A deputation representing the people of Pyalong is introduced to the Minister for Railways. The President of the Shire states that cattle yards are urgently required at Kilmore [East] Station. Mr. Gillies says that he doesn't think any money is available but he will endeavour to carry out the request if money can be found for it.
Up to this point, there has been contemplation, or consideration, of a railway between Sandhurst and Heathcote. However, that is about to change.
Mr. Napthali Ingham, Woodcarter and Contractor of Axedale, writes a letter to the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, asking for support for what is termed "the proposed railway from Sandhurst via Axedale to Heathcote". It is referred to the Council's Finance Committee. The details of the letter, which is seen as relating to a subject of public importance, is reproduced in the Bendigo Advertiser. Ingham states that he intends to send copies of his letter to the borough councils of Echuca, Heathcote and Strathfieldsaye, and if approved, to bring the matter to the attention of the Minister for Railways and the Government.
Mr. Ingham includes a view of ultimately extending the proposed line by way of Redcastle and Whroo to Murchison, thus connecting the Northern and North-Eastern lines. The current cost of cartage is having a negative impact on district businesses, and as Mr. Ingham is in the stone and wood supply business, he takes the opportunity of detailing how the line will benefit both industries. He provides a balanced view and includes a number of other industries that would benefit such as - wheelwrights, mining, building, bluestone for Sandhurst City Council, Echuca and Riverina streets, and limestone from Mt. Camel. He supposes that it is not unlikely that coal also exists in the locality, and a superior kind of granite is found midway between Axedale and Mt. Camel. The proposed railway will facilitate the development of new, desired, industries. There will generally be no engineering difficulties except for a bridge over the Campaspe River at Axedale. The local lime and stone, within an easy distance, will make a bridge at Axedale cheaper than a similar structure in a less favoured spot. He includes a number of estimations in an effort to sell his proposal.
Ingham's proposal is seen by the Shire, as "one which received our warm advocacy some years ago." [This would have been the wooden tramway proposal that he suggested in 1873]. Council also has the view of ultimate extension to the Goulburn and this is before the Murchison railway is constructed. Arguments made use of at that time by Council, gives to those of Mr. Ingham, such weight and interest as to entitle them to serious consideration. His proposal is seen as mainly identical and a reduction in the price of cartage will be a great boon to the public. Council also adds, "But the grand object of entering upon the undertaking would be the ultimate extension of the Northern and North-Eastern lines, which is a matter of high importance."
The Heathcote Borough Council acknowledges receipt of Mr. Ingham's letter. It receives Council support and Mr. S. Fraser, MLA, arranges a day for a deputation to the Minister of Railways.
In Parliament, Mr. Patterson, Minister of Railways, moves for leave to bring in a Bill for the construction of a line of railway from Lancefield Road Station to Lancefield. He says it is not a new proposal but one which has been before previous Parliaments, and has been assented to by previous Governments. His main reason is "to afford a means of relieving the labour market at Melbourne, and to give other employment to a number of men who are engaged upon Government works of doubtful utility." Some discussion regarding financing ensues and the Bill is passed for the first reading. The second reading is fixed for the following week.
Mr. Hunt (Member for Kilmore) objects to the piecemeal approach to railway construction and requests that the whole railway scheme be submitted to Parliament. He is concerned that some districts' claims may not be receiving consideration. Mr. Clarke endorses Mr. Hunt's view and says that the attempt to pass the bill is not fair to a number of Hon. Members who have to support certain lines of railways in their own districts. He continues and says that none of Mr. Woods' (previous Minister for Railways) promises have been carried out.
The Lancefield line is referred to as a "political" one. The Premier says that if the bill is not passed without opposition, it will be best to reserve the line until the general scheme can be introduced. That being so, the bill should be withdrawn. Mr. Patterson says it is intended to bring in a general Railway Construction Bill in four or six weeks, if possible. Consideration is being given to how to get more miles of lines for the money expended than had been got by the present system.
At this point, newly-elected Mr. Gaunson, takes the chair and further argument on past railway construction, including items that needed fixing, or were "suspect", ensues.
In considering the question of the most suitable site for the proposed railway terminus at Lancefield, the Minister for Railways decides that the station shall be placed near the junction of the Melbourne-Kyneton, Kilmore and Lancefield roads, nearly opposite the Commercial Bank. This will save £6,000 in land purchase costs. The line construction is to start as soon as the bill is passed in Parliament.
The country seems to be in the grip of railway mania and the construction applications keep coming.
The Lancefield railway is finally opened and upwards of 100 people journey from Melbourne by special train. A banquet is held in the Mechanics Institute in celebration.
A meeting, with about 40 persons present, is held at Mr. T Dwyer's Mia Mia Hotel for the purpose of forming a railway league. Cr. F Westblade, McIvor Shire President, says that he is partly the instigator. He believes that they will get a railway through Mia Mia and it will benefit Redesdale as well, and he can not believe why certain invited representatives of the Metcalfe Shire Council are not in attendance. He says that he opposed a line to Heathcote via Taradale and Elphinstone because it is not the way that Heathcote people want to get to Melbourne. A line via Mia Mia will also pay better than Kilmore to Heathcote. He adds that the real disadvantage they have is the Heathcote Borough Council which has a horror of a line via Mia Mia. As he believes that Heathcote will never get a line except via Mia Mia, his plan is to ignore them and go in for a line themselves.
A meeting is held at the Tooborac Hotel for the purpose of forming a Railway League to urge the Minister of Railways the necessity of having a railway extension to Heathcote from Lancefield, via Tooborac. A large number of residents are present and they are unanimous that a line from Lancefield by way of Emu Flat and Tooborac will accommodate the greatest number of people.
The Heathcote and Broadford Railway League holds a public meeting at Antimony Hotel, Costerfield. Mr. Crooke reads the first resolution, "That in the opinion of this meeting it is due to the important district of Heathcote that it should be placed in railway communication with the metropolis, and as it seems impossible to find an economical route via Kilmore or Lancefield, that the advantages of a line from Broadford to Heathcote via Lower Costerfield be brought under the notice of the Government." In moving the first resolution, he says that this is the first public action of Costerfield in connection with railway communication.
The Broadford connection is seen as a cheaper alternative to provide a railway connection to Heathcote. Station sites are identified. Mr. Lewis, Mayor of Heathcote, says that he does not want to move any amendment, but states that he thinks it will be best if they unite with Heathcote for a connection at the south end of Heathcote, leaving it to the Government to decide which route will be used. The Baynton people want a western route, the Costerfield people an eastern one, and the result will probably be that Heathcote will obtain a middle route which they will like best. The first motion is carried.
The second motion is, "That this meeting form itself into a railway league to meet weekly, and whose objects shall be to advocate the Broadford route, to Costerfied and Heathcote, and promote the formation of leagues favourable to the same." The motion is carried unanimously.
The third motion, also carried unanimously, is to the proposed line, via Baynton, to the Mia Mia and Wild Duck Creek, and the expression of their astonishment and regret at the action of the Shire Council majority in proposing a railway, ignoring Costerfield and Heathcote."
A meeting is held in the Oddfellow's Hall in Kilmore, convened for the purpose of urging upon the present Government the desirability of a line of railway by way of Kilmore to Heathcote, and if possible, secure an influential deputation from this and the surrounding districts to wait immediately on the Minister of Railways with that object. The following resolution, "That the time has now arrived when substantial justice should me meted out to the inhabitants of this district by uniting the town with the North-Eastern line of railway, which can be best accomplished by constructing the line known as Martin's Survey, branching off from the North-East line north of the main dividing range via Kilmore to Heathcote, and thus fulfil the promise made by each Commissioner of Railways for the past ten years", is read.
In support of the resolution, it is said that the inhabitants of Kilmore have, for a number of years, been treated very badly by every Government in not receiving the consideration they are entitled to. Mr. Hunt, MLA, says he has very much pleasure in seconding the motion as Kilmore has been totally robbed by the absence of a railway for a period of 20 years. In the first instance, a line has been surveyed through Kilmore, and instead of having it pass directly through, it is afterwards taken away some miles from the town [through Kilmore East]. The resolution is carried unanimously, along with another resolution to meet with the Minister.
Axedale now buys into the argument with a public meeting at Drake's Hotel, Axedale, to consider the matter of a railway from Sandhurst to Axedale and Heathcote.
A special meeting of the McIvor Shire Council is held and a deputation is appointed to wait on the Minister for Railways asking him to push on the survey of the line from Lancefield that was promised by his predecessor, Mr. Patterson, and further, that a line to Heathcote should be included in the next railway bill. It is also decided to invite the cooperation of the Borough Council of Heathcote, the shire councils of Romsey, Waranga, Metcalfe, Pyalong and Kyneton, and the City Council of Sandhurst and Railway Leagues of the district. A public meeting is also held in Seymour advocating the construction of the proposed line of railway from Seymour to Heathcote. A deputation to the Minister is passed unanimously. It is considered that if political influence is disregarded and the question is settled on its merits, the line must start from Seymour.
A meeting, convened by circular, is held at the Shamrock Hotel, Sandhurst, for the purpose of considering the advisability of urging the Government to connect the Murray and North-Eastern lines of railway by a line from Sandhurst via Heathcote to Seymour. About 100 gentlemen are present. Mr. Abbott, a citizen of Sandhurst, explains the reason for the meeting.
Mr. W Crooke [Costerfield] had written a letter to the Council who had previously postponed its consideration. Mr. Abbott realises that the proposed line affects people other than those of Sandhurst, and as no-one else has moved in the matter, he decides that he will provide an opportunity where interested persons can give their opinion like their representatives in Council. He will endeavour to show why it is exceedingly desirable that a connection be made between Sandhurst and the North-Eastern line. It is proposed to take the line from Heathcote to Seymour, but the proposal is open to any alternative suggestions. Mr. Abbott reads from a statement 'Advantages To Sandhurst Of Connection Of Northern and North-Eastern Railways':
1. Stimulation of manufacturing with a connection continuing into New South Wales as far as Wagga.
2. Access to considerable forest timber for mining purposes.
3. Ready access to bluestone for building, with a cartage price advantage.
4. Saving 100 miles journey if connections to Ballarat were also made in future.
5. Mining districts would be connected and unified.
6. Increasing supply of rural products and an increase in the importance of Sandhurst as a cattle market.
7. An alternative route to Melbourne with additional trains.
Mr. Abbott continues with general details regarding costs of alternatives, such as Lancefield to Heathcote or Kilmore to Heathcote, requiring great expense to go through the Great Dividing Range and traverse rocky, sterile and barren country. The proposed line from Kyneton to Heathcote will amount to great expense due to the mountainous country and the land is similar to the land in the previous option. Other proposed lines are from Sandhurst via Heathcote to Broadford, and Sandhurst via Heathcote to Seymour. Broadford will be a shorter, more direct connection to Melbourne, by about 7.25 miles but will require 7 more miles of track and presents more construction difficulties. Seymour, being already a junction station for the Shepparton line, will present special economical facilities for carrying out the proposed line.
The country from Sandhurst to Heathcote is essentially flat and the only construction difficulty is in the crossing of the Campaspe River. Construction from Costerfield to Seymour may be done as cheaply as the Shepparton-Numurkah line where the track was constructed without ballast. Details of expected traffic and approximate mileage is then given. He suggests that there could be but one opinion in the proposal as many believe that there is too much concentration of everything in Melbourne. It is time to put a stop to the prevailing system of centralisation. He concludes by moving the resolution: "That, in the opinion of this meeting, it is desirable to establish railway connection between Sandhurst and the North-Eastern line of railway, via Heathcote and Costerfield to Seymour". Mr. P Hayes seconds the motion and also gives supporting commentary.
Mr. McColl, in supporting the motion, alludes to the increasing evil of centralisation in and around Melbourne and says they have been too lax in allowing all the railways to be made into Melbourne. He repeats the general comments made previously but adds that an eventual connection west to Adelaide will also have considerable safety and time advantages.
Mr. Quick desired to express his concurrence with the previous speakers and comments on remarks by others that the railway could disadvantage Sandhurst by diverting the traffic along the North-Eastern line from the main Murray line. He suggests the remarks have been made under a misapprehension. Additional comments are made about a proposed line to Kerang, starting at Elmore, which gives rise to a connection from Elmore to Heathcote and then to Melbourne, thus diverting the whole of the Kerang traffic around Sandhurst. He adds that a deputation the previous day urged that a survey of the line from Kyneton to Heathcote be made. The motion is then put and carried unanimously.
Mr. J.A. Woodward then moves that a Railway League be formed to carry out the resolution, to be constituted of the Sandhurst City Council, Eaglehawk, Inglewood and Raywood borough councils, Marong, Strathfieldsaye, Huntly, Waranga and McIvor shire councils, together with the gentlemen present with power to add to their number. He urges the matter to be put forward without delay. He is of the opinion that the line to Heathcote will be one of the best paying branch lines in the colony.
Mr. W Heffernan then speaks in support of the resolution. He says that the line can be easily constructed and not long since, he offered 10 acres [4ha] of very valuable quarry at Axedale, if they will only get a railway constructed in that direction. Some opposition has been offered to the present proposal but he is unable to understand the cause.
Mr. C. Crawford says that on every occasion he has come forward as a candidate for municipal honors during the last 5 years, he has advocated the very scheme now proposed. Among other things he says he believes a coal field will be developed in the Heathcote district. The meeting closes with the decision that the City Council be invited to add their co-operation to the movement.
Comments regarding the proposal, arguments and statistics, and the upcoming deputation before the Commissioner for Railways, appear in the Bendigo Advertiser. The article says that, with the schemes being considered, Heathcote will become the centre of a network of iron roads. However, it is assured fact that only one scheme will be adopted. Should Mr. Bent, Minister for Railways, recognise the claims of the Sandhurst people, he will be asked to schedule the works in the next Railway Construction Bill. It is to be presumed that one of the first sections to be constructed will be between Sandhurst and Axedale.
As the detail exists, and Axedale is where I live, I will include some of the detail from the newspaper article.
"The route looked upon for years as the most favourable for a railway line between the two places, branches off from the main Echuca line about ½ mile to the east of Sandhurst and makes a detour around the low ranges at the rear of the municipal cattle yards. By this means, the Slaughteryard Hill, over which the road to Heathcote [McIvor Road] passes, and which is situated at a considerable elevation above the city, is avoided. It will then run parallel with the road, but about 3 miles north east of the main McIvor Road. Until nearing Axedale, it will pass through a good deal of Crown lands with a cultivated paddock here and there and skirting Mr. T. O'Rourke's property on the Axe Creek. No difficulties of any importance will exist until it reaches the township [Axedale]. The most important engineering work will be the bridge over the Campaspe. The population between Sandhurst and Axedale is very sparse. It is only along the banks of the Axe Creek and the Campaspe that cultivation is carried on to any great extent. In former years, it was cultivated to an even greater extent but has fallen off because the land has been worked out. It should return with the use of fertilisers and plenty of water.
The boundary of the City of Sandhurst does not extend beyond Back Creek. Only two parishes are passed through before Axedale is reached [Strathfieldsaye and Axedale West]. Axedale is a township situated on the banks of the Campaspe about 14 miles from Sandhurst. The population of the town and vicinity is about 500 persons. There are three hotels, the principle ones being Drake's Campaspe Hotel and Ingham's Quarry Hotel. The place is rather pleasantly situated, a gentle slope leading down to the river. The churches and other places are built of bluestone.
In the Strathfieldsaye Shire, between Sandhurst and Axedale, there are about 2,000 acres under cultivation, the average yield of grain is 16 to 17 bushells to the acre. Some of the largest cultivators are Mr. James Doak, who has almost 1,200 acres, Mr. John Burke who has 700 acres in the Axedale district, and about 1,000 acres in the Forest Creek district, McIvor Shire. Messrs. T.O'Rourke, S. Lazaras, T. Kenny, W. Heffernan, T. Canna, J.D. Bywater, Craike and Strachan are also large land proprietors in the district. A good portion of the land is used for grazing and fruit is grown in large quantities. Axedale is also noted for the excellence of its dairy produce. Milk, butter, cheese, ham, eggs, etc., are forwarded to the Sandhurst market in large quantities."
Even allowing for the fact that the article is designed to add weight to the local railway argument, it should give a reasonable picture of the district at the time.
