North Bendigo

Commencement of Contract 2630 - 0M 7C 23L.


North Bendigo area detail.

The official name of the proposed railway, and that used on contract plans, was Wandong, Heathcote and Sandhurst. However, many newspaper reports readily used Wallan (south of Heathcote Junction) instead of Wandong (north of Heathcote Junction) when reporting such things. In fact, the Victorian Railways even used Bendigo via Wallan in some cases. Kilmore Station on the North East line was changed to Kilmore East following the opening of the branch line. The junction was then named Kilmore Junction and later changed to Heathcote Junction. This must be borne in mind when reading some of the information contained herein.

Start of Contract 2630

Victorian Railways Marker Posts which indicated the rail distance in miles from a datum point near Spencer Street Station (now Southern Cross) were numbered in ascending order away from that point. Contract 2630, Sandhurst (North Bendigo) to Heathcote, was the most distant section of the Wandong, Heathcote and Sandhurst rail line and as a consequence, local Marker Posts are numbered in ascending order from the Commencement of Contract Point. Andrew O'Keefe's contract commenced at the Sandhurst-Echuca Line boundary fence at 0M 7C 23L from the North end of what is now a parallel loop siding, at 102M 25C 32L (from Melbourne via Sandhurst), a little north of the branch towards Eaglehawk and progressed from there towards Heathcote.

As you read this, try and visualise the countryside as it was at the time - mainly virgin territory. The district roads would have been quite crude by today's standards as they were the domain of horses, drays, steam traction engines, etc., criss crossed by tracks to and from gold diggings, and not the smooth surfaces that we now enjoy.

The Victorian Railways supplied Andrew O'Keefe with their railway design and he only had to build it. He was not responsible for platforms or station buildings. The Railways had carried out their survey and decided a number of things such as where the line should run, the grades that were required, the radius of curves, location, size and design of culverts and bridges, ditches, crossings, gates, existing road diversions or closures, cuttings, banks and surface formings, station ground locations, etc. The quality of construction would also have been included along with a completion date. Until I locate more details, this summary will have to suffice.

The Railways may have driven Marker Posts each mile along the planned route. They did provide elevation references and these were shown on the plans, along with where they could be located, such as: B.M. C/X11657, 50ft On Stump 85L left of 6M 4C 50L. Other mentioned mark locations referred to particular trees, stumps, saplings, etc.

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