1890 to 1899

Historical information from 1890 to 1899.

History
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899

January, 1890 - Financial crisis is begining.

A newspaper article says that the original [1889] railway line for the residents of Mandurang, Sutton Grange, and Metcalfe districts was for a line from Sandhurst to Taradale. It was then modified to a line from Sandhurst to Green Hills on the Kyneton-Redesdale line. It is said that the proposed route is that originally surveyed for Melbourne-Sandhurst before the deviation to take in Castlemaine.

A flying survey is about to be made of the proposed route from Sandhurst to Green Hills via Mandurang, Sutton Grange and Metcalfe. The survey party has pitched their camp at Mandurang. The Mandurang League has submiited plans and plans from the Sutton Grange and Metcalfe Leagues are required.

It is decided that a deputation wait on the City of Bendigo in order to clarify their decision to support the line from South Sandhurst to Green Hills and urge them to support the proposed route from Strathfieldsaye to Redesdale.

A bushfire near the Derrinal Railway Station destroys a large quantity of grass on Mr. Speed's Estate. The station is sited on his property.

The Strathfieldsaye Railway League and the Mandurang League prosecuting a persistant agitation to secure the construction of the respective lines advocated by them. The Mandurang League had previously secured the support of the City Council. The Strathfieldsaye League seeks to have that support reversed to what it was previously. It is ultimately decided to procure the fullest information from all the leagues concerning the two routes before rescinding the resolution.

In a Letter to the Editor, Cr. Abbott offers comments on the Strathfieldsaye Railway League and City Council meeting. The clearing of the road to the two-miles-distant Strathfieldsaye Station is complete, but "will make no difference to the traffic at that station, which is now, and seems likely to be, represented by the word nil". He summarises his letter by saying that he wishes to secure for Sandhurst, a direct line to Melbourne which, as the crow flies, is not more than 80 miles.

Ganger Spain is sinking a well at the railway gates near Axedale and is standing on a ladder taking measurements. He falls back to the bottom of the excavation and strikes the bottom with his head and shoulders and it is a wonder he is not killed instantly. He is attended by Dr. J.M. Eadie.

In a Bendigo Advertiser Letter to the Editor, M. Rundell attacks what Cr. Abbott has said. He also calls the Mandurang League a sham.

Mr. Gillies is asked by a deputation from Knowsley and Wild Duck, to authorise a trial survey of a line from Redesdale to Knowsley, via Wild Duck. Mr. Gillies says the Survey Branch is fully occupied on surveying lines to be included in the railway construction bill due next May. He undertakes to inquire whether an examination can be made before the House meets.


February, 1890

• The Licensing court determines that the inhabitants of Axedale is numbered at 915 persons.

• In yet another Letter to the Editor in which "Stability" says that two leagues were formed and each of these has done their level best to outwit the other.

City Council receives reports from the leagues of both Mandurang and Strathfieldsaye, soliciting the council's co-operation in their cause. An 88 signature petition from ratepayers in the Strathfieldsaye Shire, views 'with alarm' the recent attempt of the Mandurang Railway League to rob the Strathfieldsaye township, and the centre of the Strathfieldsaye district, of its legitimate right to a railway. Cr. Somerville gives notice of motion for the next meeting to rescind the previous resolution, dated 20th May, supporting a line from Redesdale to Sandhurst.

City Council passes a resolution to support an extension from Redesdale to Sandhurst, to join the main Sandhurst-Melbourne line at any convenient point south of Sandhurst. After much discussion, the council agrees to defer their final decision until after the next meeting.

The South Heathcote Station on the Sandhurst-Tooborac line will be opened for passengers and light goods traffic on and after 1st March.


March, 1890

Mr. Rundell, Secretary of the Strathfieldsaye to Redesdale League, complains about a special meeting to be called to rescind a resolution passed at the council meeting in May last, regarding supporting a proposed railway route, and there being no such motion on the Minute Book of the Strathfieldsaye Shire Council. The Editor, Bendigo Advertiser, displays the resolution, and notes that it is slightly different to Mr. Rundell's version.

The Victorian Railways advises that a 6-ton crane will be provided at Heathcote Station. They also state that completion of the Pyalong-Kilmore part of the line is delayed due to a large cutting but it is expected that the line will open in May.

There are three rival Leagues, with the same basic object, and that is to obtain railway communications as direct as possible between Sandhurst and Kyneton through the tract of country to the east of Mount Alexander. The only question is whether it shall deviate to suit local requirements.

A special meeting is called to consider the advisability of rescinding a resolution dated 20th May last, supporting the extension of the Kyneton-Redesdale line through the Strathfieldsaye Shire, to join the main Sandhurst-Melbourne line at any convenient point south of Sandhurst Railway Station. Cr. Somerville moves accordingly but withdraws it after some dissention. On the motion of Cr. Abbott, seconded by Cr. Shanahan, the secretary is asked to urge on the Department, the advisability of surveying the third proposed route, which will take the line as near as possible to the Strathfieldsaye township, and then join the main line south of the Sandhurst Station.

Senior Constable Barry suggests that district woodcarters each bring in a load of wood as a gift to the charitable institutions on Easter Monday. He is confident that at least 500 tons will be sent in. Mr. Ingham, of Axedale, on being spoken to on the matter, readily promises to send an eight ton truck full. Mr. Barry thinks that the Railway Commissioners may be prevailed upon to provide free cartage.

The Government has applications for 6,200 miles of track, or three times the length already constructed. If they were all to be built, upwards of £40,000,000 would be required and, on current rates, would take 30 years to build.

Senior Constable Barry is making good progress with wood donations and visits Strathfieldsaye and the Emu, Lower Emu and Sweeney Creeks, and farmers will decide at a meeting. Trucks of wood have been promised from Knowsley and Goornong. Over 70 tons are expected from Huntly and Bagshot, over 120 tons from Raywood and Sebastian and over 70 tons from Derrinal. Echuca and Inglewood lines are expected to produce up to 500 or 600 tons.


April, 1890

• City Council is advised that the application for plans of the flying surveys of the rival railway routes from Strathfieldsaye to Redesdale, and from Sandhurst to Green Hills, will be complied with upon the completion of the surveys which will be in about six weeks time.

The Railways Department has arranged to run supplementary farmers' excursions next month including May 12th, Melbourne to Strathfieldsaye, and all stations thence to Tooborac, returning the next day.

The Bywater property at Knowsley is put up for sale with horses, cattle, sheep, machinery, etc. A special train will leave the Sandhurst Station to convey potential purchasers.


May, 1890

• The last connecting rail to Kilmore is laid and when ballasting and fencing is completed, the line from Melbourne through Kilmore and Heathcote to Sandhurst will be opened for traffic. The section Sandhurst-Heathcote was opened some time ago, and later to Tooborac. The southern section from Kilmore Junction has been also working for twelve months. The Contractors, Messrs. McDermott and Sons deserve every credit.

A conference of representatives from the municipal bodies of the various Boroughs and Shires and Leagues interested in the construction of a national cross country line of railway connecting the Eastern, Northern and Western railway systems is to be held in Melbourne. The national benefit to flow from the connection of the three short railway line links - Murchison to Violet Town, Goornong to Rushworth, and Kangaroo Flat to Havelock - must be obvious to everyone. This will connect Victoria to New South Wales and South Australia and will create an almost straight line from Wodonga to Portland.

• There are now 2,430 miles open, compared with 2,199 for the previous year. Total revenue is £51,803/10/0, compared with £49,948/7/9 the previous year.


June, 1890

• A rather large and interesting article in The Argus covers a number of items and, along with railway management in general, mentions that there is not the slightest chance of a Railway Bill being carried by the present Government because they have no money, and also contains a suggestion that the Government should be turned out of office, and might just as well go out now as a few months later.

• Mr. Faul, of Sandhurst, is experimenting with a new way of lighting carriages on the Sandhurst line.

• People are complaining of inadequate timetabling on the line where trains are made to return so rapidly that it is impossible for business people to use the line at all.

The current Railway Construction Bill has no line from Sandhurst to Green Hills, Strathfieldsaye to Redesdale, Sandhurst to Havelock, Goornong to Rushworth, Murchison to Viloet Town, or any mention of Cross Country Railway proposals.

A Letter to the Editor from Mandurang - The public takes little interest in the claims of rival railway routes that are not included in the bill now before the House, but when erroneous statements are published it becomes necessary to contradict them, as silence is said to give consent. In countering claims that the "Mandurang party" has been trying to divert a proposed line around Strathfieldsaye, he says that Mandurang does not want a line to Redesdale and never asked for one. The writer suggests that glowing statements respecting the wealth of Strathfieldsaye 'leave no room to doubt that Sandhurst must soon cease to be considered the principal town in the Bendigo district.' He then says 'The Strathfieldsaye Railway Station has only been in use about a year and it is currently reported that the local traffic is already nearly enough to pay for the axle grease.' He ends with, 'It is astonishing that the Redesdale people don't see the advantage they will gain by railway connection with the London of the future, and actually prefer a junction with the Heathcote line at Knowsley'.

All the railways trend towards Melbourne. All the lines trend from the north to the south. Sandhurst has been agitating for years for a connection to the North-East. The national cross country line is not in the Railway Bill and the meeting resolves to continue agitation. The length of line required is only about 80 miles.

Cr. Abbott moves 'That this meeting is of the opinion that the non-inclusion of a line of railway through Strathfieldsaye to Sandhurst is a great injunction to one of the oldest settled agricultural districts in the colony.' It is difficult to see why they have been left out and the cross country lines have been treated most 'cavalierly' by the Government.

The Railway Bill causes indignation 'throughout the country.' Sandhurst has special reason to complain as the claims of the district have been passed over.

The Railway rates for milk cartage by goods trains is lowered for long distances, and milk can now be carried by passenger trains at lower rates in smaller quantities.

The most important matter of a goods shed for South Heathcote is discussed at a meeting. No provision is currently made for the storage of goods and there will be an even greater need when the line is opened to Kilmore.

