Strathfieldsaye Detail

Located at approximately 96M 57C 95L

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Strathfieldsaye Station was an original station on the line on opening day in October, 1888. It had a very short life and is reported to have been of the same layout as that of Axe Creek Station, later named Longlea, with similar facilities and road approaches. Like all stations on the line, it was opened for light goods not requiring crane power or shed accommodation. This statement indicates minimal facilities at least at this time.

There has been considerable excavation at the site since station and/or line closure and much evidence has disappeared. As the station had such a short life and was closed within such a short time after opening, detail documents have been almost impossible to find. Until some come to light, a picture from some unofficial sources will have to suffice and the following deductions have been made from my collection.

The Bendigo Advertiser for Saturday, 2nd June, 1888, reports: "On over Splitter's Creek and the Strathfieldsaye or Homebush station is arrived at. This is right in the middle of Mr. J. Holmes' property. It is some distance from the township, but engineering difficulties stood in the way of any more suitable site being selected. The platform is 200 feet long, and on the right-hand side of the permanent way a carriage-dock and goods siding have been constructed. A road is being formed from the Shire Hall, Strathfieldsaye, to the station. No station buildings have yet been erected. Here we lose our lady passenger, and our load is increased from 4 to 7 trucks." The Shire Hall is near the South end of present day Junortoun Road.

A few details can be gleaned from the report although there are a couple of what I perceive as anomalies. The report says that the passenger platform was 200 feet (61m) long and there is no argument there in the absence of any contradictory information. It then says that a carriage dock and goods siding have been provided on the right hand side of the permanent way. If this was based on the direction of travel, this would be on the South side which, I believe, is incorrect. Carriage docks were also usually placed at the Up end of passenger platforms for ease of access for extra passenger carriages. This report indicates that it was associated with the goods siding.

Another report states that the land reserved for the station was some 26 acres [10.5ha] and was similar to Longlea, although I would imagine that it only consisted of a main line past the passenger platform and a simple siding for a Goods Shed. The actual of the passenger platform is not quite where the Rail Trail sign is, and there is very little that can be seen today. Railway plans show that the reserve occupied approximately 25C of track length, covering from 1C on the Up (Heathcote) side of an Occupation Crossing and culvert, 2C into Cutting 20, crossed a diverted watercourse and a fence, crossed a culvert in Bank 15, about 4C before Wilkie Road, ending at Wilkie Road. About all that can be seen today is the remains of the culvert and Bank 15, and an indication of a possible entrance off nearby Trotting Terrace on the south side.

The line ran straight, on an almost level grade, between the end of the curve on the Heathcote side of Wilkie Road through to the curve just before crossing McIvor Highway. It appears from visual inspection that the goods siding was on the North side of the line as the level ground expands to the right, as it would be expected to do with the turnout to a siding, when viewed from near Wilkie Road. There is no evidence of the passenger or goods platform and I suspect they have been long removed along with other gravel from the site.

The station was the first station encountered on the way from Bendigo towards Axedale. It's location, some 3km from the township of Strathfieldsaye may seem more than a little strange. However, a plausible explanation can be offered.

Despite repeated 'agitations' to have the line routed closer to the Strathfieldsaye township, engineering difficulties were cited as the reason such demands could not be met. The station site is in a location currently known as Junortoun. However, at the time of construction and opening, Junortoun did not exist. The station location is in what was the Shire of Strathfieldsaye and was more than likely located to serve the few inhabitants of the area. As a station can only be sited on a railway line, it could have been a station for the Shire rather than a station for the township. The road between the station and the township of the same name had not even been cleared at the time.

There have been some suggestions in various accounts that Strathfieldsaye Station was initially called Homebush Station. However, this is not correct, excepting that it may have been referred to as such by O'Keefe in the absence of any other formal name during construction and the confusion can be easily explained - and corrected. When thinking about it in the context of railway history, the term Homebush Station evokes an image of a railway station - and so it should as stations are railway stations. However a Homebush Railway Station had existed between Maryborough and Avoca for some 15 years before the Sandhurst-Heathcote line opened. The land on which the local station was eventually situated, formed part of Homebush Pastoral Station. Further proof exists in a newspaper announcement of the successful tenderer where the proposed stations are listed as: Strathfieldsaye, Axe Creek, Axedale, Knowsley, Wild Duck (later renamed Derrinal), and Heathcote.

The Argus newspaper, in reporting the libel case of Richard Speight v. David Syme on Jul 20, 1893, recorded evidence given by James Syder, Victorian Railways Traffic Manager, relating to an 1892 list of Revenue and Cost for a number of stations. He stated that revenue for Strathfieldsaye Station was £83/14/9½ and costs were £3/0/0 per month.

The Argus, July 25, 1893, reports evidence provided by Richard Fox Pollard, ex District Superintendent who stated that Strathfieldsaye Station was already closed and that the returns for 1891 were £67/16/0½.

The Commissioners' Minutes Book has an entry: Strathfieldsaye – Commissioners approve removal of platform and siding. Value of materials released less cost of removal credited to Railways Loan Repayment Fund Comm Minutes 3/4/11. Pg 432 File No. 11/3673. This indicates that Strathfieldsaye last saw the light of day in 1911. It had an active life of no more than five years. It was situated too far from the Strathfieldsaye township, had very few residents nearby, and it was no more difficult for Strathfieldsaye people to travel to Bendigo for rail business with a much better service to Melbourne. [Note: Victoria struggled through a financial crisis during the 1890s and the Victorian Railways had their share of cost cutting measures].

October 1888 - There was agitation to connect Strathfieldsaye Station via a rail line to Lancefield.

January 1889 - A few months after the opening of the station, the Railways Department agreed to contribute £200 towards the construction of a road from the station to Strathfieldsaye township if the Shire chose to construct such a road.

March 1889 - Packages not exceeding 5cwt can now be accepted at Strathfieldsaye.

May 1889 - A tender from John Hawkins for construction of a road (Junortoun Road) to Strathfieldsaye township is accepted.

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