Trans Australian Railway Line Centenary

Submitted: Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 07:07
ThreadID: 133362 Views:4933 Replies:6 FollowUps:12
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The line was completed on 17 October 1917 when the east and west construction parties met just west of Ooldea at -30.46966, 131.78966.

Those who have been there will know the memorial is a cheap chipboard construction with the original rails as a base. It is in awful disrepair.

If this important site was in the US or anywhere other than Australia, it would be an important National Treasure treasure to be proud of.

Does anyone know of any 100 year celebrations that are being planned, and if there are any plans to fix this monument up to a decent structure? It's a disgrace.



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Reply By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 07:22

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 07:22
Hi Boobook
The short answer is yes.

Things have gone quiet at the moment, but there is a new monument planned, but as with all things, it is hard to get all parties involved, including the railways.

I posted a post a long time ago about this, but all I can say, is keep Tuesday the 17th free next year. It could be used as a National Gathering to show the world that ExplorOz members take seriously these type of history events.

Cheers


Stephen
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Follow Up By: Member - mechpete - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 08:32

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 08:32
hi Stephen ,
yes Leigh an I are planning on bein there , funny story I had it pencilled in my dairy as oct 17th that's what Leigh told me ,on our return from Darwin he spoke to you thank god , how embarrassing it would have been to be there on oct 17th this yr
cheer mechpete
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Follow Up By: Member - Boobook - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 10:00

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 10:00
Stephen,

Has anyone contacted ARTC or politicians?

I would be happy to assist in getting support for funding / action from them.
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Follow Up By: Ron N - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:01

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 12:01
The rail aficionados on RailPage had a thread on the events involving the celebration of the centenary of the Turning of the First Sod for the Trans Line, in Sept 2012.

That centenary was celebrated with a special train and a historical display in Pt Augusta that ran for 24 days. The historical display included information boards, films and photos.

The organisations involved in this celebration were ...

Australasian Railway Association
ARTC
Port Augusta City Council
Pichi Richi Historical Society
Great Southern Railway
Pacific National
SCT Logistics
Genesee & Wyoming Australia
QR National
CFCLA
Downer EDI

There are indications that a similar style of event may be carried out on the centenary date of the completion of the Trans Line - but it appears that what the event will comprise, has not been completely firmed up yet.

I'd suggest you contact all of the above to raise the issue of the new, improved plaque/monument and to find out what is being planned - or probably more importantly in this era of economic tightness - what they can afford.

Railpage discussion over 2012 Trans Line centenary and upcoming 2017 centenary

The poster "Voice of Reason", posted the upcoming 2012 event details on Page 1 of the above link - and on Page 5 of the thread, there are numerous photos of the event.

Cheers, Ron.
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 15:28

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 15:28
Hi Boobook

I have been keeping in touch with my contact in Ceduna for more than 2 years to get things moving regarding the 100th Anniversary, but as they say, things move very slow in some and here is a copy of my last email that goes back to March this year.

All local politicians have better things to do.....which is a real shame and the more input from people like us will hopefully help things along.

"I have had further discussions with the State and Federal members for the Port Augusta and outback regions.....without anything tangible received back yet.

I have been advised by Great Southern Rail that they will meet with me in the near future to establish some mutual opportunities, but I doubt they would contribute to any costs associated with the design, construction and erection of the monuments.

To date I still have not had any response back from the ARA (Australasia Railway Association), as to their potential input, nor similarly from other organisations.

The Federal Member for Port Adelaide’s (Mark Butler) office is currently pursuing potential grant source options....but sadly again not too promising.

There is little hope for any special train by any operator across the Nullarbor and/or associated with unveiling the proposed monuments.

Considering the timing left, and potential overall costs, a few of us are firming up on the opinion that the focus should only be on the construction and erection of two new monuments – and no more.

Given ARTC’s advice that they will transport and install the monuments, it may be the best option.

Pichi Richi Railway still intends to have an involvement for any activity/function at Port Augusta....associated with the Centenary."

As you can see, it seems to be no big deal with ARTC.



Cheers



Stephen

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 20:29

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 20:29
Hi Pete

Sounds like you had a great trip away and Leigh sounds like he had a great time when he met you up in Darwin.

Funny you say that, as the anniversary did come up in the conversation and Leigh that it was this year and was getting ready for it....lol




Cheers




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Follow Up By: Member - Leigh (Vic) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 21:25

Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 21:25
It was a lucky revelation Stephen, could have been a long trip for nothing LOL.
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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Thursday, Oct 27, 2016 at 15:54

Thursday, Oct 27, 2016 at 15:54

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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Thursday, Nov 24, 2016 at 13:54

Thursday, Nov 24, 2016 at 13:54
Hi Stephen, Boobook and others.
Im just wondering if there is anymore news or updates re next year anniversary and if there is any more info re a new monument.
Cheers all
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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 09:56

Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 09:56
Hi Rusty

For a while there, it was all too hard for a few involved, but now that a number of West Coast organisations have jumped on board, they are hoping for it to be a big event.

So as they say, keep watching and make sure that you keep Tuesday 17th October 2017 free.


