Victor Harbor railway line
|Termini||Mount Barker Junction|
|Continues from||Adelaide-Wolseley line|
|Track gauge||1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)|
South Australia's first railway venture was the opening of the Goolwa on the Murray River to the ocean harbour at Port Elliot horse tramway in 1854. It was later extended to a safer harbour at Victor Harbor. This line was used to move freight between the shallow-draft vessels navigating the Murray, and coastal and ocean-going vessels, without either having to traverse the narrow and shallow mouth of the river with unpredictable currents. The Goolwa–Port Elliot railway was awarded a Historic Engineering Marker in 1992.
The line was extended northwards to Strathalbyn in 1869, the connection from Adelaide reaching the town in 1884 and completing the link. Until 1884, trains south of Strathalbyn were hauled by horse power, but between 1883 and 1885 the section to Currency Creek was rebuilt to steam railway standards.
In the early 1980s, Australian National announced that the Victor Harbor line would close, despite enormous public opposition. Several factors were noted for the closure of the line, such as a deteriorating track condition, a long time-consuming route compared with a more direct road journey, and declining passenger numbers.
Over 50,000 return journeys were made during 1977/78, but this dropped to only around 16,000 in 1982/83. The last Australian National passenger service ran on 30 April 1984, when locomotive 942 hauled seven steel cars from Adelaide to Victor Harbor and return.
Despite many people using the service in the last few months leading into the closure, it was not enough for passenger services to be retained. The SteamRanger Heritage Railway was established in 1986 to operate tourist trains on the line. In late 1989, Australian National declared the Mount Barker Junction–Strathalbyn section unsafe and SteamRanger operated services from Adelaide to Strathalbyn were cancelled.
That section was eventually renewed during 1990-91 with funding from the State Government. First the lines beyond Strathalbyn were operated by SteamRanger train crews, later extending to the entire line. In 1995 gauge conversion of the Adelaide to Wolseley line isolated the broad gauge Victor Harbor line off from the rest of the network, and volunteers took full responsibility for maintaining the track from Mount Barker Junction to Victor Harbor.
- "Goolwa – Port Elliot Railway and Extensions to Victor Harbor and Strathalbyn, A Statement of the Engineering Heritage Significance of the Railway" (PDF). Institution of Engineers, Australia. June 1991. Retrieved 14 June 2016.
- Along the Lineside – Goolwa to Pt Elliot SteamRanger Heritage Railway
- Along the Lineside Guide – Strathalbyn to Sandergrove SteamRanger Heritage Railway
- Callaghan, WH (1992). The Overland Railway. Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 212. ISBN 0 909650 29 2.
- Our history SteamRanger Heritage Railway
- Harvey, Dean (1992). "The Victor Harbor Line". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin (July–September): 155–169, 179–195 & 207–220.