Quorn

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Quorn visited by grey nomads
Take a ride on the historic Pichi Richi Railway PIC: South Australian Tourism Commission / Peter Fisher

The old railway town of Quorn, located 40 kilometres from Port Augusta at the southern end of South Australia’s Flinders Ranges, may be small … but it packs a mighty historical punch.

The settlement’s strategic location means it’s a place that most grey nomads heading out to Wilpena Pound and beyond will pass through … and it’s also a place they should stop for a while. Although it now has a population of around 1200, Quorn – which was founded in 1875 – was once an important railway junction.

Named after Quorndon in England, the town’s importance declined dramatically when the standard gauge railway to Marree was established in 1956.

Grey nomads will find it offers a fascinating glimpse into Australia’s pioneering past and the town is well set up to cater to their needs. It has a good caravan park, a dump point and a variety of hotels, cafes and restaurants.

Given its historic significance, the Quorn Railway Station – which was built in 1916 – is a good place for visitors to start learning the story of Quorn. Although the station closed in the late 1950s, the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society helped to re-open the historic line in 1974. Today, a variety of historic tourist trains operate between March and November with the emphasis on using steam engines.

Pichi Richi Railway has also preserved a large collection of old locomotives. Quorn’s rich history and setting on the edge of a desert make it a natural drawcard for filmmakers; and movies including The Shiralee, Sunday Too Far Away, Gallipoli, Wolf Creek, The Sundowners, The Last Ride, and The Water Diviner have been at least partially shot here.

A Historic Walk starts at the station and takes visitors past some of the town’s most significant buildings including the Austral Hotel, the Criterion Hotel, the Transcontinental Hotel, and the Grand Junction Hotel which were all built between 1878 and 1890; as well as the Mathews Emporium, the court house, the town hall, flour mill and a variety of churches which were all similarly built in the town’s bustling heyday.

Quorn is also a great base for keen bushwalkers as there are some excellent trails in the area including the Heysen Trail from Cape Jervis to the Flinders which passes through Mount Brown Conservation Park, and walks in the nearby Dutchman Stern Conservation Park and at Devils Peak.

A little further afield, it is worth a trip out to the tiny old settlement of Cradock and the beautiful St Gabriel’s Church which was built in 1882; and the ruins of the old Kayaka Station, a massive wheat property that fell into decline on the back of endless drought.

For grey nomads seeking to get to grips with how modern Australia was built and the hardships endured by those who helped build it, then the Quorn area is simply a must visit. And all on the doorstep of the magnificent Flinders Ranges!

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