Messrs. Burrowes, Bailes, Sterry and Williams, McIntyre and Highett, will act in consort in calling members of the House together to get the cross country line included in the Bill, and also the line from Redesdale through the Shire of Strathfieldsaye. Steps are being taken to have the required railway connections included in the Amended Railway Bill, with the following municipal bodies co-operating: Sandhurst, Warrnambool, Chiltern, Numurkah, Swan Hill, Raywood, Maryborough, Marong, Ararat, Hampden, Talbot, Rushworth, Eaglehawk, Inglewood, Portland, Euroa, Benalla, Wangaratta, Beechworth, Avoca, Bet Bet, Dundas, East Loddon, Gordons, Goulburn, Hamilton, Strathfieldsaye, Shepparton, Waranga and many others.


July, 1890

A sub-committee is appointed in caucus to receive recommendations on the national connections, and as 48 members promise their support, there is every possibility that they will be included in the Bill. Mr. Sterry, the member for South Sandhurst, recommends the inclusion of a line running through the centre of the Strathfieldsaye Shire, and also supports the National Railway connections. Mr. H.R. Williams recommends a line from Huntly or Bagshot to Cohuna.

A meeting is held in Mia Mia in support of some portion of the Lancefield-Heathcote line being included in the Supplementary Bill. It is decided to send a deputation.

Cr. von der Luft [McIvor] moves that application again be made to the Railway Department to do the approaches to South Heathcote Station.

Mr. M. Rundell, League Secretary, forwards a circular to all members of Parliament setting forth the approximate statistics of the chief productions of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye in support of the proposed line: 600 acres of vines, 80,000 gallons of wine, 200 tons of table grapes, 6,000 acres [243ha] of cultivated land, 4,000 acres [1,619ha] under hay, 650 orchard acres [263ha], 229 miles is the area of the Shire and the population is 5,000 persons.

There are now 2,403 miles open, compared with 2,199 for the past year. Total returns are £50,246/5/0 compared with £52,496/11/4 the previous year.

Messrs. McDermott and Sons, Contractors for the Kilmore-Heathcote section, advise that their trains for passengers and goods meet all Government trains daily. [This implies that they were running some level of local passenger service].

A line from Elphinstone to Tallarook is advocated at a meeting in the Melbourne Town Hall with 40 gentlemen from the districts of Castlemaine, Chewton, Metcalfe, Maldon, Yea, Tallarook, Kyneton, Alexandra, Pyalong, Mansfield and Seymour. The railway has been advocated for nine years and there is no desire to 'embarrass the Government or participate in a scramble.' It is moved that the line be immediately completed. Elphinstone to Tallarook is put up as a superior alternative to a connection through Sandhurst as it will be only 40 miles against the 80 miles that is stated as necessary for the Sandhurst scheme, and it will save £250,000. It is mentioned that in 1881, Mr. Bent, the then Minister of Railways, recognised that this scheme for connecting the two lines should be adopted as a National one.

Mr. Shackell, MP, asks the Railway Department to consider establishing an insurance fund, by adding a half-penny or a penny a ton to freight rates, to recoup consignors for any damage done by fire to goods or produce lying at stations in transit.

Mr. Shackell is officially advised that Heathcote to Kilmore will be opened for traffic on August 22nd.


August, 1890

Ratepayers ask for improvements to the road to South Heathcote Station.

The Railways advise that traffic rates can only be provided once the line is open. Mr. Shackell advises, with official information, that the line will open August 22nd. A deputation is not necessary unless desired.

Resolutions are passed in Rochester in favour of a line from Heathcote to Corop.

The Puckapunyal Railway League asks for co-operation and influence to have the their connection placed on the Modified Construction Bill.

The Railways acknowledges receipt of a letter regarding the state of the roads leading into the South gates of the South Heathcote Station. They also say that roads outside railway property should be undertaken by local council and the Commissioners can do no more than what they offer in their letter of October 20, 1889. A petition is lodged by several ratepayers requesting that approaches be made to South Heathcote Station and lamps provided. An amount of £80 was previously offered by the Railways.

A number of Heathcote ratepayers ask Council to urge the Commissioners to make the Kyneton Road gate a privileged one to do away with the delays in the gate being opened.

Heathcote residents call attention to dampness to their residences from a dam constructed [supposedly] by the Railways Department - the dam being considerably above the level of the foundations of their residences and, in the summer, the obnoxious smell will be very injurious to health.

A reporter follows the survey of the proposed Elmore-Heathcote railway connection. The reporter concludes that the district will be better served by a connection from Goornong to Colbinabbin.

Cr. Hoskins asks as to the cost per yard of bluestone procured at Axedale and delivered at the Sandhurst Station. He wants to test whether the Axedale stone would be better for road metalling than the reef stone currently being used. The Surveyor reports that it is harder and should last three times longer. Quartz is a favourite but bluestone is superior. Metalling the roads will effect a considerable saving in gravelling.

The final section of the railway from Tooborac to Kilmore is opened. Stations are established at Willowmavin, Moranding, Glenaroua and Pyalong. The timetable shows three trains daily from Wandong.

The Kilmore Stationmaster, Mr. Dunbar, is transferring to Elmore.

William Brown, the son of a line Repairer, has his foot badly crushed. Some lads, in an effort to get a better view of a pugilistic encounter, climb some sleepers, some of them roll down, and three of them pin his foot to the ground. The other lads set him free and, Mr. Bennett, the Stationmaster, carries him home to his parents.


September, 1890

Mr. Rundell, Secretary of the Strathfieldsaye Railway League, is asked to communicate with Mr. Gillies, the Minister of Railways, and ask if he woill, seeing that the new lines are supposed to be dealt with on their merits, receive a deputation in reference to matters appertaining to the line proposed by them.

The road bridge over the Campaspe River at Axedale catches fire. Buckets of water from the river are used in an unsuccessful attempt to put it out. Firefighters scorch their shoes in a pile of ashes. About 30 or 40 feet [9m or 12m] of the bridge is completely destroyed. Mr. J.D. Bywater, McIvor Shire Councillor, notices the fire on his way into Sandhurst. He at once engages a number of gangers [Repairers] employed on the railway to try and put the fire out, and also to place timber across the roadway so as to prevent persons with vehicles passing along there. The bridge was built by the Government some twenty seven or more years previously and was regarded as one of the best bridges in the colony. It is thought that the fire started in flood debris under the bridge. The council attracts some ctiticism for not clearing debris from under the bridge after floods. At the railway bridge, a short distance away, men are engaged after every flood to remove and burn debris. Had the council adopted the same plan, the present trouble would not have arisen.

The Bill now before the Legislative Assembly for the appointment of a Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works, is a new departure in the management of public works of the colony. Ostensibly, its purpose is to secure a full inquiry into the details of costs and merits of public works, particularly railways, before any work is undertaken. There will be no leap in the dark as proposed by the Government Railway Bill, committing the country to enormous expenditure on profitless works. It is much to be regretted that such a committee is rendered necessary, its appointment is the severest condemnation of the Railway Department, from its political head downwards, that could be given. Whether the country will be better served by an independent board remains to be seen. It will depend upon the character of its members.

There is one aspect of this Bill to which country members should pay special attention, namely that there is no chance unless they have been surveyed, for national cross country lines, which may be of infinitely more value to the country than any of the lines in the Gillies' Railway Bill.

The steps necessary to change the name of the City from Sandhurst to Bendigo, are advanced another stage, when the council adopts a petition that the desired alteration be made. Crs. O'Neill and Carolin speak and vote against the petition being forwarded.

Mr. Shackell receives a letter from the Railways Commissioners regarding a milk train being put on to leave Axedale at 6.22pm and arrive in Melbourne at 11.48pm.

Mr. Harrop complains that Mr. J.D. Bywater has closed the road to the Knowsley Railway Station at Knowsley. Although not surveyed, it has been used for 20 years. The other open road is not passable. Mr. Bywater says it is his son's selection and there is a gate.

Another Bachelors' Social is held in the Axe Creek Station goods shed.

A reader is unhappy about football being played on Sundays and then, after being criticised about it in an earlier article, changes direction and comments on the 'great scarcity of railway trucks.' No less than eighty trucks were required and only sixteen are supplied.

The net revenue for the year falls short of the interest accruing on railway loans by £221,482.


October, 1890

Mr. C.D. Hall, Stationmaster, is transferred from Heathcote to Birregurra Station. He is replaced by Mr. Sussems.

South Heathcote is about to have a goods shed erected.

The Railways Commissioners state that on making an offer of £80 as a contribution to South Heathcote roads maintenance, they have really done more than they are legally required and are unable to increase the offer. They also acknowledge receipt of a letter regarding the Kyneton Road gates and they will be made privileged gates on and after September 1st. In addition, they say that the dam near the Heathcote railway was not made by the Department, is outside the railway land, and is not the responsibility of the Commissioners.

The Mayor, Heathcote, states that they ought to try and alter the Sandhurst midday train and have a later one running. Cr. Sims moves that the Town Clerk ask the Stationmaster if any word has been received from the Commissioners, and if not, to telegraph to the members of the district, to have the train altered. The Mayor also states that several persons have asked him to try and have the railway gate on the Long Gully [Heathcote] Road kept open when the trains are not running. Cr. Sims moves that the Commissioners be suitably requested.

Mr. Gleeson and twenty three other ratepayers request council to open a road along the south side of the railway line from Knight's gate and the railway station yard at Axedale. [This may actually apply to Axe Creek and not Axedale].

The Railways Commissioners deal with a tender for various works. The erection of a goods shed at South Heathcote Station goes to Seychemne and Rowley for £312/11/0.

The Railways Commissioners advise that the railway station recently opened and named "Glenaroua", on the Sandhurst railway, has been changed to "High Camp Plain" and also advise that cattle yards will be erected at Pyalong.

