Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: Photography

Here are some of the photographs of the site, a greater selection can be found here. The platform is approximately 130m long, 10m wide and 90cm high, with a 30º slope at either end.

One of the things we were interested in was capturing the contemporary significances of the site and the ways in which contemporary people use and change the landscape.

Since the station closed, the platform was used by the community as a stage for public events. As far as the modern material culture can reveal, the site is predominantly used by people for exercise, picnics and to write graffiti.

Help us to answer our survey questions! We are really interested in what people have to say about this site. If you have any comments, suggestions or questions, please leave them below. We will keep updating this page as we process our data.

Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: End of the Survey

Tom, Bradley and Andrew working the total station.

Thanks to everyone that came down and enjoyed the day today, it was very successful (and a lot of fun!). We are in the process of compiling the data and will begin writing up our report during the week. We will post all final products to this page.

Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: Site Surveys

Dumpy level and total station surveys in action

For the last few hours ArchSoc has been recording the remains of the Old Plympton Railway Station. We have been recording features that can inform us of past uses and contemporary significances of the site.

We have had a lot of public interest in the survey with many archaeology and rail enthusiasts coming down to find out about what we’re up to. Many people that remember using the platform for community events have also come along to meet us and share their stories. We will be here until 4pm so if you can make it, come on down!

Scott on the dumpy
Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: Timeline of Major Events

By Angeline Buckler




Holdfast Bay Railway Company  opens its train-line to Glenelg (24th May)


Tom Dunn joins the Holdfast Bay Railway Company

(15th December)

Holdfast Bay RC and Adelaide Suburban RC merge to form the Glenelg Railway Company


Collisions between a goods train and a passenger train occurs at Plympton Station (4th July)


Tom Dunn recalls Judge Boucaut and the Bo ‘sun of the Buffalo as regular patrons of the Adelaide to Glenelg train service throughout his time with the companies.

Adelaide Hunt Club meets at Plympton Station for steeplechase (1st July)


Warden F.W. Vasey knocked down by train at Plympton Station (9th October)


Shelter at Plympton Station being constructed due for completion in 3 weeks (25th November)


Rally to Bronzewing Poultry Farm leaves from Plympton Station

(6th September)


Break-in at Plympton Station, door forced with pick, nothing taken (16th August)


Postmaster General advises that the installation of a post-box and phone is under consideration (10th December)


John Alfred O’Donohoe (junior porter) saves Mary White from being hit by train (2nd June)


Tom Dunn retires from the railway company after 43 years of service (5th January)

John Alfred O’Donohoe awarded Humane Society Bronze Medal for his bravery (24th October)


Last train from Adelaide to Glenelg runs on the North Terrace line (November)


Thomas Stockley drives the last train to Glenelg along the North Terrace line (November)

Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: Historical Background

The historical background of the Old Plympton Railway Station has been prepared by Flinders archaeology student, Angeline Buckler:


The historic Plympton Railway Station was one of the platforms along the North Terrace Line that originally connected the City of Glenelg to the City of Adelaide. The South Terrace Line is now known as the Adelaide to Glenelg tram-line; the North Terrace Line was abandoned in 1929 and the rails have since been removed. During this time period there were two Plympton railway stations, one on each line. The station in this report was most often referred to as the North Plympton Train Station as it was located on the North Terrace Line.

While the South Terrace Line, owned and operated by the Adelaide Suburban Railway Company, had been operating since 1871; the North Terrace Line did not commence operations until May of 1880 (Blake 2010:77). The new line was initiated by the Holdfast Bay Railway Company who opened the line in competition with Suburban Company hoping to draw business from the other line by offering a shorter trip and more efficient service (South Australian Advertiser 1880:1-2). After approximately 12 months it became evident that despite the popularity of the trains there was not enough business to support two separate companies and in 1881 the two companies merged to become the Glenelg Railway Company. The Glenelg Railway Company took over management of both the South and North Terrace lines. Continue reading “Old Plympton Railway Station: Historical Background”

Events, Field Work

Old Plympton Railway Station: Aims of the Survey


Today, the Flinders Archaeological Society kicks off National Archaeology Week with our first About Time: SA History Festival event: Community Archaeology Day at the Old Plympton Railway Station, corner of Marion Road and Mooringe Avenue.

The removal of the train line has altered the contemporary landscape of the area as one can see from the existence of the multiple reserves and parklands located on the original train line site.

