South Australia

Railway Ghost Towns

Googs Track terminated at the Transcontinental Railway Line at Malbooma, from here we took the track following the railway line east towards Stuart Highway. The track passed through the towns Tarcoola and Kingoonya, that used to service the railway line. These towns have declined with only a couple of residents remaining. It was a strange experience to drive through these deserted towns full of empty buildings in disrepair. Scenes from the 1972 movie Deliverance and the 1980 Jack Nicholson movie The Shining came to mind.

The railway track intersects at the Stuart Hwy at a roadhouse / caravan park called Glendambo. We stayed there two nights where we enjoyed both nights at the Glendambo Pub and made friends with an awesome pair of sisters from Melbourne. The pub was built in 1982 to replicate a shearing shed. It’s a timber and stone building with a heap of character and we enjoyed chatting with Freddy the barman.

We were only planning on staying one night but we loved the bar and Joe needed to service the car. Luckily we booked in the extra night as it took Joe five hours just to remove the oil filter. Weilding a hammer, screw driver and crowbar, it was removed after much fustration and practically destroying the old oil filter.

If you’re interested in the history of places here is a little more information on the almost deserted town of Tarcoola

Tarcoola is an old goldmining ghost town. After the goldrush it was a busy railway service town. Since the Central Australia Railway was relocated in 1980, it became a town for trainline maintenance workers and their families with its own school, hospital, church, hotel, police station and community hall. In 1998 most rail maintenance services were moved to Port Augusta and Tarcoola was almost deserted. 

1 reply »

  1. Ah Glendambo, it should be a thriving oasis given it’s location, but the current owner has no interest in spending any money there and it’s being run down. The manager seems to change every 3 months for that reason. If you’re lucky the aircon in the bar will be working (despite the salt stalactites) and there might even be a cook for meals. If you’re unlucky you will get a room that zaps you in the shower due to poor electrical earthing. If you don’t need a room I’d stay at Kingoonya, a bit off the highway and road is a tad bumpy but the pub and publican are great, the beer is reasonably priced and I think the camping is free.

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