Cook's main reason for existence is to service the passenger train (Indian-Pacific
) that stops here 4 times a week to take on water, change drivers and allow passenger to stretch their legs. Freight trains also stop to refresh their crews. Essentially a ghost town, Cook has only 1 permanent family in residence - the railway caretaker (who opens the souvenir shop
when the trains come in). There are also usually a few railway crewmen making temporary residence in the fibro homes along the "main street" in between their shifts. When the trains come through, crews switch over.
The hospital and school are closed down, the only sign of life is the small souvenir shop
that is opened especially for the stopping train but otherwise remains closed. What was once an above ground swimming pool is now the makeshift golf course. The ‘main street’ is just a dusty expanse between the railway and a line of unoccupied fibro homes. Alongside the railway line are the historic gaol cells of Cook which are two very small corrugated iron sheds that look like outhouses. Built in bygone days to house criminals caught wandering around on the Nullarbor
and held here until the next train arrived, the two cells are matching "his" and "hers", complete with bars, padlocks and their own "gaol house rock".
Cook has a 3,939 m loop, low level platform, triangle, sidings, fuel sidings and spur lines.Pacific
National (PN) now owns Cook after building new barracks (rest house) for the Loco Crews in 2011. It was originally owned by Gennesee & Wyoming Australia
(GWA). The loco's also fuel here if required. The fuel and water is railed from Port Augusta
Loco crews work from either Kalgoorlie
or Port Augusta to Cook. The busiest time is Thursday to Sunday. The crews never used the houses as the old barracks were in use from the steam days until 2011.
PN Loco Driver