We are holding archaeological site survey demonstrations and a BBQ, so come down today between noon and 4pm to meet us and join in. Continue reading “Old Plympton Railway Station: Aims of the Survey”

Field Work, Port Arthur Field Trip

ArchSoc’s Port Arthur Field Trip

A few weeks have passed since the Flinders Archaeological Society (ArchSoc) sent six of our members and two of our committee to help the Port Arthur Historic Sites Management Authority (PAHSMA) with their artefact collection from the 2011 Hobart Penitentiary Chapel excavations.

The Port Arthur Team. Back (L-R): David Roe, Jeanne Harris, Tom Lally, Ilona Bartsch, Maxim Ayres, Bradley Kerr and Louisa Fischer. Front (L-R): Andrew Wilkinson, Leah Ralph, Annita Waghorn, Lauren Davison and Holly Winter.

As you can see from the blog entries that the participants wrote at the end of each day, everyone enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot. This is the first time ArchSoc has organised a field trip like this and it is a testament to the dedication and organisation of this year’s committee that the trip went off without a hitch.

On behalf of ArchSoc, I would like to thank those that helped make this trip possible from the onset. Thanks go to Claire Smith, whose networking made this possible, Natalie Bittner, who along with myself, conducted the initial consultations with PAHSMA, and to David Roe and Annita Waghorn from PAHSMA, who were both more than happy to host several student volunteers.

I would also like to thank those that helped in the planning stages and those that helped us in our more-than-successful fundraising BBQ and Bake Sale including the ArchSoc Committee and staff from the Department of Archaeology. There are too many individuals to name, but you all know who you are.

BBQ in the Plaza @ Flinders

Thanks to everyone that applied to go on this trip, sorry we couldn’t accommodate all of you and to Andrew Wilkinson and Tom Lally who co-ordinated the trip at short notice when it was clear that I could no longer attend.

Lastly, a very big thank you goes to Jeanne Harris, David Roe and Annita Waghorn from PAHSMA for hosting ArchSoc on what was a very successful trip. We hope this is the start of a long relationship.

Bake Sale in the Humanities Courtyard

The professionalism of our committee and participants is highlighted in an email that David Roe sent to me shortly after the trip:

“From our perspective the week was a great success: we were able to get a number of important fieldwork jobs done and a significant hole has been made in the cataloguing task for the Penitentiary Chapel assemblage.  Jeanne, Annita and I were impressed with the Flinders contingent: they worked hard and were a pleasure to have around.  Their enthusiasm and conduct reflects most admirably upon the Flinders ArchSoc in particular and the University in general.  Please accept our thanks for having organised and underwritten the trip; we look forward to more such visits in the future.”

Jordan Ralph

Sorting Artefacts from the 2011 Penitentiary Chapel Excavations in Hobart
Field Work, News

Background noise: a double edged sword

By Sam Deer

Most archaeologists working in the field know far too well of the bothers that can be caused by background noise when looking for artefacts at a site. This little trickster comes in a variety of forms, usually depending on what field you’re working in – e.g. for indigenous archaeologists looking for stone artefacts background noise usually rears its ugly head in the form of stone fragments of the “non-artefactual” variety.

While investigating the site of the Seven Stars Hotel at Red Banks, SA, with a group of approximately 18 Flinders University students and staff, background noise proved to be a bit of a double edged sword, mischievously messing with not just the usual one, but two of the most important senses necessary to carry out a worthwhile investigation in such a setting.

The Seven Stars Hotel was a popular drinking hole for locals in the 60s and 70s and got its name from its location at the time – at the intersection of (yes, you guessed it) seven roads. Today the pub is non-existent to the naked eye – the only remnants are thousands of artefact fragments (bottles, ceramics, bricks and more) scattered throughout a field and the surrounding area. As would be expected when working on a site that’s been cultivated and ploughed extensively, background noise played tricks on the visual senses of field workers in the form of artefact-resembling rocks, remnants of crops, clumps of soil, grass and snail shells (see image above).

Situated right on the roadside (and quite possibly underneath it), the fieldwork being done on the site was hindered even further at the hands of background noise from passing traffic – every time a vehicle drove past the site a deafening roar filled the air and rendered any communication being attempted at that moment pointless. Conversations and instructions had to be repeated regularly, and we found ourselves on more than one occasion having to wait patiently as a convoy of cars cleared the area. This proved to be quite infuriating, especially when trying to communicate GPS co-ordinates across an open field with the wind also blaring in the background.

