• The affects of the war, and necessary economic measures, are beginning to bite. The Transport Board visits Heathcote and discusses transport problems:
At the July meeting of the McIvor Shire Council, reference was made to transport problems. Cr. D. R. Thomas, Acting President, said the Transport Regulation Board had visited Heathcote and conferred on matters relating to transport. The railway service and road services were discussed. The idea seemed to be to coordinate all the road services at Heathcote and convey all passengers to and from Melbourne by a decent railway service or by an improved road service. The Board seemed to have a leaning towards the railways because they were State owned. Evidence was taken from Axedale to Pyalong. The Board did not announce its decision.
Cr. Long said the Chairman (Mr. Fraser) went as far as to say that the local line may be closed, as it was not paying.
Mr. Gay said that an indication was a given that traffic conditions would not be worse than at present under any new scheme. Co-ordination was necessary. During the meeting correspondence was read from the Railways Department, in reply to the Council's expression of disappointment that an evening service was being provided on only one day a week, (Saturday) and suggesting that for the convenience of farmers who wanted to travel to Newmarket and return, an evening train be provided on Tuesdays. The Department replied that patronage of the evening trains when run on Saturdays, Mondays and Tuesdays was disappointing. This service could not be reinstated, but if the Council considered that the evening train should be run on Tuesdays instead of Saturdays favourable consideration would be given to the proposal.
• Shire of McIvor - Statistical Return - Report on Government requests for statistics.
• The Victorian Railways, in reply to the Council's letter urging a rail service between Wallan and Heathcote on Tuesday evenings, advise that the traffic on the line is very light and does not warrant the expense of running more than one evening trip weekly. Saturday was selected for the evening trip to facilitate weekend travel, but it could be changed for a trial period of three months if district residents indicate that is their preference.
• Regarding extending the rail motor service to Broadmeadows, they point out that as there are no turntable facilities for turning the rail motor at Broadmeadows, the traffic would not justify the expense of providing it.
• Bituminous materials are only available for the re-treatment of existing sealed surfaces. McIvor Shire considers itself disadvantaged.
• Plans and specifications for a new bridge over the Campaspe River at Axedale are being drawn up.
• A contract is let for the supply of 65,500 Super Feet of timber for the new Campaspe River bridge at Axedale.
• The passenger rail motor service is withdrawn from the whole of the line. It will not return to this section, only from Heathcote onwards. This is in line with the general requirement for not permitting any non-essential passenger journeys - See VR to '62.
• Mr. V.A. Deane submits another letter and refers to the item of 02 February and gives the opening paragraph from that article. In substantiating his own comments, he provides details of a Transport Regulation Board document addressed to the Hon. A.A. Dunstan, MLA. which says 'the Board has decided to hold a public meeting at Heathcote so as to allow Mr. Deane, and other parties, an opportunity of submitting their views to the Board. Mr. Deane will be given early notice of the date of the Board's visit.'
• This article is a reply to a letter written by Mr. V.A. Deane, Axedale, that had appeared in an earlier issue of the McIvor Times. Deane's letter appears as follows:
Deane comments on the road service car from Bendigo to Heathcote that had been recorded as running only three days a week, two trips each way. He corrects the previous mention by saying that the car runs two trips each way, each day, except Saturday and suggests that 'misapprehension is manifest regarding this service.'
He says that the Transport Regulation Board attended a public meeting in Heathcote at the end of last year, providing an opportunity for all concerned to express their views regarding elimination of the road transport service car. Support for the road service car was overwhelming. The rail motor only provided one trip daily, each way between Bendigo and Heathcote, and no service on Saturday. Today, we have the best service we have ever enjoyed, and now have the privilege of travelling by car to Kilmore East, providing an eventual return service to Bendigo. The Commissioners had said that the rail motor could be returned, but only on the removal of the road service. There are still three steam trains, each way, each day, every week, which is adequate to handle the goods traffic.
A reader comments by saying that Mr. Deane's reference to a public meeting is incorrect, and no such meeting was ever held, and he is referring to a meeting held on 4th July, 1940, that dealt with an application by Campbell and Souter for renewal of their road service licence, and was attended by persons invited by that firm to give evidence for the retention of their service. There had since been two largely attended meetings at Heathcote, and one at Tooborac, Pyalong and Knowsley, to discuss the train service and at each, it was unanimously decided to ask that the train service be restored - even if it means withdrawal of the competing road service. The letter is under the names of Evans and Gorry, members of the Deputation for Restoration of Train Services.
• Another restoration article. This one opens with 'Nothing official has come through about the rail service' and provides the Kilmore Comment.
Cr. Figgins, President, said that the cancellation of the train affects Moranding, Willowmavin, Bylands, Leslie and Kilmore. It seemed a downright waste of money and petrol for motor vehicles to be running down to Heathcote from Nathalia, Kyabram and Rushworth, to connect with a motor service to Kilmore East. Those towns were served with a better rail service than most. It looked like the rail authorities wanted to close the Kilmore-Heathcote railway line.
Nathalia passengers could go to Shepparton, there was no need for a motor service beyond Heathcote. The authorities also did not want to run the road service to Wallan instead of Kilmore East. Maybe because suburban fares applied from Wallan?
Mails from Willowmavin and Moranding have to go via Bendigo and the Postmistress at Willowmavin had to drive to the main Kilmore Heathcote Road for the mail.
