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Centenary of the Opening of the Trans-Australian Railway
On the 17th of October 1917 at a point near Ooldea in South Australia’s western outback the track laying machines travelling from the east and west met to finally complete the great east – west railway connecting Port Augusta in South Australia and Kalgoorlie in Western Australia. Construction of the railway began in 1912. Despite the inhospitable nature of the terrain and wartime supply problems and a slow start to building, eventually tremendous progress was made, and the two tracklaying machines, one working from each end, met at 1.45pm on Wednesday the 17th October 1917.
On Monday the 22nd of October 1917 the first passenger train departed Port Augusta for Western Australia thus fulfilling the promise to Western Australia at Federation to have a rail connection to the rest of Australia. Port Augusta will be marking the anniversary of these momentous events on Sunday the 22nd of October which will celebrate one of the great engineering achievements in Australian history.
The line itself traverses some of the most desolate country on earth with soaring summer temperatures, freezing winter nights, no permanent surface water and virtually no human habitation. It is a tribute to those who initially built and serviced the railway and the many generations that followed in their footsteps that we will be able to celebrate this anniversary at the Port Augusta Railway Station on the 22nd.
The mere fact that nearly all foodstuffs, water, fuel, housing and all the basic necessities of life had to be constantly transported to communities and camps along the line is testimony to the unique organisation that was the Commonwealth Railways.
The day will give us the chance we remember and celebrate all those people who have worked and lived along the 1,691 kilometres of the Trans-Australian Railway between Port Augusta and Kalgoorlie and its later 91 kilometre Port Pirie extension.
Without the Commonwealth Railways and the Trans-Australian Railway Port Augusta would not have existed and prospered as it has during the past 100 years.
The event is scheduled to run from 9am to 4pm.
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