Australian Railways History.
by Neil Head
One of my favourite classes at U3A Brimbank is ‘Australian History Discussion’, conducted as a monthly coffee-chat at the Kororoit Creek Neighbourhood House in historic-suburb Albion, quite near to my home. On the 20th of September it was ‘Railways History’ discussion, which has a firm local-interest, given the location of Victoria’s historical worst train disaster, when, in 1908 the late-running Bendigo train ran into the back of the also late-running Ballarat train, both returning to Melbourne on a long-weekend Monday, at the Sunshine station, with a death toll of 44.
What our far-ranging discussion revealed, as backed up by an historic map of the railway lines of Victoria … (many of them now closed), is that the lines run mainly in spines, from the country to the Port of Melbourne and, to a lesser extent, other Ports, including my former home-town Portland. There are very few east-west connections, and even the Melbourne to Adelaide route looks a bit like a bowl of spaghetti trail. And of course, lots of discussion about the three main rail gauges widths employed by the different States across Australia, and the difficulties in connecting interstate train services, right up to the 1990’s … standard gauge (NSW), broad gauge
(Victoria) and narrow gauge (Qld) and lots of variations in-between!
Other recent discussion topics have included: the travels of Matthew Flinders … (do you know that he travelled with a cat ‘Trim’); the Myall Creek aboriginal massacre (which subsequently led to the prosecution and guilty-verdicts for British subjects); and the war-time Bombing of Darwin (235 dead). What is not to like about Australia’s colourful history, at U3A Brimbank?
This was the subject of the September discussion.
This course runs once a month on the 3rd Friday of each month from 10 am to 12 pm at Kororoit Creek Neighbourhood House (Albion Community Centre). See the file below for more information.