Magical History Tour

Public programs and events


South Australia,

The History Trust and SA Power Network’s Magical Bus Tour is always a festival highlight. This year’s tour began bright and early at the Sir Thomas Playford ETSA Museum for a bacon and egg breakfast. The ETSA Museum could only be described as a cabinet of curiosity for anyone interested in the development of electronics. A highlight was when Max, the friendly manager, cranked up the Tesla Coil. For any child of the 90s, the Tesla Coil is the original from the Investigators Science Centre which was always viewed in awe on any school trip. With breakfast done and dusted, we boarded the bus with our knowledgeable driver Dave, to find out what the Magical History tour had in store for us.

Stop 1 – Mount Barker Station to board The Highlander train

The Highlander is a heritage steam locomotive operating between Mount Barker and Strathalbyn. Pulling out of the station at 10am, we had a peaceful 50 minute train journey through the tranquil South Australian landscape. The train conductor and volunteers provided audio commentary with historical facts and pointed out the numerous kangaroos along the journey. Pulling into beautiful Strathalbyn, we were greeted by a bagpipe player before being whisked off to our next stop.

Stop 2 – Strathalbyn Library, Council and Community Centre for the Theatrical-Historical Tour: Down by the Riverside

From the first greeting, the enthusiastic Duggy Graves, Mrs Enid Baumgirtle-Smythe and the Alexandrina Singers guided us through a lyrical and hilarious rendition of local stories and folklore alongside the Angas River. The entire group was overcome with giggles when the formidable Mrs Moran presented her dream for a new, Olympic sized pool. Smiles the size of dinner plates, everyone enjoyed a delicious lunch catered by the Strathalbyn Neighbourhood Centre. Refreshed and recharged by soup and scones, it was time to explore our next magical location. 

Prepped by our train journey abroad the Highlander, we were ready to learn more about trains in South Australia at the Port Milang Historic Railway Museum. The Old Station Master’s Office showed the workings of a rural train station and provided lots of fun buttons to push. The museum also had a simulator where you could learn how to drive a train. After a fun group photo and look around the craft shop, we boarded the coach for our final destination.
Heading further south from Milang, Dave our driver took us on a scenic drive through Currency Creek and pointed out two Aboriginal scar trees (caused by canoe making) along the road. Arriving at the Goolwa Wharf we were greeted by the wonderful team of the PS Oscar W, the Goowla Riverboat Centre Museum and by whirling winds. Those who braved the windy weather walked along the Port learnt all about the fascinating history of paddle steamers in South Australia and the important role Goolwa played in trade. Back at the Wharf, we boarded the PS Oscar W and learnt about the living conditions aboard paddle steamers in the 19th century. Cold and ready for a hot cup of tea; we all gathered for some delicious afternoon tea (more scones!) prepared by the Riverboat Centre Museum volunteers.

Everybody happy and full, it was time to board our bus for the final journey back to Adelaide. Arriving back at the Sir Thomas Playford ETSA Museum, the Magical History Bus Tour was officially over for the year but as everybody disembarked the bus, the murmurs and humming of Down by the River could be heard, ensuring the magic lived on. 
Stay curious!


Wonder how did the 2020 tour went. I heard it was cancelled though. Who is not excited when hearing about the tour, such a wonderful experience to be.


Remy | roof repairs | Wellington NZ

How are these festivals relate tho

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