The carriage at the left of this photograph is NRC36. It was taken in October 1944 by Norma Burns and is believed to be at William Creek. Photo: NT Library: 10070/131231

NRC36 was the first sleeping carriage to be built by the Commonwealth Railways (CR) for the Central Australia Railway. It was constructed at the CR's Port Augusta workshops, and entered service in July 1929.

It was a composite sleeping car, having 5 first class sleeping compartments, and 3 second class sleeping compartments. The first class compartments each had two berths, while the second class compartments had four. In addition, a conductor's compartment was provided.

A distinctive feature of NRC36 (and other Commonwealth Railways carriages of this era) was the external louvres fitted over part of the windows to provide protection from the fierce central Australian heat. Other features of NRC36 were a "turtle-back" roof, the use of Tasmanian Oak for internal cladding, and nickel-plated fittings. The carriage had open end platforms, which were fitted with gates, and had provision for walk-through access. NRC36's exterior was brown in colour, with the canvas-covered roof coloured yellow.

In March 1942, NRC36 carried United States General Douglas MacArthur from Alice Springs to Terowie, via Quorn. Terowie was the break-of-gauge junction between the narrow gauge line to Alice Springs and the broad gauge line to Adelaide. Upon disembarking from the narrow gauge train he made his famous speech: "I came out of Bataan and I shall return".

NRC36 is also the carriage at the left of this 1937 photograph of the Ghan. Photo: E K Leslie Collection, NT Library: 10070/16922

In 1966, NRC was substantially altered to convert it to an officers inspection carriage. After this change it was reclassified NIA36. In this conversion the second class sleeping compartments were replaced with kitchen and dining saloon areas. (The first class compartments were unaltered.) The first class end platform was also enclosed to provide a shower. NIA36 also received a new colour scheme: the exterior became maroon with two horizontal silver stripes and silver roof.

NIA36 was used on Central Australian Railway until its closure in 1980, and was transferred to the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society (PRRPS) in 1981. In 1995 PRRPS purchased NIA36 from Australian National.

NIA36 on Pichi Richi Railway's Afghan Express train service