Willunga Railway Station goods traffic

A search through the annual South Australian Railways Commissioners Reports shows that as far as goods traffic was concerned, Willunga station was probably most consistently the busiest freight station over the life of the line.

Along with large numbers of animals both inwards and outwards, Willunga station was a key destination for three important types of goods. Firstly fuel for motor vehicles, secondly fertilisers such as super phosphate and thirdly explosives.

Willunga was a key distribution point for fuel and fertiliser for most of Fleurieu Peninsula, in fact as far as railway stations across the South Australian rail network go, Willunga was amongst the top half dozen or so in annual tonnage of fertiliser off-loaded.

As for the explosives, they were taken by road from Willunga to be used in the mining industry at Rapid Bay, although unfortunately the quantities involved were not recorded.

The entry pathway for explosives into South Australia was quite circuitous and is a story in its own right, however briefly explosives were off loaded from incoming ships at Snapper Point on the Port River close to the present day Pelican Point Power Station, the idea being that on account of a disastrous explosion it would be better to occur at the remote Snapper Point rather than in the middle of busy Port Adelaide itself.

At Snapper Point the explosives were then loaded onto smaller vessels and taken via a man made cutting through the northern end of Torrens Island and then southwards down the Barker Inlet to Broad Creek where they were again off loaded.

At Broad Creek there was a wharf with an (approximately) 2 foot gauge railway line. The explosives were then loaded onto horse drawn wagons and were taken around 3km to be stored in explosive magazines at Dry Creek.

It is understood that the line extended further into Dry Creek rail yards where explosives could then be loaded onto wagons for distribution on the broad gauge network.

by Neil Gale

References:

Commissioners Reports, South Australian Railways
Gale, Neil, 2024 Willunga Online Railway Museum https://www.facebook.com/groups/TheWORM/
Sampson, Robert 1978 “Rails Around Adelaide” Mile End Railway Museum Archives. https://catalogue.nla.gov.au/catalog/1904706

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