30 June 2011

Oh Balladoran!

A short one to finish off the financial year....

The railway arrived at Balladoran approximately 60 years after the initial white settler, Mr J Mamss, established a pastoral property in the district.  This property took its name from an Aboriginal word for platypus, and lent the same name to the area – Balladoran.  It is very doubtful whether a platypus ever graced the main street of Balladoran - unless it walked from Gilgandra.

Balladoran is reached ten kilometres after Eumungerie.  It is 508 kilometres from Sydney and lies within the Emu Parish of Ewenmar County.  The village of Balladoran existed sometime prior to the coming of the railway.  A school had been established in October 1884.  The coming of the railway concentrated civilisation to such a degree that postal facilities were established in February 1905.

Like Eumungerie and Mogriguy, Balladoran was originally provided with a just a mainline platform and a solitary siding – in this instance the siding measured 282 metres and was situated on the western side of the main line.

The railway platform received a three-room station building for the use of intending travellers.  No staff member of NSW Railways was allocated to the location.

The first decade saw a number of improvements to the railway infrastructure.  Only five months after the opening of the line a siding for the loading of railway sleepers was provided, which was opened on 25 July 1903.  The second anniversary of the railway’s opening on 18 February 1905 was celebrated with the provision of a loading bank for the loading of wool, bagged wheat and stock.

In October 1910 a 20 ton cart weighbridge was added to the railway yard.  A further early extension of Balladoran’s yard involved a 150 metre extension of the siding at the southern end of the yard.

Passengers were served at Balladoran from the opening of the railway until 23 November 1974.

As with other townships on the Coonamble line, significant railway infrastructure was accumulated at Balladoran.  By 1973 the Western Division Local Appendix to the Working timetable noted Balladoran as possessing 2,700 tonnes capacity in its grain receival facilities, a loading bank, portable sheep race, a 20-tonne weighbridge and an out-of shed.  The siding was rated as having a capacity for holding 87 four-wheel wagons.

Balladoran’s initial grain facilities were most likely a bagged wheat receival site.  In 1966 the location also received a D Depot grain bulkhead storage facility – mirroring the facility erected at Eumungerie.

Today only the grain receival facilities remain. However the grain siding has been stub-ended at the north – reducing access from and to the south.

26 June 2011

Leaping over Eumungerie

A journey of 15 kilometres from Mogriguy and 46 kilometres from Dubbo brings the rail traveller to the village of Eumungerie. 

In certain novels, one would describe what I am about to state next as being a device to build dramatic effect.  The truth is that I am nowhere near ready to launch into my Eumungerie phase of this blog, so I am going to simply leap over it.

However, before we leap to Balladoran, I have enlisted the vast resources of Mr Google (in a research and fair dealing sense, with due attribution – just in case this blog comes to the attention of a Google Lawyer) to show just where Eumungerie is in the scheme of things.

First, in terms of the South East Asia/Western Pacific geo-political zone, Eumungerie is denoted by the ‘A’ in the eastern part of Australia.

Then, zooming in, here is Eumungerie in terms of its location in the Australian State of New South Wales. 

Even more illuminating for the many readers of this blog, the following is a snap of Central Western NSW – illuminating if you have been reading earlier posts about the many railway lines and proposals.  Sorry, I really should have published a photo of the area earlier than this.

Now, the Eumungerie district. Note that the wonderful little 'A' appears in East Eumungerie, and that the little universal Google railway station logo sits atop the centre of Eumungerie.

 And, even closer, the township of Eumungerie. The largest building visible is the grain silo/bulk storage facility, which will be described in much detail... if I ever get around to it.

So that is it for Eumungerie for the time being.... we are off to Balladoran next but we will return!

23 June 2011


After a 14 kilometre journey from Talbragar, Mogriguy is reached.  It is 484 rail-kilometres from Sydney and 21 kilometres from Dubbo.

Mogriguy is approached from Dubbo on a very slight 1-in-330 rising grade.  While the yard is on the level, trains proceeding north leave Mogriguy on a 1-in-140 falling grade.

