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Mt Barker to MB Junction

Mt Barker to Philcox Hill

Philcox to Gemmells

Gemmells to Strath

Strath Station



 Along the Line - Mt Barker Station

Some History of the Line

The line southwards from Mt Barker Junction to Mt Barker was constructed by Messrs Walker and Swann who had previously built the Adelaide to Aldgate line. The section to Mt Barker was opened by the Governor on 27th Nov 1883 with considerable pomp and ceremony and the 500 workers then pressed on to complete the line to Strathalbyn by 15th Sept 1884.

Substantial stone station buildings were built at both Mt Barker and Strathalbyn and stations with sidings and passenger platforms at a number of other locations. Many of these were still in place into the 1970s.

Passenger services operated by Australian National on the line ceased in April 1984 and the line was closed to all trains in 1989. With widespread community support SteamRanger subsequently took over the line and now operates the “Highlander” and the "Southern Encounter" services southwards from Mt Barker to Strathalbyn, Goolwa and Victor Harbor.

The Station Building
The station building was constructed from Aldgate freestone during 1883. It is a variation of a standard design used at a number of SA locations and included a Stationmaster's quarters within the main building at the southern end.

Adjacent to the northern end were once refreshment rooms of timber construction which were used up until 1963, and photographs of the time show chairs and tables (some built on cut off tree trunks) with white linen laid out under the adjacent poplar trees.

The building is now shared between SteamRanger and local Arts and Crafts organisations who operate a small shop, art gallery and local information centre

To glimpse the station as it appeared in earlier times click on each of the folllowing thumbnails

Brill railcar with original goods yard in background
Refresh Tables under the poplar trees in the 1920s
Well kept gardens in front of the station in 1927

Station Restoration
The District Council of Mt. Barker restored the historic Railway Station building to coincide with the transfer of SteamRanger from Adelaide in 1996. SteamRanger volunteers have re-planted part of the garden area which was a feature of the turn of the century station.

Water for Steam Locos
The water column at the Littlehampton end of the platform is rather unique; in that it was manufactured at the Glanville Dockyards which for a time were under control of the South Australian Railways. The water supply came from the railway and town reservoir, built just below the freeway and fed into the large overhead tank in the yard which in turn supplied two columns. A small loco shed stood near the watertank for many years until relocated to Sedan in 1925.

At the northern end of the yard the line from Mt Barker Junction crosses an electric turntable rescued from Bridgewater by SteamRanger. The turntable pit was dug and the turntable installed by our volunteers and initially the pit resembled more of a lake in Mt Barker’s wintery weather, due to its low lying situation.

Mt Barker Depot
SteamRanger's locomotive and rolling stock depot occupies the area to the south of the station originally used as a goods yard and shown behind the Brill railcar in the first historical photo above. The Depot incorporates the original goods shed built with bluestone from near Gemmells and other stone from Finniss. The new depot has been operating since May 1996 and is the new base of operations for SteamRanger following an enforced move from Adelaide itself due to standardisation of the main Adelaide to Melbourne rail line.


The heritage goods shed has been retained as a storage area for the Track Maintenance team. A new major workshop and loco stabling building has been constructed by SteamRanger adjacent to the goods shed and designed with a sympathetic roofline.

The three track building accommodates a comprehensive collection of metal and wood working machinery capable of carrying out both day to day maintenance and major loco and rollingstock restoration.
Additional under-cover carriage storage tracks run outside the western side of the main building. Other buildings serve as stores and electrical maintenance work areas

Photo: Locos outside the depot on a busy "Steam Up" day

Yard Diagrams - through the years

Early Period



Along the line
to MB Junction
Along the line
to Strathalbyn


Yard diagrams in all "Along the Line" pages originally compiled by Mr.C.R. Stewein

1952 Victor Harbor Express at Mt Barker - Doug Colquhoun (Pt Dock Station archives)
Mt Barker Refreshments - SAR
Mt Barker Station Gardens - SA Archives
All other photos - SteamRanger

Reference Information:
South Coast Limited - Kim Bird (ARHS)1972
The Victor Harbour Line - Dean Harvey - ARHS Bulletin July/Aug 1992
Railways in the Adelaide Hills - Roger Sallis (Open Book Publishers) 1998
The South Coast Encounter - John Ramsey (ARHS) 1991