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18 May 1854 Goolwa to Port Elliot Railway

 18 May 1854   Goolwa to Port Elliot Railway

South Australia's first railway line between Goolwa and Port Elliot   opened on 18 May 1854. It was the first to be laid with iron rails in Australia. It was built for the purpose of moving produce transported down the Murray River to Goolwa and then to Port Elliot for shipment overseas. But Port Elliot proved to be unsuitable for shipping, as it was too dangerous in bad weather, and the line was extended to Victor Harbor, known as Port Victor at that time, in 1864, and Strathalbyn in 1869.

Horses provided the motive power until steam trains were introduced in 1884/5. Victor Harbor became a busy port with its railway, screw pile jetty, wharf and breakwater. A large amount of wool was shipped from there after its journey from Goolwa via the train. The development of railways in Victoria, particularly to the river port of Echuca, and the competitive freight rates offered by the Victorian Railways saw the decline of the river trade through South Australia, and by the 1890s the good days were over.

Nowadays the 'Cockle Train', as it is called, runs between the sea and river ports for the tourist trade.

R.E. Fluck, R. Sampson, K.J. Bird, Steam Locos and Railcars of the South Australian Railways,   Railway Museum, 1986, p. 8.

Tags: Goolwa to Port Elliot Railway, Railways