License: Creative Commons - Attribution-No Derivatives Author: denisbin
Pichi Richi Railway.
In 1878 work began on constructing the great Northern railway from Port Augusta through Pichi Richi
Pass in the Flinders Ranges towards Quorn. In December 1881 a railway line was extended from Peterborough (then Petersburg) via Carrieton and Hammond to Quorn. This then provided a rail link between Adelaide/Port Adelaide and Port Augusta. The Great Northern Railway was extended from Quorn to Hawker and then Maree in 1883 and eventually Oodnadatta in 1891.It was then extended to Alice Springs in 1929 by the Commonwealth but although the Commonwealth promised a railway to Darwin when SA gave up its Northern Territory in 1911 the Commonwealth never built a railway via the Flinders Ranges to Darwin. But the Commonwealth did build another railway which was promised to Western Australia in 1901 as a condition of WA joining the Commonwealth of Australia. Work started on a railway across the Nullarbor from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie in 1911 with it being completed in 1917. So from 1917 the Pichi Richi railway line conducted trains to Perth. This ceased in 1937 when a new direct railway line was completed from Adelaide to Port Augusta via the Adelaide Plains and from Port Pirie along the coast to Port Augusta. The Pichi Richi railway then lost much of its traffic but it still had the Ghan travelling up to Alice Springs once or twice a week. When the Great Northern Railway from Hawker to Marree was closed in 1957 the Ghan service used the new Leigh Creek railway line which connected at Leigh Creek to Marree and Oodnadatta. In 1972 the section from Stirling North through the Pichi Richi to Quorn also closed. The section from Peterborough to Quorn had closed in 1969. It was then that the Pichi Richi Railway was established by volunteers for a tourist service. The only town along the Pichi Richi Railway is Stirling North. It was originally called Minchin Wells as there were good water springs there. Local Aboriginal people camped there because of the water supply and in the 1850s the Sub-Protector of Aborigines Mr. Minchin met Aboriginal people there. All the bullock teams and drays heading into the Flinders Ranges or the Willochra Plains or to Horrocks Pass stopped at Minchin Wells for water. A stand pipe in the centre of the town was used to water stock and people. Camel teams left from here for Alice Springs and the north, and eventually trains stopped here for water for their steam engines once the Pichi Richi Pass railway was completed in 1879. The town was surveyed and laid out in 1859 on land taken from the leasehold of Robert Barr Smith and his brothers-in-law Sir Thomas Elder and Edward Stirling. Hence the name officially became Stirling North rather than Minchin Wells. About this time the first hotel opened in Stirling North, the John Bull Inn. Stirling North has primarily been a transportation centre with a water supply! More recently it has had the new Port Augusta Gaol in its vicinity. The original Port Augusta Goal opened at Stirling North around 1862.