burra history graphic
Burra Railway
Burra Station in 1904

Burra Station in 1904.  Photo from the "Kapunda Herald"

Burra Station in 1904 detail

Detail of the 1904 photo

Broken Hill Express at Burra in 1908.

Burra Station -
The Broken Hill Express at Burra in 1908.  Photo from the Kapunda Herald

Train passing through cutting just north of the Show Grounds in the 1920s

Train passing through cutting just north of the Show Grounds in the 1920s

Horse shunting in Burra in the 1950s

Horse shunting in Burra in the 1950s

Burra Railway Station, 1970s

Burra Railway Station, 1970s

Burra Railway Station before Restoration

Front view of Burra Railway Station before Restoration

Burra Railway Station after Restoration

Front view of Burra Railway Station after Restoration

Burra Railway Station before Restoration

Side view of Burra Railway Station before Restoration

Burra Railway Station after Restoration

Side view of Burra Railway Station after Restoration

Burra Railway Station - 1883

When the railway reached Burra in 1870, the Adelaide-Burra line was more than half the total railway line laid in South Australia.

The inadequate weatherboard station was replaced in 1883 with an impressive stone building that included refreshment rooms. Local builders Sara & Dunstan won the contract for the new station.

It became a busy station on the main line to Broken Hill from 1888 and from 1917 to 1937 on the route to Perth.

An arched roof over two tracks and the platform provided shelter for passengers until it was demolished in 1935.

The refreshment room closed in 1936.

Passenger services ceased in December 1986 and the last grain trains to Burra operated circa January 1999 to clear the 1998-1999 harvest.

The last light engines ran to Burra: CK4 on 21 May 2003, 841 on 26 September 2003 and 843 on 12 March 2004.

Following years of neglect, a major restoration was undertaken 2010-14. The former station is now maintained by the volunteer group, The Friends of the Burra Railway Station, who open the building for visitors, hire the main rooms for functions and derive an income for its maintenance from bed and breakfast accommodation located in the former residential portion of the station.

Early timetables show that trains took five hours to cover the 160 km from Adelaide to Burra.

Train Timetable

The following is transcript of the train timetable:-

20 April, 1877
Railways: SAR Timetable effective 2 April 1877 (extract)
Weekdays Only

Adelaide dep 7.30am 4.30pm
Gawler arr 8.48 5.28
Gawler dep 8.53 5.33
Hamley Bridge dep. 9.45 6.25
Riverton arr. 10.35 7.15
(Refreshments) dep. 10.45 7.25
Mintaro (since 1917 Merilden) dep. 11.39 8.19
Burra arr. 12.20pm 9.00
Burra dep. 8.O5am 4.15pm
Mintaro (since 1917 Merilden) dep. 8.52 5.32
Riverton arr. 9.42 6.22
(Refreshments) dep. 9.52 6.31
Hamley Bridge dep. 10.38 7.18
Gawler arr. 11.30 8.09
Gawler dep. 11.35 8.14
Adelaide arr. 12.35pm 9:15pm

Burra Record

The Burra Railway Station as viewed in the Burra Record

The following are excerpts from the Burra Record.

27 August 1880

2nd leader on the need for a new railway station.  The temporary Burra Railway Station has done duty for long enough and cost perhaps no more than £300 to £400.  There is no suitable waiting rooms or anything else.  Refreshment provisions are no more than a table on the platform.  Even for such wretched provision the railways get £65 p.a. which is enough to pay interest at 5% on £1,300.  The urinals are almost in full view of persons arriving at the elevation of a cart.  The platform has never been flagged and all is ‘miserly, incomfortable [sic] and insufficient.’

It is time a new station was built.  A splendid station has been built at Gawler recently and Riverton has thoroughly good and substantial refreshment rooms and many far less busy stations have facilities at least equal to that at Burra.  To the north facilities with every convenience are to be built at Yongala, Petersburg, etc.

29 April 1881

Burra Railway Station.  The wants of the Burra District were brought to the attention of the Commissioner of Public Works, G.C. Hawker, by the Members of the District on 21 April.  There was a complaint about the inadequacies of the refreshment facilities at the station.  All that was available were ‘meat pies (the very idea of which was repulsive), stale dry cakes, and tea and coffee.’

Mr Rounsevell sought a licence for the refreshment rooms at Riverton and Burra and to compel refreshment rooms to supply decent solid food in the shape of chops and steaks etc.  The bad state of the Burra Station was also raised.

27 October 1882

Railways.  We warn visitors to the Burra railway station to take care of holes in the floor covered with loose pieces of packing case etc.  When will the long promised new station be commenced.

16 October 1883

Burra Station.  The new railway station is now complete and has been passed.  A pity that when the new asphalting was being done the old area was not re-laid.  The bank in front of the station also needs cutting back to allow more room.

30 Nov. 1886

Advt.  Messrs Halls & Bromley, Cabs.  Fares from any street to the railway station or to Aberdeen or Redruth, 6d.  Fares from stand to stand are 3d.

21 Dec. 1886

Advt.  Wanted, two or three girls about 17 or 18 years of age, to serve at the Railway Refreshment Rooms, Burra Station.

29 Apr. 1890, page 2

Railways.  There is a complaint that no matter what the weather the ladies waiting room at the Burra station is only open while the train is at the station!

25 May 1892

Railways.  Burra railway yards are presently very busy with men relaying the line and a telegraph party is carrying out repairs and carpenters and painters are overhauling and painting the station buildings.  Another party is erecting a water tank.  There is also extra activity in delivering chaff to folk not prepared to pay unwarranted prices charged by the local chaff dealers. 

XV, 282, 7 Feb. 1894, page 3

The Railways apparently sent a new horse from Adelaide to replace steady old ‘Brit’ who had done the job for some months of shunting trucks around the quarry under his young master.  The new animal, ‘Joey’, looked impressive until he got to the end of the rope and had to take the weight of the truck: he then stopped.  It seems likely ‘Brit’ will soon be back plodding on in his reliable style.

Burra Railway Station