Monday, 28 April 2008

The Railways - The Gippsland line

Narre Warren Railway Station, 1915

Railways have been pivotal in the development of the Casey Cardinia Region. We have had four railway lines running through the region and in the next few blog posts we will look at these lines. The earliest line is the Gippsland line to Sale. This line was opened in stages - Sale to Morwell June 1877, Oakleigh to Bunyip October 1877, Moe to Morwell December 1877, Moe to Bunyip March 1878 and the last stretch from South Yarra to Oakleigh in 1879. Originally the only Station open between Dandenong and Pakenham was the Berwick Station, pictured below in 1877.

Berwick Railway Station, 1877.

Other stations followed as demand increased. Towns developed around the Railway stations and in some cases such as Pakenham, the railway town eventually eclipsed the original town on the Highway. The Railway provided a means of transporting produce and goods. Officer was originally known as Officer's Wood Siding because the Officer family used it for the distribution of firewood. Apples were transported from the orchards at Toomuc Valley and Officer, potatoes and dairy products were transported from the Koo-Wee-Rup Swamp. The railways also revolutionised personal travel in that they were quicker and more comfortable than horses and carts. Beaconsfield Upper was promoted as a holiday resort with fresh country air. Holiday makers were met at the Beaconsfield Station and conveyed to their guest house or hotel.

Advertisement taken from a booklet published by the Upper Beaconsfield Progressive League in 1899 to promote tourism in the area.

Beaconsfield Railway Station, 1910

The Railways also opened up educational and employment opportunities both in the local community and beyond. My grandmother, Eva Weatherhead, was an early commuter. In 1916, aged 15, Eva travelled down on the train each day from Tynong to Stotts Business College in Melbourne where she undertook a secretarial course. Until the 1950s children from the Casey Cardinia region had a choice of Warragul High School (established 1911) or Dandenong High (1919) so the few children from the area who went on to High School would have mostly travelled by train.

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