The Kilmore Free Press suggests that the individual organisations agitating for railway connections should concentrate their efforts, otherwise the project might be jeopardised. It considers that the arguments submitted to the Minister by Sandhurst delegates were impudent and that the Heathcote position is a dignified one. The Lancefield route is out of the question due to the topography and Heathcote should declare that some point near Kilmore [East] should be the junction of their line in order to destroy the object in view by Kyneton, Sandhurst, Seymour and the few insignificant places between the two latter. There is a reference to Sandhurst striving to make Heathcote and other places mere tributaries and it is pleasing to see that Heathcote treats the movement with the contempt it merits.
The article says that the Minister, "to our astonishment", looks upon the Kyneton route with some favour and this will shut out Glenaroua, Puckapunyal, Costerfield, Pyalong, Tooborac and all places on the eastern side of the country from railway communication for all time. It will also increase the round trip travel times to and from Heathcote by 40 miles. The article suggests that it is probable that a strong agitation will be initiated in the Lancefield district for the purpose of continuing the line of railway from there to Kilmore, the direct Heathcote route from the former place being now recognised as impracticable. If the line referred to were made, and the Heathcote connection through Kilmore determined upon, the railway requirements of this particular portion of the country would be amply met for many years to come.
A letter to the Editor, Kilmore Free Press: "The prospective millions which the present Ministry propose to borrow for the extension of the railway system, has electrified half the country, and created a kind of rail mania; and, as may be expected, brought forth a number of the most outrageous proposals that the diseased imagination can evolve." The letter acknowledges that Heathcote must have a rail line and comments strongly against the Lancefield and Seymour connections.
The Costerfield Railway League meets to discuss the advantages of the proposed Sandhurst, Heathcote, Costerfield and North-Eastern Railway connecting with Broadford or Seymour, being both a national railway and a local Heathcote line. The meeting also discusses various passenger, raw materials, produce, etc., associated with Axedale, Wild Duck Creek, Heathcote, Costerfield, Major's Line and Puckapunyal.
In order to justify their own cause, lines from Kilmore, Lancefield and Kyneton are viewed as only local and will fail to bring a stream of National traffic through the Heathcote district. The Kilmore route will pass through untimbered grass country. The Lancefield line has gradients of 1:32 and is impractical from an engineer's point of view. The Kyneton line is a "half moon" over unproductive grazing country and adds 20 miles to the direct distance to Melbourne. The Kyneton line will also not place Heathcote in direct communication with Ballarat, Sandhurst, Albury and Sydney - unlike the line proposed.
A meeting of the Sandhurst and Heathcote Railway League is held in the Bendigo Town Hall with about 20 gentlemen present. A letter from the Puckapunyal branch of the League is read as being in support of the Central League in their efforts to connect Sandhurst with the North Eastern line. Mr. Abbott reads and submits a draft of the League's manifesto. It states that the claims of Heathcote and the surrounding district to railway communication have been acknowledged by successive Governments for years past, and a railway connecting Heathcote with either of the two main trunk lines would have been constructed before, had not the engineering difficulties of the various routes hitherto proposed been so great as to make the cost of construction out of all proportion with the revenue likely to be derived from it when made. The line now proposed will pass through comparatively flat country favourable to railway construction. The only bridge of any size will be the one across the Campaspe River at Axedale. It is said that the line will supply the requisite link to connect all the lines of railway projected and constructed to the North, North West and West of Victoria with the main Melbourne and Sydney trunk line. It will connect Portland, Murtoa, Stawell, Ararat, Ballarat, Avoca, St. Arnaud, Castlemaine, Inglewood, Kerang, Echuca and Sandhurst with Seymour, Shepparton, Wangaratta, Beechworth and Wodonga. In the event of the Western line being pushed on to Adelaide via Ballarat, Sandhurst and Seymour will be the shortest route to Sydney for South Australia and all the Western districts of Victoria.
Mr. Clark, MLA, states that the Heathcote people do not really care which proposal is adopted so long as they obtain a railway. A portion do not care if they have a railway to Sandhurst or not, and he thinks that the construction of a line from Sandhurst to Heathcote should be impressed on the Minister. It might best be approached by taking the Minister on a guided tour of the district where the advantages of the proposal can be discussed. At this point, the Chairman says that they should first deal with the manifesto. After some discussion, a document is accepted.
Mr. Moody of Costerfield, in supporting the motion, says that he and some others are the first to think of the railway. Their view is that it is much more advantageous to get their mining machinery in Sandhurst and they would like to have a proper communication with that city, whereas the people of Heathcote have always advocated a line either to Kilmore or Lancefield. Kyneton now seems to be the favourite, but the people of Heathcote are opposed to a line running either to Kyneton or Sandhurst. There opposition is strongest against Kyneton and their opposition to Sandhurst might be removed. He says that a line will run from Seymour to Mount Ida where there is a magnificient supply of timber and no difficulty will be met until the line is almost into the township of Heathcote where it is wanted to touch the town at its South end - the reason being that Heathcote is jealous of Costerfield. He then says that his members had received a communication from the Minister advising that he intends to include the railway to Heathcote in the next bill.
Mr. Clark moves that the members for Sandhurst, Mandurang and Rodney, ask the Minister to come up and go over the proposed route. Mr. Cahill of Axedale says that a flying survey had some time ago been made for a line from Sandhurst to Axedale, and if a copy can be obtained it will provide great assistance.
The meeting decides that Mr. Craike be responsible for the Minister's travels from Sandhurst to Axedale, Mr. Bywater from Axedale to Heathcote and Mr. Moody from Heathcote to Seymour. It also decides that the League should meet every Monday in the Town Hall.
The Minister, Mr. Bent, makes arrangements for a personal inspection of the route of the planned line from Sandhurst to Heathcote and the North-Eastern line. He intends to proceed to Kilmore on the Friday, remain the night, and start for Heathcote the next (Saturday) morning. No statement about travelling to Seymour is made. The following day (Sunday) he will journey from Heathcote to Sandhurst. On the Monday, Mr. Bent will start on a trip over the route of the proposed Kerang railway. Representatives of the Sandhurst League will meet him at Axedale and accompany him to Sandhurst. Members of the branch leagues will be expected to meet with him along the way. A meeting of the Sandhurst, Heathcote and Seymour Railway League is planned to take action with regard to the Minister's visit.
The people of Heathcote must have thought that their railway chances were threatened after Mr. Moody's comments are printed and, following a numerously signed petition, a meeting is held in the Heathcote Town Hall on September 28 to discuss the railway extension proposal. The following resolution is passed:
"It having been represented in the Sandhurst press that this Borough is not adverse to being connected with Sandhurst by rail, this meeting does distinctly repudiate such statement, and hereby declares that the only acceptable line of railway is that which will connect Heathcote by the most direct practicable route with Melbourne, after which no objection will be raised to a connecting line with Sandhurst.", and "That the Mayor be requested, in the name of this meeting, to invite the Minister of Railways, while inspecting the line of railway via Kilmore or Lancefield to Heathcote, to visit Heathcote and judge for himself."
The first resolution is carried with only one dissentionist but the second is adopted unanimously.
During the afternoon of Friday, September 30th, Mr. Bent travels to Wahring on the Goulburn Valley line on railway business. He is met with a deputation at Broadford on the return journey. He is presented with a memorial asking him not to bind himself to any promise, during his journey from Kilmore to Heathcote, until he has seen the route from Broadford or Seymour. He agrees to make no promises whatsoever.
Mr. Bent is met at Kilmore [East] at about 8.30pm by Messrs. Hunt and Woods, MLAs, Mr. O'Connor, President of Kilmore Shire Council, Mr. Tayloer, Secretary of the Kilmore and Heathcote Railway League and leading citizens. Mr. McColl, MLA, had accompanied him from Melbourne. The party then headed by horse-drawn carriage to the township of Kilmore, about 2 miles away. They cross the spur of the Dividing Range which is some 300 feet [91.5m] higher than the township of Kilmore, and the station they had just left. Mr. Bent decides that it is impossible for a railway to be constructed from the Kilmore [East] station to the Kilmore township. However, the Kilmore people had proposed a connection to a place about three miles on the Melbourne side of Kilmore [East] Station following a survey conducted by Mr. Climie, Civil Engineer, in 1872.
Mr. Bent, and his entourage arrives at Kilmore later in the evening and are driven direct to the Royal Oak Hotel where about 40 gentlemen have assembled and the Kilmore Council President occupies the chair.
In replying to the toast of the Ministry, Mr. Bent says that he will refrain from making any promises in connection with railway matters and then mentions the new Railway Bill that is about to be introduced into Parliament. He says that the first thing the Bill proposes is to give communication to the outside districts. In those places where permanent railway communication cannot be expected for many years to come, it is intended to construct tramways, not in the usual horse-drawn sense, but light railway lines with small engines, at the rate of about 12 miles per hour [19kph].
Mr. Bent's tour of inspection is covered in a number of newspaper reports. They are all combined here.
At 6am, Saturday, October 1st, Mr. Bent is driven to where it was suggested that a junction with the North-East line should be possible. He resolves to send up an officer to take levels and then commences his journey towards Heathcote at 8am. Mr. Crooke offers to drive the party from Heathcote to Sandhurst, an offer that is accepted. He telegraphs ahead for a fresh team to be available. The Minister, driven by Mr. Taylor, and accompanied by Messrs. Mr Hunt, Woods and McColl, MLAs, then proceed to Heathcote.
To Heathcote: The route lay through a green pastoral valley with little or no cultivation.The inspection party sees that the surveyed route generally follows the waterways and is concerned as to how a line would fare in wet weather. The party is passed by the Kilmore-Heathcote coach, carrying only one passenger. The only place of any importance between Kilmore and Heathcote is Pyalong, on Mollison's Creek, about midway. The township is small but the net annual rateable property in the Shire is over £12,000. Tooborac is between Pyalong and Heathcote, and consists of two hotels, one, a very handsome building of bluestone, a State School and one or two houses. A procession of buggies and horsemen about a quarter mile long follows the party into Heathcote where luncheon is taken at the McIvor Hotel at the invitation of the local Railway League and the Borough Council.
At the reception, where there are about 60 gentlemen present, Mr. Bent says that as he is confused by all the proposals, he had to come and have a look himself. Mr. Woods proposes the toast, "Success to the country lying between Kilmore and Elmore, including Heathcote". The toast is not heartily drunk as some appear perplexed as to its meaning. Mr. Woods then explains that a line from Kilmore to Elmore, Elmore to Kerang, Kerang to Swan Hill and Swan Hill to Wentworth, would be the greatest trunk line in the whole of the colonies. The party leaves Heathcote about 2pm with a fresh team.
To Sandhurst: The gap in the ranges leading to Costerfield is pointed out. About 4 miles from Heathcote, the Wild Duck Valley is reached with the beauty of the country 'being the theme of general admiration'. The road to Axedale passes over level, although inferior country, but Cr. Bywater who accompanys the party in his own conveyance, explains that the bad country is a mere strip, and the magnificent Mount Pleasant farming district lies immediately to the north. Messrs. Moody and Crooke point out to Mr. Bent that an appreciation of the immense area of land under cultivation, nearly 6,000 acres, cannot be perceived during a flying visit as it lies some distance from the road.
While at Axedale, Mr. Bent glances at the bed of the Campaspe River, a short distance downstream from the road bridge where he thinks that, owing to the high banks either side, a rail bridge might be constructed. His attention is directed to the marble quarry at Mt. Camel and the bluestone quarry at Axedale belonging to Mr. Ingham. After partaking of refreshments and adding to the party, he continues towards Sandhurst.
On the way to Sandhurst it is pointed out that the road is the worst travelled on during the whole journey. The road from Kilmore to Heathcote could not be excelled, from Heathcote to Axedale was passable, but from Axedale to Sandhurst it is simply in a disgraceful state in some places. The party reaches Sandhurst soon after 6pm after enduring an horrific dust storm that rendered progress impossible until it had blown over.
The meeting at The Shamrock Hotel is covered in some detail by The Bendigo Advertiser. The connection from Sandhurst and the Murray line to the North-East line is discussed. Mr. Clarke says that there are very great engineering difficulties in the way of a railway being constructed from Kilmore to Heathcote and they will necessitate a very large expenditure of public money. The most level part of the country the line could start from is Seymour. Connecting Sandhurst with Seymour by way of Axedale will serve the interests of up to 120,000 people. Another advantage is that the whole of the Western railways will be connected to the North-East railway. He states that he thinks it is "simple nonsense" to talk about a line from Lancefield due to the cost and added that when the proper time came they will be able to show that a line as projected from Sandhurst will pay handsomely.
Mr. Quick indicates that Kilmore had been without railway communication for years and was made the promise of a small line. He had learned, on coming to Heathcote, that efforts were being made by Sandhurst people to carry a line through to Seymour and ignore Heathcote and Kilmore. He opposed any attempt to ignore those places and suggests that the line should run from Sandhurst to Heathcote, and he expects "fair play" from Mr. Bent.
Mr. Moody, of Costerfield, did not agree that Kilmore had missed out as they have a railway within two and a half miles and that did not justify a line from Kilmore to Heathcote. He favours a line to Seymour.
Mr. Lewis, of Heathcote, says that Heathcote wants a connection to both Sandhurst and Kilmore. He also says that despite there being no Heathcote representative in the Costerfield League, their manifesto bore the name of Heathcote, but they had never been consulted. He asks the Sandhurst people to not do Heathcote an injustice by advocating a line to Seymour and bypassing Heathcote.
Mr. Crooke, of Costerfield, suggests that Heathcote should connect to Elmore after coming from Kilmore as Heathcote wants to get trade by robbing Sandhurst. A Seymour connection will better suit Costerfield.
Mr. Bent, in reply, says that some people must have been under a misapprehension as to the reason for his visit. He has no intention of coming there to talk upon the the question of railways, but simply promised Mr. Clarke that he would go to Mitiamo on Monday. He did not intend to make any promise or say anything to his colleagues until he has made up his mind. He is preparing a plan showing the selections in every part of the colony and it will prove useful in dealing with the construction of new lines of railway.
To Heathcote: Having had a rest of three or four hours after his return from his heavy day's journeying over the Kerang railway route, Mr. Bent, heads for Heathcote [from Sandhurst] at 6am with the view of inspecting that portion of the proposed route for the railway to connect the main Murray and North-Eastern lines lying between Heathcote and Seymour. The horses are changed at Axedale and he takes an opportunity to inspect Mr. Ingham's quarry, situated on the summit of the hill on the eastern side of the Campaspe River [This was, more than likely, at the bend in what is now Ingham Road]. The quarry, although not being conducted on a very extensive scale due to heavy cartage costs, is opened up sufficiently to show the excellent character of stone and its apparent inexhaustability.
The journey then continues as far as the Black Swan Hotel, two or three miles before Heathcote, where he is met by representatives of the Costerfield League. About a half mile from Heathcote, the party turns from the main road and passes through the gap between Mt. Ida and Heathcote, continuing about seven miles to North Costerfield where the party is invited to breakfast by Mr. Kemp.
To Seymour: The proposed route could not be clearly seen on the way from Heathcote but its course is pointed out. Despite the terrain being hilly, the route appears thoroughly practicable with no important engineering difficulties. The party is given a reception at the Costerfield State School building. At the reception, Mr. Bent says that he has eleven applications, each suggesting a different route, to consider, and he will be making a recommendation based on what he considers is best. After a horse change, the party continues towards Seymour.
The party is met at Puckapunyal and the journey continues on a path between the two proprosed routes until a turn is made towards Seymour a few miles out. Connecting the line to Seymour, at the North end of town, involves an expensive bridge over the Goulburn River, whereas connecting at the south end might use the existing rail bridge. Once again Mr. Bent does not make any promises and departs for Melbourne on a special train from Seymour at 3pm.
A report appears in the Bendigo Advertiser, October 8, refuting a report in the The Argus and the Evening Mail, that shows a list of lines proposed to be constructed under the new Railway Construction Bill in which it is stated that the Heathcote line will start from Kilmore. It mentions a telegram that says "anything published in connection with the Construction Bill has not been on the authority of the Commissioner." The last sentence says that Mr. Bent, civilly but firmly, refuses information.
When the McIvor Shire Council receives a request, from the Kyneton and Heathcote Railway League, to inform the Minister for Railways whether they would allow the use of the roads for a tramway, Cr. Lyons moves, seconded by Cr. Duncan, that the roads be allowed if required. Cr. Townsend, who will rather have nothing if they do not get the railway, moves as an amendment, that the request be not entertained. This is seconded by Cr. McMaster who considers they should not entertain tramways at all. The motion is carried. The Council also considers a numerously signed memorial, from Costerfield, asking Council to vote £5/5/0 to the Costerfield Railway League. To test the feeling of the Council, Cr, Bywater moves and Cr. McMaster seconds that the request be complied with. However, Cr. Duncan moves and Cr. Chambers seconds the document be thrown in the fire. The amendment is carried.
