22.30 ADELAIDE TO DARWIN RAILWAY - KEY EVENTS
|First suggestion of a transcontinental railway line between Adelaide and the tropical north by J Roberston, a Melbourne businessman.
|A vote in the South Australian Parliament to build a railway line by land grant is narrowly defeated.
|A Bill authorises a railway from Port Augusta to Government Gums (later Farina) (the Southern Line).
|Work begins on the Southern Line.
|The Southern Line reaches Farina. The South Australian Government introduces the Palmerston and Pine Creek Railway Bill (the Northern Line). Palmerston is the former name of Darwin.
|The Northern Line reaches Pine Creek (1888) and is opened (1889).
|The Southern Line is extended to reach Oodnadatta.
|A promise to complete the transcontinental line forms part of the 1910 Acceptance Act.
|Work begins on extending the Northern Line to Emungalen, on the banks of the Katherine River.
End of World War I
|The first train crosses the Katherine River, Emungalen closes, and the town of Katherine grows on a new site across the river.
|Although the Northern Line is meant to continue on to Daly Waters, funds run out during the Depression and it terminates at Birdum, 509 km south of Darwin.
|The Southern Line is extended to Alice Springs.
|First Ghan passenger train leaves Adelaide for Alice Springs.
4 August 1929
|The need to move troops and supplies leads to suggestions of closing the 1,000 km gap between Birdum and Alice Springs. Instead, the Stuart Highway is sealed between Alice Springs and Darwin. Larrimah, 9 km north of Birdum, becomes the effective railhead.
World War II
|Over time, the Northern Line loses patrons and is eventually closed in 1976. Rails and sleepers are dismantled and sold off or donated, rail wagons go to Port Augusta, redundant staff are given priority for other public service jobs, and the operator (National Rail Australia) becomes a freight agency for road trains.
World War II - 1976
|The Bureau of Transport Economics investigates the potential of the north-south line and recommends instead that the highway be upgraded.
|A new standard gauge line opens from Tarcoola in South Australia (instead of Oodnadatta) to Alice Springs along a less flood-prone route.
|The Northern Territory government signs a Memorandum of Understanding with South Australia, providing the joint South Australia/Northern Territory approach to creating the AustralAsia railway.
|The AustralAsia Railway Corporation is established by the South Australian and Northern Territory governments.
|The Asia Pacific Transport Consortium is selected to build and operate the railway.
|Prime Minister John Howard, South Australian Premier John Olsen and Northern Territory Chief Minister Denis Burke turn the first sod for the project at a ceremony in Alice Springs.
|The line south from Katherine and north from Tennant Creek is completed.
|Tracklaying north from Katherine to Darwin, and south from Tennant Creek to Alice Springs, is completed.
|The first freight train leaves Adelaide for Darwin.
15 January 2004
|The inaugural journey of the passenger service (The Ghan) leaves Adelaide for Darwin arriving 47 hours later after a journey of 2,970 km.
1 February 2004
|Source: AustralAsia Railway Corporation; Flinders Ranges Research.