A Guide to Peterborough
Peterborough is a small country town that is part of the Heritage Rail Trail with a plethora of history located in the mid-north of South Australia. We travelled East from the Stuart Highway, through the amazing Flinders Ranges and found after thousands of kilometres of barren landscape the beautiful mountain scenery startling. Just off the Barrier Highway you’ll find the township and even though they have not had any decent rainfall for months it still seemed like an oasis to us. The main attraction to Peterborough of course is The Steamtown Heritage Rail Centre. The town and its people have a long and proud history with the steam train industry thanks to its key geographic location. The museum located at the Information Centre, houses the only working three-gauge turntable in the southern hemisphere and the best historical collection of steam and diesel engines and artefacts that I have seen in one place. The range of exhibits also includes several restored passenger and sleeper carriages.
Tours which run a few times a day and won’t break the bank are guided by knowledgeable locals who defiantly love their day job. We appreciated the hands on interaction for nearly all of the displays and yes, you can get a photo sitting in the driver’s seat of an Y- Class Steam Engine. There is such a wonderful array of historical memorabilia and photographic history regarding the rise and fall of rail transportation in South Australia, train enthusiasts will be captivated for hours.
In addition to the day tour the museum hosts a night time Light and Sound Show. It is a unique display of historical information and showcase of the trains and carriages, and it’s a must see.
There are many places to stay in this lovely little town, depending on how you are travelling and what facilities you need. We stayed at the free seventy-two-hour Council RV Park just up from the Information Centre on Telford Avenue, which is a large grassed area with loads of room – yes I said grass! We were pretty excited about that.
We planned to stay just the night but stayed three, it’s just that kind of town - you just don’t want to leave. Being one of the safest, cleanest and tidiest free stops we’ve stayed at. We had no issues with unhitching, although its close proximity to town was convenient for walking to facilities and attractions if that’s what you fancied. There is also a caravan park located on Grove Street in town, a free rest area campground on the outskirts of town and apparently you can park your rig behind the Junction Hotel where I’m told the hospitality and food is fantastic.
‘Peterborough is one of the friendliest and interesting towns we have travelled to on our adventures’
Not only does it have large vehicle day parking in town and easy access drive through dump point with drinking water facilities, its attractions aren’t limited to trains. You can take a short drive to the Nature Reserve and Lookout or visit the Black Rock Gallery. Take a historical walk or grab a bite to eat at the Main St Fish Café, we highly recommend the burgers and milkshakes. We didn’t have time to explore the Motorcycle and Antique Museum on Kitchener Street, nor the Town Carriage Museum on Main Street. We didn’t even get to see the model train display in the newsagent. We thought we’d better leave some things for next time – because we’ll be seeing you again sometime in the near future Peterborough.
Written by Marcus and Ruth Purnell