Cr. Figgins finished with the statement that he would support any deputation on behalf of the Kilmore Shire.
• Major-General Rankin, the district's Federal Member, was present at a meeting of the McIvor Shire Council and was urged to use his best endeavours to have the rail service restored. It was believed that some influence had retarded the restoration of the service and there was a 'nigger in the woodpile' or a 'fly in the ointment.'
Mr. Rankin, unable to get anything definite from the Federal Minister of Transport, said that Victoria was in a bad position so far as coal was concerned, and the Federal authorities undertook to give this State additional supplies to enable some railway services to be restored.
The Shire Secretary, Mr. Gay, detailed official incidents following the cancellation of the train service and the co-ordination of the road service. Public meetings at Heathcote unanimously supported the return of the train service.
Following a deputation, a suggested timetable was received from the Railways Department for a train service between Heathcote and Wallan, but large meetings at Knowsley, Tooborac and Pyalong passed resolutions asking that the full service be restored between Wallan and Bendigo. The McIvor council was again asked to give a definite indication that they favoured the train service. They agree and also agree to the complete withdrawal of the road service.
The article continues with details of a letter to Mr. Dunstan, Premier, that contains details of a letter of reply to Miss M.L. Bywater of Knowsley. It states that the rail motor service was withdrawn on 29/12/1941. Such action was taken after full discussion with and following upon the decision of the Director of Emergency Road Transport to prohibit the operation of 'through' road passenger services to and from Melbourne, and to institute comprehensive road services for passengers and parcels on the route served by the rail motor. The rail motor, which uses diesel fuel, is being used as a replacement for a petrol unit on the Maryborough-Ararat line.
There is some detail as to the availability, or otherwise, of return trips between Bendigo and Heathcote. It mentions that there has been some agitation for service restoration but it could not sustain rail and road services.
Comparative details of costs for various sections and activities are given. Cr. J. Long said that a letter from Knowsley to Axedale, a distance of six miles [9.6km], had to travel to Melbourne, then to Bendigo and to Axedale - a distance of 200 miles [320km].
Major-General Rankin said he would do his best to have the service restored.
• Mr. H.E. Taylor, Nathalia Bus Services, replies to Cr. Figgins. He attacks him for not minding his own business and say he should confine himself to the boundaries of his own shire. The letter, as expected, advocates the retention of the Nathalia bus to Heathcote.
• A reader requests comparative costs between rail motor and bus services and is directed to a previous newspaper article where they were actually printed.
• A reader, only identified as 'Wake Up You Fools,' lightly comments on the appearance of letters relating to the service restoration and the fact that, despite all efforts, it has still not been restored. There is a parting shot at Mr. V.A. Deane.
• Following on from a deputation, Mr. E.A. Coyle, MLA, informs the Heathcote Shire Secretary that the rail service will be restored, re-commencing on Monday 10th March. The Bendigo-Heathcote section is not included. The Kilmore Shire President, Cr. A. Figgins, said it would be a proper gesture to thank Mr. Coyle and Major-General Rankin for their services in getting the rail motor service restored.
• Mr. V.A Deane writes a letter comparing costs of the current road motor service and the old rail motor service.
• Following a derailment and rollover of the new rail motor now running the restored service on the Heathcote-Heathcote Junction section of the line, a letter, by Mr. Deane, Axedale, criticises the rail motor's 'cheap and flimsy construction and the oft' expressed contention that it may prove a death trap if involved in an accident.' He awakens past letters and comments about his original letter and its subsequent ridicule, as well as the notion of free speech
• Funding has been provided for Campaspe River bridge works as well as the main road.
• A fire breaks out and sweeps over many miles of country in the Axedale, Knowsley, Wild Duck, Derrinal and Heathcote districts. It was the most disastrous in the area for many years with an estimated 1,800 acres [728.4 hectares] of grassland destroyed. An initial fire started on the Kyneton Road on Miss Murphy's property, believed to have been caused by a gas producer plant. While this fire was being made safe, another broke out in the district of [unreadable].
The Bendigo-Heathcote railway line was the saving feature with firebreaks being burnt between Derrinal and Heathcote. Firefighting equipment from Heathcote, Knowsley, Wild Duck, Tooborac, Pyalong, Redesdale, Axedale, Mt. Camel, Toolleen, Goornong, Elmore, Mia Mia and Elphinstone brigades were in use, along with the Bendigo Fire Brigade's motor pump, volunteers and soldiers.
• This article covers the aftermath of the huge bushfire.
• A Heathcote meeting, designed to give local people an opportunity to candidly air their views on the local rail service, lasts four hours and ends with no result. The [official] absence of State and Federal road and rail transport authorities, robbed the meeting of interest and upset its design. Finally, as a desperate effort to prevent futility, the question of future action was referred back to the McIvor Shire Council.
The report is very detailed with the views of residents. It includes a statement from Felix Drake, Axedale, that Axedale people are very happy with two goods trains a week and a passenger service twice a day.
• A conference to decide on a road and rail line from East to West is held at St. Arnaud with a wide divergence of opinion.
• A grant for surfacing and forming the Axedale-Toolleen Road.
• An Axedale resident, Telephone No. 4, advertises a 6 cylinder, Nash, Special Sports Tourer for sale.
• Snell's Quarries offer a contract No. 1947/4 for the carting and stacking in stock piles of 530 cubic yards of aggregate at Axedale, Victoria, to a site on State Highway 31, north of Moama