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.
Stop 4 – Port Goolwa and the Goowla Riverboat Centre (home of the PS Oscar W)
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.