The Kyneton Guardian reports that the Heathcote people are incensed at the telegrams which have appeared in Melbourne journals and dated from Heathcote, regarding enthusiastic meetings which are reported to have been held, favouring a railway line from Heathcote to Seymour. They are unanimously opposed to such a route but meetings have been held at Costerfield, 8 miles across the ranges with that object, and there being no telegraphic station from there, the telegrams have been dated from Heathcote. Mr. Crooke, a school teacher at Costerfield, writes an average of nine letters a day, besides using up a large supply of telegraphic forms.
Sandhurst holds a public meeting, with about 300 persons present, to consider and adopt a petition for the Sandhurst, Heathcote and Seymour railway proposal to be included in the Railways Bill. It is seen that the line will bring many advantages and work against dcentralising all railway lines in Melbourne by providing a cross country route. It is said that when the matter is decided, there will only be two lines in the running, through Kilmore, or through Heathcote to Seymour. However, the meeting supports the Seymour connection as it will provide communication, not only to Sandhurst, but through it to the west. However, there are those who still feel that there will be a line from Lancefield to Kilmore in the next Railway Bill.
A "numerously attended" public meeting attended by local residents, delegates from the Seymour League, Broadford and the Puckapunyal League, is held at the Schoolhouse at Costerfield, where the recent successful Sandhurst meeting, furthering the objects of the League, is discussed. It is acknowledged that they had received some doubtful advice from the Press, which seemed to tell them to keep quiet, but they will agree that they had just as much right to a railway as the Heathcote people, and they must keep up their efforts to get their own line. The result of the meeting is a resolution that a line from Sandhurst via Heathcote and Costerfield to Broadford or Seymour will be the best to serve the interests of the country at large and that Messrs. Gillies and Fraser, Members for Rodney, be so informed.
At a joint meeting of the Heathcote Borough Council and the Railway League, The Mayor of Heathcote, Cr. Lewis, in a few opening remarks, advocates the taking of action as soon as possible on account of an attempt to have a line made from Seymour, or they will be too late, and will be left out in the cold. He believes that the whole of the district with the exception of Costerfield, is in favour of a line from Kilmore, as included in the Railway Bill.
A number of meetings are held throughout the district. At a meeting held in Tooborac under the auspices of the Heathcote and Kilmore Railway Leage, a resolution is carried, disapproving of the action of the McIvor Shire in supporting the proposed railway line from Seymour to Sandhurst, and declaring that the feeling of the residents of the district is unanimously in favour of the railway line from Wandong via Kilmore to Heathcote, as embodied in the Government Railway Construction Bill. A Pyalong meeting also supports the Wandong-Heathcote route. A second rresolution requests Mr. J.G. Duffy to add his support to the Bill. Meetings with similar views are held at Moranding, High Camp Plain and Kilmore. A meeting with the opposing view is held in Redcastle and is said to be the fith meeting within the week in support of the Seymour route. This doesn't add up if the other four meetings make up the five.
There is a reported difference of view between the Heathcore Borough Council, supporting the Seymour route, and the McIvor Shire Council, representing the ratepayers supporting the Kilmore route. At a Sportsman's Arms Hotel meeting in Heathcote, the Chairman, Mr. Williams, strongly supports the line by way of Heathcote, Kilmore and Wandong, as being the one best calculated to serve the interests of the farmers of the district. Heathcote's main aim is to secure a direct connection to the coast, not a connection to Sandhurst, although they will support the Sandhurst line also. A resolution in favour of the line from Kilmore to Sandhurst is carried almost unanimously and it is asked that a copy be sent to the Minister for Railways and the Members for Rodney.
A special meeting is held in the Heathcote Town Hall with a good attendance of Borough Councillors and members of the Heathcote and Kilmore Railway League. It had been hastily called by Mr. Palling, Secretary, to contravert certain published statements which had appeared in the Bendigo Advertiser and Melbourne papers, concerning a meeting at Murrowood's Hotel, Wild Duck.
Mr. Palling proposes the following resolution: "That this meeting desires to express surprise and indignation at the telegram which appeared in the Bendigo Advertiser on Saturday last, purporting to be from their own correspondent at Heathcote, which was in direct contradiction to the telegram which appeared in the same paper of Friday, and which reported the same meeting held at Murrowood's Hotel, Wild Duck Creek, and that a respectful request be made to the Editor of the journal alluded to, asking that, in future, representations made from Costerfield on railway matters, should not be published as expressions of public opinion from Heathcote or Wild Duck Creek." The resolution is seconded and carried unanimously. Mr. Palling then makes a similar proposal regarding similar telegrams appearing in Melbourne papers. Cr. Lewis moves that a meeting be held in Axedale the following week, in order to ensure that the views of Heathcote residents are fully explained.
Mr. Ord, the accredited Heathcote correspondent, confirms that the telegrams did not come from him.
The agitation throughout the district during the last ten days must have proved to all doubtful minds that the people of Heathcote, as well as the ratepayers in the Shire of McIvor, are thoroughly in earnest on the question of railway accommodation. Altogether, eight meetings have been held under the auspices of the Heathcote League. The public, both in Shire and Borough, have declared with no uncertain voice, that the line from Wandong by way of Kilmore, Pyalong, Tooborac, Heathcote, Axedale to Sandhurst is what will suit the interests of the whole district.
A correspondent outlines his view of the respective merits of the Heathcote-Wandong and Heathcote-Seymour routes. He says that, from Heathcote to Wandong, the country grows grass and nothing else, there is no timber of any importance, no minerals, and the area presents no prospect of local traffic. The Seymour route covers country that is even poorer grass country than that to Wandong, is 12 to 15 miles shorter, but the district has other resources. It also passes through the grandest ironbark forest and there is an abundance of redgum and box timber. He concludes with the statement that the Seymour route will have many times the traffic of the Wandong route.
An editorial contradicts statements made by Dr. Quick [he advocates the Seymour route] when he traversed the Heathcote-Wandong route and says that the exact opposite of what he said would be closer to the truth. The main purpose of the line is to connect Heathcote to the metropolis by rail, and there are no two places in the colony of the importance of Kilmore and Heathcote. Sandhurst has got most of the Heathcote business for years and desires to retain it. The article concludes with, "Briefly stated, the facts are: that in the line Dr. Quick advocates, there is little or no settlement, and the country is wretchedly poor, while the country on the line proposed by the Government, after inquiry, is thickly populated with small farmers and dairymen, and the resources of the place are legion. If the Government proposal is carried, justice will be done to the public here and the general public outside; if it is not carried but altered, as proposed by Dr. Quick, an event scarcely likely to happen, it will be one of the grossest political jobs ever perpetrated in this colony."
A footnote from the Lancefield Mercury indicates that the Heathcote-Wandong route will make it through Parliament.
The shortage of stone for new public buildings has been eased. The contractor is also obtaining stone from Mr. Ingham's quarries at Axedale, carted in by teams of bullocks.
The Kyneton to Redesdale line construction is passed. Lancefield to Kilmore is submitted, but it is pointed out that the line is to terminate at a station [Kilmore] that has not yet been authorised and it should be postponed until the proposal to connect Wandong and Sandhurst is dealt with. It is also said that the line is the worst proposal that the Government has made, the existing Lancefield line is not the best paying line, and to build another to the same place would be a wilful waste of public money. However, the Lancefield-Kilmore line section of the bill is passed with a majority of 32:3.
More proposed railways are considered in Parliament. Wandong to Sandhurst is proposed as: "A railway commencing at or near the Wandong Station and terminating at the township of Sandhurst, to be called the Wandong and Sandhurst Railway." Mr. Clark, in the absence of Dr. Quick, moves that all the words from "Wandong" to "Sandhurst" be omitted and, in lieu thereof, the following words be substituted - "Seymour railway station, and proceeding thence via Costerfield to Heathcote" as there can be no doubt that the route from Seymour to Heathcote is the best one. Supporting arguments are given and 'it should not be lost sight of that one of the advantages to be gained is the connection of the western lines with the North-Eastern railway, the union of Maryborough, Castlemaine, Inglewood, Ballarat, Ararat, Stawell and other inland towns with the western district of the colony.' Dr. Quick then gives his support. Mr. Hunt argues for the Kilmore route. Mr. Woods, for the Kilmore route, characterises the Seymour amendment as one of the most curious railway projects and most impudent proposals ever brought forward seriously. He then cites engineering difficulties caused by Mt. Ida.
The proposed amendment by Dr, Quick, the member for Sandhurst, that the line should connect via Seymour, is negatived. Mr. Woods then moves that the line be from Wandong to Heathcote. This would leave the way open for future connections to Elmore, then to Mitiamo to join the Kerang line. There is nothing between Heathcote and Sandhurst to need a railway. Mr. Bowman says that there is no settlement worth speaking of between Sandhurst and Axedale.
After considerable discussion about potential alternative terminating points, the Wandong-Sandhurst sub-section is agreed to on the understanding that the clause should be recommitted.
The somewhat cavalier passing of the Lancefield-Kilmore line and others over the next 10 years or so, will bring considerable discredit to both the Government and railway administration.
Kilmore people are happy with the Lancefield-Kilmore line acceptance and feel sure that the Wandong connection will now follow and the only question is to whether it shall continue beyond Heathcote.
A railway league meeting is held in Heathcote where cordial votes of thanks are passed to the Hon. T. Bent, and Messrs, Hunt, Patterson and Woods, M.Ps., for their support of the line from Wandong to Sandhurst.
Sub-section 55 of the Railway Bill, the Wandong-Sandhurst Railway, is again debated in Parliament. Mr. Gillies, a Heatchote representative, says that when it was under consideration before, the question was raised as to whether Elmore should not be substituted for Sandhurst, that is to say that the line should go from Wandong, on the North-Eastern Railway, by Heathcote to Elmore, instead of by Heathcote to Sandhurst. He moves omission of the word Sandhurst, with a view of inserting Elmore. Mr. Bent hopesd the Committee will strike this line out altogether. He would have said nothing at all about it if the Hon. Member for Rodney [Gillies] had not moved an amendment. Mr. Bent then gives justification for not supporting the line to Elmore, including the 1:40 grade compared to the 1:50 grade to Sandhurst. For that matter, he does not even support the line to Sandhurst. Dr, Quick protests at the amendment.
After much discussion, the vote that Sanghurst should stand as part of sub-section 55 is taken, resulting in a majority of three votes. Mr. Fisher then wished to propose an alternative route to Elmore but is not allowed to as it is, effectively, a new line which can not be handled until the present [Bill] sub-section is settled.
Some discussion about confusion as to what Members had actually voted for then ensued. Mr. Bent says that his vote was given against the amendment for Elmore. It is the policy of the Government to build the line to Sandhurst and he, determined to exercise his right, asked that the line be struck out altogether. He had simply voted to prevent the line being taken to Elmore. He was then asked why he voted for the retention of Sandhurst and replied that it was his intention to vote only for a line from Wandong to Heathcote and no further.
Mr. Bent's opinion is that a railway from Heathcote to Sandhurst would be 'an abortion of a line' and that it will never pay. He is criticised for including the Keathcote-Sandhurst section in the Bill if he didn't support it. Mr. Fraser (Member for Rodney) suggests that 'The time may come soon when not only the Minister of Railways, but the rest of his colleagues, will have to be called to account". Sir Bryan O'Loghlen, says that the only course open to Parliament is to support the subsection as it stood.
Mr. Bent, quoting from Hansard, says that he has always been in support of a line to Heathcote and that when the Swan Hill extension was struck out, he would submit to his colleagues as to whether the Wandong, Heatcote and Sandhurst should be carried out. Cabinet had responded in the affirmative but he still adhered to his old view on the subject.
After considerable discussion on the situation facing Parliament on the uncertainty of the vote that has been taken, Mr. Fincham says that there is reason to believe that the Minister of Railways has made a mistake and if he, with all his knowledge of the question can do so, it is quite likely that other Hon. Members can do the same. If the Hon. Members who have achieved a victory in the division feel that they have done so on its merits, they can not have any objection to another vote being taken. Parliament agrees that the Railway Construction Bill be recommitted.
The rejection of the Heathcote to Sandhurst line presses sorely on the public mind of Sandhurst. However, the matter is not going to rest there. Never before was the district so despitefully used by Parliament. The people of Sandhurst have great offence by desiring that it [the proposed line] should leave the North-Eastern line at Seymour instead of Wandong, but that also is a railway which will have to be made at some time or other. A line from Sandhurst to Heathcote is a more urgent requirement. As matters stand, the railway from Wandong is to terminate at Heathcote and they think the Council will find it in their power to amend the bill by restoring the subsection by which it is provided that it should terminate at Sandhurst.
Mr. R Clarke asks the Premier if he will postpone considering the report of the committee on the Railway Bill, in order that the result of a public meeting to be held in Sandhurst that evening in reference to the action of the committee in striking out the line from Heathcote to Sandhurst, might be considered by the House. Dr. Quick moves the adjournment of the House and suggests that the Premier had misconceived Mr. Clarke's question. It is desired that the reporting of the bill be postponed. He adds that, if the Premier (O'Loghlen) not give the Sandhurst people, who feel they had been robbed, the opportunity of being heard, it might lead to the destruction of his Ministry which, within the last four weeks, has become exceedingly unpopular in Sandhurst.
It is decided that the third reading of the Bill be deferred for a day so that the Sandhurst people can be given the opportunity of reporting the result of their indignation meeting to the House. Mr. Bent opposes the recommittal of the bill.
Over 1,500 people are reported to have been present at the indignation meeting that is held in Sandhurst. The Mayor of Eaglehawk moves the motion, "That this meeting express its deepest indignation at the glaring injustice inflicted by the Legislative Assembly on this populous and inportant district, by the rejection of the scheduled line of railway from Heathcote to Sandhurst, this line having been projected to promote the prosperity of mining, one of the staple industries of the colony, a direct blow has been thus struck at its future advancement." After various speakers in support of the reolution, it is seconded and carried with acclamation. Not one hand is opposed.
A second resolution, "That a petition setting forth the urgent reasons why this section should be reinstated be signed by the Mayor on behalf of all present, and be forwarded to the Legislative Assembly praying that they will reinstate the line as scheduled in the Railway Bill." is moved. After hearing a number of speakers, this motion is also carried with acclamation.
Mr. R. Clark gives notice in the Legislative Assembly that, on the third reading of the Bill, he will move - that "A railway commencing at the city of Sandhurst, and terminating at or near the township of Axedale, in the direction and upon the lands described in the schedule hereto, to be called the Sandhurst and Axedale Railway." Mr. Bent is very severe on the Sandhurst members and others are then equally severe on him. Discussion is adjourned at 11pm. It is now apparent that the goldfields' members have entered into a combination, and it is almost as apparent that the bill will not leave the Assembly until justice is been done to places like Sandhurst and Ballarat.
Mr. Cahill, of Axedale, writes to offer a few remarks in contradiction of a statement made by the Minister of Railways in the debate on the Railways Construction Bill. He says that Mr. Bent never left the road [McIvor Road] during his tour through the district, and would have missed what the district has to offer in support of a rail line through it.
Mr. Clarke asks the Premier, whether, in consequence of the large public meeting held in Sandhurst the previous night, he will restore the Sandhurst-Heathcote line to the Bill. Sir Bryan O'Loghlen tells him that he is sorry that it has been thrown out on several occasions, but an understanding has been arrived at between the Government and the House where no new lines will be added to the Bill. The Government must adhere to that. However, it is quite possible that the progress of events might necessitate the placing of a sum of money on next year's estimate for the construction of a line from Sandhurst to Axedale.
Mr. Shiels makes many comments about the conduct of the Minister for Railways and focus has to be drawn back to the third reading of the Railway Construction Bill. Mr. Clark moves his motion regarding a rail line from Sandhurst to Axedale. Mr. Burrowes says there is no more deserving line in the Bill than this, and that the Axedale district has supplied half the population of Sandhurst with vegetables and other produce for 25 years. He adds that the Minister for Railways has been led by his officers to believe that this will be a very expensive line. In justice to the district, this small line ought to be sanctioned. Dr. Quick contends that the Minister has never supported the line as he ought to have done. Mr. Bent expresses a wish that the amendment be withdrawn as it has been distinctly understood that no new lines should be added to the bill and the Premier has promised that certain short lines should be provided for on next year's Estimates. The amendment is then negatived without a division.
