Take a journey into railway history at the National Railway Museum, Australia's largest undercover railway museum with over 100 exhibits representing State, Commonwealth and private railway operators on the three major rail gauges used in Australia. Climb into the cabs of giant steam engines, walk through elegant carriages, enjoy the fun of train rides and interactive and educational displays.
In 1963, a group of rail preservationists, alarmed at the scrapping of steam locomotives which had served South Australia for many decades, set about saving, restoring and maintaining many of the historic vehicles in the museum today.
The first railway museum was located on Railway Terrace at Mile End, operated on a completely voluntary basis and opened on only two afternoons each month. Prior to 1988 museum members restored many locomotives and carriages, designed and built our steam engine 'Bub', and completely restored narrow gauge steam engine 'Peronne' to operational condition. They also published several railway books.
The exposure of the exhibits to the weather was a cause for great concern and an undercover venue was sought. In 1988 the museum was fortunate enough, with the involvement of the History Trust of SA, to obtain a $2m Australian Bicentennial Commemorative Grant to relocate to our current site and to provide covered accommodation for most of our exhibits.
On the 2nd of January 1988, the gates at the Mile End Railway Museum closed for the last time and on the 10th December 1988, after a year of frantic activity, the Port Dock Station Railway Museum Port Adelaide was officially opened by the Premier of South Australia, The Honorable John Bannon.
In 1999, special funding was received as part of Australia's Centenary of Federation to construct the Commonwealth Railways Museum within the museum's precinct. This new facility was opened on the 21st of October 2001 to house the expanding collection of exhibits from the Commonwealth Railways and Australian National and a new name was bestowed on the Museum – the National Railway Museum. On the 31st of May 2009, the two display pavilions were formally named the Ron Fitch and the Ron Fluck Pavilions. Former SA Railways Commissioner Ron Fitch and original railway museum founder Ron Fluck, were collectively responsible for much of the collection today.
The Museum is a self-funded, registered not-for-profit, volunteer managed organisation. The Museum occasionally receives government grants for special projects. Apart from the duties of limited paid staff members, all of its activities are conducted by volunteers. If you are interested in becoming a member or volunteer, please visit Join & Support.