Saturday, April 19, 2008

100 Years Ago

Tomorrow, the twentieth of April, marks the one hundredth anniversary of what I believe is the second worst train disaster in Australia, after Granville.

Forty four people were killed and a couple of hundred injured when the train from Bendigo careered into the back of a packed train from Ballarat that was stationary at Sunshine Railway Station, on the outskirts of Melbourne.

Here are a few phrases from the lurid news story published in The Age the following day.

'appalling railway accident'
'frightful catastrophe'
'injured were supposed to be burned underneath'
'smashed to pieces'
'sight was something pitiable'
'smashed into a conglomerate'
'with hideous wounds'
'the occupants being chopped up and mangled by the broken wood and ironwork'
'impossible for the uninjured passengers, as they rushed up and down in their excitement to avoid trampling on and tumbling over the dead and wounded'
'corpse, with the head completely torn off'
'mangled body of a mother with her dead baby clasped'
'body of another man was hanging up between two carriages '
'impaled on the ends of sharp splintered woodwork'
'violently hurled from their seats'

But the worst,
'Most of the men who had gone through the collision were hatless'.

So, you are catching a train tomorrow?

Top picture from ANU.
Other from the Herald Sun.


  1. I did hear about the anniversary coming up soon, I heard a great grand daughter speak of her great grandad being the second driver or something or other in the second train after the crash scene ..she was on 3aw. Oh, my words are muddles up as I have been up since 530 this morning and I ought to be in bed long ago.
    Thanks for reminding us of this... there will be a ceremony at Sunshine I do believe. That lady who spoke on the radio..her whole family will be there.

  2. "'body of another man was hanging up between two carriages '"

    Well at least he was being tidy. I wonder if he'd hung the hats up as well.

  3. It would be a nice thing to attend Cazzie. Hope you had a good sleep.

    Well someone did something with them Brian. Tomorrow's post, the Great Sunshine Railway Accident Missing Hats Investigation.

  4. Such dramatic, graphic descriptions. Today it would be outlawed as politically incorrect and too brutal on the relatives.

    Train, buses, cars ~ it's all ugly stuff when soft bodies and hard surfaces meet suddenly.

    Great photos. You dig up such interesting histories.

  5. Great post Andrew.
    The ceremony will be at 3pm, with a memorial service and a plaque unveiled.

  6. God speed!


  7. Thanks Bliss. It would not be nice to read about your loved ones going through something like that in such a graphic manner.

    Ta Jayne. Maybe on the news tonight?

    For sure Keshi.

  8. So journalists haven't changed in 100 years then? It sounds like the 1908 version of Today Tonight or A Current of Air.

  9. FB and The Spouse were at the service but are going back tomorrow for pics, there was a massive crowd.
    History book on the crash was procured.
    Big display currently on in the Sunshine Library.
    News crew were there but didn't see it on any news services.

  10. It does sound pretty downmarket for The Age Ben.

    Wonderful Jayne. Look forward to hearing and seeing more.

  11. Anonymous8:23 pm

    Hmmm. Let's hope such accidents are never repeated. In all honesty though, most deaths happen on the road - not rail.

    Oh and Andrew/Ben, some questions unanswered ie ticket inspector post on my blog.


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