'Prince of Wales' Carriage - also known as SS44 or Special Car No. 1
When the Trans Australian Railway was opened in 1917 ceremonies were deferred due to the impact of the war. However the first train, which ran from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, was still a big event. Sir John Forrest was given ticket number 1. A lounge car had been modified to accommodate special guests. The converted carriage was only 50 feet long and the installation of two bedrooms, a dining room and staff quarters into that space resulted in cramped conditions that were not considered appropriate for long term use by dignitaries. As a result, the Commonwealth Railways developed plans for the construction of a new larger, purpose-built, special service carriage. This work commenced in 1918 and was undertaken by the Railways' own workshop at Port Augusta with most materials being shipped there from Melbourne.


Diagram of layout of Special Car 1

Diagram showing the layout of the carriage (also known as Special Car No. 1)

National Archives of Australia. Adelaide, B 300/2 item 5373 pt 4.


This luxurious carriage is 23.3m long, 4.3m high and 3.2m wide - the highest and widest carriage on the Australian Railway system, all to accommodate ten people, including two train staff. The pressed steel ceilings were the highest quality available from Wunderlich and fittings included ornate lights and cathedral glass panels in each door. It is constructed of Australian timbers with elaborate woodcarvings featuring the Australian, British and State coats of arms.

Maintenance work on the 'Prince of Wales' carriage

The 'Prince of Wales' carriage undergoing maintenance in the Port Augusta Workshops.

Photograph: National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide


In addition to four two-berth sleeping compartments, it includes two elaborate single berth sleeping compartments. Separated by a partition, the rooms can be converted to one large room and used as a private sitting room or bedroom as required. The bathroom featured a full length bath and overall the carriage has a very spacious feel to it. At the time that Curtin travelled in the carriage, the saloon which was used for dining or meeting, opened onto an observation platform.

As it is fully self-contained with kitchen and bathroom the carriage could be easily attached to other than the regular passenger trains. During the war years, this meant that it could be attached to the military specials that were at one time the only trains operating across the Nullarbor.

Special Carriage No. 1, 1940

In 1928 the Commonwealth Railways commissioned a film about the Trans Australian Railway as the Commissioner was inspecting the line. Hence the special carriage can be seen - complete with the awning in place above the observation platform. The awning was renewed in 1940.

Photograph: National Railway Museum, Port Adelaide


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