIIDead end siding installed. [jh nnl]

Stapleton Creek (69 m 24 c) -- Stapleton (69 m 24 c)

-Original SAR station known as "Stapleton Creek" [jh nnl]
by WWIILoop length 1122 feet. [jh nnl]
by 1973Loop extended to 2409 feet.[jh nnl]

Snake Creek (74 m 55 c)

1942Siding built to serve large Naval Armaments Depot [jh nnl]
1969Siding disconnected from main line [jh nnl]

Adelaide River North (76 m)

WWIIServed the Army's main supply base [jh nnl]
October 1942 - Adelaide River troop train showing converted catle cars and passenger car on North Australia Railway 02.08.1944 - "NOA" class cars on the Hospital Train at Adelaide River

Adelaide River (76 m 72 c)

1925Yard extended - triangle, cattle yards and loading race installed at the northern end [jh nnl]
WWIITwo additional roads and a spur to stable ambulance installed [jh nnl]
1967Layout simplified and the crossing loop extended to 2060 feet [jh nnl]

Goodilla (86 m 27 c)

-Opened with the line to Pine Creek [jh nnl]
1918Closed [jh nnl]
WWIIReinstalled with a loop of 800 feet[jh nnl]
Post WWIITurnouts removed [jh nnl]
1967Loop restored with a length of 1888 feet [jh nnl]

88 Mile (88 m)

1918Copper ore loading at this point on the main line [jh nnl]

Bridge Creek (96 m 5 c)


Howley (100 m 37c)

-Original SAR three road station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]
1967Reduced to a single crossing loop of 2343 feet [jh nnl]

Brock"s Creek (103 m 70c)

-Established to serve the nearby Zatopan mine and Brock's Creek township - loop siding of 300 feet [jh nnl]
WWIIRAAF aviation spirit depot [jh nnl]

Fountain Head (107 m 66 c)

-Original three road SAR station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]
1916Cattle yards and loading race installed [jh nnl]
1967Yard reduced to a single loop siding of 1600 feet. [jh nnl]

112 Mile (112 m)

-Site of Fettlers cottages [jh nnl]

Grove Hill (113 m 25 c)

-Original three road SAR station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]

Burrundie (123 m 67 c)

-Original three road SAR station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]
1967Loop extended to 2104 feet. [jh nnl]

Spring Hill (129 m 3 c)


Boomleera (131 m 10 c)

-Original three road SAR station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]
WWIIShown as having a loop of 900 feet [jh nnl]

134½ Mile (134 m 40 c) -- Roney (134 m 40 c)

-Juction for the 10 mile spur line serving the Frances Creek ore mine [jh nnl]
11.1966Named "Roney" [jh nnl]

Frances Creek (145 m)

1966Opended as loading point for ore on the Frances Creek Ore mine spur line [jh nnl]
1975Closed [jh nnl]

Lady Alice Camp (135 m 44 c)

before 1918Site of Fettlers cottages and ore mine [jh nnl]

Union Reefs (138 m 32 c)

-Original three road SAR station with 700 foot sidings [jh nnl]

Pine Creek (145 m 78c)

1914Yard enlarged by the construction of additional sidings [jh nnl]

Cullen (160 m 36 c)

1917Established as a stopping place with waiting shed when Emungalan extension opened. [jh nnl]
WWIICrossing loop of 900 feet installed [jh nnl]

Fergusson River (165 m 60c)

1917Shown as a water stop for locomotives [jh nnl]

Horseshoe Creek (169 m 58 c)

-Loop siding of 761 feet [jh nnl]

Edith River (175 m 78 c)

1924Opened as a loading point for stone used in the construction of the Katherine River bridge [jh nnl]
1927Closed [jh nnl]
WWIILoop siding installed [jh nnl]
-Loop siding disconnected [jh nnl]
1970Loop siding reconnected [jh nnl]

Helling (183 m 59 c)

WWIICrossing loop of 800 feet[jh nnl]

191 Mile (191 m)

1932Listed as a Fettlers camp [jh nnl]

Emungalan (199 m 18 c)

1917Terminus of the line [jh nnl]
1926Abolished when Katherine station opened [jh nnl]
WWIICrossing loop of 528 feet installed [jh nnl]
1969Loop removed [jh nnl]

Katherine Loco (200 m 49c)

1942Site of the Evacuated Workshops and locomotive running depot [jh nnl]
10.1948Workshops moved back to Darwin [jh nnl]
28.09.1943 - "NOA" class cars on the Hospital Train at Katherine

Katherine (200 m 65c)

1926Opened after completion of Katherine River bridge [jh nnl]
WWIISpur siding of 1352 feet installed [jh nnl]

Katherine Old Loco (201m 21 c)

1926Construction siding built to serve as the depot for the Birdum extension [jh nnl]
1942Original site of the Evacuated Workshops [jh nnl]

Katherine South (202 m 34 c)

WWIIPetrol unloading point and crossing loop of 600 feet [jh nnl]
1973Loop extended to 2155 feet [jh nnl]

Tindal (208 m 60 c)

1960sEstablished to serve the RAAF base [jh nnl]

Blain (214 m 19 c)

WWIICrossing loop of 800 feet [jh nnl]

Marranboy (230 m 41 c)

1928Opened as a loop of 830 feet [jh nnl]

Collings (246 m 47 c)

WWIILoop siding of 900 feet [jh nnl]

Mataranka (264 m 52 c)

1.7.1928Terminus of Line [jh nnl]
4.9.1929Line extention beyond Mataranka opened [jh nnl]

Elsey (280 m 75 c)

WWIICrossing loop of 900 feet [jh nnl]

Hobler (296 m 36 c)

WWIICrossing loop of 900 feet [jh nnl]

Gorrie (303 m 4 c)

WWIICrossing loop of 900 feet [jh nnl]

Larrimah (311 m 22 c)

-Site of the Army transit camp [jh nnl]
1958Became the operation end of the line when a triangle was installed. [jh nnl]

Petrol Sidings (311 m 56 c)

WWIIEstablished as the major fuel transhipment point. [jh nnl]

Birdum (316 m 17 c)

4.9.1929Opened as the terminus of the line [jh nnl]
1958Ceased to be a functional station as all services terminate at "Larrimah" [jh nnl]