It is well known that in addition to its regular Quorn–Hawker run, Steam Motor Coach No. 1 (later re-classified NJAB1 by the Commonwealth Railways) was chartered for other journeys reasonably frequently, such as to Port Augusta, Hammond, Orroroo etc.  However on Monday 29 July 1907, it made a considerably longer journey.

1907 had so far been a reasonably good year for the region—except for Quorn’s South Australian Railways (SAR) traffic staff, who were less than impressed about having their shifts increased from 8 to 9½ hours!  Newspaper reports give an impression of optimism; “glorious rains” were mentioned regularly–“the finest rain remembered”.  The Boolcunda copper mine (near Quorn) was reported to be “still holding its own and some first-class ore is being raised”.  The Premier had visited Quorn and the region, and former Quorn Mayor and businessman, the Hon. R. W. Foster, had been travelling throughout the Flinders District during his campaign for the May election.  And of course Quorn was enjoying the new freedom provided by the SAR’s “Motor”—which had been in service for nearly a year.

So on 29 July, SMC1 left Quorn in the early morning for a journey along the Great Northern line to Parachilna, carrying passengers from Quorn and Hawker to the “Parachilna Sports”—a return journey of some 192 miles!  The “Sports”, organised by Mr James Darmody, was a significant event in the region with good prize money.  It was advertised prominently for weeks prior, alongside the other big events of July, the Quorn and Port Augusta winter races.

An SAR Weekly Notice issued later in 1907 limited the maximum number of adult passengers in this vehicle to 33, but on this occasion perhaps even more were squeezed into it.  (PRRPS allows only 22).

Fortunately for us, the Quorn Mercury newspaper included an excellent report of the journey and the event in the following week’s edition, and also a photograph is preserved in the State Library of SA—quite likely by Mr W Hunt as mentioned in the Mercury article.  (Mr Hunt had a photographic studio in Seventh Street, Quorn.)

Was this excursion repeated?  I haven’t found any evidence of it.  The Parachilna Sports does not appear to have been held in the following few years at least.  And even though the passengers clearly enjoyed the trip, perhaps the crew of the “Motor” were not so excited about the long journey!

About the only physical remnant left in Parachilna of its railway history of this era is its SAR cast iron water tank—and this is likely to soon become yet another victim of “risk management”.

Steam Motor Coach No. 1 at Parachilna, 29 July 1907. Photograph courtesy of the State Library of South Australia. SLSA: B 50482
A portion of the Quorn Mercury's article of 6 August 1907. The article also contains a detailed description of the "Sports".