The Kilmore Free Press advises that the Public Health Department writes to regarding the suppression of a contagious disease at railway camps. No specific details are provided.

The Victorian Railways advise that there are now 2,609 miles open, compared with 2,271 the previous year and a total revenue of £57,153/15/0 compared with £60,520/5/2 the preceding year.

A number of new lines are proposed by private members, and directed to the Parliamentary Standing Committee. Some of them:

Bagshot to Waragamba - Mr. Highett, Redesdale through the Shire of Strathfieldsaye to junction with the Sandhurst line - Mr. Sterry, Kangaroo Flat to Havelock - Mr. Sterry, Goornong to Violet Town - Mr. Burrowes, Huntly via Kamarooka to Tomara - Mr. Williams, Corop to Rochester - Mr. Webb, and Mooroopna to St. Germains - Mr. Webb.

Four men, prospecting the Crown lands between the Heathcote line and the main Heathcote road [McIvor], about a mile nearer Axedale than the Knowsley Station, discover alluvial gold. They worked on in the Axedale direction and started to sink on the top of a hill, twenty miles from Sandhurst, which bears the local name of Gravel Hill, because it is the site from which Mr. Andrew O'Keefe obtained his ballast when constructing the railway line. In fact, the track of the tramway used by Mr. O'Keefe, leads from the railway near Knowsley, direct to the site of the rush. Prospectors flock to Knowsley. The road to the "rush" turns off the main road to the right from Sandhurst to Knowsley. The article mentions 'go through the properties of Messrs. Cuthbert and J.D. Bywater'.

One thousand men are on the ground. People from all parts visit O'Keefe's gravel pits and an observer at Donald Mathieson's old hostelry, on the main road between Axedale and Moorabbee, will have had an ample opportunity of studying human nature from 'early morn to dewy eve'. A good judge estimates that at least 150 men are engaged in sinking holes, while the number of men in the field at various times, including workers and lookers-on is estimated at a thousand.

The Knowsley Gold Rush is situated about a mile and a half from the Knowsley Station in the direction of Axedale on the right hand side of the railway line going from Heathcote, and at the back of the old Knowsley Hotel, proprietored in the first and golden days of Bendigo and McIvor, and afterwards by the late respected Mr. D. Matheson. There are stated to be three different runs of gold, the ground getting deeper as it ascends the hill, the prospectors' claims being at the top of the hill. Since the first reports, the prospectors are stated to have washed about half-a-pennyweight to an oil can of dirt knocked out. Trains leave Sandhurst at 6.40am for Knowsley and passengers may return by goods train in the evening. The rush, we are sorry to hear, is beginning to be regarded as a failure.

The Railways Department deal with tenders for:

Erection of sheep and cattle yards at High Camp Plain - J. Parker, and

Erection of goods shed and platform and fuel platform at Redesdale Station - Bulte and Co., £373/17/4 (15 tenders), and

Erection of sheep and cattle yards at Pyalong Station - J. Parker, £207/19/2 (5 tenders).

The destruction which is being caused by the burning of timber for locomotive purposes is (says The Age) becoming alarming. Claims are being rendered almost daily for damages sustained by fire caused by burning embers falling from the engines' funnels. The Railway Commissioners hold that, as they are obliged to run trains by burning wood, to meet the convenience of the public, they ought not to be made to suffer the whole loss of making good, damages thereby created. They plan to offer to pay half the damages at a date to be fixed, on the understanding that the claimants will sustain the other half.

The Railways Assistant Traffic Manager says, in a reply to a letter from Mr. W.H. Allen, South Heathcote, that an extra goods train is now running on the Heathcote line, and that more wagons are now being supplied.

The Railways Commissioners are now having composite carriages constructed for use on the cross country lines. Each carriage will have first and second class sections, ladies' compartments, smoking compartments, lavatories, etc.


November, 1890

Unfortunately the rush at Knowsley has not come up to expectations and the interest in it appears to be dying out.

The Eaglehawk Wesleyan Sabbath School picnic will be held at Axedale November 19th.

McIvor Council receives a communication from the City of Sandhurst, asking if it is favourable to send a delegate to deputation, with a view to constructing a tramway from the Axedale railway to the bluestone quarry. Cr. Hill is not in favour of it, Cr. Bywater moves that a delegate be sent as, if it were not for the City of Sandhurst, they would not have got the railway from Kilmore. Cr. McMaster seconds the motion, the quarry being in the Shire and is rateable. Cr. Hill then says the quarry puts the matter in a different light. The President is appointed delegate.

Cr. Craike presents a petition from Terence Canny and 76 other residents of Axedale, for permission to use the Axedale Racecourse siding for the loading of wood and produce. The petition is to be forwarded to the Railways Department.

A petition to the Railways Commissioners, for an additional road on the North side of the goods shed, is hung at the Knowsley Station and has a "good number" of names attached.

An inquiry is held in the Knowsley waiting room, by Mr. Todd of the Permanent Way department, into a disturbance between two line Repairers. One "ganger" threatened to lay one of his assistants out with a shovel. The young man objected, not so much to being laid out, but to the choice of weapons. He was quite content to try conclusions with single-sticks, gloves, or even the 'raw 'uns,' but shovels, in these days of advancement, were extremely revolting. Mr. Todd sent both men back to work after counselling.

The wise and wiseacres discuss a creamery for Knowsley. Nearly a ton of butter and over fifty large cans of cream are leaving weekly.


December, 1890

The Railway Department maintains its reputation as posessing an unconquerable faculty for perpetrating blunders of the most extravagant character. Several weeks ago it was reported that 10 of the 30 refrigerating trucks for dairy produce had been completed. The Commissioners state that they will not apportion the ice cars until all have been completed. As a consequence, five of the cars are now standing idle on the rails and there is no indication as to how much longer they will do so. The remaining five cars are being used for the carriage of wheat. While the authorities can find no better use for the refrigerating cars, Delatite farmers are unhappy about their consignments of butter being carried to Melbourne in firewood trucks.

A numerous and representative deputation is arranged to wait on the Minister for Railways to urge on him the necessity of constructing a tramway from Ingham's quarries at Axedale.

The Secretary for Railways acknowledges receipt of the Shire of Strathfieldsaye's letter enclosing a petition from residents near the Axedale Station in reference to a siding [the Axedale Racecourse Platform] being opened for loading wood and produce.

A serious accident happens on the Heathcote railway near Pyalong when a train from Wandong to Sandhurst dashes into a mob of cattle which are travelling along one of the crossroads over the railway. Four animals are cut to pieces, the leading and middle wheels are derailed and the engine is damaged underneath. A number of navvies work during the day and are able to have the engine rerailed before evening.

The Railways Commissioners advise that there are now 2,687 open for traffic, compared with 2,317 the previous year. Total returns were £63,663, compared with £58,757 the previous year.


January, 1891

Mr. Norman, Railways Engineer, is to arrive in Sandhurst at 10.55am to proceed to Axedale by the 12.30pm train in order to see what is required to connect Ingham's quarry with the railway to Heathcote. The Shire of Sandhurst Surveyor will accompany him. [Although, at the time of writing, I have never come across conclusive proof that a tramway was ever constructed, a dead-end siding is operating on the line at the site of the present day Axedale Quarries, in September of this particular year].

Locusts stop the late passenger train from Sandhurst to Melbourne by preventing wheel traction while ascending the incline opposite Mr. D. Griffin's residence near High Camp Plain. The front portion of the train is taken forward and the engine returns to pick up the rear. As the connecting train is missed at Wallan, a through trip has to be made to Melbourne. The train returns to Wallan the same night. A number of trains are also delayed on the North-Eastern line through the same cause.

The Kyneton-Redesdale line will be opened for the carriage of passengers and light goods on and after January 15th. Intermediate stations have been established at Green Hill, North Lauriston, Edgecombe, East Metcalfe, Emberton and Barfold. A station called Redesdale Junction is opened about two miles north of Kyneton. The contract was let to Messrs. Parker Brothers who failed to properly discharge their duties and it was re-let to Messrs. H.M. McNeill and Co. in August 1888. It is not anticipated that traffic on the new line will be great. It may pay in the course of three or four years. The newspaper article adds that it is intended at some future time to extend the line in the direction of McIvor, effecting a junction at Knowsley, by which another connection will be formed between the Murray River and the North-Eastern lines.

Several new buildings have gone up in Knowsley - including a wine shop and a bakery. Visitors come from Sandhurst, Heathcote and surrounding district for a picnic held in Mr. O'Sullivan's paddock. On another matter, owing to another site being rejected, Mr. J. Bywater offers land near the railway station for the Catholic Church. [This should be the church in Bywater Street]. On still another matter, the local Stationmaster returns from holidays loaded with ferns for the station garden.

Just as the evening train is leaving Knowsley for Heathcote on New Year's Day, a young lady who is asked two or three times if she is joining the train, attempts to board as the train moves off. There may have been a serious accident but for Driver Boswell's actions.

Of the 30 refrigerating cars constructed for use this summer, 18 are now running and, as they meet all immediate demands, no further cars will be put on for the present. They are now in daily use on the Gippsland, North-Eastern, Goulburn Valley, Yarrawonga, Swan Hill, Wycheproof, Sandhurst, Donald, Echuca, Port Fairy and Warrnambool, Kyneton and Serviceton lines.

Representatives of the Locomotive Engine Drivers' Association congratulate Mr. Speight on his re-appointment as Chairman of Commissioners. However, their offer of giving him a banquet can not be accepted.

The Railways Department acknowledges receipt of letter urging the erection of a verandah at Tooborac Station.

There is general dissatisfaction with the running of trains on both the North-East and the local lines. On the Wandong and Sandhurst line, trains are run at such times, in such a fashion, and at such a pace, as to prevent traffic instead of promoting it.


February, 1891

A bushfire rages at Derrinal. The locality of the fire is stated as several miles down the Campaspe, below Axedale. Another fire occurs on Mr. Andrew O'Keefe's Adelaide Vale Estate on the Campaspe River where a quantity of grass and firewood is destroyed. A third and more serious fire rages in the Whipstick.