On the upside, we managed to defeat background noise and make the project and field school a great success – more than a thousand artefacts were collected from the site!

Field Work, News

From red dirt to Redbanks… and back again

By Mandy Atkinson

I have been lucky enough to have worked as a consultant archaeologist since completing my undergraduate and since that time have been working only in Aboriginal cultural heritage management. In a consultant’s world, you walk a lot, there’s nasty bugs and spikey bushes at every turn and there’s always more work to do than there is time to do it, quite a contrast to the friendly field school!

A ‘red dirt’ excavation in western NSW

With a view to enhance my professional skill set, I decided I should try my hand at historical archaeology… and brush up on my field skills while I was there. I drove from Sydney, NSW to the Seven Stars Hotel historical archaeological site at Redbanks, SA, via Condobolin and Lake Cargelligo (as I had work to do on the way). For 1500km I was bursting with excitement and enthusiasm at the prospect of a new ‘archaeology experience’.

I will confess I was completely underwhelmed for the first few days and actually found it much more difficult than I care to admit. On the first transect I caught myself walking past numerous artefacts. Why? Usually I would consider pieces of glass, ceramics and nails as background scatter impeding my ability to discover Aboriginal cultural heritage material.  So I turned around and re-did 20m or so of transect, hopefully unnoticed and concentrating intensely.

Redbanks, South Australia

After I few days of great company and learning a few new ‘tricks’ I started to warm up to the idea historical archaeology and to the site, which may have once been a pub.  I was impressed by a few interesting artefacts, found the working conditions beyond fantastic and was completely baffled by the ‘site boundary’ (and still I am!). All in all, it was a wonderful introduction to historical archaeology however my passion is still, and will always, be for Indigenous archaeology.

In my haste to start a new job, the next day and about 800km away, I left my backpack with all required field gear in Redbanks. Not the best way to start a new job! I must thank the backpack rescue team; Heather for posting it right away and John the station manager for driving 200km into town to pick it up for me!

Field Work, News

Searching the Land of Nothing

By Antoinette Hennessy

We all search for something. Palaeontoligsts have the Lost World, treasure hunters have El Dorado, and cryptozoologists have the chupacabra. Something stirs the mind, makes it race with ideas and fantastic notions of what something could have been, or even better: what once was. Something like the Seven Stars Hotel, Redbanks, South Australia.

Imagine this: a bustling Victorian-era pub almost out of place in the middle of the Adelaide Plains. Aptly named the “Seven Stars Hotel” it stands on the corner of a seven-road junction, and offers relief to weary merchants, farmers and the local population of Redbanks town; blessing their heads with showers of beer, liquor and merriment.

Out the back are the stables with fresh feed for the horses, and the outhouse for other business. The walls are a sturdy and strong patchwork of cobblestones and mortar atop brick foundations that seem unbreakable; a formidable opponent against the labours of time.

The stained-glass windows resemble those of classic Irish and English pubs, barely illuminating the interior with adequate lighting, but enough to spread a homely glow.

On a seemingly endless journey towards the developing settlement of Adelaide, the smoking chimney beckoned the traveller to rest and enjoy a most desirable home-cooked meal – freshly made, served with a warm and welcoming smile of the barmaid of bosom most ample.


But there was none of that.

The vastness of the plains amplified the sadness of the sight: flat, heavily worked farmland with no visible remnants of any sort of building. There were no known photos, or paintings, and the only memories were that of its demolished grandeur – if there ever was. But the mental images poured out like paint on a canvas, plotting themselves on the land itself. I could see the hotel, and how it stretched and splayed itself along the fenceline; see where stables, sheds, outhouses were built within the dried wheat boundary. On the ground itself, you couldn’t take a step without coming across an artefact: a piece of gingerbeer bottle, glass from a once beautiful vase, or a piece of ceramic with elegant blue paint that, when put together with the other pieces of the jigsaw, would reveal an elaborate pond scene with weeping willows.

While the scientist analysed patterns and artefacts, the artist inside me was painting a new picture. A grand picture of a huge hotel based on the vast emptiness of the land, regardless of inaccuracies; knowing that something, and someone had once occupied this space. And as archaeologists, we would find it again.