I accompanied a friend on a tour of the Serviceton Railway Station, which I visited for the first time only recently. On that first visit, I hadn’t known that tours were available; truth be told, I wouldn’t have been interested, had the opportunity not arisen again so soon. Since I had only taken a very few photos of the station exterior in the space of ten minutes, I jumped at the chance to take photos in a more leisurely fashion.
Making the trip up to Serviceton, via Kaniva, we were greeted at the entrance by our guide, Ron, who has been the station’s volunteer caretaker for the past six years. He showed us through the ticket office first, moving then into the main hall with 20 foot ceilings; through the kitchen, which once saw 18 workers preparing food; then past the bar into the former ladies’ parlour. Beyond the parlour were small private rooms, and the “bucket” room.
My favourite part of the station was the graceful staircase, with its original carpet – now heavily worn. At the top of the stair was the cook’s attic room, with a bathroom off the landing.
Back down the staircase, we were joined by a small group who had called in to explore, and Ron showed us to the cellar and “dungeon”, slightly below ground level. In the dungeon were very small cells, which he told us were used for up to 30 prisoners at a time, who were shackled to the walls for a period of three hours – presumably while the trains were changed for the next leg of the journey. To be honest, I was paying more attention to what I was seeing than what he was saying.
At the opposite end of the building, Ron took us into another sub-level room which he referred to as the morgue, where dead bodies being transferred between the states were stored during train changes. There was an amusing caricature on the wall of a former Station Master, who was supposed to have been in service during the war at the time the picture was drawn.
Ron is usually about the place, so if you’re passing that way on the highway between Melbourne and Adelaide, take the short detour and see this amazing piece of history.