On August 6, 1868 the Moss Vale to Marulan section of the Great Southern Railway was opened with great fanfare, the Governor of NSW performing the ceremony at Marulan Station. Being 150 years ago this month, it heralded the start of rail services through the area where today’s Wingecarribee Shire southern villages flourish.
The railway brought increased settlement and prosperity. Eventually villages developed along the section, including present-day Exeter, Bundanoon, Penrose and Wingello. Beyond the Wingecarribee Shire boundary, villages also took shape at Barber’s Creek (later renamed Tallong) and Marulan.
The Great Southern Railway was a remarkable achievement for the early NSW government, when rail as a mode of transport was still in its infancy world-wide. Construction of the single track line started at Liverpool in 1857 and during the 1860s was built in sections from Picton to Goulburn. Train services began in 1867 between Sydney and the Southern Highlands, as far as Mittagong Station in March and then extended to stations at Bowral and Moss Vale (then called Sutton Forest) by December. Last year, celebrations were held at these stations to mark their 150 years of service.
Moss Vale was the southern terminus while construction of the next sections of rail continued. Once works were completed as far as Marulan in August 1868, rail services were extended to Marulan Station. Until the line opened through to Goulburn in May 1869, rail travellers to and from that town made good use of the Marulan terminus, covering the remaining distance by road.
On Sunday, August 5, Bundanoon History Group, Bundanoon Community Association and Marulan & District Historical Society are holding celebratory events to mark the 150th anniversary of the rail section opening through their area.
At Bundanoon, dignitaries and townspeople will gather at 10.30am for an official launch, to be performed by Howard Collins, chief executive of Sydney Trains and NSW Trainlink, of the recently refurbished heritage-listed station. The station rooms, signal box and old goods shed will be open for inspection, with displays of historic railway artefacts and photographs. There will be entertainment, food and markets.
At Marulan, the Lieutenant-Governor Tom Bathurst will deliver a message from the Governor of NSW and perform an official tree planting and plaque unveiling at 12.15pm. Old photographs, railway memorabilia and antique machinery will be on display. There will be food and market stalls near the station. Extra trains will be provided all day to link the Bundanoon and Marulan celebrations.
To provide an historical perspective to this 150th, some extracts follow here from a May 1868 Sydney Morning Herald article describing the section prior to its opening:
“The progress which has been made with the Great Southern Railway towards Goulburn must, in many respects, be highly gratifying. The inhabitants of the districts to the south who have produce to bring to our ports will regard its completion as a boon. On that part of the line contracted for by Messrs Larkin and Wakeford, from Mittagong to near Marulan, the works are rapidly drawing to completion. The plate-laying of the remainder of this contract is being proceeded with in a vigorous manner, a gang of from 80 to 90 men being engaged.”
“The railway runs for a number of miles along a valley where the hand of the woodman has never been; however several patches have been taken up by free-selectors who appear not to have had a very good season. Their farms seem to have been indifferently tilled, and it is no wonder there should have been a poor return.”
“The line from the end of the contract is also progressing rapidly. The bridges are very noticeable. There is one over Barber's Creek, standing on four piers, which, like the abutments, are built of stone, and are remarkable for their finished appearance. This bridge has iron girders. Near it is another creek, spanned by a bridge resting on piles. These are near Glen Rock, a large estate, on which is a fine building. The rail crosses the main road close to the little township of Mooroowoolen.”
Once rail services commenced, Jordan’s Crossing (now Bundanoon) became the first intermediate stopping place.
- Berrima District Historical & Family History Society – compiled by PD Morton. Part 1 of a 3-part series. To be continued.