The third reading of the Railways Construction Bill continues with Mr. Wrixon moving the inclusion of a number of clauses relating to providing the House with a schedule of authorised lines, the order of priority of construction, that they be constructed to that order of priority and not otherwise, the acceptance of tenders only after contracts have been entered into for all the lines in the schedule, and no construction to start before the schedule is to hand as requested. He also says that a 'very competent authority' had told him that the lines could not be constructed for 50% more than the estimated cost. The motion is defeated and the Bill is passed to be read in the Legislative Council.
A special meeting of the Sandhurst and Heathcote Railway League is held in the Sandhurst Town Hall. A letter is received from the City Council saying that a monster petition is being prepared for presentation to the Legislative Council for re-instatement of the Sandhurst and Heathcote rail line. It is decided that the Mayor and Messrs. J. Moodie, S. G. Cole, J. D. Bywater, J. H. Abbott, and Mr. Ingham should be requested to give evidence.
Cr. Dowling, Kilmore, draws attention to the necessity of appointing delegates to attend the sitting of the Legislative Council and give evidence respecting the claims of the district for railway construction, and states that the people of Lancefield, Pyalong and other places are doing so.
Toolleen and Pyalong are reported as "bestirring" themselves regarding the railway from Wandong to Heathcote. There are calls for more action on Heathcote's part and there is an expectation that the line will not be forgotten in the new Railway Construction Bill.
At a Heathcote Borough Council meeting, Cr. Lewis thinks it is time to take some steps in reference to the railways. He considers a deputation should go down at once and ask for a permanent survey of the line from Wandong to Heathcote as surveys are being asked for in other places. A meeting at the Pyalong Shire Hall decides along similar lines.
Parliamentary representatives of Sandhurst wait on the Minister of Railways and urge that a line from Sandhurst to Axedale be included in the next Railway Construction Bill. It is a portion of the earlier proposed line to Heathcote and Wandong, and they only desire to insist on the portion to Axedale being amongst the first lines to be constructed. Mr. Gillies, who is also the local representative for Rodney, agrees to bear their request in mind. There is also a deputation representing Wandong to Heathcote and Echuca.
A deputation from the McIvor Shire Council is introduced to the Commissioner of Railways for the purpose of requesting that a survey of the Lancefield line of railway might be made as far as Heathcote via Baynton, when the question of railway construction is being dealt with by the Department. The process has been promised by two successive Ministers but has not yet been carried out.
The last [O'Loughlen] Parliament had virtually sanctioned a line from Wandong to Heathcote as well as a short link connecting Lancefield to Kilmore. It is thought that the people of Kilmore, Heathcote and in-between, should be very active at the moment, along with residents between Kilmore and Lancefield.
A public meeting of ratepayers and residents of the Kilmore Shire, convened by the President, is held at the Council Chambers for the purpose of urging upon the Government the necessity of including in the next Railway Bill, the promised lines from Wandong via Kilmore to Heathcote, and Lancefield to Kilmore. The lines had been included in the late Ministry, had passed the House of Assembly, and were being considered in the Upper House when the crisis occurred and the O'Loughlen Ministry was ousted from office. Kilmore, as far as railway advantage is concerned, is in nearly the same position now as twenty years ago, and the people who purchased the land have become heavy losers. Vigorous work is now required to combat the action of some who are endeavouring to divert the Heathcote line from Kilmore.
The Railway Construction Bill is among the first measures promised to be introduced in the next session. It is felt that if Mr. Gillies, Minister for Railways, goes ahead with a large number of lines as the O'Loughlen Government had proposed, Parliament might also stop them. Railway Leagues are already arousing themselves.
• A meeting is held in Heathcote to give support to the people of Kilmore, Pyalong, Tooborac, Knowsley, Toolleen, Muskerry, Elmore, Rochester and Echuca, and a rail line from Wandong to Elmore, to shorten the distance between Echuca and Riverina and Melbourne. The Baynton route will not do that and the line from Heathcote to Sandhurst will not be of any benefit to the town [Heathcote] or district.
• The Minister for Railways receives a large deputation on the subject of railway extension from delegates from Romsey Shire Council, a Lancefield public meeting, and the McIvor Shire Council, asking for the line to Heathcote be extended from Lancefield. Mr. Galbraith presents a petition from Lancefield farmers in favour of the extension via Kilmore. Delegates from Echuca, members of the eastern riding of the McIvor Shire, the Heathcote Borough Council, Councillors of Pyalong Shire and residents of Kilmore, urge the extension from Wandong to Heathcote.
• A Heathcote meeting declines a request from Sandhurst City Council to support the Heathcote-Sandhurst extension. The Mayor says that he is appointed to go down on deputation and to offer no objection to further extension to Elmore, although it is thought that an extension to Elmore will be many years away. The line to Heathcote will be the first instalment of a line to Sandhurst or Elmore, and the battle for its further extension can be fought out afterwards. Cr. Youle states that if there is the slightest danger of the line going to Sandhurst, the road can not be closed too soon, as it will ruin the town. Sandhurst will be the head and they will be the tail and the sooner they shut the mouths of Sandhurst people the better.
Cr. Sims speaks against the want of unanimity. He speaks of the action of the Borough Council in not making enemies of anyone, but to work for the line to Heathcote. He does not favour the present meeting and a larger meeting from the surrounding district should have been called.
• A 'large and influential deputation', consisting of the Hon. F. Robertson, MLC, Messrs. Burrowes, Mackay, Quick, Thompson, Moore, Yeo and McColl MLAs, the Mayors of Sandhurst and Eaglehawk, the President of the Shire of Marong, representatives of the Strathfieldsaye, McIvor and Huntly shire councillors and representatives of the Bendigo Miners' Association, the commercial, manufacturing and stock interests of Sandhurst is introduced by Mr. Burrowes to the Minister of Railways. Their purpose is to to ask the Government to schedule the line from Sandhurst to Heathcote in the first railway bill. The case laid out is one of the strongest that has been laid before the Minister. The deputation confines itself to only one line which interferes with no other interests.
• A meeting of the Seymour and Sandhurst Railway League is held at Benalla Council chambers. The meeting supports a line from Seymour to Sandhurst, rather than Wandong to Heathcote and Sandhurst [as expected]. Kilmore notices that a public meeting, called by the President of the Romsey Shire in response to a numerously signed requisition, takes place in the Municipal Chambers, Romsey - the object being to urge the inclusion of a line from Lancefield to Heathcote in the next Railway Bill. Mr. James Ochiltree says that 18 out of 20 ratepayers in Lancefield, Springfield, Goldie, Pyalong and Romsey are opposed to the motion, upon which Cr. Galbraith moves an amendment that "In the interests of the colony at large, the proposed line of railway from Lancefield to Heathcote is nothing better than a little fraud." He points out how remarkable it is that the gentlemen signing the requisition convening the meeting, are nearly all absent. It seems that either the co-ordinated, unified approach has disappeared, or the various groups have seen an opportunity to "row their own boat" since the Government has changed.
• Bluestone from Lethbridge, 165 miles, is being used for Sandhurst buildings rather than that from Axedale, 14 miles.
• Farmers are unhappy about rates being charged for the return of empty chaff bags. There is also a view that since the appointment of the Railways Commissioners, under Mr. Speight, the management has gone from bad to worse.
• The people of the affected districts are anxiously looking forward to the introduction of the Railway Construction Bill. The two week time frame indicated, has now stretched to twice as long. It appears that the situation has not been determined as the Minister is still receiving many deputations from interested parties. There are fears that the Bill may be shelved until the last session to be then used as a bait to lure the constituencies.
• In the first week of October, Mr. Gillies, Minister for Railways and Member for Rodney, introduces a new Railway Construction Bill to Parliament. He makes reference to the two years previous Bill that had occupied Parliament for some five months. He mentions that the previous Bill had passed the Legislative Assembly and was prevented from becoming law by an accident which was the dissolution of Parliament - and those facts needed to be kept in mind. The Bill is substantially the same as that of 1882. The Bent Bill of 1882, contained 915 miles whereas the new Bill contains 927 miles and extensions of 135 miles. There are 184 miles of lines in the 1882 Bill that are not included in the new one.
One of the extended lines is proposed on special grounds - Wandong to Heathcote and Sandhurst. The large deputation has done its job. If there were no other claim but the need for timber access, that alone would be enough to justify the Sandhurst extension. He adds that he doesn't think that there will ever be enough ordinary traffic on the line to pay for its construction. However, if the line is not constructed, the mines will soon stop and that would be an irreparable loss to the state. The old, Bent Bill, had also only proposed 12 miles of the Kyneton-Redesdale line and the new Bill proposes that it now run all the way to Redesdale.
Mr. Gillies is congratulated on his lucid presentation and the Bill is successfully introduced and read for the first time. However, there are a few more readings before final acceptance.
• Three lines find their way into the railway scheme of the Government. There was never any doubt that the Wandong-Heathcote line would appear, and the Lancefield-Kilmore line appears in a supplementary scheme. The third line is that from Molesworth to Ainsworth's Gap.
• Some anxiety is caused by "the receipt of intelligence" to the effect that the Swan Hill line has again been postponed, and that the passed Sandhurst and Wandong lines are also delayed. The news is confirmed by Parliamentary report, but later telegrams indicate that the House has agreed to both lines. Those interested will, of course, require to be watchful until the bill has received the Royal assent. A meeting of the Heathcote Borough Council unanimously deides to congratulate their local representative, Mr. Gillies, the Minister for Railways, on the passing of the Railway Construction Bill.
• A deputation waits on the Committee with respect to a proposed deviation of the Heathcote Railway survey between Sandhurst and Axedale. The deputation is desirous of getting the council to assist them in having a survey of the scheduled railway to Axedale and Heathcote made through Strathfieldsaye township. It seems that the expectation was that the line would leave Sandhurst from near the "three arch bridge" at the south of Sandhurst Station [Don Street], and forming a curve on its way to Axedale through Strathfieldsaye - unlike from where it is being surveyed which is from the north end of Sandhurst near the cattle yards, which would form something like an "S" curve. The expectation is that there will be two stations between Sandhurst and Axedale.
• Sandhurst City Council receives a letter from Mr. Gillies in answer to a request to have the survey of the Heathcote Railway pushed on with as rapidly as possible. The Minister's reply is viewed as very curt and he says that it is happening as rapidly as possible and they could not do any more. The Mayor thinks that there appears to be no intention to carry the railway near the Axedale quarries. Dr. Quick meets with the Railway Commissioners to discuss the route of the Heathcote line. He mentions that the Sandhurst City Council is apprehensive that the line will cross the Campaspe some distance from Axedale and the quarries, and there should be some consultation with Council to ensure that the quarries will be benefited. The Commissioners promise that their officer will see the council about the matter.
• Dr. Quick, MLA, receives advice from the Railways Commissioners stating that arrangements for the Sandhurst-Heatcote line survey had already been made before his recent interview. Also, the Engineer-in-Chief has been instructed to inspect the quarry at Axedale, with any officers appointed by Council, to report on the best place to cross the Campaspe
Some of the Parliamentary representatives for Sandhurst and Mandurang meet at the Sandhurst Town Hall by invitation from the Sandhurst City Council, for the purpose of proceeding to Axedale in order to decide on the best point at which the proposed railway from Sandhurst to Heathcote should cross the Campaspe River, and to inspect the bluestone quarries in that locality. Eight representatives are conveyed in a couple of Cobb and Co. carry-alls.
Cr. Joseph remarks that they wish the Government to construct the line as near as possible to the quarries for firewood and bluestone access. Mr. Curtois, Government Surveyor, says that it will not be very feasible to carry the railway very near to the quarry at present being worked [This was, more than likely, adjacent to what is now Ingham Road]. Cr. Bailes says that a recent rumour indicates that the Government intends to bring the railway some distance from Axedale, so that it will be of no practical value to Sandhurst. Cr. Joseph says that what they want is a crossing close to Axedale and a tramway can be constructed from the quarry to the railway to make quarry access easier.
Mr. Curtois then points out two proposed routes - one to the east of Mr. Heffernan's house [Marydale Estate], near the quarry, and the other to the west of it along the river - the former is by far the most expensive. He adds that bringing the line close to the quarry will cost more than the Government has set aside for the construction. Mr. Ingham's quarry is visited and they are shown some fine, large blocks of bluestone that had been quarried and readied for sending to Sandhurst and other places.
• Mr. Cahill, of Axedale, writes a Letter to the Editor, Bendigo Advertiser, indicating that there are complaints that the planned location of the Axedale Station is too far from the town and the Racecourse Reserve.
• A representative deputation waits upon the council for the purpose of obtaining its cooperation in an effort to urge the early construction of the first section of the Heathcote railway, from Sandhurst to Axedale.
• Cr. Taylor [Kilmore] moves "That the Commissioners of Railways be asked to commence the construction of the first section of the line from Wandong to Heathcote." It is seconded by Cr. O'Neill on consideration that the Commissioners be asked to consult the best interests of the residents in fixing the site of the station.
• The Secretary for Railways advises that the Commissioners cannot visit Kilmore on their present tour to fix a site for the station but will take an early opportunity of doing so.
• The residents of Glenaroua and Pyalong forward a petition to the Railways Commissioners asking for the speedy construction of the line. They had anticipated that construction would start at the Sandhurst end only, but are informed it will start at both ends simultaneously.
• Commissioners, Mr. Speight [Chairman], and Mr. Agg, accompanied by Mr. Darbyshire, Engineer and Mr. Curtois, Surveyor, travel by special train to Kilmore [East] Station, arriving just before midday where they are met by the President of the Kilmore Shire, Councillors and Mr. Hunt, MLA. The party is then driven in traps to Murray's Royal Oak Hotel in Kilmore for a luncheon. They inspect the surveyed route, as well as a rival route proposed, and a third route surveyed by Mr. Wrixon, Surveyor-in-Charge, of the first section of the proposed railway.
The route surveyed by the Government comes into Kilmore on the western side of the township with the station near the gaol. The Kilmore Creek runs through the town and while one Kilmore party desired the line to enter on the western side of the creek, the eastern side was preferred by another party. The western route and the route surveyed by Mr. Wrixon, are both on the eastern side of the creek. The party inspects the deviations and return to discuss the options. The advocates of the eastern side would like to see the railway on the eastern side of the creek, as convenient to Sydney Street [the main thoroughfare] as possible for the public benefit. The signed memorial identifies the eastern side of town. The station will be sited on the western side of the town.
The line from Wandong contains some necessary curves and there is a site for a station north of Knowsley Creek. It continues along the east side of Kilmore Road until it crosses it at Powlett Street. The west station is 9 miles 8 chains from the Wandong junction.
The next morning, shortly after 9am, a start is made for Pyalong, 15 miles away, accompanied by Mr. Wrixon who has surveyed from Wandong to Pyalong. Mr. Agg suggests that the maximum speed on this line may be 60 miles per hour. He also says that the surveys had been in progress 9 months and hoped the contract could be advertised within 6 months.
The line crosses the Kilmore road 9 miles from Kilmore and continues along the east side of the road. Mollison's Creek is crossed about a mile from Pyalong where engineering difficulties are expected to be greatest. Lunch is had at the White Hart Hotel in Pyalong. Mr. Walton, the surveyor of the next section, joins the party.
Mr. Speight says that the station will be brought as near as possible to the centre of Tooborac or "Pick and Shovel" as it was once called.
The line crosses back to the western side of Heathcote Road 6 miles from Tooborac and follows the western side of the road into Heathcote. The position of the station in Heathcote is "exciting a considerable difference of opinion among the Heathcote residents." The decision is ultimately left to the Commissioners and they, accompanied by Mr. Curtois, visit the rival station sites.
The line crosses to the north of the main Sandhurst-Heathcote road at 29 miles 14 chains from Sandhurst. It continues along the north side of the road to Dunean's property where a proposed station site [Wild Duck] is inspected. The Mt. Ida Creek is then crossed. On ascending the main road on the Moorabbee Hills, the Commissioners halt for the purpose of enjoying the magnificient view to the south with the dividing range in the far distance. The view is said to be unequalled in this part of the colony. The grade is very steep at the Moorabbee Hills. It crosses the road at 20 miles 12 chains from Sandhurst and runs along parallel with the road until 18 miles 41 chains where it runs to the rear of the Moorabbee Hotel, across the Wild Duck Road and into Bywater's holding, where the proposed site for Knowsley Station is inspected.