The initial passenger facilities at Mogriguy involved a station building on a short platform on the main line.  This station, also on a 30-metre platform, was composed of a timber waiting shed, plus a small out-of shed, both provided on the platform.

Mogriguy was opened as Goonoo on 18 February 1903.  By December 1908 it had obtained a second name – Bracken.  This obviously did not sit well with those in the area who were seeking to promote the location, as tree months later the station building received its third and final title, Mogriguy.

The establishment of railway facilities in the district brought settlers.  Their coming warranted the construction of the Goonoo Railway School in August 1906.  At the time that the railway station moved under the appellation of Mogriguy the school’s name changed to Bracken Public School.  It retained this title for only three months before assuming the name of Mogriguy Public School in March 1909.  It remained under this title under its closure at the end of 1984.

Mogriguy’s establishment also warranted a postal service.  It arrived on 19 June 1909 and existed until its closure on 31 December 1975.  With such civic establishments within the locale it was only a matter of time before Mogriguy was proclaimed as a village – which occurred on 10 December 1913.

As with other villages along the railway Mogriguy’s rudimentary railway infrastructure was not sufficient to sustain the growing needs of the local community.  The first enhancement arrived on 30 March 1911 when a loading bank was provided.

On 9 March 1914 the siding at Mogriguy was extended approximately 160 feet at the Sydney end, thereby allowing standing room for 44 four-wheeled trucks.  It was identified as a railway sleeper loading siding.

In December 1920 sheep ramps were brought into use at Mogriguy – having a capacity for 14 wagons without a locomotive.  A cart weighbridge of 20 tons capacity was provided on 14 February 1925.

While passenger facilities never grew beyond the most basic, even as late as 1970 the community’s growing production of primary products resulted in additional freight infrastructure.  A 150,000 tonne D-type grain bulkhead depot was built at this time adjacent to the railway line. 

The resulting track reorganisation resulted in Mogriguy receiving larger ‘wings’ to enable gravitation loading of grain wagons at the location.  By this time, the loading bank had been assessed to be able to hold a maximum of 82 four-wheel wagons.

The passenger facilities at Mogriguy were not required after the cessation of passenger services at this location on 23 November 1974.  While the station, out-of shed and platform have since been obliterated, the remainder of Mogriguy remains in place.

11 June 2011


Talbragar is seven kilometres from Dubbo and is reached after a three kilometre journey from Troy Junction, including the crossing of the Talbragar River at Brocklehurst. 

Talbragar assumed its name after some tribulation.  An 1866 publication covering the area notes that the river was known as the ‘Erskine’ or the ‘Talbragar’.  The name Brocklehurst was attached to the railway station during its construction but it was substituted for Talbragar upon opening.  Apparently this occurred as a result of concerns about confusion with Brocklesby – only several hundred miles away, so any misunderstanding is entirely believable.

Nevertheless the original bridge over the Talbragar River was a timber truss and of such dimension that it rates a mention as the most significant bridge on the branchline.  During late 1981 this venerable timber structure was replaced by a welded plate girder resting on concrete supports.  The replacement of the first bridge was doubtless overdue.  In September 1963 the first bridge’s aged timbers had required the placement of a permanent speed restriction for 32 class locomotives of 20 miles per hour and 10 miles per hour for 60 class Garratts.

This speed restriction was not exceeded by 6011 on 9 January 1967 when it partially collapsed the bridge, thereby stranding itself and its train for several days.  Nevertheless the remediation process effected by the railway engineering corps permitted the structure to carry 15 further wheat harvests before replacement – though a Garratt never again was permitted to tread across the ironbark trestles (much more about this for another posting).

The approach to Talbragar has contains another notable feature – the branch-line’s sharpest curve.  Using imperial parlance, it is a 24 chain curve.  On branchline notable for its lack of curves even in 1963 the Talbragar curve warranted a reminder for train crews in the form of a speed-board displaying a maximum 25 miles per hour speed.  Its placement was a first and last for the entire branch line.

