The Cockle Train, Goolwa, South Australia
The historic Port Goolwa played a very significant role in the early development of South Australia. When many areas along the River Murray were being settled by farmers there were few ways to get supplies to them. It was just as difficult to get their wool and wheat to the markets.
Port Goolwa was established in the very early years of settlement. Paddlesteamers took supplies up the River Murray to towns and farmers along the river. They then brought back loads of wheat and wool to Goolwa. Although the mouth of the river was just a few kilometres downstream from Goolwa it was generally unsafe for navigation. Their cargo was unloaded at Port Goolwa and transferred by train to Port Elliot where sea going ships carried the goods to other ports in Australia or to the growing European market. Economically this was vital to the growth of the new colony of South Australia. In the 1850s Victoria was in the grip of gold rush fever and South Australia was able to forge ahead supplying the other rapidly growing colonies.
Australia’s first steel railway line was built here from Port Goolwa to Port Elliot a few kilometres to the west. Today this historic line still has steam trains running regularly, but now the cargo is tourists from all over the world. The so-called Cockle Train takes its name from the abundance of the shell-fish cockles found along the beaches near here.
Schedule of services:
The Cockle Train now runs from Goolwa to Port Elliot and on to Victor Harbor. The trains run three times each way every day during Easter, long weekends and during most school holidays. It also operates every Sunday throughout the year.
- Steamranger Heritage Railway – more details on prices, schedules and bookings, as well as other historic trains in South Australia.