The party continues the inspection and drives to Mr. Heffernan's Marydale Estate on the Campaspe River, where they meet several gentlemen from Sandhurst, including Mr. J.T. Brown, MLA. After inspecting the works in connection with the Estate, including the pumping engines used for irrigation, they proceed to Axedale where a request is made to have the site of the railway station altered to a spot nearer the township. The Commissioners promise to consider the matter. It is not yet decided what kind of bridge will cross the Campaspe.
The proposed Axedale Station is at 11 miles 43 chains on the south side of the Sandhurst [McIvor] road. Herman's property is entered at 11 miles 18 chains. The Acott mine is passed at a point halfway between it and the [McIvor] road. Crown lands, Jas. Giri's property, more Crown lands, Neylan's property, and Bridget Murphy's are passed, Sawpit Gully and Sweeney's Creek are crossed and the proposed site of Axe Creek Station is reached at 6 miles 5 chains. After crossing the Axe Creek and passing through Craike's property and taking on some grapes, the line then continues to Sandhurst. Next comes T. Stretton's land, that recently belonging to the late James Hogan, John Manning's, John Holmes', E. Holton's, J. Hickey's, James Cashen's and Mrs. E. Conroy's. It then crosses the McIvor Road for the last time. Minter's property, followed by Crown lands. After passing through the State Forest and several unsold allotments, it crosses over the Spring Gully water race and through Downe's property, over the Sandhurst municipal boundary and to the north of the Wjite Hills dynamite reserve, joining the Echuca line axxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxb [It is interesting to note that there is no mention of Strathfieldsaye Station].
• Cr. Hedley says that the site chosen for the Heathcote station does not suit the majority constituting the council. Cr. Kennedy moves that the Town Clerk write to the Commissioners asking them to call for tenders for the construction at each end of the line. Cr. Hedley thinks it is about time some attention is given to the matter. The permanent survey from Kilmore to Heathcote is still not completed and may not be before Christmas, but that should not hold up the parts of the line that have been completed. He also suggests that Mr. Gillies [Minister for Railays] would not like to disappoint his local constituents.
It is considered that if Sandhurst to Heathcote is completed first, stores will be available from Heathcote to provide along the line towards Kilmore. Otherwise, they will be brought from Sandhurst as the line progressed. It is decided that Mr. Shackell be requested to ask in the House when tenders will be called and also call attention to the slow progress.
• Hansard, July 27, 1886, records that Mr. Burrowes (who, to put himself in order, moves the adjournment of the House) said that the answer Mr. Bailes, the representative for Sandhurst, received when he asked when the tenders for constructing the railway would be invited, was unsatisfactory. The survey and plans had been completed for some months and the route had been inspected and settled by the Railway Commissioners. There was no line more required than the Sandhurst-Heathcote Railway. The people of the district were most dissatisfied with the Minister for Railways' reply and will send a deputation unless they received assurance that the line would be commenced without delay. Mr. Gillies said that he sympathised with the Sandhurst representatives but 1,100 miles of railway had been authorised and all lines could not be made at once. Other parts of the country had just as much claim. He said his past statement was made on the authority of the Commissioners and was perfectly correct. Originally it was intended that the Sandhurst and Wandong Railway should be commenced from both ends so that no local jealousies might be created and the members were aware of that arrangement.
Dr. Quick said that an impression prevailed at Sandhurst that the construction of the line from there to Heathcote is being delayed on account of certain political considerations and through political influence. He mentions the Railways Commissioner Act, which removed railway construction from political control, and says that he did not see that the Minister for Railways had any authority to go upon a public platform and give an assurance as to the order in which lines were to be constructed.
• The Kilmore Roman Catholic congregation raises an objection to the blocking of Rutledge Street, Kilmore - the main entrance to their place of worship. The Railway Department officially intimates that they will revert to the original site near Parson's. The Vigilance Committe agrees to abandon the Dowling's paddock site (near the English Church). Mr. Fennelly proves that a good station site can be obtained between Rutledge Street and Foot Street near the gaol, without interfering with the building. The Railways Department agrees to look into the suggestion.
• The Secretary for Railways advises to the effect that the preliminary work is progressing as speedily as possible and that tenders for the line will be called for as soon as possible.
• Mr. Gillies, Minister for Railways, "made a revelation which is as unsatisfactory and unpleasant as it is unexpected and surprising, and many in the country will participate in the feelings to which the revelation seems to have given rise in the Legislative Assembly." In asking to vote a sum of £1,300,000 for railway construction purposes, which amount was set apart in the last Railway Construction Bill for expenditure up to 30th June next, the Minister explains that the works on the 258 miles of railway either completed or contracted for under the Bill, will cost 23 to 25% over the amount of estimates which formed the basis of the vote. Unfortunately, this situation impacts severely on the long-awaited Sandhurst to Heathcote via Axedale line as either one fourth less of the proposed constructions can eventuate or funds will have to be provided by the floating of a new loan. Estimates usually present a large excess, somtimes up to 50%, although on average, as Mr. Gillies has stated, about 25%. He is asked to come up with a proper, plausible explanation.
Under every head of expenditure - clearing, fencing, level crossings, earthworks, bridges and culverts, etc., the contract prices, the actual cost of construction, present a large excess over the estimates. The average is stated as about 25%. Land, that needs to be purchased, has increased significantly in value since the estimates were made.
• A deputation from Pyalong, with a 93 signature petition, asks the Commissioners that a deviation in the survey of the Wandong to Heathcote railway might be made in a southerly direction with the view of accommodating the settlers in the direction of Glenaroua. As an alternative proposal, the deputation asks that if it were found impossible to to concede the deviation, a station should be placed between Hanford's Lane and Percival's Bridge. The Commissioners say they can not promise anything but they will seek to act in a manner which will be for the best interests of the district.
• After more than 20 years of campaigning, notices finally appear for "Construction of a Line of Railway from Wandong to Kilmore" and "Construction of a Line of Railway from Sandhurst to Heathcote", appear in the Press, and various Contractors begin looking at the proposed route. Closing dates for the Tenders is January 10th, 1887.
• Tenders for construction of the two sections of line are received. Construction details are reported in detail by the Argus:
"The Railway Commissioners yesterday received 12 tenders for the construction of a hue of railway from Wandong to Kilmore, the lowest being that of Messrs. G. Buckley and Co. This line forms the southern section of the railway from Sandhurst to Wandong, and is intended to give the residents of Kilmore facilities for reaching the North-Eastern main hue.
The Engineer had great difficulty in finding a suitable route for the railway, owing to the rugged nature of the country surrounding Kilmore. After repeated surveys, they selected a route starting on the North-Eastern line six miles south of the present Kilmore [East] station, and branching off westward along lhe top of the adjoining range until the township of Kiimore is reached. This circuit will necessitate the construction of 10 miles of line, although the actual distance is only three miles. Six bridges will have to bo erected and 73 cuttiugs made, the deepest of which will be 28ft., and one embankment will be 30ft. in height. Two stations will be provided, one at five miles from the junction with the North-Eastern hue, and one at Kilmore. The contract time expires on April 30, 1888.
Tenders were also received for the construction of the northcrn section of the same railway extending from Sandhurst to Heathcote, a distance of 28 miles. Eleven tenders were subimtted, the lowest being that of Mr. A. O'Keete. This portion of the railway also passes through rugged country, and no less than 50 bridges will have to be built along the line. The largest of these is the budge over the Campaspe River. It will be constructed of timber, and will have 99openings, each opening being 20ft. in width. The bridge to be built over the Axe Cieek will have 17 openings, and that over the Mount Ida Creek 26 openings, the opening in each case being 15ft, in width. Four large cuttings, averaging 12,000 cubic yards excavation in each, will have to be mude between the Campaspe River and Heathcote. The deepest cutting on the line will be 32ft., and the highest embankment 34ft. In addition to the bridges, 119 culverts will have to be constructed. Stations will be placed near Strathfieldsaye, at Axe Creek, Axedale, Knowsley, Wild Duek, and Heathcote. The contract time expires on March 31, 1888.
The tenders for both sections of tho line have been referred to the Engineering Branch of the Department for report. The survey of the intermediate section of the line between Heathcote and Kilmore is being proceeded with, and tenders will be invited for that work as soon as the estimates and plans have been prepared by the Engineer-in-Chief's department.
• Andrew O'Keefe commences his contract work with axemen and scrubbers cutting down trees and clearing the route. At White Hills, just beyond the powder magazine, navvies are busily engaged levelling ground that will be utilised for the railway. A depot has been pitched about a quarter mile from Mrs. Healing's Grassy Flat Hotel which is midway between Harrison's Bull's Head Hotel, where the line crosses the McIvor road, and the Nolan Street railway crossing, near where the line will connect with the Echuca line.
• Mr. O'Keefe complains that the Railways Department has not arranged compensation with land-owners and his men are being warned off as trespassers.
• Hotels and businesses do a brisk trade due to the stomachs of railway workers. The contractor is finding it difficult to obtain steady men. They have started driving the piles of the bridge over the Campaspe and are cutting through the hill on the Rodney [Heathcote] side of the river adjoining Mr. Heffernan's Estate s [current day 'Marydale']. The bluestone has to be blasted and it is strange that with so much bluestone around, the bridge has to rest on wooden piles. As its life will be shorter, it seems penny wise and pound foolish.
• The Kerang Times reports: "there is a local [Axedale] industry, the bluestone quarry, the proprietor of which, Mr. J. Ingham, deserves credit for the persevering manner in which he has worked the quarry under discouraging circumstances. He has raised some immense blocks of stone. One, some time back, measuring 16ft 6in by 12ft by 2ft [5m x 3.65m x 0.6m]. He has purchased the engine and stone sawing machine which was used for cutting the stone at the new public buildings at Sandhurst and intends to supply stone in the finished state. When the railway is completed, he intends to have a tramway connected with the line above Mr. Heffernan's Estate from the quarry. This will allow him to send stone with expedition, in any quantity, and at a cheap rate to any part of the colonies."
• O'Keefe is proceeded against by William Harper, to recover the sum of £26/17/0 for work and labour for which he had been engaged to carry out by O'Keefe. Dr. Quick represents O'Keefe and Mr. Rymer represents Harper.
Harper says he had been engaged to dig a cutting near Acott's mine for 1s per yard or, if he struck rock, 2s per yard. He could not get a written contract when he wanted it, due to Mr. O'Keefe's absence, and started work after being told that the contract would be sent to him. When visited by the Manager, Mr. McConville, he says he told him that he had struck some very stiff rock which he didn't think it would pay him to open up at 2s per yard. He is told to continue and he would be paid relative to the nature of the ground. Later on, when he meets McConville, he is told that the agreement is for 1s per yard for the whole of the cutting, without regard to the presence of rock in the ground. Mr. O'Keefe confirms this. There is no doubt that Harper had started the work but he had given it up after the course of events.
O'Keefe said that he would be paid at 1s per yard. Harper measured a larger amount of work than O'Keefe, who agreed to pay for the larger amount to avoid the expense of getting an Engineer to come out and measure it. The court found in Harper's favour.
• O'Keefe makes good progress. The cutting through the White Hills near the powder magazine, is completed and the rails laid from where the line joins the Echuca railway, beyond Nolan Street, as far as Grassy Flat. The bridge over the creek near Healing's Hotel is nearly finished. All along the route out past Axedale, the men are busily engaged.
• There are several court cases shortly after starting construction. The first is very rough behaviour of several navvies at Grassy Flat. Then O'Keefe is sued once or twice, and two of his employees are sued by Mr. J. Heffernan for trespassing on his land at Axe Creek. The men had been allowed access to the land marked out for the line, but had been in the habit of taking their carts over a choice part of land near Heffernan's home. He had posted notices forbidding entry on fear of prosecution, but the two men had disregarded the notice and had repeated the offence. One of the men is fined for assault and trespass and the other for trespass.
• Mr. Shackell, Member for Rodney, presses for the early construction of the Heathcote to Kilmore section of the line on the Commissioners, on Mr. Speight's return to town from the country. The Commissioners say the line is being pushed on with all possible speed. As that section would take so long to construct, tenders would be called for, so that the whole line would be finished about the same time.
• O'Keefe experiences some trouble at Axe Creek due to a natural weir a short distance below the spot where the bridge is to cross the creek, damming the water back to a depth of 15 or 18 feet in places. He cannot remove the weir as the local residents would strongly object. The only way out is to erect a weir further downstream and pump the water between the two weirs.
• The McIvor Shire President reports as to his accompanying a deputation to the Commissioners relative to the Redesdale-Kyneton line and the Heathcote-Kilmore line. The Commissioners would not promise what time they will call for tenders for the Redesdale line. In regard to the Kilmore section he is informed that surveyors are still on the line, but the importance of having it open is acknowledged, and after the clerical work is done, tenders will be called as soon as possible.
• Under favourable circumstances, the Sandhurst to Heathcote railway contractor should have no difficulty in completing his work within the stipulated time. Some of the cuttings however have developed such masses of rock that the work is necessarily slow. One of the largest is at the rear of Mr. Heffernan's property [east side of the Campaspe River]. The bridges at Axe Creek [Longlea] and the Campaspe are progressing very slowly owing to difficulties. Rails have been laid to within a hundred yards [57m] of McIvor Road crossing [Junortoun].
• The Bendigo Advertiser covers a walk on the Heathcote line from Sandhurst to just east of Axedale - as it existed in 1887. It describes the situation at the Axe Creek bridge and the method used to fix piles in the creek bed. The contractor has a centrifugal pump worked by a portable engine and syphon. A blacksmith's forge is nearby.
The Engineer's offices are at the site of the Axe Creek station. It is a Gatekeeper's residence opposite Craike's gate. [There is some confusion in the text which reads as if the party had reversed direction. However, they did continue towards Axedale]. The site of the Axedale station is viewed as "a more out of the way place for a station that is supposed to be in close proximity to the township could hardly be imagined. A regular bush mile from the township." The correspondent mentions that if the station site is not located closer to the town, there should at least be a siding to cater for picnic trains. [This appears to be the first mention of a requirement for the Axedale Racecourse Platform].
A good number of piles for the Campaspe River bridge have already been driven on the Sandhurst side of the river but not the other side. The line runs too close to the back door of Mr. Heffernan's residence to be pleasant, but there is communication to his outhouses. The deepest cutting so far, between 30 and 40 feet [9m and 12m] high.
The party "retraced" their steps to the main road [McIvor] close to Mr. Ingham's place and asked to see his quarries and plant. Mr. Ingham intends to construct a mile long tramway to connect with the rail line when it is completed.
After inspecting the sights of Axedale, and commenting that certain buildings did not look as fresh as when erected, the party heads for Sandhurst, arriving in moonlight. Comments about the bad condition of the main road also appear.
• Commissioners Speight and Greene visit Kyneton by ordinary train, accompanied by Mr. Darbyshire, Engineer of Surveys, for the purpose of inspecting the route of the railway from Kyneton to Redesdale. They will then drive to Heathcote and proceed along the line to Pyalong to discuss a requested deviation to that township. Initially, what had been referred to as Martin's Survey, embraced Glenaroua, but that parish has now been left out by the permanent survey that is said to make the line better and shorter. There is an expressed wish that the Glenaroua area can be served. There is nothing much to bring to their notice at Kilmore but the Commisioners promise that a request to place the Kilmore Station on the eastern side of the line will be considered.
• The railway works to Heathcote are progressing very rapidly and most of the cuttings and embankments being completed beyond Axedale and the sleepers and rails laid.
• The McIvor Shire applies for a £600 grant for road repairs due to damage by wet weather and heavy railway contract traffic.
• The contractor is making good progress. Most of the heavy construction is now completed - except for crossing the Axe Creek and the Campaspe River.
• A public meeting is held in Heathcote regarding the delay in calling for tenders for the Heathcote-Kilmore section of the railway. Indignation is freely vented against the Rodney representatives for not having had a promise given by the Commissioners that this section will be let and completed as soon as the Sandhurst end. The residents feel they will be better off with no rail at all rather than a connection to Sandhurst alone, as so far there is no reduction in freight rates, and via Sandhurst is an extra 60 miles around.