The initial track plan for Talbragar yard provided a 24-metre platform on the western side of the main line.  A 330-yard siding on the eastern side of the main line included a substantial loading bank.  The siding was rated to hold a maximum of 74 four-wheel wagons.

Talbragar station opened on 18 February 1903.  It was of sufficient size to offer a waiting room, which received a ‘phonopore’ in late 1919.

Improvements were made to Talbragar’s railway infrastructure as required.  On 2 December 1915, a 20 ton cart weighbridge was installed at Talbragar.  The Talbragar silo siding increased in capacity from 60 to 63 trucks, extended to 1,399 yards of room for wagon storage and the junction with the mainline was moved 660 feet closer to Dubbo on 18 October 1935.

The original configuration of Talbragar was further altered in 1935 with the addition of a S016 silo at the southern end of the yard.  The silo is a single bin with a work house attached to its south.  The capacity of the silo remains currently at 1,600 tonnes. 

The original grain facilities obviously provided inadequate for the local farming community.  By 1955 the siding had been further extended to 451 metres.  An A Depot grain bulkhead was built in 1955 with the additional capacity of 12,300 tonnes.  

A relatively unusual feature of Talbragar is that the loading of grain wagons is facilitated by a gravity hump at the southern end of the siding.

In subsequent years, the railways also provided a ballast siding and a small out-of shed.  Stockyards were provided for the transfer of sheep, pigs and cattle, however these were demolished in June 1952.

The station closed on 24 November 1974.  The station’s decline had been apparent for quite some time, as the Department’s Weekly Notices noted the sale of No. 1 railway residence at Talbragar on 6 July 1952.  The Department then proceeded to rent the residence at ₤1 each week until its use was no longer required. 

The station building and out-of shed did not survive the administration’s razing policy over the following two decades.  However, the silo, grain bulkhead and loading bank remain, as does the ballast siding.  Currently this 50-metre siding is described as the Tar Siding, leading to the Shell Spraypave Tar Depot.

After leaving Talbragar, the Coonamble line was, and still is, unfenced... certainly an intriguing way to finish a post!

05 June 2011

Residents of Troy Junction

Its certainly time for a few photographs of the wonderful Troy Junction.  

This first one shows the only two motorised vehicles ever to call Troy Junction 'home', lurking amongst the long grass during the 1985 October Long Weekend. 

These CPH rail motros were owned and operated by the all too short-lived Macquarie Valley Railmotor Society.  The Society also possessed an interesting and eclectic range of rolling stock, as evidenced in the following photographs.

In this next photograph we have HFL 422, which spent most of its working life trawling the eastern seaboard, servicing travellers in the area bordered by Newcastle, Lithgow, Goulburn and the Illawarra/South Coast.  Sure, carriages of this type would have made it out west, particularly on relief (extra) trains operated during peak holiday periods.  Though I very much suspect that Troy Junction as just about as far along the Coonamble branch that any L car managed to get. 

Next up is an LFX-type carriage, wearing a livery which suggests that it spent its last years in the service of the 'Perway Branch' - most likely providing shelter to weary rail workers.  In a former period this carriage may have trundled along the Coonamble branchline at some stage, perhaps on those occasions when passenger loadings exceeded a rail car.

The next few photograps are somewhat blurred, having been shot using a telephoto lens without a tripod.  Yes I could have got closer, but I wasn't.  It was October remember, that time of the year when the snakes of the west get a bit territorial and frisky.

Here we have a KP mail van.  Whilst in service these made it all the way to Dubbo routinely.  However, the only time that such carriages travelled on the Coonamble branch was to be turned using the Dubbo triangle (see earlier post).

 Next in the blurred crusade, we have a line composed by a 4 wheel S wagon, a bogie water ginty, a former suburban FO-type carriage and a much faded rose, a Pullman-variant CBC-type carriage.  The last two pieces of rolling stock were also retirees from the Perway collection.  If they were in service together, I am sure that there would have been stiff competition to get the bunks in the Pullman car, over the alternative!

