Day 12 – Pine Creek train to destiny
Pine Creek was where Borella caught the train north on the final leg of his 1000 kilometre journey. It’s a small place with a big heart, where gold mining and iron ore still dominate the small town of 250 people.
Pine Creek is the southern gateway to Kakadu National Park, and Borella would have been glad of any of the camping facilities up to the many-star resort. He would have rubbed shoulders with the miners who had established a centre there from the 1870s. Some, like Alf O’Neill, signed up and carried on their mining overseas under German lines. O’Neill was part of the famous explosive attack of the Battle of Messines, characterized in the film Beneath Hill 60.
Steven Hennessy, Mayor of Victoria Daly Regional Council, says: “Many people served from here in the Great War, and many returned, though sadly not all. Their sacrifice and willingness to serve Australia still continues in the spirit of the region today.”
The Pine Creek Heritage Railway Precinct shows what the Territory’s foremost soldier would have journeyed on. Steam predominated in the locomotives, and there were a few cinders flying around, but it did a steady 40 kilometres per hour, much better than what the horse could achieve.
The Mayor points out that the locals are right behind the military today as they were then: “100 years later, we are still involved in many overseas military operations. Don’t forget even though we are a small community our hearts are big and we support you all.”
Borella would have cheered.
Written by Dr Tom Lewis, Lead Historian for The Borella Ride