Jack Bobridge Track – Sign 2 Rowland Flat

Naming of Rowland Flat

Rowland Flat was named after Edward Rowlands, a prominent merchant and settler of the 1840s.  He was a member of the original Chamber of Commerce and was also a member of the first Adelaide City Council.

Over the years the authorities developed the habit of lopping the letter ‘s’ off the names of several stations across South Australia.  Hallett’s Cove, Farrell’s Flat - and even Sevenhills - come to mind.

In January 1941, it was announced that [along with other stations] Rowland’s (sic) Flat would be known as Rowland Flat. In so doing the railways got it wrong.  Given that the station had been named after Edward Rowlands (plural), over the years an apostrophe ‘s’ had incorrectly crept into the spelling of Rowlands, resulting in it being unceremoniously removed in 1941 to form Rowland Flat.[i]

Rowland Flat Railway Line

In January 1910, there were 350 men working on the new line between Lyndoch and Rowlands Flat.  Beyond Rowlands Flat station the line enters the largest cutting on the line – 383 metres long and 37 feet (11.36 metres) deep.  The task of forming the cutting took several weeks’ work to complete.  Some 34,000 cubic metres of soil was excavated and used to form an embankment 150 metres long and 14 metres high over a deep gully immediately beyond the station.

In April 1910, a certain amount of unrest developed in the Rowlands Flat railway camp. Police from Gawler, Lyndoch and Tanunda raided the camp early one Sunday morning and found many of the men under the influence of liquor (more than likely sly grog).  Nine arrests were made and the offenders were escorted to Gawler.

The line to Angaston was officially opened on 8 September 1911.  Initially there was no mention of Rowlands Flat as a stopping point.  It would not be until 12 May 1913, that a new siding and platform (381Ž2 miles from Adelaide, altitude 743 feet) were brought into operation at this location.

By 1914 traffic had increased to such an extent that there was pressure on the railways to appoint a resident station master.  Over the years resident accounting staff were appointed, and then withdrawn, only to be re-instated later.

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Eventually a Station Agent (as opposed to a Station Master) was appointed to Rowlands Flat.  Station Agents were not qualified to handle train movements (unlike a station master), but were expected to just look after the commercial activities at a given location.

 In 1926 an American-style wig-wag warning device was introduced to protect the (Adelaide road) level crossing at the Lyndoch end of the yard.

 In September 1926 the electric staff form of safe working was introduced – the relevant sections being Lyndoch-Rowland Flat and Rowland Flat-Tanunda.

In 1963 some changes were made to the circuitry to allow trains to shunt right up the main road crossing without activating the warning devices.

From 21 January 1972, Rowlands Flat became permanently unattended, and on 1 February 1974, the station was eventually closed to all traffic.[i]

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The above railcars pic was taken in 1968 and you can just see the wig-wag warning device adjacent to the Adelaide road[i]

Local Rail Disasters

The local railway (particularly from Krondorf Road through to Jacob’s Creek) has been the site of a number of large rail accidents. Luckily, of these shown, no people were killed, with only extensive damage done to rail line and trains.

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June 1977 – A large derailment at Jacob’s Creek Bridge was caused by wandering cattle on the line. The driver of the 932 train managed to escape the crash by using a rope to lower himself from the train overhanging the bridge.

 

March 1974 – A train collided with a semi-trailer laden with bulk wine tankers at the Krondorf Road level crossing. The prime mover was not damaged however, the trailer without its wheels landed in a nearby field.[i]

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February, 1967 - Derailment at Rowland Flat (near the bridge at Steingarten Road) was caused by a buckled line. [i]

 

Station Layouts

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Ghost of Rowland Flat

Excerpt taken from True Barossa Ghosts, Valerie J. Laughton; 1991; ISBN 0 7223 2567-3

 “I am not sure if these following particular ghosts are connected with the Rowland Flat Cemetery on the bend at the top of the hill.  They could have been persons involved in a terrible rail accident.  Whatever reason, they materialise to wander aimlessly during inclement weather.  The mystery is disturbing; especially to people who witness these spectres late at night.

During one foggy drizzling afternoon, a train driver looked out from his engine, as the locomotive approached Rowland Flat Crossing. To his shock there were human shapes of woman, men and children wafting all around and through the moving train. They were also across the line ahead.

These figures seemed oblivious of the train, and appeared to be busying themselves, floating upwards while leaving the lengthy wisp of vapour behind them.

Being of sober habits, the man felt he was even then hallucinating, but after speaking to other train drivers who cart gypsum in that area, the men too declared they had seen this phenomenon.

There are so many apparitions, that these phantom people are impossible to count.

Not only have train drivers seen these ghosts, or transparent images, but car drivers see the figures late at night – usually during bad weather conditions.

I was fortunate enough to meet up with a salesman who had seen these ghosts last winter. Arnold Brinkmeyer works for a printing and stationary company. He had several call-ins at newsagencies, which caused him to stay later in the Barossa Valley. He stopped at a popular restaurant for an evening meal, and the proprietor lit an open fire in the hearth; while offering food German music, to soothe a business-clouded head.

The pleasing break had refreshed Arnold, to enable him to drive back to Adelaide, but as he crossed over the Rowland Flat railway line; he pulled the car up. He was suddenly confronted with several people barring his way, and showing up in the headlights clearly.

It is a dangerous section of road, but Arnold felt concern; especially for the women and children. As he wound down the car window the personages swept up on long streaming threads, and entered his ca. They floated through out again, but then more of them entered.

In panic Arnold revved his motor; hoping the spirits would move out of his way. As one slid between him and the windscreen; he drove through the eerie mob of ‘wanderers’ and out along the highway.

Gradually the ones inside his car slipped out and away into the night. Arnold says he not only shivered with the cold, but in fear of what happened.”[i]



[i]Information provided by John Evans and taken from Roger Sallis book Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[ii] Information provided by John Evans and taken from Roger Sallis book Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[iii] Provided by John Evans

[iv] Provided by John Evans

[v] Provided by John Evans

[vi] Image provided by John Evans

[vii]Information provided by John Evans and taken from Roger Sallis book Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[viii] Details provided by Craig Grocke

[ix] Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[x] Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[xi] Photograph by Brian Schulz in Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[xii] Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, Adelaide SA  5000

[xiii] Information provided by John Evans and taken from Roger Sallis book Railways in the Barossa Valley, published in 2000 by Openbook Publishers, AdelaIde SA  5000

[xiv] Provided by John Evans

[xv] True Barossa Ghosts by Valerie J. Laughton;  1991