Sometimes on the way to your dream,

you get lost and find a better one.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's take one more walk, a short one this time

We'll walk along Ellen Street, with a side view into Alexander Street.  **

Many years ago, Ellen Street looked like this....

Railway tracks went straight down the middle ending at the Railway Station....
the view you see is the shopping and hotels side of the street, the Railway Station is on the wharf side of the street. 

and there was no platform, so people stepped down into the street off the train.

In the 50s, trains ran at night too, (possibly even in the 60s) leaving Adelaide in daylight and arriving in Port Pirie quite late at night. We arrived on a train named The Bluebird in 1958 at about 9-10pm. I remember climbing down a short set of steps to the road, then walking across to the footpath.
Dad had accepted a job offer from the Port Pirie branch of the South Australian Gas Company and was to start work the next day. (SAGASCO, dark green shirts, red logo stitching)
So here we were in Port Pirie, five of us, late at night, with nowhere to stay. A house had not yet been made available.

Right on the footpath where we stepped off the train was the small shop front of the Gas Company, and someone must have been there to greet us, as we were ushered inside and led up a flight of stairs to the storeroom, I think, my memory is a little hazy here, with another room beyond it. This is where we were to stay until a house was available.
SAGASCO is no longer there, but the building is.....

it is now Image Hairdressing and those windows upstairs are where we looked out at the street below. I don't remember which window, but I do remember going up and down the stairs and walking through the shop to get to the street, or out the back to the toilet. We were asked not to play in the shop and being only young, we did as we were told, but sometimes sat on the stairs watching customers while waiting for Dad to get home from work.

I think we lived there for about three weeks, then a house was available and we moved to the Risdon Park area and I was enrolled in the Risdon Park primary school. My most clear memory of that school is a girl who swung high on the swings and fell off, breaking her arm. My clearest memories of the house are Mum's veggie patch which took up half the backyard, and we three kids all having chicken pox at the same time.

Let's get back to Ellen Street.

the old Railway Station has been cleaned up, prettied up, repaired, and is now a Rail Museum.  I'd planned on going in for a look-see, but it wasn't open when I walked past and after walking the beach-school loop, I was pretty tuckered out. The next day of course, I'd had enough and came home instead.

Next to the Railway Station/Museum is the Port Pirie Post Office. I remember it being green and I could be wrong, but it certainly looks a lot nicer now.
then comes the old Courthouse, it's quite small, which explains why they built a much larger one down by the Police Station. I'm glad they kept this though and renovated it, history should be preserved as much as possible in my opinion. I'm not sure what the building is used for now.

Next in line.......
the National Trust Museum. There is a building in between  the Courthouse and the Museum, there's a grey roofline in the previous photo, but I don't remember what it is and why didn't I take a photo??

All of these buildings are on the wharf side of Ellen Street, with the shops being on the other side.
The sandstone building to the right of the photo above is.....

the old Public Library, where I spent so many happy hours reading, reading, reading, mostly in the winter when it was too cold to be at the beach in the water. I don't think it is used as a library anymore, there is a new, big, modern library building at the end of Ellen Street, right behind the Visitor's Centre, between it and the railway station that was built across from the high school.

Along the centre of Ellen Street, where the railway tracks used to run is a wide median strip with.....


and the best of all.....

old train wheels embedded in the soil, a reminder of Port Pirie's rail heritage.
I love these, there are three sets along this stretch of the median strip.

Finally, here's a look at the Hotel/Motel I stayed at.....

quite a big place, on the corner of Ellen Street and David Street.

a closer look, so you can see the Christmas decorations.

I've just realised we didn't do that little **side walk into Alexander Street, we'll go there next week.


  1. It would take me two weeks to do what you've done in a day. I'm loving it. Do you suppose the National Trust building was a bank. That's the first thing I said, "The bank!"

  2. I am echoing Joanne here. I am also really impressed at your walk, and thinking bank.
    I do like the old buildings. On the whole I think they have a lot more charm than some of the more modern ones.

