Pine Hill and Serviceton Stations Historical Day
The freshly washed gleaming luxury coach had seating for about 60 and I think half the seats were taken by BVRC members. The occasion was April’s National History Month Sunday outing and this year it was a gem. As we headed north then east for Pine Hill Station we were shown huge areas that had once been wide expanses of impenetrable native scrub and other areas that had been dense forests of tall native pines – now all cleared. A4 colour photos were passed around of native animals that once roamed these local lands; now extinct. Another area had once been enormous rolling sand dunes filled with prolific wild life and nomadic well content Aboriginals; the latter two are long gone, the former have been transformed into roadway materials. First disembarkation was at the site of the now demolished Pine Hill Station and wandering out several hundred metres from the road we stood beside two small stone chimneys. We had with us a photograph of the old station buildings taken in the 1980s and clearly showing their chimneys and with a very distinctive three trunked tree in background. All that remains now of this truly historic and quite massive 1800s slab and daub and thatch building are the two lonely chimneys and the tri-trunked tree. So sad. From there we went to the Pine Hill School; now also gone BUT the nearby Glenelg tree was truly spectacular. From the road it certainly looks ‘ho-hum’ and maybe that’s what has saved it from too many trampling tourists with their trash and vandalism because the closer you walk (and walk and walk), toward the tree the larger and larger it grows. Standing under its natural arch I was staggered it loomed about two metres higher than the top of my Stetson. A wonderful hidden gift from Mother Nature.
But it was time to be moving on and next it was the contentious SA/VIC border and enthralling stories and anecdotes – too many to record here – about the drama debate and debaclism of mapping this ‘line in the sand’ long before the GPS was even dreamed about and when mechanical clocks set in Greenwich London were the only means of navigating and chart reading all the way by sail around the other side of the planet; fascinating stuff.
By then we were running late for our final visit, the Serviceton Railway Station and its afternoon tea and I will not write too much as I doubt there’s a reader among you who has not visited this stunning architectural wonder from the golden age of rail. Being given a free hand to explore the depths of the various dark and gloomy basements, the dungeon and the prisoner cells below the station, the various offices, ticket booths and waiting rooms of the main station complex, plus going upstairs to the secret hidden accommodation rooms cleverly hidden under the roof eves by the architect in his design, well, what a ripper end to a ripper day for this newcomer to the Tatiara.
About the only slight negative to the outing was that it was so action-packed that it was long after fully dark by the time we returned to Bordertown and having never dreamed it would go so late I didn’t have my night driving glasses and thus I was forced to continued to sit back in a comfy passenger’s seat while Helen steered us home...so maybe that wasn’t such a negative after all.