Parachilna, South Australia
Parachilna is a country town in South Australia. The town was first surveyed in 1863 due to its closeness to a government water well. It is on the railway line and road between Port Augusta and Leigh Creek. Today, the Prairie Hotel, railway station, airstrip and a few buildings remain. The road east into the Flinders Ranges leads through Parachilna Gorge, recognised for its scenic beauty, to Blinman.
The town's name is from the Aboriginal patajilnda, meaning "place of peppermint gum trees". The spelling difference is due to an early translation misreading. The railway station was completed in 1881 as part of the line to Leigh Creek through Beltana. The area was one of the set locations for the Australian feature film, Rabbit Proof Fence.
The Prairie Hotel is the only substantial building, dating from the days when the rail was supreme. Away from the highway, the hotel fronts the railway line and the now derelict station building. The old hotel has been in part retained, in part restored and tastefully extended. There are now no passengers on the line that once ran from Adelaide to Marree and connected with the old Ghan line to Oodnadatta and Alice Springs. The hotel's patrons all come by car or bus and find their way in from the highway.
The grand old sandstone and limestone building is now replete with fully modern amenities; amenities that are not so frequent in places further north. Local aboriginal artwork decorates the lounges and dining room and there are displays of the nearby Ediacaran fossils, relicts of great significance to the fossil community. Apart from the hotel itself, there are 'spill-over' facilities available across the road, by the railway line, varying from self-contained cabins to Atcos and camping areas.
The outstanding feature of establishment is the dining room menu and the 'feral feast' on offer. Camel mettwurst and camel sausage; goat and goat cheese and feral pork form a feral platter available as an antipasto or main meal. Kangaroo and emu, although not feral, are also on the menu, with smoked roo, roo fillet and emu pâté on offer.
The highlight of the evening is the passing of the train returning from Leigh Creek to the north, with coal for the power station at Port Augusta. It consists of some 180 trucks, 3 km in length, and takes about 5 minutes to pass.