Now, for the final blurred delight - a real motley collection.  Here we have another LFX/BX carriage, followed by another commuter special - an R car - then a high-roofed KB mail van, followed by an S wagon with some semi-permanent structure on it, then a bogie water ginty.

Now, I am not one to criticise the efforts of those who seek to preserve NSW's railway heritage, but what were these people thinking? They deserve great kudos for securing the CPH railmotors, but unless they intended establishing an operation to rival Australia Post, there was little to commend the remainder of the collection.  Sadly, the Society did not survive, going into abeyance in the late 1980s as new operating requirements proved too difficult to meet.

02 June 2011

Troy Junction

Now, the centre of civilisation... Troy Junction.

Once the Dubbo North Junction is cleared, the branch line climbs uphill towards Troy Junction, albeit at a fairly gentle grade.  

Only 50 metres after leaving Dubbo Junction is the site of the former Total Oil Products siding.  More recently it was known as the PMG siding, owing to its use by the Post Master General’s officers for loading of telegraph poles and the like.

A further kilometre of travel brings a train to a place adjacent to Dubbo’s former Union Siding.  This fuel siding was installed on 17 September 1928.  The date of its demise is unknown to this author.

In leaving Dubbo proper the railway line then crosses Miller (or Muller) Street, River Street, Beri Street and Quarry Road.  This completes the journey to the outskirts of Troy Junction.

On reaching Troy Junction the railway alignment levels out.  In total the trip from Dubbo measures approximately 4.5 kilometres - locating the Junction 467 kilometres from Sydney.

Troy Junction exists for two reasons principally - the decision to build the Dubbo to Merrygoen cross-country railway and its proximity to Dubbo’s industrial areas.

As to the first reason clearly Troy Junction was not part of the original infrastructure of the Coonamble line.  It was first formed in July 1914 as a result of the construction of a temporary connection off the Coonamble line.  The 25th Weekly Notice of that year announced that on Thursday, 25 June 1914 a temporary siding would be brought into operation at mileage 285 and 27 chains, between Dubbo and Eumungerie, with points facing the down journey.  The siding was provided to ‘enable trucks of materials’ for the Dubbo to Werris Creek line.  The points were unlocked using the Dubbo-Eumungerie staff. 

The following week’s Notices cancelled the 25 June 1914 commencement, delaying the creation of the Junction until Thursday 2 July 1914.  This later announcement appears to have occurred on time, and the perway gangs worked to produce a loop siding for a quarry at this location.  The quarry was, of course, critical to the construction of the cross-country line to Mendooran and points further east.  It continued in this function until its removal on 26 September 1938.

Over the next three years, construction of the cross-country line was undertaken steadily, although wartime exigencies reduced the capital and manpower available to the constructors.  By 1917 the Department of Public Works was operating three goods trains daily between Troy Junction and Elong Elong, along with various works trains.  Goods traffic commenced operations on the then-called Mendooran branch, without livestock or passenger services, from 7 April 1917.

From 15 January 1918 a tri-weekly mixed service was instituted between Dubbo and Elong Elong on the still-under-construction Merrygoen branch.  The journey was timetabled to take three hours, all for a journey of 30 miles.  Notably, the Weekly Notices refer throughout to Troyee Junction.  This affectation applied for only several weeks. 

Also notable is the rather convoluted safeworking arrangements attached to these workings, with a shunter accompanying the Construction Branch crew in the locomotive cab from Dubbo to the Junction with the staff, under the supervision of Dubbo’s station master.

Almost as an anti-climax the official creation of Troy Junction occurred on 8 April 1918 with the connection of the fully-open Dubbo to Merrygoen line.

