An old railway bridge

Monarto to Sedan Railway

Outdoorstype explores the old railway line from Monarto South to Sedan in 2021.

The Sedan line was a branch of the main south line from Adelaide. Beginning at Monarto South, It ran 70 kilometres north to Sedan and opened in 1919.

It had eight stations and goods sidings. These days, there’s nothing left but the permanent way and a few bridges.

The line from Cambrai to Sedan was taken up in the late 60s. Apamurra to Cambrai closed in 1987 and finally the line from Monarto to Apamurra saw its last train in 2005.

What is it about these old railways?

These old railway lines played a key role in shaping the layout of the towns and roads around the country. As farms grew bigger and more automated and road transport took over the freight duties, the once dominant railways retreated and the towns grew quiet but the path of the old lines (permanent way) remain.

Cutting north of Apamurra

The ‘permanent way’ is the cuttings and embankments, the bridges and the station yards. These heavy earthworks and fenced off land parcels still stand out on the landscape. It’s interesting to follow them and think about the history, the hard work, the people, and the machines involved with them and how it’s all almost disappeared.

Roger Sallis’ excellent 1998 book Railways in the Adelaide Hills is probably the main inspiration for this project but I won’t dive into such an extensive historical record – my role is to communicate visually and as quickly as possible. I’ve always been interested in this line as way back in the late 90s early 2000s I was heading out to Mannum to fish and crossed over it many times. I even spotted a few grain trains loading at Apamurra back in those days and wondered how long the old branch would last. Not much longer it seems.

Apamurra looking south

Why do it?

I noticed there actually wasn’t much modern digital content (YouTube especially) about the old and abandoned railway lines around Australia. I decided to put my training in videography, photography and writing to use and create some digital stories and visual records of these old lines. I hope somebody finds them useful.

Challenges and tips

I spent two afternoons on location in the Murraylands capturing the footage for this article and the YouTube video. Time was tight because it generally takes around an hour and a half to reach the Murraylands from Adelaide. The first trip covered Sedan to Apamurra while the second trip covered Monarto South to Reedy Creek.

Junction from the Main South Line at Monarto South

Filming was not without modern technology challenges either. On arrival in Sedan, both my phone and my drone decided they needed a software update… in the middle of nowhere with only marginal data coverage. I’ve made so many mistakes over the years and they just keep coming. I guess each mistake is just one lesson closer to getting it right.

Tips

Biggest tips for drone newbies – make sure your batteries are charged, your memory cards are IN the devices and look for updates BEFORE you head out into the field.

Feel free to email me with any questions or suggestions through the “Contact’ link in the top menu.

Check out the completed video in the YouTube link below.

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