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William Creek - Cities, Towns and Localities
Travelling along the Oodnadatta Track, is to follow an old Aboriginal trading route, that was also used by the early European explorers, and laid the way for the Old Ghan railway.

When the railway was moved further west, the old railway track ceased to operate. Today, travellers following the Oodnadatta Track can follow the Old Ghan railway, exploring some of the old rail sidings and localities along the route.

The line from Coward Springs to William Creek raised the profile of the township, until the rail closure in the late 1980s.
William Creek - Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail
The line from Coward Springs to William Creek opened on June 1, 1889. William Creek once boasted a small township, general store and travellers' eating-house. Weatherboard houses were built (lined with seaweed insulation) for railway staff. New gangers' quarters were built in 1964. A locomotive triangle, engine shed, crossing loop and goods platform also existed here.

North of the yard a bore overflowed into a stone tank. The water was very bitter and shunned by stock, however gangers revelled in this 'bathing pool' after a hot day's toil! The fortnightly trains once stopped here for an hour while passenger lunched, crews changed and the engine was coaled, from baskets hoisted by pole. A coaling stage was built in 1922.

When the Ghan stopped at William Creek passengers rushed the hotel. Here, Charlie Bernhardt awaited. A staunch Jehovah Witness, he served "Awake" and religious pamphlets along with beers.

William Creek's demise began in 1929: from August 5 a dining car was placed on the 'limited' passenger train. ON November 28 stationmaster Jasper Smith was transferred to Edwards Creek and five days later Edwards Creek depot opened and engines no longer required local coaling.

Sourced: Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail signage

William Creek Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail signage
The Old Ghan - Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail

The Old Ghan Railway, originally called the Great Northern Railway, is a tale of the triumphs of pioneering Australians in a landscape of extremes.

The Ghan opened the way into Australia's remote interior. Unofficially called 'The Ghan', it provided isolated residents with a physical and emotional link to civilisation. During World War II the railway was pushed to its limit, yet barely a decade after peace resumed in 1945, it was rejected.

Explore the Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail from Port Augusta to Alice Springs and experience Australia's pioneering transport history. It's a story of outback dreams and heartbreak, sand drifts, rail-buckling heat and devastating floods in a harsh land.

A brief history

1878 - Great Northern Railway opens in Port Augusta
15.2.1879 - Port Augusta - Quorn line opens
7.2.1884 - Line opens to Marree
7.1.1891 - Railway services extend to Oodnadatta
30.8.1923 - First named 'Afghan Express', later 'The Ghan'
2.8.1929 - Line to Alice Springs opens
17.1.1930 - Floods destroy Finke River bridge
1940s - War-time traffic soars from 3 to 56 trains a week
1952 - New standard gauge railway to Marree announced
8.1956 - Last Ghan train through Pichi Richi Pass
24.11.1980 - Last narrow gauge Ghan departs Adelaide
31.12.1980 - Last train from Marree to Oodnadatta
The Old Ghan - Old Ghan Railway Heritage Trail signage
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