Johnny's Pages
Old S.A.R. Shunter's Memories



IN  THE  1960's
(some later found slide pictures)

... click on the small picture to view a much larger picture ...

October 1967
Here is ore concentrates loading on sheep ramp with Garratt & GB on Down main.

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Here is ore concentrates loading on sheep ramp with Garratt & GB on Down main.

This day in October 1967 there was a derailment other side of Gladstone (I think) anyway there was a derailment blocking the main line down the track. They sent 275 from Peterborough to Jamestown with a full ore load. We shunted the ore loading into the sheep and cattle siding which came off the Down main, ran the Garratt around through the UP main onto the back of GB, took water, the guard put the marker lamps on other end and off back to Peterborough just engine and GB (Guards Brake)
Reason for the movement was to clear Peterborough yard and to get an extra full load over Belalie North. The loading was picked up with 467 later when two trains were made into one. It was basially all down hill from Jamestown to Port Pirie and one engine could do the job, whereas 2 engines were needed to get that loading over Belalie North.

October 1967
Looking over top of "T" class looking up the Belalie North end of the Jamestown yard.

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Note: the fireman keeping eye on things. Water column & ashpit seen on up main which "T" is on.

The "T" was waiting at station to cross down 275 freight due about 11:00 - 11:30am. Here you can just see the tall Home signal governing the entrance to the down main.

The window under the Jamestown station sign was start of our residence and that room was our bedroom, (one cannot sleep much closer to 1,750 ton down trains than that). The next window was my model railway room, later sold it when I later on shifted to Mt Gambier in late May 1970. My wife and I were the last railway people to live in Station Master's residence, as SM had his own home in the town. The station later became a museum when Narrow Gauge was closed down Jan 1970.

Here the "T" is sitting on the UP main, the track nearest station was known as the DOWN main. Both these roads had interlocked switches and signals governing the entrance to these roads (tracks). Switches to yard was a cheeseknob, with 2 interlocked signal levers to pull the Distant permissive off, then the Home absolute.

No signal cabin to pull these levers off, or put them back, only a pushbike to tear from one end of yard to other end. Get 2 long trains lob at Jamestown and most times both were often too long for yard with the railcar crossing and passing both split trains and you had one very hectic night .

Oh just remembered, also the Road bus from Adelaide arrived same time as Railcar 10:05pm. Yes you had to sell tickets and do parcels as well. Also the odd cranky Train Controller at Peterborough bellowing in your ear (getting one upset) wanting trains out before they get to Jamestown, certainly did not help the situation at times. But all this was a great teacher, as one had to be on the ball, think things out carefully beforehand and be very well organised and hopefully watch it all come together.  Plenty of challenges.

Oh yes, you did all this on your own, as you were only one on duty after boss went home at 5pm till 8am next morning. "You were chief cook and bottle washer" an old saying for you did everything on your own.

Most trains ran during the night, only 2 to 4 train traffic during the day. Oh yes, also the whole yard at night there was bugger all lighting, a small floodlight at each end of yard, my kerosene wick hand lamp was better than them. At least I suppose one could just make out where things were, better than nothing at all. 

Next to DOWN main was the long sheep road (huge sheep sales held at Jamestown) then a cattle loading road and the turntable which was just long enough to turn a "T" or "Y" class engine. Also seen is the overhead water tank to service the steamers with water that came from two big dams other side of main Adelaide road Caltowie end of yard.

Next track (road) to right was the 3rd road which was for all reducing loading because of the limited tonnage over Belalie North. Till the 830's stuck their noses in.  Only joking, but this road was at times near full with reduced loading, mostly only empty bogie ore wagons or "Y" (2 door) 4 wheel pyrites wagons.

Every 2 or 3 days an engine "T" or "Garratt" and GB would come from Peterborough. We would marshall up the ore wagons with auto couplings to the front with the "Y" pyrite's wagon on the rear next to GB, account they were hook couplings. A heavy auto-adapter was used to couple auto wagons to the hook wagons. When reducing trains, the loading was dumped off quickly. Was always, "get that train in and out as quick as possible", was the immediate order of the day. So the 3rd road often ended up with a lot of mixed wagons, reason for the remarshalling of autos and hooks.

Next road was the 4th road also used to load grain from silo, can see couple of grain trucks at silo. Further up is the Milk cool car for Broken Hill that was loaded at Jamestown Mon, Wed and Fri by Golden North dairies from Clare. That cool car was just shunted there by the "T" in picture ready for 274 (day train about 1:30pm) to quickly pick it up a little later.

Over further was the Shed Road with weighbridge and crane, a Superphosphate unloading road, a bagged wheat shed Road and a Vacuum oil company siding further up past the bagged wheat sheds.

You can see this kept one pretty fit, those days railways were labour intensive, no wonder most of us were all skinny.

October 1966.
Here three 830's heading out of the Jamestown yard off the UP main towards Belalie North.

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Triple 830's heading off to Belalie. October 1968.