Cr. Lewis moves a resolution to express great dissatisfaction and ask to have the plans speedily completed and tenders called. Cr. Sims moves for a definite promise from the Commissioners as to the date that tenders will be called. Mr. Gatliff moves that residents in Tooborac, Costerfield, Wild Duck, Axedale, Graytown, Pyalong, Mia Mia, Toolleen and Redcastle, be requested to call a meeting to co-operate in the matter. Cr. Sims moves that the meeting stand adjourned for fourteen days and that all resolutions be presented together.
• A public meeting convened by the Heathcote Borough Council is held for the purpose of considering the delay in calling for tenders for the Heathcote to Kilmore section of the Wandong to Sandhurst railway, and to take steps to urge the Commissioners to immediately call for tenders. The main reason for the meeting is in consequence of a letter or letters from Mr. Shackell, MLA, conveying 'the usual stereotyped answer' that the Commissioners could not tell when they will be in a position to call for tenders and cannot give a definite answer."
There is a feeling that while there is no connection to Kilmore, farmers will be taking their business to Sandhurst and half the freight extra will be required. It seems that the line they never asked for is being made, while that which they did ask for, is not. It is suggested that a cause of the delay might have been the Glenaroua deviation which is found impracticable except for a cost of £240,000 which could not be done.
Cr. Kennedy, in seconding the motion, offers that the delay may be partly their own fault, as they are an easy, apathetic people, and their actions had collapsed entirely. After a somewhat "flowery" speech he considers they should be more active in the matter, and show their members that they really want the Kilmore portion of the railway, and that they must have it, otherwise they will have fresh representatives after the next Parliamentary election. Cr. Lewis states that he does not agree that they have been inactive and eventually a suitable motion is put and carried.
Mr. Debney comments that he thinks that there has not been enough done and the Borough Council has been inactive. They have sat and done nothing. They come every month and pass a few accounts and that is about all they do. They should have taken Gillies to task long ago - and the Shire Council should have too. It is his opinion that Shackell and Gillies are holding the railway back for another electioneering dodge. They should pass resolutions to stir up their members and send down a deputation. If they could not get Shackell or Gillies to go with them, get someone else. If they did not get their railway, Gillies and Shackell must go next election.
The Sandhurst-Heathcote railway is expected to be opened for traffic in less than six months. The "iron horse" already runs from Sandhurst to a point about two miles from Axedale Station. The platelayers [Repairers] with the present plentiful supply of rails, are able to complete a distance of about a mile and a half every week.
Work has to be suspended and wait more settled weather at times. Floods in the Axe Creek and Campaspe cause much loss. Tons of timber are washed away by the immense volume which flows along the Campaspe. Taking the wet weather into account, the Contractor has accomplished an immense amount of work since January last, and although it is more than probable he will not be able to complete the line within the contracted time, the Department is bound to grant an extension of time. The contract expires 31st March next and the Contractor expects that he will finish some two months later.
There are numerous Departmental Inspectors overlooking the work as it proceeds. The whole line is being built with the best possible material and as the earthworks on the route have been thoroughly consolidated by the rains, it promises to be one of the soundest and best constructed railways in the colony.
The line, as seen by a newspaper reporter:
The line branches off to the right of the Echuca railway route about a mile and a half from Sandhurst Station and just beyond the signalbox at the cattle yards siding and the Inglewood junction [to Eaglehawk]. It takes a sharp sweep round between the second and third White Hills, not far from the Sandhurst powder magazine. The line, going over a rise, runs along in front of Healing's Grassy Flat Hotel. The country up to McIvor Road is most uninteresting and sparsely populated. There are several pretty sharp gradients, the steepest being 1:50 [2%] when ascending the hill just before sighting McIvor Road. A small bridge has been constructed between the second and third White Hills and another with seven openings of 15ft [4.6m] each at Grassy Flat. The water passing along the race from Spring Gully reservoir is carried under the line by means of an inverted syphon.
Crossing the McIvor Road, where there will be a Gatekeeper's cottage, the railway passes over Splitter's Creek, the bridge there not being a work of much difficulty. Two small bridges are crossed before the Strathfieldsaye station yard. Engineering difficulties prevented the line passing nearer to Strathfieldsaye and their station will be some distance from the town. The road from the Strathfieldsaye Shire Hall has not been cleared yet and there are few inhabitants within a radius of two miles of the site of the Station. The land reserved for the station is some 26 acres [10.5ha]. Provision has been made for a passenger platform - over 200 feet[61m] long - which has already been erected on the right hand side of the permanent way. The stations and Gatekeeper's cottages form a separate contract. A "through" siding has been laid down on the east of the permanent way, and further east will be the goods siding. A contractor's camp is currently pitched in the yard. [In the absence of a plan, these details, as written, indicate a total of three tracks - a main line and two others on the east, or Down, side].
The countryside improves as the Axe Creek is approached. A Gatekeeper's cottage stands at the road immediately before entering Mr. Craike's land. [This indicates that there was a Gatekeeper's cottage at Hodges Lane crossing]. The line runs down through this property for about a quarter of a mile until the Axe Creek is come to, close to Mr. Craike's house. This was the first difficulty of moment encountered. Pile driving was commenced here in March last, when the Department, after taking soundings of the Creek, altered the bridge as it was impossible to drive piles in the bed of the Creek which had a rock bottom. The structure was altered with special "piers" of greater dimensions, the piles had to be 24" [610mm] at the top and 18" [457mm] at the bottom. It took some six or eight weeks to get a fresh supply of larger piles. Work was suspended during the wet months and recommenced in October. The bridge was completed about a month later through the efforts of about 40 men.
The station at Axe Creek will be the same as that at Strathfieldsaye with the same accommodation and road approaches.
A bridge has been constructed over Sweeney's Creek about half a mile [800m] from Axe Creek Station - 23 openings of 11ft [3.35m] each. Then follows a bridge over Sawpit Gully. From here it is Crown land, passing Acott's Hotel on the McIvor Road, and then Acott Company's mine, and crossing two small 7ft [2.13m] open bridges.
Axedale Station is arrived at after passing through Messrs. Nelson and Stephen Burke's properties. It is located on a ridge over a mile from the township and about 28 acres [11.33ha] have been reserved for it. The buildings here will be larger and the accommodation greater than the other two stations.
Departing the Axedale Station site, a pretty sharp declivity is descended and a bridge over Hargreave's Creek [south end of the cemetery] consisting of 10 openings of 15ft [4.57m] just before the Campaspe Valley comes into view. Some heavy cutting has been done at the summit of the ridge [future Axedale Racecouse platform site] and an immense embankment had to be built to carry the line over the Native Creek [Axedale-Kimbolton Road] and the Campaspe. The bridge over the Native Creek comprised of 13 openings of 15ft [4.57m] each and one of 20ft [6.09m].
The next bridge, over the Campaspe, is the greatest engineering work on the whole line. It is an enormous bridge consisting of no fewer than 90 openings of 30ft [9.15m] each. It is 200ft [60.98m] long and raised to a height of 36ft [10.98m] or 38ft [11.59m] above the river bed. The bed of the river will have special piers, the same as the Axe Creek bridge, but in this case the piles are to be 50ft [15.24m] long. Fourteen more piles are needed to complete the bridge and much delay may ensue as they are difficult to obtain. The required piles may have to be obtained from Newcastle, NSW, as there are none available in the colony [Victoria].
The next "landmark" is Mr.Heffernan's property. He will have access to the river via two small bridges over the line. The railway then winds around an immense hill at the back of the homestead where there is an enormous cutting through solid bluestone. A little further on, another bluestone rock cutting is encountered, then a third and larger one, and still another. Thousands of tons of bluestone were broken by dynamite here and tremendous piles of the debris now stand on either side of the line. The gradient all along here is very steep and a strong engine will be required to draw a moderately heavy load over it. For a mile and a quarter there is a rising gradient of 1:50 [2%]. The line then passes into light undulating country and the Knowsley State Forest. It traverses about 3.5 miles until the Moorabbee Station [Knowsley] is reached.
Two miles beyond Moorabbee, the line crosses McIvor Road for the second time. On getting to the rise, a magnificient view presents itself. Mount Ida stands out boldly to the left and the Dividing Range in the far distance. The scene is exceedingly picturesque. The line soon runs down to the Wild Duck Creek over which a substantial bridge has been built, although not quite completed yet. A mile beyond is the Wild Duck Creek Station [future Derrinal].
From the Wild Duck Station, the line passes over undulating country, through old diggings and over a number of small gullies, finally terminating at the Heathcote Railway Station just at the back of Messrs. Moora, Christie and Spinks' store, near the Police camp. There will be a large station yard here. All the formation works have been done right into Heathcote with the exception of a few cuttings which yet remain to be trimmed up. The fencing, a sunstantial one of wire and rails, is nearly complete.
A feature of the line is the few Gatekeepers' cottages that are to be erected. It is the first line where the American cattle pit system has been used and there are 17 of these crossings on the line. But for the Campaspe bridge and pier supply problems, Mr. O'Keefe believes he would be finished in three months. However he believes that he will finish by the end of May.
It may be mentioned that several Italians are already amassing timber at Moorabbee [Knowsley] to truck to Sandhurst as soon as the line is open. The township already shows unmistakeable signs of improvement. Several new buildings have been erected, and Mr. E Hayes, of Goornong, has established a store there. A butcher's shop is also in the course of erection.
The local railway works are being pushed on with vigour. Rails are laid to the Campaspe bridge. Bedrock is found in the river bed on the westerly side. Piles are laid in concrete and, in order to facilitate the work, every minute of daylight is used. One party of men work from 4am to noon and the other from noon to 8pm. Completion is likely to take several weeks.
• On January 28th, The Bendigo Advertiser reports: "Accidents at Axedale: A young man, named Michael Fitzpatrick, met with a serious accident while working on the local railway line on Thursday. Some excavating is being done where the local station is being situated, and he had charged a hole with dynamite to break away the earth. After lighting the fuse, he threw the lighted match carelessly away, and unfortunately for him, it fell on several pounds of loose powder which was lying nearby; a tremendous explosion followed, and Fitzpatrick was seen frntically tearing off his burning clothes. Help was speedily rendered and he was divested of his burning clothes. In the meantime, Mr. Minter and his buggy and pair had been called into requisition, and the sufferer was conveyed to the hospital, where it was found that he was badly burned; his face hands and arms having suffered most severely."
Mr. O'Keefe also has a narrow escape when some tackling he is using, falls. Two men are working on the scaffolding at the railway bridge when it gives way, sending one of them to the ground with such force that he is badly knocked out. The other saves himself by clutching a rope.
• Tenders are called for 14 Gatekeepers' cottages on the Sandhurst-Heathcote line. [The location of only a few of these gates have been identified at the time of writing - McIvor Highway, Hodges Lane, Axedale Station, Cemetery Road, Quarry Road and Kyneton Road, Heathcote, also at Kilmore and .... In the Supreme Court libel case of Speight v. Syme in 1893, evidence given by Walter Reynolds, shorthand writer to the Victorian Railways Commissioners, states that Gatekeeper positions are reserved for the widows of deceased railwaymen. They were also filled by the wives of railway employees].
• McIvor Shire Council receives a letter from the Heathcote Borough Council asking for cooperation in sending a deputation to the Railways Commissioners. Mr. Shackell had telegraphed that tenders for the Kilmore-Heathcote section would be accepted by April. A follow up query receives the response that tenders could be invited for the line in three or four months. This is telegraphed to Mr. Shackell and is also viewed as unsatisfactory.
• The contracted time for the completion of the Sandhurst to Heathcote railway has now expired but the rails are only laid to about a couple of miles past Axedale. The chief trouble has been at the Axedale bridge. The putting in of the last two piles at the bridge was a tedious job and some hair breadth escapes occurred. A long broken pole passed that close to Mr. O'Keefe that he lost a button as it rapidly descended.
• A large and enthusiastic meeting is held at East Cornella in support of a railway from Heathcote to Corop. The Heathcote and Corop Railway League is formed. Mr. Pook seeks cooperation at a later meeting in Heathcote but, despite some support, he withdraws. [He may have realised, or was convinced, that it is either too late or it might compromise the current line construction].
• A labourer named John Ronghan, working at the Axedale gravel pits in connection with the Sandhurst and Heathcote Railway, is arrested on a charge of stealing a blanket, the property of William Cook of the City Hotel, Bridge Street, Sandhurst. [The gravel pits may have been the ones near Knowsley].
• Tenders are called for the Mount Moriac and Forest line. The next line for which tenders are to be accepted is the Heathcote to Kilmore section of the Wandong, Heathcote and Sandhurst line.
• A locomotive belonging to Mr. O'Keefe, Contractor, is reported as running off the Sandhurst and Heathcote railway line between the junction [North Bendigo] and the Homebush [Strathfieldsaye Station site]. It is supposed that the points were displaced. There are no injuries. [Contrary to the report, this derailment appears to have occurred at the Axe Creek station site.]
On inquiry, the mishap is more serious than at first supposed. The three sets of points [Points at each end of the yard, and leading to the carriage dock? that are in the Axe Creek Station yard had all been tampered with, and it is evident that whoever had tampered with them, meant to derail the train - regardless of which way it came. Trucks on the train were loaded with navvies and, as they had all just been paid, it is surmised that the perpetrators had intended to rob them when they derailed. The engine is slightly damaged but manages to continue working. Another attempt takes place on the line at Moorabbee Hill with a piece of timber across the track. As the gradient is very steep and the engine is traveling slowly, due to the previous day's damage, a serious calamity is probably averted.
The railway is rapidly approaching completion and the contractor believes the rails will be laid into Heathcote by July 1. The delay is due to a succession of unforeseen circumstances.
• A newspaper reporter supplies a view of a trip on the Contractors train from Sandhurst as far as it is able to run at the time - Wild Duck Creek. It is only one week after the derailment. There also appears to have been a reporter from The Argus on board as there is reference to "Argus and I". The Guard had to scramble down and operate brakes on the trucks containing the navvies when running downhill, and sprinkle sand with a shovel in front of the train when going uphill, in order to maintain traction.
The trip commences at the junction of the line with the Echuca line at 6.30am. The engine looks battered and worn and the driver even more so. After a delay in waiting for the Guard, the trip commences and soon passes the powder magazine and the soap and powder factories, Mr. Downes property, the Grassy Flat Hotel, through Minter's paddock and then on to the McIvor Road crossing where the first Gatekeeper's cottage is encountered.
Once over Splitters Creek, Strathfieldsaye Station is reached in the middle of Mr. Holmes' property. The platform is 200 feet long and, on the right hand side of the permanent way, a carriage dock and goods siding have been constructed. [This detail seems a little strange as carriage docks were generally off the end of the passenger platform. Also, if similar to Knowsley, the platform would have been on the right and the goods siding on the left]. The line then passes through Messrs. Manning, Lazarus, Hogan and Craike's land where, just before entering, the second Gatekeeper's cottage is located.
A new departure has been made in the construction of the line. Gatekeeper's cottages are only being erected where there is a probability of considerable traffic. At all other crossings, the American system has been adopted where gates are done away with and vehicles can pass to and fro at pleasure. Cattle and sheep are prevented from straying on to the line by pits 16ft long, 6ft wide and 6ft deep on the sides of the roadway at each crossing. This saves the cost of Gatekeepers, their houses and their wages.
The crossing of the Axe Creek, close to Mr. Craike's house, is the first engineering difficulty. Piles could not be driven in the ordinary way. Construction was too difficult and the Railways changed to a sill bridge design with special piers and stronger piles. The coffer dams that O'Keefe constructed, were washed away three times, the 12hp centrifugal pump proved inadequate, and operations were suspended until Spring. The bridge has 16 openings - 4 of 20ft each and 12 of 16ft. each. The piles are 42ft. long, 24in. at the top and 18in. at the bottom. The piers now stand in 8ft. of water, 2ft 6in of mud, and 4ft. 10in. of rock.
The Axe Creek Station is half a mile from the creek, situated in Messrs. Lazarus Bros. paddock. Sweeney's Creek is crossed about half a mile further on, with a bridge of 23 openings of 11ft. each. The line continues through Grady's, Neylands, Nelson's and Bourke's properties, past the Acott Mine to the Axedale Station, about a mile from the township. Engineering difficulties prevented a more convenient locale.
Hargreave's Creek is negotiated by a bridge of 10 openings of 15ft each and a steep gradient brings the Native Creek and Campaspe into view. An immense embankment has been built and the bridges are between 30ft and 40ft above the ground. A stop is made at Mr. O'Keefe's camp, close to the bridge where breakfast is taken.
