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!