Normally triple diesels never worked from Pirie. What would happen, is twin diesels would work Peterborough to Jamestown to get loading over the Belalie bank. That train when it got to the cross which could be Jamestown, Caltowie or Gladstone (most times at Caltowie) The twins off the down train would be removed and the single diesel off the up train put onto the down train, then the twins put onto the up train so it could take all the loading back over Belalie North to Peterborough and not reduce loading at Jamestown. When the narrow gauge was near its end ( late 1968) it then became virtually full steam traffic again and some reducing loading came about again. Diesels made the job too easy and a way of railway life slowly disappeared.

At times twins would work through to Port Pirie and then on the return from Pirie when reaching the cross, a single diesel would be removed off the down train onto the up train thus having the triple 830 diesels. With 3 engines on, man those up trains really took off out of Jamestown yard like a rocket. Did looked rather strange as normally to get the train going straight off the ash pit at Jamestown it was a slow slog out the yard and all the way up over Belalie North, but 3 diesels, the train would do it easy.

By the way a Garratt and an 830 would pull about same tonnage, but a Garratt on its own, could do it better speed, but a Garratt was no match for twin 830's.

March 1966

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Twin diesels pushing rake of large (X and Y) wagons with timber sleepers for the new standard Gauge track
Note: how close the engine moves through the gum trees. Missed by about 6 inches. A slow careful shunt.

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 Twins just out of Jamestown heading up Slattery's hill.

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 Twins now over Slattery's hill heading to Caltowie.
Note:  the hook loading behind the ore auto couplers

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Leaving Caltowie to Jamestown

September 1965. 
Twin 830's atop Jamestown Station roof looking towards Slattery's Hill thence Caltowie. 

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The two white lines is NOT a rail track, but two electric overhead light wires.

275 going past station on Down main and would stop just short of the Adelaide - Orroroo - Peterborough highway to re-adjust grade valves. When train stopping just clear of the Highway this did look intimidating to road users approaching crossing. Saw some funny antics by road users at times approaching the track as train was coming to a stop.

At Belalie North the grade valves are set to the HP position which retains 7 pounds of air which keeps the brakes slightly on once the engineman makes his first brake application coming down the Belalie North bank and they remain partly on all the time till train stops at Jamestown.

Once stopped at Jamestown the grade valves are then re-set from HP to IP (10 minute job) which then the grade valves will only slowly releases the brakes. All this is to give the engineman more time to recharge brakes and not end up with a run-a-way train.

If we had to shunt these trains (which was quite often) then grade valves set to EX (normal exhaust) position and after shunt then grade valves reset to EX position.

Note those trees on the horizon, that is Slattery's Hill where the narrow gauge line went over to left of those trees. As soon as the train left yard and went over the Adelaide- Orroroo highway, it was downhill quite some way, (When shunting one had to watch tonnage down the hill) then a slight climb up over Slattery's Hill, then all downhill to Gladstone.

Also note the three "X" (or large as often called) four wheel wagons on the shed road. Where the front of the engine is in picture there was a subway under all the tracks, as the rail yard went through near the centre of Jamestown. Only other way to main street was road crossings at each end of the yard, reason for subway for pedestrians.


September 1965
 830 on down main in front of Jamestown Station.

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Can just see the Broken Hill milk cool van ready to pickup 274 later that day.

October 1965
830 and GB with 1956 Ford Customline at Jamestown station.

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One guess who the car belonged to. Good ol days.

In background one can see the Home entrance yard signal and the Adelaide - Orroroo road crossing and also note the track drops away quickly as the track swings left heading towards Slattery's Hill.

One had to keep tally of loading taken from the up and down main lines to the other side of yard. If not able to push back into yard meant taking the loading into the Caltowie section past yard limits and then pushing back getting enough momentum to run up into yard onto their train. Most annoying and a spanner in works especially for train controllers nicely worked out crosses, but only happened with a certain driver.  Yes, some mothers did have them way back then too.

A good driver (not scheming for time) on an 830 could just push back 800 tons picking up loaded wheat on back of ore trains, but a Beyer Garratt did it easy.

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Jamestown shunting with triple 830's 

Sept 1965. 

Jamestown distant signal coming from Belalie North. It is said this was tallest stick (signal) on S.A.R. Note: the signal lamp only third way up signal. Was too hairy to climb to top to trim wicks and fill with kerosene.

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Is said was tallest stick on S.A.R. 

Note: the signal lamp only third way up signal. Was very hairy to climb to top to trim wicks and fill with kero
Look carefully one can see the guide wires supporting the signal post. 
Where silo is, the station is near opposite it.
Here is the distant (permissive) signal further out. This signal was very tall as the track coming down from Belalie North was very steep and engineman needed to see the signals when engine came around curve further up. If stick was at stop position, the driver had to be quick to stop his train at that signal for 1 minute and then proceed at low speed up to the home absolute signal.
If train was going to be admitted to another road beside the normal Down main which the signals were interlocked for to do shunting, or maybe a double cross and passing movement, (3 trains in yard) the signals were left at the stop position and as train slowly approached the Home signal, then the station assistant to admit that train would used a green flag by day, or green light at night (Oh, the green light was a kerosene wick lamp with a green and red shades).