Axedale races take place on the 18th with a special train leaving Sandhurst for Axedale Racecourse at 1.15pm, returning at 5pm.

A tea and coffee stall at the Knowsley Station is much required. From Sandhurst to Wallan, passengers must drink water, and this enforced temperance breaks out with greater virulence once Melbourne is reached. As a consequence, one may often be tempted to take a little too much, whereas if the stomach were toned up by light refreshments, the craving for drink, if not absolutely removed, would certainly be minimised.

The Railways Department does not agree to the request to use Axedale Racecourse platform for the loading of wood and produce.


March, 1891

Mr. Sterry, MLA, on a visit to Axedale, is alerted by some residents, to the necessity of having sheep yards erected at the railway station. Despite an earlier agreement from the Commissioners, the yards have not been provided. He is advised by Mr. Speight, Chairman of Commissioners that, as retrenchment is the order of the day, the work can not be undertaken and has to stand over until some future time.

Mr. T. Craike presides over a meeting of fruitgrowers in the Crown Hotel, Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. Negotiations are proceeding with the Commissioners to get them to provide cooling trucks for apple conveyance.

Instructions are given by Postmaster-General, Mr. Duffy, for a post office to be opened at Willowmavin Railway Station.

The Powlett Street gates at Kilmore are "made into smithereens" by the last rain from Sandhurst to Melbourne via Kilmore on Saturday 14th. Although the gates were closed, the red light was not shown [towards the Driver]. The gates had been damaged before and, Mr. R. O'Dea, the Gatekeeper, had made an application to retire in consequence of his memory being defective. A memo, consenting to Mr. O'Dea's retirement, was written on the same day of the accident.

A trolley, running at high speed, leaves the rails between the Lancefield-Kilmore Railway and the gravel pits near Kilmore. Two men, John Mitchell and Walter Smith, are thrown off. Smith is stunned and hurt, but Mitchell dies soon after from his injuries.

Messrs. Williamson and Hunt, MPs, wait on the Railways Department regarding a proposed water supply scheme. They receive a reply, 'The Kilmore Water Trust has been advised that with a view to assisting them in the establishment of a water supply at Wallan, the Commissioners would be glad to increase the offer made by Mr. John Robertson in the matter from £300 to £350 per annum - the conditions being the same, viz., that a sufficient supply of suitable quality be available, and the offer subject to revision hereafter as the requirements of the Department increase'.

A special meeting receives a letter about the establishment of a Creamery [milk factory] in Kilmore. During discussion, it is suggested that there should also be creameries established in the district - there could be one at High Camp Plain, one at Springfield [Lancefield line] and one in each quarter of the district for separating the cream from the milk. There would be a central factory.


April, 1891

Notwithstanding the eight trains a day, plus numerous specials, the overworked Knowsley Stationmaster is left, as far as the Department is concerned, unaided in his laborious duties. On an average, 50 loaded trucks leave each day, to say nothing of loaded inwards and passenger traffic, and yet the head of the 'best managed railways in the world' cannot afford a cockney's son at the salary of five bob a day to assist him. At other stations not very far away, where formerly two horses and a go cart supplied the wants of railway communication, no less than two of these worthies may be seen. It also has been heard that the Stationmaster, Mr. Middleton, has applied for a transfer.

Polling, on the same lines as a Municipal Council Election, for the name change for Sandhurst, takes place. The name receiving the most votes will win.


May, 1891

A young man whose proper name 'has not yet been found' causes quite a sensation in Axedale. He purchases some powder and caps at the local store and goes round the town flourishing a revolver. He is met at Drake's Hotel by Constable Nonmus. After a scuffle, he is conveyed to the lockup. His swag contains a large sheath knife and he expresses regret at not being able to get to the knife so that he could run it through the Constable. The man resists violently on the way to the railway station and Nonmus has to have assistance to get him on the train. He gives several names but remarks that he is 'too knowing' to give a policeman the correct one. A bunch of keys is found on him.

During shunting, a number of trucks are picked up from the Kilmore carriage dock. The Guard is apparently not aware that the carriage dock runs to the turntable and, to bring the trucks onto the main line, it is necessary to work the points. Consequently, when the engine pulls forward, the trucks attempt to run on to the turntable track and the foremost truck is pulled completely off the rails. Traffic delay is caused.

Engine Driver Geo. Gardiner, who met with an accident on the Wandong-Sandhurst railway at Kilmore on the 18th, is progressing favourably, considering the injuries he received. Gardiner appears to have been rather unfortunate as he had had a previous accident under similar circumstances in Melbourne when he received injuries to his head.

The United Bands Of Hope hold a monster picnic at Axedale. A special train from Kangaroo Flat, calling at Golden Square 'and local stations' is packed almost to capacity.


June, 1891

Cr. Burke inspects the road near the station at Axedale to see the inconvenience caused to residents on the south side with difficulty in approaching the station either with passengers or goods. Access might be modified by purchasing some land on the south side or repairing the road on the north side. There is some doubt as to the ownership of a small plot of land. The matter is deferred to next meeting as efforts are being made to direct wood traffic to another part of the station. [Axedale Racecourse Platform?]

Railway platelayer [Repairer], John Ryan, wins against Axedale storekeeper, W.S. Cahill, in his application for C.J. Nelson's forfeited land selection. Ryan stated that he wanted the land to assist him in maintaining his family.


July, 1891

Mr. Shiels, Minister of Railways, in moving that the House agree with the report of the committee affirming the expediency of an appropriation from consolidated revenue for the purpose of a Railway Act Amendment Bill, delivers a lengthy speech. His remarks show that he has very strong views as to the 'despotic power' exercised by the Chairman of the Railways Commissioners [Richard Speight] and the utter powerlessness under the present law of the Minister or the Executive, to curtail or subvert that power, even when not directed in the interests of the public. Another thing that is abundant is that relations between the Minister and the Commissioners are 'somewhat strained.' The Minister's speech is 'a most serious onslaught' upon the Department of which he is the nominal head - if half of what is uttered is correct.

Mr. Gillies, the previous Minister says that he, Shiels, did not really serve the public interests by 'the rash and damaging statements he has made', that he is unfair to the Commissioners, who should have been suspended if half of the charges levelled at their heads were true, and that the statements of favouritism in appointments by the Commissioners is unfounded, and no man will have the courage to stake his reputation upon proving it. [This will eventually lead to the suspension of the Commissioners, Ford and Greene, and their Chairman, Speight, in March 1892].


September, 1891

Considerable dissatisfaction is expressed at the action of the Railway Department, without any warning, removing the telegraph instruments from the Axe Creek Station. A petition is being prepared. Mr. Betts, Stationmaster, has also received notice of transfer.

Mr. T. Craike receives a letter from Mr. D.C. Sterry, MLA, stating that he presented the petition from the residents of Axe Creek, that the telegraph instruments not be removed from the station. The Chairman of the Railway Commissioners has refused to comply with the request but, on being pressed, promised to have the instruments replaced there during the fruit season.

Mrs. Tait, visiting a family living at Ingham's Siding, about two or three miles east of Axedale, had with her, her little girl about two years old. The girl falls into a dam nearby. A passing neighbour, sees the child's floating hat and, it seems, two hands raised above the water. Unsuccessful efforts are made to resuscitate her. The child had always had a strong aversion to water to the extent that it was almost impossible to get her to take a bath. [The dam is almost certainly the one next to the South end of Quarry Road].


November, 1891

Joseph Bell, a leading hand in the construction of the Bendigo Law Courts, is maimed for life. Bell, being very fond of shooting, decides not to go to the Melboune Cup and travels to Axedale for a day's shooting instead. He calls at a house in the vicinity of the Axedale railway siding[?] and inquires of a woman, the best direction to follow to meet the game. He unfortunately places his loaded gun in front of him and is leaning on it with his hands on the muzzle while he is conversing. Unnoticed by Bell or the mother, a child comes out of the house and inadvertently touches the trigger. One of the barrels fires and the palm of Bell's right hand and three fingers are shot clean off, only the thumb and little finger are left. [The house referred to is the Gatekeeper's house and he had been talking to Mrs. Smythe, the Gatekeeper's wife]. Shortly after the accident, the train for Bendigo arrives and it is flagged down by Mrs. Smythe. She informs the driver of the circumstances and Driver Boswell, holding a Departmental Ambulance Corps. Certificate, sees that Bell is in danger of bleeding to death and places a tourniquet above his elbow. He is then placed in the Guard's van and the train resumes its journey to Bendigo.

It had been reported that Driver Boswell, the engine driver on the Heathcote line, suspended after an altercation he had had with Mr. Sinclair, a Stationmaster at Sandhurst, had been dismissed from the service. The statement is incorrect as Mr. Boswell, acting under instructions, resumes duty on Monday. [Sinclair had preferred charges following a delay to a Heathcote train on September 5th. An exhaustive inquiry lasted all day].

The Railways Commissioners advise that they are not prepared to carry out works at Knowsley Station but improvements will be effected.

A goods train leaves the Bendigo Station at 7am for Wallan, the Driver of which is named Wren, the Guard, Bloomfield and the Fireman, Webster. At 7.55am, a train leaves Wallan for Bendigo, Driver Boswell and Fireman Cain. At Pyalong, a Guard, Armytage, who had travelled from Bendigo to Pyalong on an earlier passenger train, takes charge of the mixed Down train. The two trains are to cross at Tooborac.

The Up train arrives at Tooborac at 9.40am. Several trucks are in the process of being detached in order to lighten the load when the Down train enters the station and collides with the Up train, resulting in damage to the loco buffers, lamps and fore parts of both engines and the axle boxes of the trucks. The two engines are tilted upwards by the force of the impact and the front wheels of the Wallan engine rest on the cowcatcher of the other. The Wallan train has 5 passengers on board.

