Victor Harbor railway line

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Victor Harbor
Mtb steamranger 1.jpg
TerminiMount Barker Junction
Victor Harbor
Continues fromAdelaide-Wolseley line
Track gauge1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)
Route map

Broad Gauge (Red), Standard Gauge (Blue)
Mount Barker Junction
Mount Barker
Western Flat Creek
Philcox Hill
Bugle Ranges
Wistow-Strathalbyn Road
closed 1970
Goolwa-Strathalbyn Road
Currency Creek
Currency Creek
Goolwa SteamRanger Depot
Hindmarsh Island Bridge
Oliver Street
Hutchinson Street
Foster Place
Gardiner Street
Victor Harbor-Goolwa Road
Mindacowie Terrace
Basham Beach Road
Strangways Terrace
Murray Terrace
The Strand
Rosetta Terrace
Port Elliot
Unnamed rivulet
Grantley Avenue
Eyre Terrace
Coral Street
Victor Harbor

The Victor Harbor railway line is a broad gauge line in South Australia. It branches from the Adelaide to Wolseley line at Mount Barker Junction and then runs south to Victor Harbor.


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.[1]

The line was extended northwards to Strathalbyn in 1869, the connection from Adelaide reaching the town in 1884 and completing the link.[2] 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.[3]

Australian National operated freight services on the Strathalbyn to Victor section were withdrawn in 1980 and on the rest of the line from October 1987.[4][5]

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.[5] 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.[5]


  1. ^ "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.
  2. ^ Along the Lineside – Goolwa to Pt Elliot SteamRanger Heritage Railway
  3. ^ Along the Lineside Guide – Strathalbyn to Sandergrove SteamRanger Heritage Railway
  4. ^ Callaghan, WH (1992). The Overland Railway. Australian Railway Historical Society. p. 212. ISBN 0 909650 29 2.
  5. ^ a b c Our history SteamRanger Heritage Railway

Further reading[edit]

  • Harvey, Dean (1992). "The Victor Harbor Line". Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin (July–September): 155–169, 179–195 & 207–220.