Ragtag Daily Prompt: Platform


Memories of Adelaide Station Platforms

There are many kinds of platforms. Viewing platforms, political platforms and of course the sort that I always think of first, station platforms. One station in particular holds many memories for me. It the old Adelaide Railway Station.

When we arrived in Australia in 1966 our ship docked in Melbourne and we caught a train from there to Adelaide. The whole train was full of British migrants and it took us something like twelve hours to reach Adelaide. I still remember getting off the train after that long journey. It was late at night and my grandmother and uncle were there to meet us.

A few years later in 1971 we went on our first steam train excursion. For the next few years Naomi and I spent many winter mornings standing on a platform at Adelaide Railway station waiting to see the locomotive for our trip arriving from the depot. I can still feel the excitement of those days.

image 520 class loco
SAR 520 class “Sir Malcolm Barclay Harvey” at Adelaide Railway Station

In my teen years I travelled on regular trains a lot, there were still country trains then and we’d often go for day trips. Platform 1 or 2 if we were going to Victor Harbour. Platform 9 if we were going to Port Pirie. A day trip to Port Pirie was a favourite outing for David and I when we were first going out together.

David and I exchanged our wedding vows on Platform 8 in 1977.

image wedding photo
Wedding day, I was 20, David 22.

After we’d been married about a year we bought a house at Hallett Cove, south of Adelaide and used the train all the time, for shopping, work, visiting family. We spent a lot of time waiting for trains, especially going home at night. If I went to visit mum and Naomi I’d catch a late bus back to the city to get there in time for the last train home which left just before midnight. I was never worried waiting on the platform for the train because there were usually a few staff members about. The bus stop was a lot more unnerving.

Here is another old photo taken at Adelaide Railway Station. This was the old Platform 11 where “The Overland” train departed for Melbourne every night at 7:10 pm. Sometimes if we were in town at that time of evening David and I used to go and watch the passengers boarding and the train departing. I always liked to see the piles of luggage and families saying goodbye before setting out on the overnight trip. We had no money at that time so “The Overland” was the “Orient Express” and “Trans Siberian” to us.

Of course later we travelled on it many times ourselves, sometimes in Economy but usually, because we worked for the railways, we could get a free pass and travel in First Class seats or pay a bit extra for a sleeping car. David came to know the train even better later on when his job involved rostering the catering staff and sleeping car attendants or making sure that the train was fully stocked with food and drinks. By that time The Overland was leaving from a different platform on a different station. I always preferred the Adelaide Railway Station though.

Departing on The Overland to Melbourne

In 1981 film maker Peter Weir made a film called Gallipoli starring Mel Gibson, Mark Lee and Bill Kerr. It was about two young men from Western Australia who volunteered to fight in WWI. The scenes depicting the two characters arriving at Perth Station were in fact filmed at Adelaide Railway Station. I was a volunteer at the SteamRanger workshop and was one of a team who cleaned the carriages used in the film. After we’d finished we got to watch the scene being filmed which was really interesting to see. I remember how I spent ages cleaning the windows on the carriages but in the end they all had to be opened because they were showing the reflections of modern day cars in the nearby car park.

I even worked at the station for a while. I’d got a job as a railcar cleaner in 1987 and while it I was mostly down at the nearby depot sometimes we had to work at the station cleaning the trains that were still in traffic. I spent a lot of time running from platform to platform trying to get on each train before it left the station to empty the bins and mop up spills if there was time. On New Year’s Eve the trains ran all night and the cleaner on duty also had to contend with people who had been celebrating a bit too much. A bucket of sawdust was very useful on those nights. Despite that I really enjoyed working there and I especially liked it when I could help people who asked for directions or suggestions for places to go. In a way that’s rather like what I do now at the visitor centre but without the messy cleaning up.

So you can see that for most of the time I lived in Adelaide I had strong ties with the Adelaide Railway Station. It’s very different there now. The platforms have been remodelled so much that it’s almost impossible to pick the spot where we got married and Platform 11 is long gone. The ticket barriers are different and the cleaners are now contractors not railway employees. Most of the staff I knew there, cleaners, drivers and other staff would have long since moved on. It doesn’t feel like the same place.

Taswegian1957

I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on WordPress.com with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

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