The officials connected with the Up train and the officers at Tooborac claim that all the signals were at the Stop indication and that the Driver of the Down train, Boswell, ignored them. The Up train had remained on the main line due to two of the sidings being occupied by wood trucks. When Boswell and his Fireman found that they could not stop their train, they jumped from the engine. Boswell landed OK, but Cain turns a somersault and received a severe shaking. The engines, trucks and passenger carriages damaged in the collision are brought into Bendigo and placed in the shed for repair. The front portion of one of the engines, an American bogie, is completely destroyed and the rear portion of the engine is forced into the tender. The other, lighter engine, has its front portion destroyed, buffers broken off and the engine forced into the tender. Wooden trucks suffer fairly well but the iron ones are strained from one end to the other.


December, 1891

Another account of the Tooborac collision. This one says that Boswell claims that the signals were not against him, but it is understood that the Guard said they were.

Cr. Bywater moves that the Secretary write to the Department requesting it to make improvements in the Knowsley Station yards without delay.

The name of the Acott Hotel, near the Acott Mine between Giri's Road and Hickey Road, is changed to Axedale Hotel. The rail line runs between the hotel and the mine].


March, 1892

Richard Speight, Minister for Railways, Richard Ford and William Henry Greene, Commissioners, receive notice that they are suspended from office for inefficiency and mismanagement.

The Sabbath School picnic with the Wesleyan Sabbath School is held at Axe Creek in the large paddock adjoining the State School. Two special trains are used.


April, 1892

During one of his election speeches, Mr. Shackell addresses a meeting at the Knowsley Hall. In answer to questions, he says he will do his best to get the State School enlarged, a road through the timber yard at the station and a room provided for the accommodation of the Stationmaster as Post and Telegraph Master.

The scholars attending St. Andrew's Sabbath School have their picnic at Axe Creek.

The Shire of Strathfieldsaye Clerk of Works visits the road from Crows Native Gully to the Axedale Railway Station. He says that the surveyed line is not suitable as it is badly rutted. A new road to the station is adopted.


May, 1892

After three years at Axe Creek, Mr. J. Betts, Stationmaster, is being transferred to Derrinal Station.


June, 1892

An Axe Creek resident complains of the perfunctory manner in which the person paid for attending the gate at Axe Creek looks after it. Very frequently people have to open the gates themselves, and leave their horses to the danger of the animal taking fright and bolting.


July, 1892

Mr. N. Cochrane states that the McIvor Road Station [south of Heathcote] has been closed. Cr. McMaster says he had been informed by the Gatekeeper that only 6d had been taken during a fortnight. Mr. P. Gallagher presents a numerously signed petition from the residents of Tooborac to be forwarded to the Minister of Railways to have the station re-opened. He says that scales have never been there to weigh goods and the station has never been credited with freights, consequently, people are obliged to go to either South Heathcote or Tooborac.

Local railway stations are responding well to the appeal made on behalf of the Melbourne poor. An amount of £10 has been forwarded as a first installment. Owing to Guard Dowsett's [related to the Ned Kelly incident at Glenrowan?] good offices, the residents of Knowsley have joined in, and the Stationmaster, Mr. Middleton, has despatched ten trucks of firewood whilst Mr. Page, Stationmaster Axedale, has despatched nine trucks to the metropolis.

A slight mishap occurs when, owing to a brake failing to act, a truck runs off the line at South Heathcote, doing some little damage.


August, 1892

The Wandong-Sandhurst rail service is considered unsatisfactory by Kilmore. No other town in the colony would put up with the wretched accommodation afforded at the local railway station, and few people, other than good natured ones of this district, would be content with the train service supplied. The fastest train to Melbourne takes two hours and the fastest one from Melbourne takes two and a half hours to traverse 42 miles - nearly an hour more than it used to take via the Goulburn Valley Express and Kilmore East.

It was recommended some time ago that Refresment Rooms should be erected at Kilmore and yet nothing has been done and you can't get a cup of tea between Bendigo and Melbourne, whilst there are two or three places on the old line to Sandhurst where you can. And, with all this, we have a number of travelling inspectors as well as District Traffic Superintendents - do they ever make a suggestion? Or, if they do, are their suggestions heeded?

Mr. Richard Speight, ex Chairman of Commissioners, initiates legal action against David Syme, owner of The Age, to recover £25,000 damages for libel. Witnesses, supposedly material to the case, are examined in England. Mr. Speight was recruited from England for his position as Chairman and he, and two others, took on the rRailways Commissioners' oles in 1884. Speight was dismissed in March. [The full details of the court case, which lasts over 80 days in the Supreme Court, cover far too many pages to be included here. Speight initially is awarded £100 but this eventually becomes one farthing. He later moves to Western Australia].


September, 1892

Mr. Gallagher forwards a letter from the Railways Traffic Manager regarding the closing of Mcivor Road Station, showing that the station left a balance over the expenditure and that tickets were only available to South Heathcote and Tooborac, and not for longer journeys. He requests council to send a deputation and urge them to re-open the station. It is resolved that the Department be asked to state the reason that the station is not credited with tickets for longer journeys.

The road to South Heathcote Station is very narrow and requires widening. The surface is all mullock.

Mr. Clarke, Stationmaster, Tooborac, is transferred to the Railway Station and Post Office at Mincha.


November, 1892

The acting Railway Commissioners advise that in making further inquiries, they can only accede to their decision to permanently close the McIvor Road Station. The Secretary, on being told that men had already commenced lifting the station, had sent a wire to the Minister calling attention to a promise that had been made for the station to become a flag station and he thought the promise should be carried out.


December, 1892

A painful accident befalls the Fireman, Joseph Lowerey, on an Up Wallan train at Ingham's Siding. He is standing on the line, shunting, when some of the carriages come along behind him, and before he can get out of the way, his right arm is crushed between the buffers, fortunately without breaking any bones. The Porter at Axedale Station takes Lowery's place on the engine with Driver, C. Main, and the train proceeds on its journey. Lowery returns to Bendigo by train. After treatment at hospital he is then able to go home.

A young woman, Charlotte Warne, 22, whose parents reside at Tooborac, is run over by a train at South Heathcote Station. After travelling from Bendigo, she alights from the train and gives instructions about forwarding her luggage to Tooborac, a few minutes further on. She is informed by Porter Humphrey that she could alight at McIvor Road, two miles nearer home. She says, 'Never mind, I will walk' and starts off. She had gone about sixty yards [55m] when the train overtakes her and she suddenly steps in front of it. She is knocked down between the rails with the train proceeding about 50 yards [46m] further. She suffers serious injuries and is conveyed to the Heathcote Hospital. When near the hospital, she takes a letter from her pocket and tears it to pieces. A gentlemen who travelled with her says she appeared to be in great distress and cried a good deal.


January, 1893

The Victorian Railways show: 2,903 miles open compared with last year's 2,798. Totals for the week £95,014 compared with £93,828 the previous year.

There are three mail trips per day to and from Axedale Post Office and Axedale Station.


February, 1893

It is notified that the Axe Creek railway station Post Office will be closed on and from February 6th.


March, 1893

St. Andrew's Sabbath School picnic will be held at Axedale. Special trains will run between Bendigo and Axedale at 8.30am and 10.30am.


April, 1893

• Mr. D.C. Sterry, MP, receives a communication from the Postal Department, in reply to a petition from residents of Axedale, against the removal of the Post Office to the railway station and states that the change must be carried out in accordance with the general policy of retrenchment, adopted by the Government. The Postmaster General will be asked to reconsider. [Retrenchment is a product of the current financial crisis].

• Since the telegraph machine was taken away from the Axe Creek Station some little time back, Mr. Sterry, MP, has been in communication with the Department endeavouring to obtain telephonic connection between Axedale Station and Axe Creek Station so that vignerons and orchardists can communicate with the telegraph office at Axedale. Mr. Sterry receives a letter stating that telephonic communication could be established between the Axedale Post Office and Messrs. Craike and Son's Bowmont Vineyard for a rental of £21 per annum. It is unlikely that this 'prohibitionary' offer will be accepted.

• Charles Seward, an elderly man, is arraigned on a charge of unlawfully and maliciously setting fire to a place. Briefly stated, Seward called at Mr. Ingham's hotel at Axedale, and had a drink. He had been engaged to work for Mr. T. J. Cooney, of Campaspe East for 8/- a week. Ingham said that he would engage him for the same amount. When ordered to take a barrow and go out for some firewood, Seward refused. He was then told to head for his original destination. He was then seen setting fire to a brush fence on Ingham's property near the Toolleen road. Seward is found guilty.


May, 1893

• Seward's sentencing:

Charles Seward, who stated that he was 64 years of age, and a laborer, was placed at the bar to receive sentence on a charge of maliciously set fire to a fence belonging to Mr. N. Ingham, at Axedale. The prisoner said he had nothing to say to his Honor except to inform him that he had four little children depending on him for support.

His Honor said that unfortunately for the children, if the prisoner's statement about them were correct, he was unable to take that matter into consideration when deciding what sentence should be passed on the prisoner. The offence, of which the prisoner had been found guilty, showed him to be an extremely malicious, lazy and wicked man (Prisoner: I'm innocent of the charge.) The prisoner was evidently one of those men who belong to the unemployed, who pretend to be looking for work, but don't want to find it. It was men like the prisoner who alienated the sympathies of all right thinking people from those unemployed who are honestly looking for and anxious to get work. The prosecutor, Mr. Ingham, had kindly offered to give the prisoner work, but all the time prisoner was at the place he was trying to raise excuses against work, and then when he found that he could not get any more beer he went away and maliciously set fire to the fence, utterly regardless of what the consequences might be. The whole countryside might have been reduced to ashes for all he cared. And then, not content with doing that, the prisoner when arrested and brought into court attempted to fix the blame on to the man who had detected him in the act. The only thing that saved the prisoner from receiving a lengthened and severe sentence was his old age.

Seward was then sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment.