Cheers



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Follow Up By: Member - Rustygq - Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 15:35

Sunday, Nov 27, 2016 at 15:35
Steven
Thanks heaps. Really glad to hear that it hasnt died. We (2 trucks, 4 people) will be there. Will probably arrive a day or 2 before the 17th. Hope that there will be a few others about as well.
Cheers
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Reply By: Member - Phil G (SA) - Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 20:42

Friday, Sep 02, 2016 at 20:42
I've watched those monuments disintegrate over the years, so would love to see something a bit stronger put in their place.
Here are photos of the two monuments from 2010 but the north one blew over as well a year or two later.


There is a huge history that involves that area.
I am thinking about the local aboriginal people and their attitude to the railway as the railway destroyed life as they knew it. To supply water to the railway, many many bores were sunk at Ooldea Soak about 7k N of the railway line in the early 1900's. The bedrock became a sieve and destroyed the area because the Soak would no longer hold water. That Soak was the major trading area for aboriginal people from the coast and from the north - it was the only perennial water source on the edge of the desert. With no water, and loss of their traditional ways, the aboriginal people became dependant on the railway for survival - for food and water. Daisy Bates set herself up there in the 1930's and assisted the aborigines, and after her departure the Uniting Church set up a mission at Ooldea. That mission disappeared in the 1950's when the nuclear testing was being set up nearby at Maralinga, so the aboriginal people were forced to leave their country and those who didn't, suffered the consequences of the nuclear fallout.
I find it a pretty sad piece of history.....and it all started with the railway. But still we can't turn back history.
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Reply By: Pete G - Saturday, Sep 03, 2016 at 21:10

Saturday, Sep 03, 2016 at 21:10
Very interested in this. My Grandfather worked on the East West as a Ganger (I have a copy of a paybook). I did some time on the pre-stressed sleeper beds in Kalgoorlie 40yrs ago.

Also I organized this at the SA NT border on the Tarcoola Alice line in 1979. Don't have access to these sort of toys these days. That is my son at about 9 months. The rock has the commemorative plaque attached to it. Was at the clip driving ceremony - boy what a party courtesy of Commonwealth Railways of the day.

Stephen L - I have been meaning to talk to you as I have family contacts around your way and have spent time in SA outback (former crow eater). Could you please PM me if interested and we can take it from there.

Regards, Pete_G

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Follow Up By: Dave(NSW) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 00:19

Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 00:19
Pete, I worked out at Kitchener in the mid 70s replacing wooden sleepers for concrete ones.

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Follow Up By: Member - Stephen L (Clare SA) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 18:16

Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 18:16
Hi Pete

I sent you a MM last night, but have not heard back yet?

Just wondering if you received it.



Cheers


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Reply By: Ron N - Saturday, Sep 03, 2016 at 23:12

Saturday, Sep 03, 2016 at 23:12
Below are links to two sites -

(1) Pictures of a lot of the Trans Line construction (from the State Library of W.A. collections) -

and (2) An article written in 2001 by the Institution of Engineers, Australia, outlining the entire Trans-Australian Railway story.

SLWA photographs collection of Trans Line construction

The above photo link provides access to all the online Trans Line photos held by the SLWA.
To reduce the number of the search results, type "1912 to 1918" under "publish date" in the LH menu.
Then click on "apply" under the dates.
This reduces the numbers of photos found to approximately the construction period, and gives about 3 pages of results.
Opening the photos fully, involves up to 3 or even 4 steps. It's not the most user-friendly system around.

There are many good photos there, including the tracklayers meeting, and the rails being cut to make the join, and the join being made.

One photo that needs a caption correction, is one titled "Steam plough".
The engine pulling the plough (which I think is a scarifier, anyway) is not a steam engine - it's a 1912-1914, 15-25HP Fairbanks Morse Oil Tractor - a rare machine back then, and a much rarer tractor today.

The engineers article is very comprehensive (21 pages) and you need some time to read it all.
A lot of the article covers the politics and decision-making surrounding the railway.

I found the section headed, "Building the Railway" the most interesting part.

I was quite surprised to find, that around 2/3 to 3/4 of the original sleepers were W.A. Karri - treated to resist termite attack.

I have no idea how effective the treatment was, and how durable the Karri sleepers were.
I don't ever recall seeing any old Karri sleepers, from any railway. Jarrah and Wandoo, yes - but never Karri.

Karri is very durable, a stringy, tough timber, that is tough to split - but termites will walk over hot coals to make a meal of it, in its natural state.

The Trans-Australian Railway

Cheers, Ron.
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Reply By: Member - Murray R (VIC) - Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 17:40

Sunday, Sep 04, 2016 at 17:40
Boobook
I was there last week and have to agree that it is a shame that this part of Australian history has been forgotten by parties involved and that memorial is what it is today. Hope that a more substantial memorial can be errected for the centenary
Maybe because these memorials are not for a person is the reason that it has been negected as when you see the one for Daisey Bates just down the railway line her's willl be there forever.

Murray
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Reply By: Member - Rustygq - Thursday, Oct 06, 2016 at 12:22

Thursday, Oct 06, 2016 at 12:22
I have penciled in time to be there on the day. Couldnt agree more that if this was in th US or anywhere else it would be a significant site.I am hopefull that something will be done about the monument, but whatever, I plan to be there. R

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