  3. It's a lovely area....I like the colour co-ordination of the buildings.

  4. I've only ever stayed in PP once and only overnight - looks like it's worth another, longer visit!

  5. Thank you so much. This little tour was fantastic. I really do love the old buildings and they look really well cared for which is terrific. There may be a down side to Port Pirie but, for a visitor, there seems lots of places of interest.
    I enjoyed your story about your temporary accommodation, your memory of primary school and I can just see you in that library reading, reading, reading. No wonder you are so good with words now.

  6. Joanne; I don't remember what the National Trust building used to be, back in those days I didn't notice much more than the Library. That and the beach were my favourite places to be.

    Elephant's Child; old buildings that have been properly maintained have so much more charm than modern steel and glass structures. They look so much more solid and grounded too. Permanent.

    Delores; I think they've colour coordinated very well, classic never really goes out of style.

    Red Nomad OZ; there's a bakery/cafe or two, but try Crystal Brook as well, it's chockers with bakeries from what I saw as the bus drove through. Although I can't promise they're all still open.

    Mimsie; I have so many more photos, but I think I'll keep a few for the Sunday Selections now and then.
    We didn't have many books at home, Dad wasn't a reader, so the Library became my home-away-from-home.

  7. They are fine buildings, indicating a good future for the town when they were built. A bit of trivia, PP is one of only three Australian railway stations to have had triple gauge tracks, that is the width between the train wheels. So that is the South Australian broad gauge to Adelaide, Commonwealth standard gauge to Port Augusta and narrow gauge I think to Broken Hill.

  8. Andrew; I actually knew that. Now they have a mini railway, I'll post a photo of the tracks soon. I didn't photograph the mini train because two men were working on it and when I walked towards them one gave me a horrible scowling look, so I turned away.

  9. Did you take a look inside the hairdressers, I'd want to see the stairs. A little Prahran Baptist hall where we sang for adults years ago is now a bar/bistro full of glittering poseurs: shit people. I've had a look.

  10. R.H. no I did not, I was on the other side of the street, it didn't occur to me to find out if the stairs were still there, they were right at the back of the store then, behind a partition.

  11. Behind a partition? Well you say you sat there and watched customers in the shop so I assumed they were at the front. And surely it's worth crossing the street for a closer look?
    Seems you lack morbid interest in your past. No one could say that about me.

  12. I adore the photos of the old buildings, River! So nice to see heritage kept. They make my heart glad.

    And, there is "something special" about old B&W photos. I could stare at them for hours, I love them so.
    When I look back at old photos of Perth and Albany, W.A. I get goosebumps.

    Those old train wheels are a lovely reminder of the town's history.

    Thank you for theses images. the next best thing would be to walk these areas in person. One day, I just might :)

  13. R.H. I was on my way to somewhere else, I suppose I could have crossed the street, but as you said, I lacked the interest.

    Vicki; I'm glad the old buildings have been restored so well, it makes a nice streetscape. The train wheels are the best part of the street when it comes to explaining the history. They're a conversation starter.

  14. If you lack that depth of interest with your own life's journey you couldn't be much good with other peoples.

  15. I also love the old buildings. They have a character all of their own and it's so good to see that they are still being used, albeit in a different capacity. I particularly love the hotel. Isn't that an Australian country town icon? They all look somewhat similar - a welcome and familiar sight to a hot, weary, thirsty traveller no doubt.

    How cool to have had the railway line in the main street! It's a bit sad that they got rid of the line, but the median strip looks prettier than old, unused tracks. I used to wonder why the median strip on Port Road was so wide and my dad told me that there were plans to build a canal from Port Adelaide into the city itself so ships could dock in Adelaide itself rather than at The port. But of course it was too expensive and one of those schemes that died on ther planning board, but we still have that super wide median strip to remind us of the folly.

    Again I'm struck by how sunny it all looks. You take it for granted when you live there, but boy I miss it now.