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 that 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. The actual point was the southern edge alignment of Collins Street, Melbourne. Contract 2630, Sandhurst (North Bendigo) to Heathcote, was the most distant section of the three individually constructed sections of the Wandong, Heathcote and Sandhurst rail line. Mile reference points on the contract commenced at 0 and increased on the way to Heathcote, ending at Mile 28. Andrew O'Keefe's contract commenced near the end of a straight section of track that connected to the Bendigo-Echuca Line at a point about 100 metres north of Nolan Street, a few metres north of the Eaglehawk bracch. The commencement of the departure from this straight section of track, now part of a parallel loop siding, is shown as being at 102M 25C 32L (from Melbourne via Sandhurst). O'Keefe's contract commenced a distance of 0M 7C 23L from this point.

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.

The Railways may have driven Marker Posts each mile along the planned route. Technically, as this end of the line was operating as an extension from Sandhurst (Bendigo) until it opened all the way through, the Marker Posts would have been numbered from MP103 to MP130. Such markers were already in use on the main line and it is assumed that they would also have been used on this branch when it opened. If so, their actual number and position were to change when the line was connected all the way through as the numbering then increased from Spencer Street. Marker Post 101, 101 miles from Spencer Street, still exists about mid-way along the track section running parallel to the Bendigo-Echuca line. The Victorian Railways provided 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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