The two bridges are inspected while loading takes place. The bridge over the Native Creek has 14 openings - 13 of which are 15ft and one is 20ft. The Campaspe viaduct is 2,000ft long with 90 openings of 20ft each. The bed of the river has been filled with special piers, the piles are 50ft. long and they were obtained from New South Wales.
The journey is continued and soon Heffernan's place is passed and the train, with 10 trucks, moves at a snail's pace through some very heavy cuttings. Eventually, the wheels fail to grip and the train is divided. The first half is taken forward [would have to be to the Knowsley Gravel Pits or Knowsley station] and the engine returns for the remainder.
The train stops at the Knowsley Forest gravel pits, to let some of the navvies off, and then continues on to Moorabbee Hill. The Guard removes a piece of timber from the line. The Moorabbee Station [Knowsley] is situated at 18 miles from Sandhurst, near the McIvor Road. Wild Duck Station is situated about 5 miles further on. The earthwork is finished from there to Heathcote Station.
All the station buildings have yet to be erected and time must be allowed for the ballast to settle. Mr. O'Keefe's contract price for the construction was £88,409.
• An invitation for tenders for the construction of the Heathcote to Kilmore section of the railway is finally published. The construction of the line from Heathcote to Pyalong is to be completed by December 31, 1888, and the whole section should be finished by the close of 1889. Stations will be provided at Tooborac, Pyalong, Moranding and four other unidentified places. The construction contract is let to Messrs. McDermott and Son for the amount of £115,024/16/05. Over 596,000 cubic yards of earth will have to be manipulated, the highest bank will be 35ft, and the deepest cutting is 45ft. The line passes through hilly and well watered country. There will be 43 bridges, the longest of which, over the Pyalong Creek, will have 27 openings of 15ft each. There will be 30 culverts.
• The contract for the erection of goods sheds and platforms at Axe Creek, Axedale, Knowsley and Heathcote stations is awarded to F.G. and W. Crocker. The contract for the erection of goods sheds and platforms at 5 and a half miles [Bylands] and Kilmore is awarded to W. Blackwood.
• Cr. Abbott moves that the Railways Commissioners, when opening the new railway line from Sandhurst through the Shire of Strathfieldsaye to Heathcote, be invited to stop at Axedale to enable the council to oficially welcome them and partake of a glass of wine in celebration. Cr. Craike seconds [He had a vineyard at Axe Creek] and it is carried. Cr. Craike also moves that a sub-committee consisting of the whole Council make the necessary arrangements to give the Commissioners as hearty a welcome as possible.
• The Australian Natives Association arranges a picnic at Axedale for the coming Boxing day. The Railways Department says that the necessary trains will be supplied.
• Herbert Parker, a son of Mr. John Parker of Heathcote, is run over by a trolley on the side line used for trucking ballast for the Heathcote-Sandhurst railway. Parker, with 11 others is seated on a plank placed on the trolley and projecting about 8ft. beyond each end of it. While going down an incline at a rapid rate, Parker falls off and on to the rails. The trolley passes over him and runs off the line. The other lads are scattered in all directions, some are not injured and others only slightly injured. Parker is severely, but not fatally, injured. [If reported correctly, this would have occurred at the gravel pits near Knowsley].
• The opening of a number of new railway lines is announced for October 1st: The Great Southern Railway as far as Tooradin, the Crib Point line as far as Mornington Junction, Numurkah to Nathalia, Numurkah to Cobram, Shepparton to Dookie, Ballarat to Springs [Waubra], Sandhurst to Heathcote and Wandong to Kilmore. Timetables for the trains on the new lines are also announced. There will be two passenger trains each way, each day between Sandhurst and Heathcote and between Kilmore and Wandong. The Sandhurst-Heathcote line will be open for passenger traffic with stations at Strathfieldsaye, Axe Creek, Axedale, Knowsley, Wild Duck and Heathcote. Axedale, Knowsley and Heathcote will be open for light goods not requiring crane power or shed accommodation.
• Two line sections open on the same day, viz., Sandhurst-Heathcote and Wandong-Kilmore. The line was to be constructed in 15 months but floods in the creeks and rivers retarded progress. Even now the railway is not completed as some of the station buildings have yet to be erected. The special train carrying Mr. Gillies, Premier and Minister of Railways, and Mr. Shackell, leaves Melbourne at 8.30am and arrives in Sandhurst about 11.30am [via the main line]. At Sandhurst, the train is joined by Dr. Quick, and Mr. A. S. Bailes, Ms.L.A., the Mayor of Sandhurst, Cr. Hayes, the Town Clerk, Mr. Denovan, Mr. Andrew O'Keefe, Contractor for the Heathcote railway, Mr. M. Brennan, Secretary of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye, Mr. E. Warren, Secretary of the Shire of Huntly), Mr. S. Seward, Secretary of the Echuca Shire, and a large number of prominent Sandhurst citizens.
The train leaves Sandhurst at 12 noon for Heathcote. No stoppages are made at either the Strathfieldsaye or Axe Creek stations, and only a brief halt is made at Axedale. The next station is Moorabbee, where the train is brought to a standstill once more, to pick up Mr J. D. Bywater and one or two other well-known residents of the district. The journey was then resumed, and continued without interruption to Heathcote, arriving at 1.10pm - an hour and ten minutes' run from Sandhurst.
The inhabitants along the whole of the country traversed by the new railway turn out to see the special train rushing forward at high speed, and signify their delight by waving hands and handkerchiefs, and at all the principal places the occasion is marked by a pretty liberal display of bunting. At the Heathcote terminus some 500 persons congregate on the platform to receive the Premier, and as the train draws up, the Heathcote brass band plays the National anthem. The official party is then driven to the Heathcote Hotel where a banquet is held. Altogether, around 150 people are in attendance.
At the banquet, Mr. Shackell says he will not rest till he has secured the construction of the line he has so long advocated, viz., that from Elmore to Heathcote. [He has not had any rest since as, in 2014, there is still no such line].
Cr. McMaster proposes "Success to the new railway," coupled with the name of Mr. Andrew O'Keefe, the Contractor. He says that Mr. O'Keefe deserves all credit for constructing the line in the manner in which he has done. He entered upon the work single handed, and has carried it through successfully.
Mr. O'Keefe thanks the company for the hearty way in which the toast has been honored, and says he has done his very best to complete the work within a reasonable time. He had a very low price - a very poor one in fact - and had to contend with a bad winter. However, he had overcome all difficulties, and it is for them to say that day, as judges, if he has carried it out well. The departmental officers rendered him every assistance in their power. Although they had been very severe upon him as the Contractor, yet they were most courteous, and he had to thank them for their kindness and courtesy; also the whole of the neighbours right along the line. A voice then asks, "What about the profits?" Mr. O'Keefe answers with, "The profits are very small."
Mr. Taylor, of Kilmore, also responds. He says that, from his point of view, the wrong half of the railway had been commenced first, but he believes that the second half will be soon completed, and he hopes it will be carried on direct to Elmore. He also hoped that before long they would have a straight line on to Seymour.
The return to Sandhurst is accomplished in about an hour.
• The Railways Commissioners receive a suggestion for a platform to be erected near the Axedale Racecourse on the Sandhurst-Heathcote line. They promise to obtain a report on the matter for consideration.
• Mr. Gillies answers a question as to why the north end of the Kilmore-Heathcote railway, further from Melbourne, should be constructed before the south end. The Commissioners say they will be constructing a station at Tooborac. The line is through comparatively light country and the contract requires it to be ready by December 31st. The works at the Kilmore end are unusually heavy and cannot be completed before December 31st 1889.
• A discussion on the A.O.F, B.U.D annual picnic resolves that it be held next Boxing Day at Knowsley, a "splendid site" kindly offered to the society by Mr. J. D. Bywater, of Axedale. This is reported to be one of the best running tracks in Victoria and a splendid creek of pure water is within half a mile of the station and in every respect, compares favourably with the sites of past picnics.
• The clamour for railway connections, and the Sandhurst/Heathcote rivalry, does not stop with the opening of the line. It is reported that Sandhurst makes hay while Heathcote sleeps and will run circles round it before it gets its eyes properly open. Sandhurst is using every effort to secure a connection between Goornong and Rushworth. Heathcote is seen to be doing nothing about their Heathcote-Elmore connection and, if Sandhurst gets the cross-country Rushworth connection, Elmore will never happen.
There is also agitation for a line from Strathfieldsaye Station, on the Sandhurst-Heathcote line, direct to Lancefield. It is suggested that it will pass through Sutton Grange, Myrtle Creek, near the Redesdale terminus of the line now under construction, and then to Lancefield - about 40 miles in total. It is mentioned that the "proper course that the extension from Lancefield should take, is direct to Heathcote via Baynton" and the opportunity exists to support the people of that area.
• The new railway from Sandhurst to Heathcote has had the effect of blocking direct road communication between certain parts of the Pyalong Shire and it has become necessary to construct a new road to connect these districts in a more convenient manner. Council representatives apply to the Railway Commissioners for a grant.
• A carpenter, named Michael Russell, attempts to murder Andrew O'Keefe at View Point in Sandhurst, over a disagreement about a sum of money he believes O'Keefe owed him. Russell had been working for O'Keefe on the railway and had taken a sub-contract for gates, crossings and similar work on the line. Appropriate contracts were drawn up and, after the work was completed, O'Keefe's engineer had the view that the work was imperfectly finished and a number of gates would not close squarely. Russell is notified that his balance will not be paid until the faults are rectified. Russell would not do this and takes the matter to court. The case had been heard in October. The claim lodged was for £50/15/0 but that included an overcharge for certain posts and rails. The amount was reduced to £48/1/0. To the apparent surprise of Russell and his solicitor, O'Keefe's engineer said he had not approved of the work. This ended Russell's case, and costs, totalling £18/13/9, were given against him. Russell, being only an ordinary working man, is unable to pay.
Russell later meets with O'Keefe and they apparently agree on a settlement amounting to what O'Keefe views as the value of Russell's work. Russell says that O'Keefe agreed to pay him £30, and also pay his court costs. O'Keefe told Russell's solicitor that he had agreed to pay him £10 and the costs, and instructs the solicitor to credit Russell with £10.
Russell believes that O'Keefe has swindled him and thinks that he will get the shortfall. Russell says to his solicitor, "There's only one thing for it, and that's to put a bullet through him." His solicitor is astonished and, when he queries Russell as to whether he means to shoot him, Russell says, "Yes." The solicitor's counselling calms Russell.
Russell purchases a revolver, returns it as he thinks it is too stiff, and receives a replacement. It is said that the second revolver was not nearly such an effective weapon as the first. After a few attempts to obtain his money, Russell pulls a revolver, O'Keefe pushes it away, a shot is fired, and fortunately misses O'Keefe. A struggle ensues and a second shot is fired and strikes the ground near O'Keefe's foot. Russell regains control of the gun, presses it against O'Keefe's stomach and fires. O'Keefe calls out "Murder", and tries to hold the pistol away. It is again pointed at O'Keefe's breast and fired. The two men separate and O'Keefe is wounded by a bullet in the forehead and staggers back. Russell, thinking that he has killed O'Keefe, shoots himself in the right temple and dies on the spot.
O'Keefe's head wound consists of a bullet entry point in the centre of his forehead just above the root of his nose and another an inch and a half higher on the brow over his eye. The bullet entered at the lower hole, glanced along the bone under the skin and exited above the eye. On examining his stomach, it is found that a bullet has passed through the lower part of O'Keefe's vest, through the thick waist band of his trousers, and finished up under the inside lining. O'Keefe is driven to the home of Mr. J. P. Kennedy.
The Russell family, with four children aged 4 months to 7 years, lived at McIvor Road, near the Back Creek Police Station.
• Andrew O'Keefe is again in court. This time it is James Flee v. Andrew O'Keefe regarding recovery of the balance of money due for work and labour done in connection with a section of works in the Heathcote Railway to the value of £199. Flee, on agreement with O'Keefe, had apparently undertaken earthworks consisting of cuttings, side cuttings and formings and was to receive 75% of his price for all approved work, fortnightly. After commencing work as agreed, he had to leave it for wet weather for a considerable time. He returned later to find another Engineer who gave him different instructions that required carting the spoil from the cutting about half a mile away to the railway platform. After some progress, His Honour reserves his decision and makes arrangements for the various points of law to be argued in Melbourne.
• Properties situated on the Wild Duck and Mount Ida Creek, near Heathcote and known as Derrinal, Moorabbee, Langworner and Kilmure. are on offer for sale. These properties had, for many years, been occupied as dairy farms. The Kilmore-Heathcote Railway is seen as a selling point as, when it opens, a property called Kilmure [the site of the Wild Duck or Derrinal station] will be within about 64 miles of Melbourne.
• The [Railways] Traffic Manager and seven officers inspect the Heathcote-Tooborac section of the Heathcote-Kilmore railway. They find the line finished as far as Tooborac and good progress is being made with the remainder of the line with rails being laid as far as Pyalong.
• The Foresters' 26th Picnic at Knowsley promises to be one of the most successful outings ever held by the Order. The first train is scheduled to leave Sandhurst at 11am and subsequent trains will depart every half hour. All trains from Sandhurst and returning from Knowsley will call at Axedale.
The Railways notify that A.N.A picnic meeting arrangements have been made by which the first train (for Axedale) will leave at 8.30am and others at intervals all morning. It is reported that some unscrupulous persons are trying to palm off tickets to Knowsley on Boxing Day by urging that holders of tickets for that picnic will have the right to alight at Axedale or Knowsley at their option. The Railways Department states that that will not be the case and on no account will Knowsley ticket holders be allowed to break their journey at Axedale.
The annual St. Peter's Sunday School picnic is held with over 400 persons, including scholars and teachers, conveyed by special train from Eaglehawk at 9.30am to Knowsley Station. They arrive back home about 7pm.
Arrangements are made for a Church of England excursion picnic by train to Knowsley. The Railway authorities agree to grant a significant number of carriages for use of the children. Mr. Bywater kindly grants the use of his garden. The event is "the first of its kind that has ever taken place in Heathcote".
A notice of the Natives' Picnic to Axedale appears and it is to be "the greatest show for the Christmas season". Separate trains set apart for the picnic, will not proceed beyond Axedale. Special carriages will be added if required but Knowsley passengers will not be permitted to alight at Axedale. Ticket sales for the picnic exceed the most sanguine of expectations and the Axedale picnic will undoubtedly be the largest held in the district. [It is a little difficult to work out whether some of these picnics are horse races, picnics or a combination of both].
The Oddfellows' picnic to Axedale promises to be an attractive affair. There will be numerous sport, a splendid Brass Band and a special excursion train from Heathcote at 11.06am, returning at 6.15pm. It is the annual picnic of the various lodges of the Bendigo district. It will be held on the Axedale Racecourse on the banks of the Campaspe. The Knowsley picnic also gets a mention with confirmation that there is water there. This refutes another report to the contrary that had gained currency. All kinds of refreshments will be available at Sandhurst prices.
A Church of England picnic is also mentioned. Rain begins to fall as they leave Knowsley Station and does not let up and, eventually, Mr. O'Sullivan makes his home available for shelter. It is ultimately decided to return to Heathcote by the first train.
The Hon. Mr. W.P. Simpson, MLC, (of the firm Messrs. L. McPherson, Sternberg and Co. of Sandhurst) takes action to obtain cattle yards at Heathcote. Advice is received from The Secretary that both sheep and cattle yards had been ordered.
At an A.N.A. meeting, a request to have a box placed set apart in the reserve between the passenger platform and the goods sheds [at Sandhurst] for the purpose of exchanging tickets for railway passes, is made. It is also reported that a temporary gate has been made at the Axedale Racecourse at the nearest point to the railway station. Arrangements are also made to get 100 members of the Association to assist the Committee to get the trains loaded and safely away [from Sandhurst] on the morning of the picnic.
Organisers of the Foresters' Knowsley Picnic decide not to have fox terrier coursing on Police advice.
