Posted by: travelrat | March 21, 2012

Paddle Boat and Another Aussie Rail Tale

Rundle Mall, Adelaide

Last night, I was looking for something to read. With the Big Trip coming up, I took my library books back the other day, and didn’t take anything else out. And, I wanted to save the stuff I have on my Kindle for the journey. So, glancing through my bookshelves, I came upon Nevil Shute’s A Town Like Alice, which I haven’t read for ages. A particular passage caught my attention:

‘The railway was intended to go south (from Darwin) to Alice and join up with the one from Alice down to Adelaide — go from north to south of the continent. It might have been some good if it had done that, but it got as far as Birdum and then stopped. God knows what it does now’

Now, I thought that, until the arrival of the Ghan in 2004, Darwin was completely rail-less; it seems that, although cut off from the rest of the Australian rail network, it was not exactly true. Wikipedia and YouTube confirmed this. However, it seemed that, at the start of WWII, the line terminated at Larrimah, Birdum being abandoned.

The line itself closed in 1976 … but I did find some video of it, or rather 8mm film transferred to video. It seems the line was used mainly for freight and iron ore. The video is at

I’ll leave you with one of my own videos, an early one, taken back in 2006. And, of course, a picture. See you on the other side of the world!


  1. Hi Keith,
    What a great old 8mm film, I didn’t watch it all the way through, but is is wonderful that it was put on video for all to learn a bit about the history of the railway.

    I loved your video, and I thought you explained about the Murray very well, a very enjoyable couple of minutes.

    I know you will enjoy yourselves when you finally land in OZ, have a wonderful trip. 😀

    • Transferring 8mm. to video isn’t cheap, even at my computer guru’s ‘mates rates’, so I have to admire the enthusiasm of those who do so, and share it … especially something like this, which could have lain forgotten in a shoe box in an attic.

      Interesting, too, to compare the two videos, and see how moving picture technology has moved on in 40 years … even though that video is by no means my best; I’d just bought the camera (used digital tape), and was trying to get to grips with it and the editing software.

      Just tidying a few loose ends up before I pack, and catch the bus to the airport ….

      • Oh it is time to leave. Wow, I bet you are all exicted, have a safe flight, and hoping to hear from you again here in OZ. 😀

  2. The Murray Princess is gorgeous. I would love to travel the Murray on her. It is a beautiful part of the world!

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