The Port Dock Est.1856

DJ Gordon who wrote in 1908;

The honour of building the first State-owned railway in the British Empire belongs to South Australia! ... it can be established without doubt. ... South Australia leads the World as a builder of railways.

Adelaide is the only Australian town, in which the American system of buying land, and making a railway to bring population to it, has been carried out.


The Port Dock Station 1950

Extract from the Encyclopaedia Britannica

Port Adelaide, Chief port of South Australia, on an estuarine-tidal inlet of Gulf St Vincent. Visited in 1831 by Capt. Collet Barker, the harbour, sheltered by a long sand spit to the west, was made the port for Adelaide in 1837.

Port Adelaide was incorporated as a town in 1855 and became a city in 1901.


Port Adelaide chosen by Colonel Light as the most suitable port for the province.

He surveyed the road from Adelaide (named after Queen Adelaide, wife of King William IV.) to Port Adelaide in 1837.

The Port Adelaide River bar was deepened in 1839

Making way for the Port Docks to be constructed (McLaren Wharf)


The Port Dock (Rail yard) was originally the first railway yard in the Port Adelaide area.

The first publicly owned railway line in the British Empire.

It was built by the colonial government to the then ‘Australian Standard’ of 1600mm. (5 ft 3 inches, Broad gauge)


The Adelaide to Port Adelaide Railway line built in the 1850’s and opened on 19th April 1856 was used to transport freight & passengers between the Port of Adelaide & the City of Adelaide.

The first line in South Australia to carrying steam powered trains on 21 April 1856 between Adelaide and Port Adelaide.


Port Adelaide Timeline

1837                Officially declared Port Adelaide - replacing the old name of "Port Misery" 23 May

1839     The Port Adelaide River bar was initially deepened  

1840     Opening of the road from Adelaide to Port Adelaide - 14 October.

1843                First steam engine in the colony erected by Messrs Wyatt.

1855     First electric telegraph in South Australia commences operation between Adelaide and Port Adelaide, being a private enterprise of James MacGeorge - 26 November. Strung across private backyards and scrub, lt was eventually bought out by the then South Australian Government

1856                First Government telegraph in South Australia opened (Adelaide to Port Adelaide) - 18 February.

1856                The Adelaide to Port Adelaide Railway line built and opened on 19th April 1856

1859                The Port bridge is built from the western end of St Vincent St to connect to Semaphore on the other side.

1860           Adelaide Milling Company established, this siding was still in use till the early 1980’s, the building can still be seen today on the corner of the Princess & North Parade wharves (Mundy Street)

1873     The original Port Dock Goods Shed (now part of the National Rail Museum) are built.

1878                Railway Line from Port Adelaide via St Vincent Street opened

Jervois Bridge built, carried the railway line to Semaphore. (replacing the Port Bridge)

The first Jervois Bridge remained in service till the 1950’s where it was replaced with the present day structure. The original Jervois Bridge Gantry can be seen today standing at the back of the Port Wharf Markets.

1881                Railway line extended to Largs Bay


    1899     South Australia's first power station began operating in Port Adelaide.

1916     Semaphore/Outer Harbour Railway re-routed via Commercial Road Station.

1941                New Semaphore Railway Station opened

1957     Gillman yard takes over as the major marshalling yard in the Port Adelaide area.

1975                South Australian Railways freight infrastructure handed over to the Commonwealth Railways which later formed Australian National Railways (Metropolitan passenger services remained with the South Australian Government as a separate service from the freight and was called the ‘State Transport Authority’ later renamed ‘TransAdelaide’.

1978     Australian National Railways Commission created 23 May

197?      Glanville Signal Cabin Closed

1978     Semaphore to Glanville railway line closed

1981                Semaphore to Glanville line removed.

198?      Osborne Signal Cabin & Yard closed and demolished, was situated between today’s TransAdelaide Lines and ARTC mainlines near Mersey & Veitch Rds Osborne, access to Osborne & Outer harbour  now thru Birkenhead via Glanville

1982                SACBH (Ausbulk) build Block 5 at Port Adelaide Silos, Lines 5 & 6 added, new Rail shed for discharge built (3 wagons at a time), New yard added to the Port Flat to handle increased grain traffic.

1990     On the 30th July, 1991, the Special Premiers Conference signed an agreement to form a national rail corporation (NRC) to market and operate interstate rail freight throughout Australia, from February, 1992.

1992     The Old Yard “the Port Dock” closed for shunting purposes. Only Museum Rds remain.

1995                Gillman Yard Marshalling Yard Closed, Wharf Access ceased.

1997     Australian National ceases existence Nov 17, Australian Southern Railways takes over freight operations and EDI the maintenance

2004     Rail crossing and rail connections

The rail component encompasses connections to the existing rail network on the eastern bank, a rail bridge and connections to the existing line at Elder Road. It includes the provision of a single-track rail bridge across the Port River adjacent to the road bridge, again with an opening span.

For more information visit the Port River Expressway Project section of the Transport SA website.



The Old Yard consisted of:


“ C “ Cabin

No.1 – No. 4 Loop

No.1 – No. 9 Stores

Jacketts Stoney

Stoney 1

No.1 - No. 2 Shed

Water Column Rd

No.3 - No. 4 & No.7 Rd

The Ramp



The 3 Freezers rds

Eldersmith Goldsbrough Mort



Over the Canal  (Where K-Mart is now)- Thomas milling co, Bunge millers, Australian timber, SA Flour Mill,


The ‘Old Yard’ as it became known, once Gillman Yard became the major shunt yard for the Port Adelaide area, is now home to the National Railway Museum, (formerly the Port Dock Station Railway Museum) & the Port Adelaide Police Station and courthouses.

Take a trip into railway history at Australia's top railway attraction. The National Railway Museum, houses the largest undercover collection of locomotives, passenger carriages and freight vehicles in Australia.

All three railway gauges used in Australia are represented. The collection comprises steam engines and the diesel locomotives and railcars, which replaced them.

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