The Eaglehawk Athletics Club reports that the A.N.A. and the Foresters' picnics drew a large number of the local residents and decreased attendance at their own function. The Foresters' report that all the trains were delayed. A special train left Sandhurst at 11.15am, conveying picnicers to Axedale and the majority to Knowsley. The A.N.A. picnic reports that the Axedale picnic site is too far from the Axedale Station. Scarcely anyone thought that the picnic would "come off so well." There were about ten trains involved and a number of passengers had to be conveyed in the Heathcote ordinary train. The first train left Sandhurst about 8.30am and they continued to 1pm, whereas the last train was scheduled to leave at 11.35am. There were two booths on the ground but neither can be said to have been carried out properly with no temperance drinks available from one of them. The A.N.A. reports that 3,936 persons travelled by train to their picnic with another 1,000 persons in vehicles paying for admission at the ground. The Committee is instructed to take measures to induce the Railway Department to construct a siding at the Axedale picnic resort for the next Boxing Day picnic.
The grounds committee outlines measures to limit inconvenience for excursionists such as a sufficient supply of cabs and vehicles at the Axedale Station, another large marquee and another place for sun protection for the band, and a more accommodating booth with a plentiful supply of temperance goods.
A meeting of representatives of the Mandurang, Sutton Grange and Metcalfe Leagues meet and resolve, "That a railway, to be of the greatest benefit, not only to this district, but also to Sandhurst and the north central portion of the colony, must start for Melbourne from the south of Sandhurst, crossing the Sheepwash, Emu and Axe Creeks to the Ram's Horn, and township of Sutton Grange, thence as straight as possible to Green Hills".
The Railways Department makes a request for an alternative name for the Kilmore [East] railway station. They also request Kilmore Council's permission to lay down pipes to Kilmore Railway Station from the station reservoir.
The Railways Department agrees to contribute £200 towards the construction of a road [from Strathfieldsaye township] to the Strathfieldsaye Station if the Shire chooses to construct such a road.
Mr. J.H. McColl, MLA, receives a letter from the Deputy Postmaster General stating that a post office at the Axe Creek Station will receive due consideration.
Consignors and consignees often report theft of edibles on the Victorian Railways. A well-known resident of Taradale reports the theft of several pounds of peaches and grapes in a consignment from Axe Creek.
Mr. J.H. McColl, MLA, receives notice that a post office will be opened at the Axe Creek Station on March 1, in charge of Mr. John Betts, Stationmaster.
Mr. W.H. Minto, Strathfieldsaye Council Engineer, reports results of his flood damage inspection and submits a schedule of works and an estimate of works required to be done on the road between Strathfieldsaye Station and the township.
The Sandhurst City Council, Strathfieldsaye Shire Council and the Sandhurst branch of the Australian Natives' Association send a joint deputation to the Railway Commissioners to ask for the construction of a siding to the Axedale Racecourse as present visitors have to walk or ride a mile and a half from the nearest station [Axedale] on the Heathcote line. The Commissioners called for a return of the probable traffic with a view of acceding to the wishes of the deputation if possible.
Phillip Jones, Guard of the Heathcote-Sandhurst train gives evidence in a Police case against Emily Johnson. When the train was returning to Sandhurst and was pulling up at the Mosquito dam between Derrinal and Heathcote to take in water, he observed the defendant getting out the window of a carriage. She fell and he took charge of her and brought her into Heathcote and informed the Police. She gave as a reason 'her aunt was after her to send her to an asylum.' Her father promised to look after her.
Packages not exceeding 5cwt can now be accepted at Strathfieldsaye, Axe Creek and Derrinal stations.
At the Wild Duck road, behind the Black Swan Hotel, Mr. Moss, Butcher, 'went to his horse's head' as the train to Sandhurst approached. The horse bolted, knocking Mr. Moss down and racing a wheel over his leg and scattering articles in all directions. The horse ran the cart into a tree and pulled up. Parts of the harness were broken, the cover knocked off the cart and the meat was thrown out, but it fortunately fell on a cloth and escaped the dust. The driver of the train, on reaching Derrinal Station, came back with his engine and offered to take Mr. Moss into Sandhurst.
The Baptist Sunday School picnic is to be held at Axedale on Good Friday, along with the Presbyterian Sabbath Schools annual picnic.
The influx of railway traffic to the district is larger than it has been for several years past. About 1,350 passengers from Melbourne and another 1,000 from Eaglehawk. About 600 travel from Heathcote. The morning train is so crowded, additional trucks [sometimes open trucks were used in those days] have to be attached at Axedale. Three full trains are despatched to Melbourne that night. The whole of the traffic is carried on without accident and Mr. Reid, Relieving Stationmaster, was in charge locally. [This was probably Easter traffic].
The application for an Axedale Racecourse siding is approved.
Cr. Hudson [Kilmore] moves that the Railway Commissioners be asked to build a swing crane and cool storage rooms at Kilmore Station and also that the slight difference in the fares on the two lines be made the same. Cr. Phillips moves that Mr. Duffy be asked to see the Minister of Railways and ask him to place a loop line from Kilmore proper to some point on the Nort-Eastern line on the new Railway Bill.
The Railways Department says it is not necessary for Strathfieldsaye Council to submit plans of a bridge on the proposed road to Strathfieldsaye Station, but when the work of clearing, grubbing and forming has been completed, and the bridge [over Sheepwash Creek] constructed, and the inspecting officer certifies to that effect, the Department will be prepared to pay the £200 as previously agreed.
Sandhurst City Council urges the necessity for prompt and united action by all Borough and Shire Councils interested, to have the surveyed line of railway from Murchison to Benalla or Violet Town included in the next Railway Bill. Co-operation is granted. A tender is accepted from John Hawkins for £11/6/8 for grubbing and clearing a road from Strathfieldsaye township to the railway station. There is also a motion "That the Minister of Railways be written to, urging the necessity of including in the next Railway Bill an extension of the Kyneton-Redesdale line through the Strathfieldsaye Shire to join the main Sandhurst-Melbourne line at any convenient point south of Sandhurst; and that the Sandhurst, Eaglehawk, Metcalfe and Kyneton Councils be written to, soliciting their co-operation". Cr. Abbott says the present railway is very difficult to get at from many parts of the Shire. The connection will provide a shorter link to Melbourne and cut out the great detour by Castlemaine on the main line.
The tender for building the bridge over the Sheepwash Creek on the road to the Strathfieldsaye Station is not let and it is decided to apply to the Railways Department for an additional grant of £150, it being considered that the grant of £200 was inadequate.
A suburban railway radius is proposed in country districts. Sandhurst City Council receives co-operation from Eaglehawk, Inglewood, Shepparton, Seymour, Swan Hill and Castlemaine Councils for the proposed railway from Murchison to Benalla or Violet Town.
In replying to Mr. Sterry, Mr. Gillies says that the new siding at Axedale is at present in hand.
The promised introduction of a Railway Bill during the coming Parliamentary session has proved a veritable "red rag" in the eyes of the various municipalities of the colony, and has led to a general and persistant agitation for new railways, at least as far as the whole of the northern districts are concerned. The Redesdale to Sandhurst line, via Strathfieldsaye is not looked upon with any great favour.
Mr. Abbott waits on the Minister of Railways regarding the Redesdale-Strathfieldsaye-Sandhurst railway proposal. The Strathfieldsaye Shire Council debates their "lukewarm" response from Sandhurst City Council for support for their Redesdale-Strathfieldsay-Sandhurst railway connection proposal.
Work is progressing on the construction of the "picnic siding" near the Axedale Station. As no tenders were offered, the work is being done under the superintendence of a railway officer. The site is about half a mile from the racecourse which lies at the foot of the hill on which the siding will be constructed. The siding should make Axedale the "most suitable spot" for picnic gatherings within easy distance of Sandhurst. The total cost of the work is £1,800. A platform some 400 feet [122m] long, with the necessary shelter sheds and other buildings will be constructed. The work is expected to take 6 months to complete.
Continued wet weather puts a hold on the construction of the Kilmore-Heathcote and Lancefield rail lines. The contractors have rails laid from Heathcote to Pyalong and they contemplate finishing to Kilmore by the end of the year. Several hundreds of men are dismissed.
Bendigo Vine and Fruitgrowers' Association seek a site for a proposed viticulture college. The Whipstick Ranges, 3 miles from the proposed Elmore-Cohuna railway, Goornong, Marong, south of the railway at Axedale and 5 miles from Sandhurst near the Strathfieldsaye Station are proposed.
A meeting is convened to be held at the Shire Hall in Strathfieldsaye for the purpose of forming a railway league to agitate for the construction of a railway from Redesdale to Horseshoe Bend, and from there to junction with the Heathcote line at the Strathfieldsaye Railway Station. It is proposed to run the line between the Emu and Axe Creeks.
The Board of Viticulture visits Sandhurst to make arrangements for the establishment of a Viticulture College. The Goornong and Whipstick sites are withdrawn from contention.
The Redesdale-Strathfieldsaye rail connection meeting is held. Mr. Fox, who convened the meeting, says that he understood that the Government is not disinclined to continue the railway to Strathfieldsaye, but the residents of Derrinal on the Heathcote line are anxious for it to run to that place from Redesdale, while Redesdale people are more in favour of the Strathfieldsaye connection. Cr. Rundell said that there are two other routes suggested. The Metcalfe Shire Council, who gave their support to the Redesdale-Derrinal option in April, also grants support for Redesdale-Strathfieldsaye and Sandhurst option in May, and again supports Redesdale-Derrinal in June.
The six month rainfall in Sandhurst is 17.32 inches [440mm] - nearly half as much again as the total fall of 1888.
Mr. Gillies has evidently had enough of deputations and he will receive no more except those to which he has already promised an audience. A monster deputation is planned for Wednesday next.
The last train from Sandhurst to Heathcote, which reaches Axedale about 5.45pm, runs into the gates at the first gatehouse after leaving the station. The Gatekeeper says the gates were operated to let the train through as usual, but someone must have passed through a few minutes before the train was due and forgot to close them. It is the custom for the Guard to throw a paper out as he passes the gatehouse and 'the little daughter' ran out to pick it up when she heard the approaching train. She screamed out to her mother when she saw that the gates were closed. The mother was stopped from making an attempt to open the gates as the train was approaching at a rapid rate. There is little doubt that she would have been severely injured as the train hit the gates with some considerable force.
Residents in the Mandurang Riding of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye meet to discuss the action taken by a few residents close to Strathfieldsaye, who are desirous of having the terminal point of the proposed railway altered from a point south of Sandhurst Station, to that with the Strathfieldsaye Station. It is agreed that a meeting be held in Mandurang at an early date.
On the motion of Cr. O'Neill, the Town Clerk is instructed to bring up a report as to the action taken previously by council to have a tramway constructed from the Axedale bluestone quarries to the railway line.
Mr. Gillies has evidently had enough of deputations and he will receive no more except those to which he has already promised an audience. A monster deputation is planned for Wednesday next.
Sandhurst City Council receives a letter from the Shire of Euroa seeking support for the proposed railway from Sandhurst being taken via Murchison to Euroa, instead of Benalla or Violet Town.
The Strathfieldsaye Shire Council receives a letter requesting co-operation in an effort to induce the Minister of Railways to construct a tramway from Mr. Ingham's bluestone quarries at Axedale to the Heathcote railway line. Cr. Burke informs the City Council that there is a quarry situated much closer to the railway at Axedale than Mr. Ingham's quarry. If, however, after careful investigation, it is found that the construction of the proposed tramway to Ingham's quarries will be of equal justice to all concerned, the council will be glad to grant its hearty co-operation.
An "idiotic" practical joke at the "local" station. A first class passenger snatches a toy wooden horse from a boy about 3 years old. The horse is put out at the Axe Creek station, presumably due to being shamed by other passengers.
The Heathcote Mayor moves that the Railway Department be asked to allow longer time at Heathcote and the Sandhurst people are determined it should not be altered, the time suiting them. Cr. Robinson says that the line to Tooborac is to be opened about October 1. The Mayor also calls attention to the agitation for the extension of the Redesdale line to Derrinal. It is sought to extend it to Strathfieldsaye. He thinks that they might endeavour to get it as near to Heathcote as possible.
A deputation for the Redesdale-Strathfieldsaye railway line meets with the Minister. Redesdale representatives misunderstand the hour of the deputation and do not put in an appearance. Mr. Gillies says that he needs to say no more and will consider the proposals.
The Shire of McIvor requests assistance regarding the proposed railway timetable. They also give their support for the proposed tramway from the Axedale bluestone quarries to junction with the Sandhurst-Heathcote railway.
Cr. Hill says he attended the deputation on the Redesdale-Sandhurst extension. Mr. Gillies says it will be favourably considered, and if the line is made, it will go to Knowsley.
Mr. S. Parker applies for permission to erect a tramway to Tooborac Station from Major's Line, on the side of the road, pointing out that it will lessen the traffic on the road. [This is probably for timber carting and the first mention of what became the McIvor Timber Co. Siding].
The A.N.A. plans a Boxing Day picnic at Axedale. The Racecourse siding should be ready. The program will include horse racing and jumping as well as the usual athletic sports.
The Railways Commissioners consider providing uniforms to their officers and employees who come into contact with the travelling public. These consist of Stationmasters, Guards and Porters.
A complimentary return to the Bachelors' Social is given by the ladies of Axe Creek at the station goods shed.
The Railways Commissioners visit Heathcote. The Chairman, Mr. Speight, is asked for more substantial station buildings having the absence of shelter from the sun and inclement weather pointed out to him. He responds that it is not possible to carry out all the improvements on the various lines at once.
The Sandhurst City Council expresses regret in their previous non-co-operation [with McIvor] in the proposed effort to obtain a tramway. Cr. Craike moves that the request be granted. Cr. Young seconds it. Cr. Burke moves an amendment that no action be taken as he thinks they should not allow the Government to construct a tramway to Ingham's as there are others who also have large quantities of bluestone. Cr. Rourke seconds the amendment which is then carried.
The people of Mandurang discuss their options relative to the Redesdale-Sandhurst line, favouring the connection to Sandhurst. The flying survey of the proposed line is being actively carried out by Mr. Brown, the Railway Surveyor.
The Mandurang, Sutton Grange, Metcalfe and Strathfieldsaye Railway Leagues meet with the Minister and ask for a direct line from Taradale to Sandhurst by way of Sutton Grange.
The Secretary for Railways advises that the request for a tramway to Ingham's bluestone quarry will be forwarded to the Minister, Mr. Gillies. It is also resolved to make a fresh application for its construction.
The Loan Bill passes the Legislative Assembly but there will be some surprise as to the extent of the borrowing. When the Ministry took office, the loan expenditure was £1,500,000 per annum and other states had borrowed twice that amount. Last year, the Treasurer suggested borrowing £3,000,000. The loan expenditure of the colony has jumped suddenly from £1,500,000 per annum to £4,000,000. Mr. Gillies admits that two months ago he did not expect that the demands he has to make would be as heavy as they are. The new loan must be sanctioned as it covers existing liabilities which must be met.
The great bulk of expenditure has gone, and is going, on the railways which are in a transition stage. The old estimates on which the present construction scheme was based, has proved to be worthless. The clamour for new railways has finally reached a point where the process needs a different approach. The revenue statement, the public account, the railway finances, the waterworks expenditure form a chaotic mass, out of which it is difficult to evolve order. The one sure cure is to separate the railway account from the ordinary public expenditure as it is now a commercial department with a mission to pay its expenses. There is doubt that the country will approve the increasing expense and debt.
The Railways Loan Application Bill for £2,380,565 is passed through all stages.
The Tooborac line section is expected to be open on December 3rd. Rails are laid 7 miles further to Pyalong where a large bridge is being built. The opening of the section necessitates a change to the current timetable of two trains, each way, each day.
At a League meeting, it is decided to again remind the Minister for Railways that the proposed route for the Strathfieldsaye-Redesdale railway is the most centrally situated between the main line and the Sandhurst-Heathcote line.
A monster A.N.A picnic is planned for Axedale.
The Secretary of the Strathfieldsaye Railway League receives a letter from the Metcalfe League, expressing a desire to make some arrangement with the Strathfieldsaye people as to the route of the proposed railway from Redesdale to Strathfieldsaye. They will be quite content if the line passes the Red Gum store near the Metcalfe Shire Hall.
The A.N.A picnic train which leaves Eaglehawk for Axedale at 9.20am, will pick up passengers at California Gully.
Victorian Railways traffic returns for week ending 19th December: There are 2,317 miles open for traffic.
The railway from Tooborac to Pyalong will open on January 20th.
A successful A.N.A. picnic is held at Axedale. It is estimated that between 5,000 and 6,000 persons were on the ground - despite the number of alternative attractions. The railways, under the supervision of Mr. Hunter at Sandhurst, are to be congratulated. Twelve trains were run from Sandhurst and one each from Eaglehawk and Heathcote.