27 July 2011


Now we are travelling... all the way to the end of the line.

This stop - Curban!

Curban lies 20 rail kilometres north from Gilgandra, 82 kilometres from Dubbo and 555 kilometres from Sydney.  Yep, we are not quite at the end of the world, but you can nearly see it from Curban.

This modest village’s existence prior to the coming of the railway also gave lie to the notion that the route was through an uninhabitable landscape.  Its school had been established in 1882, nearly two decades prior to the establishment of the railway.  In the intervening period, a post office had also been established and was first opened for business on 16 November 1878.

Curban’s station was opened along with the rest of the Coonamble railway on 18 February 1903.  Its initial infrastructure was relatively impressive when compared with its branchline counterparts - apart from a platform placed adjacent to the main line, a crossing loop and a further siding were also established.

Further capital improvements followed steadily.  In March 1911 a 20 ton cart weighbridge was installed.  On 28 June 1912 a new stock siding with room for 31 four-wheeled trucks was brought into use on the up side of the line at Curban, with the points facing the up direction.  In January 1914 a five ton gantry crane was installed in the railway yard.

The station’s presence had a somewhat chequered experience.  In April 1916 it became an unattended station between 6:00pm and 8:30am.  Worse was to come with the withdrawal of the officer assigned to Curban from Monday, 16 December 1918, and the closure of the booking station.  This situation continued throughout 1919.  However, on 3 February 1920 Curban reopened as a booking station for goods and passengers. Citizens of Curban rejoiced!

This arrangement lasted for forty years into 1960, whereupon the station was closed.  However on 1 August of 1963, Curban reopened as a booking office and remained in business until the cessation of passenger rail services at the location on 23 November 1974.  Throughout this latter period Curban was also graced by a 5 tonne crane and a small out-of shed, fuelling the need for station staff.

The major product of the district – grain – resulted in 29,100 tonnes of capacity in grain receival facilities being installed.  This capacity had commenced in 1930 as a S008 silo - probably the smallest type of concrete silo established near the railway system.  In 1960 this silo was extended to enable 5,150 tonnes of grain to be stored.  Subsequent expansions have raised the capacity to its current level.

Curban possessed a crossing loop of 269 metres in length, which provided standing room for 139 four-wheel wagons.  The slightly smaller siding was removed on 22 March 1978 after 75 years of service.  Today, Curban retains its 372 metre loop siding.

Next stop - Armatree.

24 July 2011


Evening all... I am working hard on the world's first expose of Curban, but before I get there, we need to cover off Kamber.  Three paragraphs seems somewhat superfluous.

This location lies 72 kilometres from Dubbo.  It opened as Berida on 18 February 1903, along with the remainder of the railway line.  Consistent with the whim of post-colonial bureaucrats, Berida shed its title in favour of the prosaic term, Kamber, on 5 May 1903.  Apparently this title was drawn from a local Aboriginal word for ‘a spring’.

The station was constructed on the western side of the railway and was constituted by a timber waiting shed perched upon a 30 metre platform.  These facilities appear to have served local needs until the station’s closure in 1965.  Even after that time as an unattended location passengers could join and alight from services until the cessation of passenger services here on 22 September 1975.

The solitary goods siding provided at Kamber received a goods loading bank in July 1956.  This facility remains in place.

14 July 2011


Yes, its been a while since Marthaguy, but Gilgandra is a big place....so lets get rolling.

Gilgandra lies 17 kilometres beyond Balladoran and 63 kilometres from Dubbo.  The name ‘Gilgandra’ means ‘long waterhole’ in the indigenous language of the region.  Arriving at Gilgandra by rail means that one has reached a point 525 rail kilometres distant from Sydney’s terminal.

At the time of construction of the line Gilgandra represented the first real civilisation after leaving Dubbo.  The township already had some considerable permanency.  A post office had been established in June 1867, and a full school was in place by 1887.

Gilgandra was also the railway’s first connection with the Castlereagh River.  Initially, this nexus was proposed to be an immediate one, as Gilgandra’ s railway station was planned to be located 4.5 miles away from the main part of the township on the western bank of the Castlereagh River.  However political pressure resulted in the station being relocated to its present location, well away from the riverbank.

The initial track layout of Gilgandra provided the sorts of facilities which would be expected, including station buildings, goods shed, stock yards and the first wool siding on the branch line.  The station building was the largest structure encountered after leaving Dubbo.  It provided a general waiting room, a ladies’ waiting room, an office for the station master and a separate parcels office. 

One relatively uncommon feature at Gilgandra was the wye provided for turning locomotives.  This had been installed by 1906.  It suggests that the railway was maturing beyond its initial task of connecting Coonamble to the wider railway system and that the predicted increase in traffic along the line was already occurring. 

