Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Train from Oakleigh

Jayne tipped me off. Thanks Jayne. There is an exhibition at the Oakleigh and District Historical Society about trains heading east to Gippsland from Oakleigh. South east too, as the South Gippsland railway line to Yarram was included. It was well worth spending fifteen minutes looking at the stuffs.

Something I was not aware of and learnt about on the day was that construction of the railway line did not begin in Melbourne and slowly extend out as it was built. It was constructed in disconnected sections with the very last section completed being through to South Yarra and the city.
1879 - April 2nd Gippsland railway completed. This line was opened in sections, Morwell to Sale [June 1877], Oakleigh to Bunyip [October 1877], Moe to Morwell [December 1877], Bunyip to Moe [March 1878] South Yarra to Oakleigh [April 1879].

The long metal rod is a staff for single track railway working. When there is only a single track, you don't want trains crashing head on into each other, so therefore the metal rod is placed in a holder by one train crew at a point along the way. Until it is placed in the holder, no other train can enter that section of track. The next train in the opposite direction will collect the staff and place it in holder at the other end of the section to allow the next train to pass by. It works well if train crews follow the rules. Because this staff is notched and fits into something that prevents train movements if it is not in position, it is pretty well fool proof. An alternative is for a staff to be handed over from one train driver to another before they enter the single track section. It sounds foolproof, but it was not.

An old time table. What a ripper. It shows trains going to Mirboo North. Yes Wil Anderson, back then you could get a train to Maffra. I remember seeing the train shunting and goods yard area at Maffra. Trains still ran on those lines when I lived in Gippsland. I have heard that the Melbourne to Geelong modern diesel electric train now takes longer than it did when it was as steam train. I have made a careful examination of the Gippsland train table, and believe me, the Gippsland train is much quicker now than years ago. Much much quicker. I can't understand why the old one so many years ago was so slow.

Without researching, I don't know why passengers would have to change at Nyora. The line didn't branch off there did it? I'll check a map. Mein gott, it did. The line branched off to Wonthaggie there. Lordy, once the train reached Korrumburra, there were two more branches, one to Coal Creek and one to Outtrim. Never heard of the place. Obviously the train split at Nyora and tough if you wanted to go to Wonthaggie and you were in the front. Trains splitting happens all over the world, often with problems when idiots don't read their seat allocations properly.

The Gippsland line might have the honour of being the only Australian train line to be converted from electric to diesel. It was once a busy train line when briquettes were hauled from the Latrobe Valley coal mines to Melbourne for households and industry. As polluting briquettes were phased out, the line became much quieter and with the electric locomotives at the end of their lives and needing replacement, a decision was made to use diesel electric engines, so during the 1980s, the line was de-electrified. There should have been howls of protests, but I recall none.

One does likes one's tomato sauce bottle secured should the train lurch over points. What secured your wine bottle? Ah yes, it was either a quick beer or a cup of tea when the the train paused at a station.

There is nothing like having a useful boi around, especially one on a train platform.

I pressed down the shutter button and examined the photo. The pie warmer/dual urn turned out to be silver in the photo, when in fact it was a brassy colour. I tried again, and still it was silver. The camera lies. It was a brassy colour.

Dining cars, refreshment rooms, luncheon cartons, hampers and fresh fruit. You might now get a stale sandwich for five dollars.

R pointed to the object on the top shelf. What is it? To hold your wine bottle? Silly lad he is. See sauce bottle above. The silver plate tea and coffee were engraved with the initials VR, for Victorian Railways, just like one of my mother's forks. Oh, Father had a mate called Victor Richards.

The seven ten to Gippsland stopping all stations has been cancelled. Please wait for further announcements. VLine apologises for any inconvenience caused.

There were some nice posters in the windows to view from the outside. This is the Oakleigh Hotel. Is that the hotel in Dandenong Road? The absurdly now named Leighoak?

Grandmother and her sister vociferously described the atrocious waste of their City of Oakleigh council rates monies being spent on converting Eaton Street into Eaton Street Mall in the 1970s. If they were alive now, they would probably be complaining about the cost of City of Monash renovating the Eaton Street Mall. It was a nice sunny day and the mall was busy and full of atmosphere.

A dated post on the South Gippsland line, http://highriser.blogspot.com.au/2010/02/buffalo-train-station-and-south.html


  1. Fascinating, thanks Andrew. Is that one of those sits on a wood stove type urns?

  2. We used to have such a super railway service across rural Victoria *sigh*. Until Kennett the Vandal destroyed it all, that is.

    My two best memories of those days:
    1. What we used to call Victorian Railway food, including strong pots of tea. Loved it.
    2. When I lived in Bendigo, there were 5 trains in each direction, each day. Women used to dress up to go on the train!

  3. FC, a closer look at the original, and there seems to be three electric switches at the bottom, so I would guess the urn/warmer is electric.