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Great view from top of the Jamestown Distant signal looking towards the Jamestown yard coming from Belalie North

One can just see the Home Absolute signal with the white background behind it so easier for engineman to see signal position.
This cropped from bigger picture
Remember it's a steep incline all the way down to the Jamestown entrance to yard. Muff it and be huge mess.

To view what the Lower Quadrant signals and lamps look like close up:-


 April 1969.
Trip back in time, a 600 class ballasting standard gauge at Jamestown April 1969.

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Look careful in the dust one can see the distant signal and Crossing narrow gauge Caltowie end The Standard Gauge track was built right through the middle
 of the two dams. One can see Jamestown home signal
on the Narrow gauge track.

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First standard train from Port Pirie to Peterborough Oct 1969



A rare view of old GLADSTONE March 1966
Before standardisation hit the area.

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Approaching Gladstone yard for engine change.

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Gladstone yard looking east towards Jamestown direction. 
That is 275 goods in distance. We have just changed twin engines off 275 over onto 274 from Pt Pirie

We stopped short of that road crossing. The single 830 from Pt Pirie had already been removed from off 274 as that train had already arrived earlier. We then detached our twin 830's on 275 and ran them in onto 274. The picture above shows we are now on 274 from Pt Pirie pumping up the air ready for a continuity air test. The single 830 is just about to couple to 275 and would return to Port Pirie after their air test.

Looking towards direction of Pt Pirie.

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Now a view of Gladstone yard looking west in direction of Port Pirie

275 has now gone through yard and we are now leaving Gladstone for Peterborough. I got off at Jamestown. (my usual cab rides) - Looks like we had ballast hoppers behind the ore empties that day. Note the "T" class shunt engine and the Broad and Narrow gauge track. Broad gauge ran from Gladstone to Adelaide. All the groceries etc for Jamestown came via Gladstone (transferred) in VCW (if memory serves me correct), usually on 274, but the booze for town came via Terowie - Peterborough in an "X" or "Y" wagon on 107 at 3am.

Gladstone as Jamestown have both had their guts ripped out and is bearly a whistle stop these days. So sad.

5th May 2005
Gladstone yard in 2005

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As it is seen May 2005
This same crossing as can be seen in previous shot above "Gladstone yard looking west towards Port Pirie direction".

Note: I forgot to take picture with me as I did not quite line the floodlight tower up properly. 
The old Narrow gauge main line was further to the right. Line the floodlight tower up with tree on the hilltop as in old picture.

You can still see still the old weighbridge to the right. These days virtually nothing else to see as to railways, only the old weighbridge, a louver narrow gauge VCW van that was used for groceries etc the came from Mile End on broad gauge, then transferred over to narrow gauge for Jamestown and a buggered cheese-knob connected to a bit of rail showing the two gauges, (better than nothing I suppose) but what a darn shame to see it all come to this. I for one will not go back there again. I'll just keep my pleasant memories of a time that once was. Took this Gladstone shot for my HTML file I have of those "now once bygone NG days" and now "the latter bare bones SG rail days." What a contrast. One thing, there was plenty of weeds though.

Dowd's hill tunnel May 2005
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Here looking North through narrow gauge tunnel towards Broken Hill. 
The standard gauge cutting is to the left of picture. 

Listen carefully you may just here the ghostly roar and whistle of a fully loaded ore train being pulled by a mighty Bayer Garratt coming towards other end of tunnel from Ucolta through this tunnel to Peterborough.

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Old Narrow gauge tunnel looking south and track looking north out towards Ucolta
 with Standard Gauge track to the left and main Broken Hill highway to the right.  Nov 2000.

Here is your rare chance to hear the Bayer Garratt going through the Dowd's Hill tunnel
TURN  YOUR  SOUND  UP  HIGH,  higher the better.

The opening sound is a Beyer Garratt coming from Ucolta approaching the Northern end of the Dowd's Hill tunnel working at full throttle. Then the Garratt roars through the tunnel and you then hear it roar out the Southern end of the tunnel and after a short time as the train's loading is over the hill, the engineman shuts the throttle off and engine starts to drift, you then hear the clanking of the rods. I think the Garratt was saying, phew that was a good slog, now drift down into the Peterborough yard for a well earned rest.

For 56k modem users the sound file is 2.1 meg.
Hear Garratt working right through Tunnel to Peterborough

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Left: Alongside the old Dowd's Hill tunnel is new standard gauge cutting looking south Nov 2000. 
Note: Person in left picture (
red circle) standing at top of the standard Gauge cutting.
Right:  Looking north towards Ucolta, May 2005.

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Left:  Looking north at entrance to Standard Gauge tin tunnel in direction of Broken Hill.  Nov 2000
Right: S.G tunnel with Peterborough in the distance.  Nov 2000.
Main Broken Hill highway to right. This highway crosses over the top of Standard Gauge track here.

Times change again in 2008.
New changes near Dowd's Hill tunnel for highway over the top for double stack container trains.
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BEMAX sands train with G540 and G537 came through the new TIN TUNNEL without the dirt fill over it / the road has been removed and a temporary rail crossing over the tracks is in use..  
 3rd September 2008 by Wayne Morris

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