The late Mayor of Port Augusta, Mrs Joy Baluch AM, at the ceremony commemorating the centenary of the Transcontinental Railway at Port Augusta in 2012

The contribution made to the Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society by the late Joy Baluch AM, former Mayor of Port Augusta, will be formally acknowledged with the naming of the Joy Baluch AM Memorial Operations Centre.

An energetic champion for the place she liked to call ‘The Centre of the Universe’, Mrs Baluch was passionate about sharing Port Augusta’s many beautiful attractions with the wider world and was part of the group that successfully lobbied for the extension of the Pichi Richi Railway line to its original starting point in Port Augusta.

Mrs Baluch was also instrumental in securing the funding for the restoration of original Ghan locomotive NM25 from the City of Port Augusta.

The history of the Central Australia Railway is tied with the past of many families in the ‘crossroads of Australia’, and Mrs Baluch’s family is no exception.

Joy Baluch’s daughter Michelle recounts, “When Grandfather was working as a fireman on the train [during WW2], Mum remembers going to stand on the cutting with her sister and mother to throw small parcels with their names and addresses, baked cakes and magazines at the train. The troops would catch them, and they all corresponded with the troops during and after the war.”

At 19, Mrs Baluch started her career in Port Augusta as a stenographer in the Commonwealth Railways' Mechanical Engineering Branch.  The family tradition has continued with Michelle, her father, brother, and aunt all having worked for the railways at some time in their lives. Michelle’s son still works for the railways as a depot manager.

The Pichi Richi Railway is just one of many attractions Port Augusta has to offer, including the award-winning Arid Lands Botanic Garden, Wadlata Outback Centre, alongside the natural charms of the city’s location at the head of Spencer Gulf and backed by the timeless Flinders Ranges.

“When Pichi Richi Railway first started, I was at high school and mum was working quite fiercely with them, getting it up and going, selling sleepers to fund the line's restoration”, said Michelle. “We’d have people staying here at the Motel [Pampas Motel] with Mum, and then go work on the line to get it up and running.”

The Pichi Richi Railway Preservation Society is proud to honor Mrs Baluch’s contribution with an official plaque naming the Railway's Port Augusta base as the Joy Baluch AM Memorial Operations Centre.

Official naming ceremony: Sunday 13 July at 11:45am on the Port Augusta Station Platform. The public are welcome.