State and Federal governments - and a lot of well-meaning private companies - have paid many millions of dollars to haul a rotting hulk (aka The City of Adelaide) from Scotland to Adelaide in the hope that the sad pile will become a tourist attraction somewhere in Port Adelaide.
How sad. Even the penny-pinching Scots through their government contributed to the fund, to rid themselves of an eyesore that should have been broken up or torched years ago (picture source: www.bbc.com). The Scots obviously couldn’t believe their luck when the Save the City of Adelaide group and their influential friends offered them a solution they couldn’t refuse - and which they eagerly contributed to.
Now as noble as that cause might be - and time will tell whether that which was once a fine ship will ever become more than a ‘middling’ tourist attraction at what was first known as ‘Port Misery’ - the question must be asked: will it work? History may record the City of Adelaide experiment as a (largely) tax-payer funded expensive folly.
In the meantime, other potential tourist magnets languish through lack of modest government funding and lack of political will.
We refer here to already existing train lines through regional South Australia - in particular through the Barossa Valley, the undisputed jewel in South Australia’s tourist offerings.
A thoroughly well maintained train line (used to service trains from Nuriootpa’s Penrice mine - now in liquidation) is invaluable infrastructure begging for government/private investment input to resurrect THE BAROSSA WINE TRAIN.
The Barossa Wine Train was launched in May 1998 and was a unique experience from Adelaide to the Barossa Valley. It operated between 1998 and 2003, and on average 10,000 to 13,000 people travelled on the train each year—70,000 passengers in total.
The train received great media coverage and was reported to have injected $20 million into the economy every year - but significant world events (9/11, terrorism, SARS, the outbreak of bird flu et al) contributed to forcing the train off the rails in 2003.
Despite strident efforts by the (now retired) local MP for the Barossa, The Hon. Ivan Venning, the then (and recently re-elected) Labor Government has so far refused to provide funding to re-instate the train, despite the fact that it has spent millions on attracting tourists to the Barossa with its highly successful ‘Be Consumed’ campaign.
Now, in 2014, one group is trying to do something about it - and resurrecting other abandoned train lines through rural South Australia. The REGIONAL RAIL IN SA ACTION GROUP is raising a petition to force the SA Government to get off its bureaucratic bum and bring trains back to the regions - for tourism, and commuter traffic. We urge you to sign the petition (you can do it electronically, on-line). See the details below, but before you do, read our take on what may be possible (Tourism Minister Leon Bignell take note!)
Let’s resurrect the BAROSSA WINE TRAIN. The rolling stock exists, it just needs refurbishment. We’re no train experts, but consider this: Let’s set up the train this way - one or two VIP carriages (let’s use the old-fashioned term, ‘first class’). These first-class carriages would offer a level of service and accoutrements similar to ‘Gold’ standard on the iconic Ghan train (high quality Barossa Valley food platters and nibbles, with premium wines for example, served by attendants). Then a number of ‘second class’ carriages offering pre-packaged Barossa foods (Linke’s mettwursts and delights from Tanunda’s Apex Bakery spring to mind, along with ‘airline’ bottles of Barossa wine). Then a number of ‘commuter’ carriages for locals starved of public transport to and from Adelaide.
In the meantime, we urge you to share our blog with anyone with an interest in the Barossa Valley and tourism.
AND WE URGE YOU to sign the petition to resurrect regional train services - particularly those to the Barossa Valley. Click here to go to the petition page.
Barossa Talking Tours provides an entertaining and informative look at the Barossa Valley as an audio tour - perfect for car or caravan!