The Bugle Ranger Heritage Railcar Journey – Review
If you have a train fan in the family or are looking for a little adventure not too far from Adelaide, a trip aboard heritage railcar The Bugle Ranger through the hills is a trip well worth taking.
It’s also the perfect journey to take friends or family who are visiting from interstate or overseas to show them a little piece of the Australian landscape. The train departs from Mount Barker Railway Station, one of South Australia’s preserved railway stations and is run by Steamranger, a not-for-profit organisation that runs heritage trains between Mount Barker and Victor Harbor.
The Mount Barker railway station is a heritage building made of Aldgate freestone and housed a stationmaster’s quarters and a ticketing office. It was opened in November 1883 and closed over one hundred years later in April 1984. Regular services operated until passenger numbers declined in the late 20th century, due to the dominance of motor cars. Left to deteriorate, the station was restored by the District Council of Mount Barker as part of Steamranger’s move to the station.
The Bugle Ranger roundtrip is aboard a heritage “Red Hen” railcar and only takes about 45 minutes. The train departs from Mt Barker Station and travels through the residential areas of Mt Barker before the scenery changes to our picturesque countryside. Along the way you’ll see plenty of native trees, paddocks of cattle, sheep and the odd alpaca, plus you may be lucky enough to spot a kangaroo or two.
Heading southwards, the train travels to the very peak of the ranges at the isolated and now closed Philcox Hill station site. Situated in an opening in the trees on level ground, the station site is the highest point on the line (1,304 feet or nearly 398 metres above sea-level). The journey then takes you around Bonython Hill and through several cuttings to the site of the old Bugle Ranges station.
The train then stops briefly here to allow the driver to change to the other end of the railcar before the train heads back up the hill, back to Mt Barker. As the train only travels for about 20 minutes each way, young children shouldn’t bore too easily (mine loved waving to people waiting at the railway crossings)! You can take a drink and snacks with you on the train and the station sells tea and coffee.
The Bugle Ranger service operates on the fourth Sunday of each month from May to October.
The train departs at 2pm, with tickets available on the day from the station ticket office from 1pm onwards. Adult fares are $13.00, Children 5-15 years $7.00 and Seniors $12.00. A Family ticket is $30.00. Children under 5 years travel free. (Prices are current as at July 2012)
The Steamranger Heritage Railway also operates numerous other train journeys including the The Cockle Train, The Southern Encounter, The Highlander, StrathLink, Southern Hills Special and special charter trains.
For train running dates and all enquiries visit the SteamRanger Heritage Railway website.
What: The Bugle Ranger
When: One Sunday a Month May to October
Where: Mt Barker Railway Station, Gawler St, Mt Barker (opposite Park ‘n’ Ride)
Who: All Ages
Information and prices accurate as of July 2012. All images copyright Play & Go Adelaide.
Play & Go Adelaide makes every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.