Historic wagon back on the rails

By The McIvor Times

A HISTORIC railway wagon now provides a link with the past, being placed on rails at the former Axedale Railway Station site on the O’Keefe Rail Trail.

The rail trail is located on the former Wallan to Bendigo railway reserve, on which trains carried passengers and goods for 70 years between 1888 and 1958.

“This is a project that our community group has had in the planning stage for some time,” president of the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail Garry Long said. “With the project’s first stage of transporting the wagon from Korumburra to Axedale now completed, the next stage is to refurbish the wagon as a static historic display.

‘‘The transportation was made possible by a community grant awarded to our group by Kirkland Gold, the owners of Fosterville Gold Mine. This grant was very much appreciated, as was the assistance of local transport company A2B Move It.”

Following research into railway rolling stock suitable for a display, the Friends group became aware that the Victorian Railway’s North Bendigo Workshop had manufactured many items of railway rolling stock including steam locomotives and wagons.

With most of the earlier railway stock having been scrapped, a suitable item was difficult to find. Then Public Transport Victoria sought expressions of interest in 2017 for the relocation of rolling stock stored at the Korumburra station. Further investigations found that there was one ‘GY’ wagon stored that was manufactured in Bendigo, between 1955 and 1957.

These wagon types were once widely used in the Bendigo area, including being loaded with timber, bluestone rock, pottery clay, grain, farm produce and general goods supplies at the Axedale station before that section of line was closed in 1958. The Heathcote to Heathcote Junction/Wallan section of this line closed in 1968.

“With the successful allocation of wagon ‘GY 16625R’, it was fantastic to have this linked with both the Bendigo - Axedale - Heathcote areas as well as specifically the Bendigo Railway Workshops,” Mr Long said.

“As the VR Workshops, the ‘Roundhouse’ loco shed, passenger and station operations were large employers in Bendigo during the 20th century, unfortunately there is no local public display of historic steam locomotives or railway rolling stock in the 21st century. This situation has now changed, with the arrival of this GY wagon.”

Group member Ken Hanson, who became directly involved with the project, said: “Trail users will be amazed how big this wagon is, when they are next to it on the trail! And you can see up close the skill required by the railway workers to manufacture this wagon.’’

Weighing 9000kg, the wagon is an imposing piece of transport design.

The active community group has already reconstructed a replica Axedale station platform, as well as building a section of railway line at this platform. Now the group intends to refurbish the wagon to its original ‘wagon red’ livery colour.