Although it does not appear on Gilgandra’s track diagram until 1927, records indicate that a small coal stage and ash pit was provided at the apex of the wye in March 1904.

Catch-points were provided on Dubbo and Coonamble ends of the turntable roads at Gilgandra were brought into use on 31 March 1913.

Within a dozen years the growth of traffic on the line required additional facilities, including a grain shed, which the Railway Commissioners noted as being under construction in their 1914 Annual Report.  The shed appears on the 1916 track diagram for the location, along with the extension of the wool siding on which it was located.  The shed held 20,000 wheat bags at capacity.

At some early stage refreshment facilities were provided on the station platform.  These were operated by a contracted private firm until the Railway’s records state that Gilgandra Railway Refreshment Rooms taken over by the Railway Commissioners on 1 February 1917.  This change warranted the construction of accommodation for the staff of the rooms in July 1917.

Not only passengers were watered at Gilgandra.  The initial signal diagram for the location shows a water tank located to the south of the platform.  Records suggest that this was of 90kl capacity.  In 1921, the tank received a roof.  While subsequent diagrams do not show this tank, by 1927 it was joined by a second tank of the same capacity at the northern end of the platform.  Other records suggest that this second tank arrived in September 1931.

In October 1925 a new dead-end wheat siding laid in at Gilgandra, between the Crossing Loop and the Goods Siding.

This decade brought Gilgandra two landmarks which remain until the current time.  The first was a Metcalf silo constructed in 1920 with a capacity of 14,400 tonnes, which was extended in 1927 with the addition of a workhouse.  At the time of this extension, on 5 July 1927, Gilgandra’s completely reorganised yard was brought into operation.

The other enhancement was the mill at the northern end of the yard operated by McLeod’s Milling Company.  This stub-ended siding had existed from June 1909, but by 1927 it had received its name to reflect the substantial mill constructed adjacent to the railway.  This mill was served by the railway until 24 November 1982.

Primary produce – grain, wool, livestock - were not the only commodities to require railway infrastructure within Gilgandra’s railway yards. Separate fuel sidings were provided for the Esso and Mobil petroleum companies. 

On 12 August 1929 the Vacuum Oil Siding was brought into operation at Gilgandra.  It was a dead-end siding on the down side of the line, with points facing the down side and had standing room for ten trucks.

In somewhat of a major disruption to the railway services in the area Gilgandra railway station destroyed by fire on 2 December 1930.  Passenger services did recover and were nourished by a replacement building which served until the cessation of such services in 1975.  After this date passengers travelling along the Newell Highway courtesy of omnibuses commissioned by the railway authorities were provided with an opportunity to visit the railway station as part of their rubber-tired adventure.

The 1950s brought further expansion of the grain handling facilities.  The decade commenced with the extension of the Metcalf silo.  Five years later the railway authorities constructed an A Depot grain bulkhead.

Nearly 50 further years were to elapse before further grain handling facilities were established in the vicinity of Gilgandra.  In September 2003 the Australian Wheat Board (AWB) commissioned its grain depot.

Today Gilgandra’s railway precinct provides a much reduce imposition on the landscape.  It is eclipsed by the Australian Wheat Board’s bulk grain facility which is two kilometres to the south.  A single goods siding services the railway yard, with a disused stub-end spur in place to the east of the goods siding.

03 July 2011


Marthaguy is a lovely little mystery in a line of mysteries….

Type ‘Marthaguy’ into any search engine and you will be delivered to Marthaguy – a small village near Quambone, miles from any railway line.  It even has what seems to be an active and interesting country race carnival.

However, for a time there was a stopping place situated on the Coonamble branchline also carrying the name Marthaguy.  It located approximately ten kilometres beyond Balladoran.  A rail journey of 519 kilometres is required to bring the traveler to the original Marthaguy - just over 50 kilometres from Dubbo.

Marthaguy was named after a local property in the district which drew its name from the corruption of an Aboriginal word for the area.  Settlement in the district warranted the establishment of a public school in August 1898.  Few students were given the opportunity to excel at this institution as it was closed only six years later in October 1904.

Marthaguy did not appear as part of the initial plans for the Coonamble railway.  It was not until 22 February 1912 when Marthaguy was named as a stopping place with a siding.  No platform was provided as a further discouragement to local residents.

A mere 13 years later a second capital improvement occurred with the installation of a cart weighbridge of 20 tons capacity.  Apparently this did not produce the anticipated traffic as the weighbridge was removed was removed in March 1935.

All facilities at Marthaguy were closed on 2 February 1953, placing it as an early casualty of rail rationalisation on the Coonamble railway line.

All trace of Marthaguy has now evaporated from railway maps.