July, 1893

• Mr. Page, the Stationmaster at Axedale, is transferred to Merrigum. He has been 'most courteous and obliging to all with whom he has come in contact.'


September, 1893

• Herbert Dolley sustains a painful injury, working in Mr. N. Ingham's quarry at Axedale. He was removing a pin from a winch when he caught the first two fingers of his left hand in the cogwheels. The first finger was nearly severed while the second one was badly crushed. The tip of his first finger is amputated.


December, 1893

• The M. U. Oddfellows advertise that they will be mounting a Boxing Day excursion to the Axedale Racecourse.


January, 1894

• There was heavy passenger traffic at Bendigo, but everything went smoothly. In addition to the regular trains, many specials ran, besides which about 3,500 people were carried in excursion trains to Trentham, Marong, Axedale, Echuca and Harcourt.


May, 1894

• Notice is received from postal authorities, that, as soon as arrangements can be made, the Axedale Post Office will be removed from its present site to the railway station. A petition is formulated and forwarded to Mr. D.C. Sterry, MLA, for presentation to the Postmaster General. Mr. J. Heffernan, JP, to proceed to Melbourne with other Axedale residents to protest against the removal. [The relocation will move the Post Office from a position within the town, to about 1 mile out of town].


June, 1894

• The Shire Secretary (Mr. M. Brennan) incidentally mentions, as showing the absurdity of high railway tariffs, that the people of Axedale actually drive into Bendigo and home again, alongside of an empty train, because of high fares. Cr. Burns states that he has eight tons of tallow to send in from Axedale, and he has to send it by road owing to the high railway freights.


July, 1894

• The deficit for 1893-1894 is expected to be £500,000.

• Heathcote trains are arriving late in Bendigo without any reason being given. Axedale and Axe Creek passengers are driving into town rather than using the uncertain trains. [This may be due to the financial crisis, as well as passengers being conveyed by mixed trains that are required to shunt at intermediate stations from time to time].


August, 1894

• Patrick Milley is brought up on remand, charged with having, at Axedale, attempted to commit a criminal assault on a little girl named Emma Harrowfield. The defence tries to get Milley discharged on the technicality of evidence not being pre-sworn. Milley is discharged and then again charged with the offence. The victim's family lived in a tent at Ingham's Siding and had to walk through Heffernan's 'Marydale' property to attend the Axedale State School. Milley is committed for trial.


October, 1894

• At Axedale, the Primitive Methodist Sunday School picnic, a large number of children were enjoying themselves in innocent recreation on the railway bridge which crosses the Campaspe near the racecourse, when suddenly a train on its way to Bendigo came in sight and a panic ensued. It was almost impossible for all the children to have got out of danger in time, but the prompt action of Driver Strauhair in pulling the train up, avoided a calamity. He was warmly and sincerely thanked for his resolute action. [Innocent recreation: playing on a 30 ft. high railway bridge over a river? Not the safest of activities for a Sunday School picnic I would have thought].


November, 1894

• Mr. G. D. Guthrie, and one of his Bendigo Pottery employees, drove out to Mr. N. Ingham's quarries and, having transacted his business, resumed his seat in the buggy. When descending the steep hill leading to the Campaspe bridge [Ingham Road], the horse became unmanageable and suddenly swerved at the foot of the hill, capsizing the vehicle. Mr. Ingham and several others ran to the assistance of the buggy occupants who were thrown onto some large boulders.


December, 1894

• Mrs. Donaldson is transferred from Rokeby Station to Ingham Siding and Mrs. Moss is transferred from Ingham's Siding to Rokeby Station. [This could possibly be as a direct result of their husbands changing employment location].

• The prevalence of bushfires in this district is creating some anxiety among property owners. There have been fires in the Knowsley area, stated to have been caused by a spark from the railway engine. Another fire, supposed to be from the same cause, breaks out between Knowsley and Axedale. There is another on the western portion of the Heathcote common.


February, 1895

• The Long Gully Bible Christian Sunday School holds their annual picnic at Axedale. The children, together with their teachers and friends, and numbering 300 altogether, were conveyed to the local railway station [Sandhurst] in special trains. They then embarked on a special train to Axedale, where the pastimes incidental to all such outings were indulged in on the banks of the Campaspe River.

• St. Andrews' and West Sandhurst Presbyterian Sunday Schools and the Methodist and Baptist Schools, hold a combined picnic at Axedale - one of the most successful yet held under the auspices of the schools. There must have been over 2,000 of the children and their friends on the ground during the day. The picnickers desire to acknowledge the kindness and attention of the railway officials who did their utmost to make everyone comfortable.


July, 1895

• An accident, where a train divides on its approach to the Axedale station, is mentioned in The Argus, in conjunction with the Westinghouse Automatic Brake system:

One of the great advantages of the Westinghouse railway brake is that in the event of a coupling breaking, and a train becoming divided, the brake at once comes into action and both sections of the train are brought to a standstill. Without this or some other automatic brake in readiness, the breaking of a coupling on a decline generally means collision between the two portions of the train. Many of our goods and mixed trains are run without the Westinghouse brake, and therefore, suc

On the 27th of May, the 5.15am mixed train from Bendigo to Wallan divided between Strathfieldsaye and and Axe Creek. The enginednver noticed the occurrence, and to avoid being run into by the rear portion of the train, ran half a mile beyond the Axe Creek station relying upon the Guard to bring his portion of the train to a standstill at the station. The Guard, however, did not succeed in doing this, and there was a collision which smashed up two trucka and slightly injured some passengers, who have been compensated.

The commissioners now announce that both the Guard and Enginedriver are held to be culpable in the matter, the former for not properly applying his brake, although he alleged he had done so, and the latter for not proceeding further along the line so that all possibility of the accident would have been avoided. It is explained that in order to ascertain whether the Guard could have stopped his portion of the train on the decline leading into the station, an experiment was made with a train under proper test eonditions. The two officials have, however, not been severely dealt with.The Guard has been reprimanded and fined £2, and the Driver simply cautioned. [This is another example of confusion as to the locality. There is no decline in the Up direction towards the Axe Creek station. There is, however, a decline between the Acott mine site and Axedale station in that direction. An earlier, Argus article mentions Axedale as the location and, also states that the Guard was fined 2 day's pay.


September, 1895

• The Government accepts Mr. N. Ingham's tender for the supply of firewood to Bendigo.


January, 1896

• The Forest Street and Quarry Hill Congregational Sunday Schools hold their annual picnic at Axedale. About 700 of the children and their friends were conveyed by special train, and the usual methods of enjoyment were taken full advantage of. A sports program was gone through, about 90 events set down for competition, and in addition, a cricket match was played beyween the two branches of the Sunday School. Quarry Hil scored 119, of which C. Jorgensen made 45, and Forest Street were all disposed of for 32. The Superintendents and Teachers of the two schools were very energetic in promoting the enjoyment of everybody.


February, 1896

• Mounted Constable Allis, the officer-in-charge of the Axedale Police Station, notices smoke rising from the railway bridge crossing the Campaspe River at Axedale. The smoke is on the Strathfieldsaye side where the bridge is about 20 feet above the ground which gradually slopes down to the bed of the river. He obtains a large bucket from the Police Station about half a mile away, and returns to the bridge. Filling the bucket with water, he climbs on the bridge and finds a sleeper almost burnt through. He extinguishes the fire and meets one of the gangers, whose attention had been directed to the fire by a person named Fitzpatrick, living nearby, as he is about to go to the railway station. The fire is evidently caused by a hot coal from the locomotive of a train that had passed over the bridge about an hour earlier.


March, 1896

• The Axedale station is broken into and robbed. However, it is to be March, 1897, before the offenders are brought to justice.


April, 1896

• The Annual United Sunday Schools picnic is to be held at Axedale. Special trains are scheduled to leave Bendigo at 8.45am, 9.10am, 10am and 10.30am, returning at 5pm, 5.30pm and 6.30pm.

• An Axedale reader, A Subscriber, is surprised to read that the Railways Commissioners have granted increments to the Clerks in the Department receiving under £150, and not to those Stationmasters who are receiving less than that amount. [Was the Axedale Statiomaster?.]

• The annual picnic of the St. Killian's Roman Catholic Schools is held at Axedale. Over 1,800 picknickers travelled by rail and, with the numbers who travelled out by road, there must have been fully 2,000 people on the ground. Competitions of various kinds were held, including footracing, etc., and a needle threading competition, which was won by a well known Town hall official, was a source of much merriment. The last of the picnickers reached the city about 9pm.


January, 1897

• A man, W. Dixon, is brought to Bendigo by Constable Scherrer, of Birchip, and lodged in gaol on a charge of having broken into the Axedale Station on Friday, March 20th, 1896.

Messrs. Wilson and Beebe, Js.P., were engaged at the City Court for sometime yesterday in investigating the exploits of a gang of young criminals, who, in the early part of last year, committed a number of offences, a safe robbery, housebreaking, etc., in various parts of this district. The first case taken was that against three young men named Foster McDowall, Patrick Burke and William H. Dixon for breaking into the Axedale station.

Inspector Murphy, who conducted the prosecution, stated that the proceedings were brought under the 126th section of the Crimes Act. On the night of 20th March last, the Axedale railway station was entered and the iron safe, which contained cash and stamps amounting to £9/16/10, carried away. On the following morning the safe, broken open, was found about 200 yards from the station in a paddock belonging to Mrs. Harris. The accused men were seen by several persons on the McIvor road near Axedale on the date in question. One of them carried a sledge hammer in a canvas bag, with which the safe had evidently been broken open. A day or two afterwards some of the accused were before this court, and received short sentences for vagrancy. While in the gaol Dixon had made a statement in which he fully confessed to his participation in the robbery. The statement, which was reduced to writing, was shown to McDowall, and he then made a statement. Burke did not make any statement, in fact, he denied being guilty of the charge. Under the circumstances he (Inspector Murphy) would ask for the discharge of Dixon, who would be called to give Queen's evidence. Dixon was discharged accordingly.

