Goolwa, an aboriginal word for "elbow", was once a bustling river port and is noted for its
historic buildings. Links with the past are clearly evident in the reappearance of' steam
driven river boats and the Signal Point River Murray Interpretive Centre.
An excellent historical Museum in Porter St, not far from the station, is well worth a visit
Regular cruises leave from the Goolwa Wharf to explore the lower reaches of the River
and the Murray mouth. Across the river from the station is Hindmarsh Island which
stretches across to the Murray Mouth and the entrance to the Coorong. A new high level
bridge opened in 2001 replaceces the long established cable ferry service.
The large goods shed and wharf opposite SteamRanger’s station bear testimony to a bygone
era of hectic activity associated with the transfer of produce from paddle steamers to the
railway for transhipment to Victor Harbor. The present station is maintained by SteamRanger,
whilst a more recent addition is a sympathetically constructed shop for the Goolwa Arts and
Along the Line to Pt Elliot
The line winds around to the right as it leaves the river and then crosses the main Goolwa to
Victor road near the football oval. Prior to 1915 the main line south from Strathalbyn skirted
the main township and joined the Victor line here and trains were shunted back into a station
near the Corio Hotel and Goolwa town gardens and then on to the wharf area. Evidence of the
original lines is still visible, particularly in aerial photographs. From here the train
travels across 6km of flat farmland to Middleton.
Prior to 1880s the original horse tram line from Strathalbyn came in from the north and
joined the Goolwa line If you look carefully, a cutting for the old horse tram route can be
traced on the right side of the line near the main road level crossing. This route was closed
and removed in 1885.
The original Middleton station, dating from the horse tram period, was located near the
large “Bowmans” stone mill, seen on the right as the train enters the township.
Today's Middleton siding was established further to the east in 1926 adjacent to the historic
double storied “Mindacowie” guesthouse located on the northern side of the main road.
The modern Middleton Tavern has recently been built closer to the track. During the 1950's
large quantities of sheep were railed from the local sheep sales and Middleton was second only
to Strathalbyn for it’s volume of traffic on the line.
Our photo shows the scene at the old station in 1869 with horse cars enroute to Goolwa and
Strathalbyn and the Mill in the background.
Closer to the coast now and the surfing beaches at Fishermans Bay and Basham
Beach can be glimpsed across the sandhills. Whales and their calves are often seen here in
the winter. Back to the rear of the train and across the bay are the beaches at the Murray
Mouth with the Coorong stretching southwards in the distance.
On the outskirts of the township the rail line leaves the main Victor to Goolwa road and to
seawards you might see a "bow string" girder bridge at the entrance to the caravan park.
This was transported down from Adelaide where it carried Grand Junction Road across the
Adelaide - Port Adelaide rail line
Look out for the Obelisk on the shoreline at Freemans Knob as the train enters Pt
Elliot. This was used as a guide to shipping in the early days of settlement. The line swings to
the right at this point and leaves the route of the original horse drawn railway route which
ran away down on the left to the old wharf at Horseshoe Bay.