Ruins of a railway, Old Ghan Railway, North Creek, South Australia. The railway was built with hand tools, with the original work started by contractors. However later the South Australian Government took over the role of builder. Due to unemployment men were then sent to work on the railway. Records show that during a 2 year period following this decision only 60 kilometres of railway was built.
Many railway sleepers were of Jarrah provided from Western Australia. Books on the subject indicate these sleepers cost 8 to 9 shillings each. Given that a Navvy working on the Ghan was paid 3-4 pounds per week the cost of sleepers was very high. Local sleepers were far less costly. The Navvies were the skilled technical men who manually built the railway with hand tools. The term 'navvy' is short for navigator. August 2005.
Copyright © Joe Mortelliti Photography
I note that concrete sleepers seem to be the preferred option now. They seem to be quicker to install, at least with modern equipment, last longer, and save lots of forest!