Jas. Coates, Stationmaster at Axedale, deposed that he locked up the station offices about 8 o'clock on the night of 20th March last. Everything was then secure, but on going, to the station shortly after 6 o'clock on the following morning, he found that the safe had been carried away. It contained £8/16/lO in cash and one pound's worth of postage stamps. The door must have been opened by the robbers by the aid of skeleton keys, as it was locked when he arrived at the station on the morning of 21st March. The safe was found in a paddock a short distance from the station. Witness found three or four shillings near where the safe had been broken open.

W. Ryan, a lad, deposed to having found the sledge hammer (produced) in an old chimney standing in a paddock adjoining Mrs. Harris' property where the safe had been found.

James Callaghan, slaughterman, F. G. Code, Crown lands bailiff, J. Giri, woodcarter, and Mary Connolly, licensee of the Perseverance Hotel, deposed to having seen three men whom they believed to be the accused, although they would not swear to it positively, on the Mclvor road on 20th March, inquiring the distance to Axedale.

James Cavagana, blacksmith, carrying on business in Williamson Street, deposed that in Mareh last, two men came to his shop and left their swags while they went down the street for a couple of hours. On their return they asked him to allow them to sleep that night in a shed at the rear of his shop. He refused. Two or three mornings afterwards he found that one of the windows had been prised open, and a sledge hammer stolen. He identified the hammer produced as his property.

Detective Sergeant Griffin deposed that the matter was reported to him on 21st March. He proceeded to Axedale and made an inspection of the station. He found tracks showing where the safe had been removed from the office to the paddock where it was broken open. The safe had apparently been carried on two saplings which were found near it.

On the 11th inst, Dixon's statement was read over to McDowall, who said that it was all right. McDowall then made a statement, which was signed by him, and witnessed by witness and Detective McPherson.

McDowell's statement was to the effect that it was made of his own free will and without any pressure being brought to bear on him. Burke and he went to Mr. Cavagana's shop in Williamson Street.

Mr. Macoboy, as amicus cura, pointed out to the bench that anything contained in McDowall's statement could not be used as evidence against Burke at the present stage.

Inspector Murphy: Didn't you show this statement to Burke?

Witness: No.

Inspector Murphy remarked that, it was Dixon's statement which had been read to Burke, who had made certain comments upon it, so that it was evidence. It was to the same effect as M'Dowall's.

Witness continued reading the statement made by McDowall, which was to the effect that he and Burke had stolen the hammer from Cavagna's shop, and they, with Dixon went out to Axedale, carried the safe from the station, broke it open and secured the money and stamps. Dixon received 15/6, and he (M'Dowall) and Burke divided the remainder.

William Henry Dixon, who described himself as a horsebreaker, was the next witness.

Burke: This man had another name when he was before the court last.

The Bench: You will have an opportunity of speaking later on. Let us get on with the case.

Witness stated that in March last, he was camped with Burke at Grassy Flat. McDowall was living with his brother some distance away. On 20th March, Burke asked witness if he would come out to Axedale. Witness asked him "What for?" Burke replied, "To the railway station for a safe." Witness remarked, "If there's money, I'm there." McDowall afterwards came to the camp, and the three of them started for Axedale, which was reached about five o'clock in the afternoon. About midnight Burke and McDowall forced the door, and went into the station office. Witness stayed outside to keep watch while the other two carried the safe out and took it over to a paddock, where it was broken open with a sledge hammer. McDowall and Burke took the contents out of the safe, and told him there were only £2/156 in it. They gave witness 15/6 out of it. They then returned to their camp at Grassy Flat, and McDowall went to his home. On the following Monday, witness was arrested on a charge of vagrancy, for which he received a sentence of a week's imprisonment. He gave the name of Wilson on that occasion. Burke was in his company at the time, and was arrested for breaking into an hotel.

Constable Sherrer deposed to the arrest of Dixon and McDowall on other charges at Birchip in December last. Dixon made a statement which was reduced to writing, and in which he confessed that Burke, McDowall and he, had committed the Axedale safe robbery, and that they had been implicated in other offences at Bendigo. Witness read the state ment over to the three prisoners that morning after he had cautioned them. Dixon and McDowall said that it was correct. Burke said, "I know nothing about it so far as I'm concerned."

Constable Hancock deposed that Burke and Dixon were camped at Grassy Plat in March last. Constable Davidson and witness arrested them a day or two after the robbery on suspicion of having committed the offence, but at that time they were unable to obtain any evidence to support the charge.

Burke, in answer to the usual question from the Bench, said that he would reserve his defence. He and M'Dowall were then committed to take their trial at the sitting of the Supreme Court on 9th February.

Shopbreaking in High Street: Joseph George, Foster McDowall and W. H. Dixon were then charged with having broken into the shop of Mr. J.Cook, Tailor, of High Street, on the night of the 17th April last, and stolen various articles of clothing and 6s in silver.

Inspector Murphy stated that on the evening in question Mr. Cook and his brother, who carry on business as tailors, locked up their establishment, and on returning next morning they found that during the night some persons had broken into the place. Some unfinished articles of wearing apparel were strewn about the shop, and it was ascertained that three pairs of trousers, two vests and six shillings had been stolen. The clothes were valued at £4/10/0. In December Dixon, who had been arrested at Birchip on another charge, made a written statement to the effect that while he and another youth named Donald McNab were standing in High Street on the night of the 17th April. McDowall and George asked him to go with them to Cook's to get some clothes. He stopped in High Street talking to McNab, and keeping watch until they returned with several trousers, vests and some money. They gave him a pair of trousers and vest. George and McDowall had been shown the statement, and they admitted that it was correct. Mr. Murphy said that in this case also, he intended to ask for Dixon's discharge, so that he could turn Queen's evidence, as that was the only way in which the case could be sheeted home.

Evidence in support of the case for the prosecution was given by J. Cook, W. Cook, W. H. Dixon, D. McNab and Constable Sherrer. George and McDowall, who reserved their defence, were committed to take their trial at the sitting of the Supreme Court on the 9th February.

Breaking into a Blacksmith's shop: Burke and McDowall were charged with breaking into the shop of Mr. J. Cavagna, Blacksmith, in Williamson Street, on the night of 17th of March last, and stealing therefrom a sledge hammer valued at 25s. Burke pleaded not guilty. On the application of Inspector Murphy the accused were remanded for a week.

Breaking into Lewis and Dunstan's store: McDowall, George, Dixon and McNab were charged with breaking into Messrs. Lewis and Dunstan's store at Long Gully on the night of 23rd April last, and stealing a quantity of tobacco, boots, etc. Inspector Murphy applied for a remand for a week in this case also. Mr. Macoboy, who defended McNab, did not object to the rsmand, but asked that his client should be allowed out on bail. The application for a remand was granted, and McNab was liberated on bail in one surety of £50 and his own recognisance of a similar amount. His mother became surety for him.


February, 1897

•The trial of Dixon and his accomplices continues:

The case against the three lads named respectively Foster McDowell, Joseph George and W. H. Dixon for breaking into the shop of Messrs. Lewis and Dunstan, storekeepers, at Long Gully, was resumed. Prisoners were undefended. Donald Duncan McNab, a groom, deposed to George having come to him and asked him to come out and break into Lewis and Dunstan's shop. He agreed, and witness and the three prisoners went out and broke into the shop and stole some boots and other articles. Witness was arrested on the charge about six months afterwards, and then had one of the stolen neckties in his possession. His Honor Bummed up briefly, pointing out that McNabs evidence was corroborated by the police. The jury retired at 10.20 a.m., and after close upon half an hour's deliberation returned a verdict of guilty against all three prisoners. Five prior convictions were proved against McDowell, principally for larceny at Bendigo, Minyip, Melbourne and Camperdown. Previous convictions for larceny and assault were admitted by George, and Dixon admitted having previously been convicted of vagrancy at Bendigo. Prisoners had nothing to say.

His Honor, in sentencing the prisoners, said it was certainly a lamentable thing in this country to see young men like the prisoners in such a position. It was almost certain that they had entered upon a carper of crime, from which they did not intend to turn back.

As to McDowell, he was altogether past hope, and there was little doubt he would be a criminal and a burden on the country nearly all his life. He had been convicted five times previously, and the sentence of the court now would be two vears' imprisonment with hard labor, the first four days of the second, sixth and twelfth months to be spent in solitary confinement, the sentence to be cumulative upon any sentence prisoner might now be undergoing.

As to George, he was a much younger man and the offence of which he had been convicted previously were relatively trifling to the one that he had been found guilty of that day, there fore, it was necessary to inflict a heavier sentence. However, he would not deal so severely with George as McDowell, and would impose lighter sentence in the hope that he might reform, though his Honor had grave doubts about it. The sentence of the court was that George be imprisoned for 12 months with hard labor, the first four days in the first week of the second, fifth and twelfth months to be passed in solitary confinement, the sentence to be cumulative on any sentence he might be now undergoing.

As regarded the prisoner Dixon, he had pleaded guilty to a previous conviction for an offonce which might be regarded on that occasion as insignificant, and therefore his Honor was willing to give him an opportunity to reform and to inflict a lighter sentence, though the crime to which he had been a party was a most dangerous and frequent one. It was better that he should have a chance of turning and becoming an honest man. The sentence of the court was that Dixon be imprisoned for 12 months' hard labor, the first four days of the second and eighth months to be epent in solitary confinement.

Foster McDowell and Joseph George, who pleaded guilty to breaking into the tailor's shop of Jonathan Cook and stealing therefrom, were then placcd at the bar for sentence. M'Dowell had nothing to say, but George asked his Honor to deal leniently with him and give him no "solitary." His Honor said it was necessary to regard McDowell as an habitual and determined criminal, and the sentence of the court would be two years' imprisonment with hard labor, the first four days of the second, sixth and twelfth months to be spent in solitary confinement, the sentence to be cumulative upon any other sentence he was under going.