    Hels, the de-electrification happened under state Labor. But yes, Kennett did much worse. Hels, I can just remember the tea rooms at Warragul Station and I have a hazy memory of the one at Seymour. I remember how blokes used to chuck down as many beers as they could during refreshment stops.

  4. Lara station is ultra-modern and beautifully kept. Seeing the toilets there made me ashamed of my own*.


    *No, not difficult, but what a contrast!

  5. Colin6:38 pm

    Ah the days of the steam trains.
    Brings back 1950 memories of old "Moree" and the travel to college in Sydney on the overnight Moree Mail train. Left Moree at about 3.00pm and arrived Sydney about 6.30am. Heaps of boarders at Sydney colleges in the sleeping cars - girls in one car, boys in another plus ever watching train guards for the "no hanky-panky'.
    Some "hanky-panky" supposedly did occur, fortunately for all concerned no pregnancies - maybe the older boys did tell fibbies???
    Kids as young as 12 did this trip, now kids can't cross a road without a "lolly-pop" sign bearer.
    Some of my college class mates flew in from Rabaul and Kavieng, PNG - in those days it took 4 days in the old DC3's. And guess what, none got lost!!!! Stopovers at Port Moresby, Cairns or Townsville, Brisbane and then Sydney - some even then went onto Melbourne or Adelaide - add another day to that.
    I well remember the rail junction at Werris Creek, when extra carriges were hitched on at about midnight or maybe earlier and we were let loose onto the station for "horrible" now days meat pies and sandwiches. The older people, the men would head across to the "illegaly opened" pub for top ups. The ladies,of course would have tea and scones! And once again nobody missed the train. The driver gave "toot toots" to let people know.
    Next at ungodly hours Maitland for a breakfast break or sometimes Broadmeadow. Four engine changes also, C-30's to Narrabri, C-33's to Werris Creek, C-35's to Broadmeadow (Newcastle), then the mighty C-38 into Sydney.
    Ah yes, Andrew, those were the days when boys were boys, girls were girls, and adults were shown respect. Thanks for the memories.

  6. We had a few engraved forks and spoons too, with SAR on them. When I cleared out my dad's flat in 2000, he still had one, a really big dinner fork.

  7. RH, surely you have not discovered a railway station with open toilets?

    Great colour Colin. Even I know Maitland was an important train place. The trains were hardly luxurious, but we didn't know any better.

    River, so your Dad was friends with Stuart Angus Rhysdale?

  8. My word I have, and the toilets at Lara with pristine hand basins are connected to an air conditioned waiting room via a passage, plus staffed ticket counter, all in the one building. I'm not a connoisseur but I've seen some dreadful railway toilets, I award the Lara effort five stars.

  9. Travelled on The Gippslander in the olden days more than a few times to Bairnsdale (where I bought a fine YSL shirt at an op shop for $5) en route to Lakes Entrance. They don't do services like that anymore, but they should, the penny pinching, bottom line, non customer focused bastards!

  10. RH, keep it quiet then. One decent station is to be treasured.

    LS, didn't YSL retail new for $5 back then? If it was winter you may have had a footwarmer.

  11. Andrew google tells me the station building at Lara dates back to the 1920s. It was gutted and refurbished in 2008.
    Bairnsdale station has a big fireplace in the waiting room, them was the days! The train terminated at Sale for a while during the reign of kennet the c*nt but I think it goes through to Bairnsadale again now.

  12. 'didn't YSL retail new for $5 back then?' But that was back when he was a rent boy with sewing skills. ;0)

    Yes, in winter there were footwarmers, but you had to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to move them from their designated places.

  13. The Bairnsdale (I think Catholic) church is worth a gecko. Over the top wonderful murals. (Not a Michelangelo in sight.)

  14. I was very interested in saving railway infrastructure and wrote particularly about Maryborough:

    It looks wonderful now, but alas not for the purpose for which it was built. Trains still operate regularly from Maryborough to Ballarat (to connect to the Ballarat-Melbourne line) but the great old days have long gone.

  15. The church is St Marys, in the main street. The murals were done by an itinerant italian pea picker in the 1920s. They are truly stunning, and not a pope in sight.

  16. P.S. Colin's comment reminds me that I lived in Maitland very briefly when I was too young to remember it, but I remember jearing my parents talking about it. I think it was our first Australian home after leaving Bonegilla Immigration Camp.

    1. Bonegilla Immigration Camp.my mother and her family where there and taken to west sale camp 1950-51.

    2. Ah yes, at the airforce base in Sale.

  17. RH, Clayton Station had a big fireplace in the waiting room. The local stray dogs used to love it in the winter and you push them out of the way to get to it.

    LS, I heard school boys used to gather them all up into their compartments and leave the old ladies freezing.

    Hels, I remember the post. Not long ago I looked at the timetable and concluded if you owned a car, you would never catch a train from there to Melbourne.

    RH, I should follow up this church.

    River, while it is or was an important railway place, I don't think it is a particularly interesting place. So you clearly don't remember Bonegilla either.