The commencement of Merrygoen branch workings occurred with No. 1 Mixed, leaving Dubbo on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:00am, arriving at Troy Junction at 9:29am.  Ten minutes for shunting was allocated before the service moved off towards Merrygoen.  The return working arrived at Troy Junction at 3:53pm, where a further ten minutes was allocated to shunting.  Arrival at Dubbo at 4:15pm, after a 12 minute journey.  Passengers from Sydney for stations along the Merrygoen branch were obliged to use No. 59 Through Mail and not the No. 61 Coonamble Mail.

Traffic loads brought improvements to the operating arrangements of the Junction after just seven years, when Troy Junction brought into use as an Electric Staff Station on Thursday, 28 May 1925.  Dubbo to Troy Junction section was worked under miniature staff, and the Troy Junction to Eumungerie section then worked under ordinary staff arrangements.

The Junction’s original formation involved a single junction off the north-bearing Coonamble line with the Merrygoen line moving away to the north-east.  However, the growth of Dubbo as a regional centre led to the early development of a light industrial precinct to the north of the city, where the railway line paralleled the road to Gilgandra, which is now the Newell Highway.  Inevitably this industrialisation brought the need for rail connections and thus the ancillary reason for Troy Junction’s existence.

The original railway infrastructure required a signal box located on the western (or down) side of the Coonamble line to supervise the shunting operations at the Junction.  It was constructed of timber, and was brought into operation with the opening of the Junction.

A dead-end ballast siding was also installed adjacent to the signal box on 3 February 1941.  It appears to have been located in the same position as the original quarry siding which had been removed in 1938.  However, in this incarnation the siding’s alignment continued the arc of the railway line from Merrygoen, this time towards the south.  It was used to stockpile ballast in case of wash-aways.  This ballast siding was removed in January 1954.  Somewhat ironically given its reason for existence, this was only a matter of months prior to devastating floods in the area.

The thirty years following the creation of Troy Junction led to the founding of two related industries in the vicinity – livestock sale yards and an abattoir.

The second Weekly Notice of 1951 notes the closure of Dubbo Stock Yards as at 31 December 1950 and the opening or extension of Troy Junction to take 75 cattle wagons or sheep wagons.  The location of an abattoir at Troy Junction created the imperative for large scale transport of livestock to the site and the subsequent removal of its produce.  Consequently, by the early 1950s the south-eastern corner of Troy Junction included an abattoir siding, for the aptly named Country Killings Works.

The rail siding provided for the abattoir spiraled away in a south-easterly direction from the up siding, towards the abattoir.  This line was officially titled as the meatworks siding.  It ended amongst the abattoir’s buildings in two short sidings.  The meatworks siding could hold 155 four-wheel wagons.

In the north-east three stock and sale yards sidings were provided adjacent to the Merrygoen line, while a lengthy siding paralleling the Coonamble line gave the impression of a double-tracked branch line.  The stock siding could hold the equivalent of 237 four-wheel wagons.

As noted above initial rationalisation of the railway infrastructure occurred on 7 January 1954, with the official notice of the removal of the ballast siding for the second time.  However, the remaining infrastructure remained in use into the 1980s.

One interruption occurred on 5 October 1973 when Troy Junction’s wooden signal box was destroyed by fire.  It was then replaced by a similar structure.

In its new housing, Troy Junction signal box operated for a further 14 years.  It was closed on 5 July 1987 when Dubbo signal box assumed responsibilities for the Junction. 

From its creation in 1918 until 1987 the Coonamble line retained the appellation of main line.  After the closure of the signal box the Merrygoen line became the main line.

During the 1980s Troy Junction’s sidings played one final role – as the site of the Macquarie Valley Railway Society.  The Society held its two operable railmotors at the location along with a motley collection of passenger and goods rolling stock.

As part of the State-wide fad of razing railway infrastructure which commenced during the later part of the 1980s, the stock and sale yard siding was removed on 24 July 1991.  It is understood that the abattoir siding was also removed at this time, or shortly beforehand.  The second signal box may have been removed during the 1991 rationalisation of the permanent way.

Thus, after 70 years Troy Junction had been returned to virtually the same railway formation which had existed at its creation in 1914.