As regards George, his Honor was willing to still show him some consideration, though he confessed he did so reluctantly. The sentence would be 18 months' imprisonment with hard labor, the sentence to be concurrent with the sentences prisoner was now under going.

Foster M'Dowell and W. H. Dixon were then brought up for sentence for breaking into the shop of J. Cook, tailor.

In McDowell's case, his Honor said he would inflict a similar sentence to the one imposed upon him on the last charge, but he would make the sentence concurrent with those that he was already undergoing, so that he would be saved the pain of serving this sentence. The sentences he had to undergo should, if he had a spark of honesty left in his composition, lead him to resolve upon following an honest life.

Dixon would be sentenced to 12 months' imprisonment with hard labor, the first four days of the second and eighth months to be passed in solitary confinement, the sentence to be concurrent, so that in serving one sentence he would serve both.

Breaking into a railway station: Foster McDowell and Patrick James Bourke were arraigned on a charge of breaking into the Axedale railway station on 21st March, 1896. The Crown Prosecutor entered a nolle protiqui in the case of McDowell, and he was discharged. Bourke was undefended. The case for the Crown briefly stated was that on the early morning of 21st March the railway station at Axedale was broken into and the iron safe removed to a paddock about 200 yards distant, where it was broken open with the aid of a sledge hammer, and the contents, consisting of £8/16/10 in cash, and between 10s and 20s worth of postage stamps abstracted. Evidence was given by Mr. Coates, the stationmaster. W. H. Dixon (the prisoner in the previous case, who described himself as a horsebreaker, and said his parents lived in Footscray), deposed to having taken part in the robbery with Foster McDowell and Bourke. McDowell also gave evidence, stating that he received £3 out of the proceeds of the robbery. Bourke received £3, and Dixon 15/6. Messrs. Cavagna (black smith of Williamson Street, from whose establishment the sledge hammer was stolen), F. G. Code and Giri, Mounted-constable Sherrer of Birchip, and Constable Hancock, also gave evidence. For the defence, James Callaghan, a slaughterman, was called, and deposed to having seen on 20th March, McDowell, Dixon and a third man whom he could not identify at Mclvor Hill making their way to Axedale. They were carrying swags.

His Honor, having summed up, the jury, after brief retirement, returned a verdict of guilty. Bourke admitted having been convicted for insulting behavior and assaulting a constable at Carisbrook. Prisoner said he knew nothing of the robbery, and charged McDowell and Dixon with attempting to fix the crime upon him. The Crown Prosecutor stated that the prisoner was at present undergoing a sentence for burglary. His Honor described the prisoner's assertion that McDowell and Dixon had concocted the story against him as absurd. His Honor would not consider the present sentence that the accused was undergoing, and would regard the present in the light of his first serious offence. It might be a bit of luck for prisoner, but he would get the benefit of it. The sentence of the court was that he be imprisoned for 15 months with hard labor, the first week in the second, fifth and tenth months to be spent in solitary confinement.


May, 1897

•An editorial comment on the train service appears in the McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser. Although it mainly refers to that section of the line south of Heathcote, it is the same service that runs through Axedale. Although this publication is not about the history of the railway line, the service is that which is provided for the transport needs of the Axedale inhabitants. The line is only eight and a half years old, but is showing signs of limited satisfaction that will plague it for the rest of its short, 70 year life. The article is reproduced in its entirety.

When Mr Mathieson assumed control of the railway system of the colony, he was no doubt fully alive to the difficulties of the task he had undertaken. He, however, had the knowledge that he had a sympathetic public on his side and would receive credit for any reform he might be instrumental in making, tending to improve the position of the Department as a heavy burden on the taxpayers, of the colony. The candid critics of railway administration were evidently desirous of giving him a fair trial and even the ever grumbling railway passenger ceased for a time to heap maledictions on the powers that compelled him to stand shivering at a badly lighted wayside station for an hour, awaiting the arrival of an overdue train. People were inclined to put up with all sorts of inconveniences, feeling sure that, with the new Manager, all the drawbacks to the comfort and convenience of passengers wwould disappear, and the Department would enter on an era of unexampled prosperity, and exhibit to the people of the colony unmistakeable evidence that successful administration meant an advantage to travellers in comfort and convenience, and to the Department by an increased income. Mr Mathieson was no doubt right when, in taking over the duties of Commissioner, he expressed an opinion that he would not be able to please everybody. There is, however, a very wide difference in this and being unable to please anybody.

Some months ago the Commissioner, with a staff of officers, made their tour of inspection, and among the lines inspected was the Wallan and Bendigo line. There is probably some difference in looking at the various points of interest, and in contemplating the means for improvement from the windows of a special train, luxuriantly upholstered, completely provided, and travelling at high speed, and in travelling in the ordinary train at a leisurely rate, regardless of the time table, changes of grade, or time occupied in shunting. Whatever be the cause, it may be assumed that the Commissioner and his staff, saw no reason for complaint, otherwise we feel sure that some attempt would, ere this, have been made to effect an improvement.

A train journey from Bendigo to Melbourne via Wallan is perhaps one of the most unpleasant and wearisome jonrneys over any 100 miles in the colony. This is so well recognised that it is a very rare occurrence, even in the summer months, to find any passenger undertake it, and in the winter, it is quite sufficient to travel 20 or 30 miles to form some idea of the total disregard the Department exhibits for the comfort of travellers, in the absence of the commonest means for lessening the naturally uncomfortable and wearisome journey by a mixed train.

Knowsley, for instance, enjoys the distinction of being one of the best kept stations on the line, and its reputation for doing the largest fire wood business of any station in the colony, is well known. The shunting operations at that station frequently take up to half an hour, during which time, passengers have to wal up and down the platform to keep their blood in circulation. No well-lighted warm and comfortable waiting room invites the half-frozen traveller to smile kindly on the unpleasantness of having to await the termination of the long and tedious operation of shunting, for notwithstanding the fact that Knoweley is the largest firewood station, the only thing to indicate that the Department is aware of the uses of firewood, is a notice posted up in the ladies waiting room (a cheerless box) that any lady desiring a fire may have one lighted by applying to the Stationmiaster.

After travelling about 70 miles at an avrage rate that might be creditable to a good buggy horse, the Bendigo traveller finds himself on the well ballasted up track of the north eastern line, and a smile of pleasure crosses his countenance, in his self assurance that his troubles have ended, and that even if a delay takes place at Wallan, he will at all events find a comfortable waiting room. To what extent disappointment must take place in such a case, is well-known to nearly in Heathcote.

The trains usually arrive at least half an hour before the north-eastern line one, and it is a standing disgrace to the administration of the Railway Department that people have to stand about in the usually cold air of Wallan, on a badly lighted platform without any facilities for obtaining any comfort. The miserable shed, with its row of dusty, hard and uninviting seats, accentuates the cheerlessness of the whole surroundings, and it is little to be wondered at that people are disgusted with being continually reminded of the great reputation of our railway Manager, when they see the absence of all consideration for the comfort of the travelling public at a station like Wallan, on the junction of two long lines. In such a case, common sense would show the necessity for decent waiting rooms, a well lighted station, and even a refreshment room, instead of having this indispensable portion of the railway equipment at a town a few miles away, where there does not appear to be any necessity to stop longer than is required to enable local passengers to get out and in.


December, 1897

• Lost, from Axedale Station, steel grey horse, 3 years, white face, branded S on rump. Communicate Stationmaster, Axedale. [It is not known whether the horse belonged to the Stationmaster, or whether he was just providing the contact point for the actual owner].


December, 1898

• Bushfires then, as now, are a frequent threat, as the Bendigo Advertiser reports:

The intense heat for this time of the year, which was experienced yesterday was to be easily accounted for in a measure by the huge volumes of dense smoke, which were to be seen to the north and eastward of the city [Bendigo], and the lurid glare which illuminated the horizon last night, showed conclusively that the hushfires were still raging.

Between Axedale and Knowsley, a fire has been burning' since last Friday, and fanned by the strong wind which was blowing yesterday, the flames spread with renewed vigor, carrying everything before it. The large stacks of timber near Ingham's siding, about four miles beyond the Axedale station, ignited, and as there was no water handy, the residents in the locality were powerless to stay the spread of the fire. The gatehousekeeper's residence in the vicinity was in great danger of destruction.

Mr. Middleton, the Stationmaater at Knowsley, travelled along the line on a tricycle to see if he could be of any assistance. On reaching the point on the railway track near the siding he found that the sleepers had caught fire, and as it was clearly unsafe for a train to pass over the track, he continued his journey with all speed to Axedale and forwarded information as to the condition of affairs, to the Bendigo railway station. By this time, the train leaving Bendigo at 4.10 p.m., had reached Axedale. The train from Wallaa had also arrived at Knowsley, but under the existing circumstances neither could proceed on their respective journey.

On receipt of the telegram, the District Traffic Superintendent, Mr. M'Kee, gave instructions to Mr. M'Veigh, the ganger in charge of the line, to get a relief party in readiness, and without loss of time, they took their departure by a "casualty" train for the scene of the outbreak. The necessary repairs were promptly effected, and after the Bendigo train had passed over the track, Mr. M'Kee and the relief party returned to Bendigo. On the arrival of the Bendigo train at Knowsley, the Wallan train was enabled to resume its journey and reached Bendigo at 10 minutes past 10 o'clock - nearly two hours behind time.

The railway people also report an extensive fire near Leslie, at the Wallan end of the line.

A disastrous fire also broke out between Elmore and Goornong, and by latest advices last night, all the male residents of the last mentioned township, headed by Mounted Constable Germaine, had turned out en masse to fight the flames, which notwithstanding their most strenuous efforts, crossed the railway line and passed over the holdings along the Campaspe River. It is stated that a number of homesteads were placed in jeopardy, but up to the time of writing, no definite information had been received as to any actual damage in that direction. The passengers hy the night train to Echuca had a warm time.


No entries for 1899

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