Just came back from a school excursion to Ballarat and Daylesford today.
Yesterday I came across a very interesting find in the town of Buninyong, south of Ballarat, whilst doing a natural vegetation audit (boring!) of the town as part of my coursework.
On the north side of Forest Street in Buninyong next to the tennis courts were the remains of the towns railway station and platform. Also on display was a replica of a section of broad gauge track with a set of train wheels on it.
I was unfortunately unable to take any photos of the station as my digital camera had decided earlier in the day (whilst I was taking photos in Kensington Banks and Caroline Springs) to cark it.
However I was able to write down the information was contained on a sign board which read as follows:
The line was formally opened on the 12th of September 1889. In addition to passenger traffic, the "Bunny" also brought the goods trucks to the many local Buninyong industries of that time. The main ones were the butter factory, tannery, brewery, box factory and market gardens.
In 1930 during the depression years the passenger service was withdrawn. Goods trains continued to run when required until they too finally ceased in 1947.
The placing of this sign commemorates the centenary opening of the line.
A Buninyong Shire community project. September 1989.
Unfortunately I also later learned that a fair few sections of the former rail reservation have been built over for other uses including residential blocks in Mt Helen and also part of the University of Ballarat, which means there is little prospect of some sort of bike path/ rail trail to further commemorate the former line.
Any further information on this line would be appreciated.
There are other remains of the Buninyong line visible, although nothing substantial that I'm aware of, except for the very northern end of the line which remained open until the 1970s (at least, perhaps well into the 1980s) as the siding to Eureka. On this section there are substantial earthworks, a road-over bridge for the main road into Ballarat, and rails in a crossing, that I am aware of.
From what I have observed, no part of the Bunninyong railway reservation has actually been built upon. Roadworks around Mt Helen have obliterated the trackbed there but I think no houses are built right on it. Around the university the line crossed the area now used for playing fields, the trackbed being evident to some extent. Closer to Ballarat some of the trackbed is used as a walkway, north of Bunninyong would also be suitable for this if a missing bridge were replaced.
In my wildest pro-rail fantasies I like to think that the line could be reinstated as a tramway linking Bunninyong to Ballarat, either linking into a proposed inner Ballarat street tramline near Sovreign Hill or continuing to the station via Eureka.
There is more than one place with rails still in a road crossing and the trackbed can be followed for most of its length.
Rodo, over what distance?
I presume that you mean what distance can be walked, freightgate ?
The entire distance can be walked if one skirts around the interruptions of the missing bridge just north of Bunninyong. (there may be a fence or 2 around there) Then there are some house block fences on top of Mt Helen and perhaps a paddock fence or 2 near Mt Clear, so the length of a line walk would be more than length of the line because of the obstacles.
Its interesting hearing Rodo mention the idea of a tramway connecting Buninyong to Ballarat, since the best the Planning Department in the city of Ballarat can come up with, with regards to excessive morning and evening peak traffic between Ballarat and Buninyong is to build another north-south arterial road. If as Rodo indicates, the reservation has not been built over then a some sort of light rail option might be good to link the two towns with the university.
Thanks for the information guys, much appreciated
I was a kid in Ballarat in the 1970's and early 1980's and remember a fair few sections of the line being visible. When I revisited it in November last year, a great deal of the line as I remembered it had either been already built over or completely obliterated by earthworks for new housing developments (particularly between Mount Clear and Canadian).
There are a few very overgrown cuttings between York Street and Canadian in an industrial area and a few others on the Up side of Buninyong. A few very small cuttings and embankments exist in paddocks just north of the Ballarat University College campus. The old embankment that carried the line over Union Jack Creek is clearly visible and is currently used by a local resident as the access road to their property.
There are some signs of the old line near Eureka but the old industrial area has been replaced by a Eureka Stockade memorial (very large).
The level crossing rails, embankment and most of the cutting on the Up side of Eureka are all still visible.
The overbridge at Victoria Street was demolished during the last year and the cutting filled in to enable the road to be widened (but I believe the separate footbridges on either side were spared).
Frank "Dreadnought" Strik
In June when I worked in Ballarat I made the effort to catch the bus to Buninyong to see if I could discover the station site and any existing alignment. What Palmer described as being at the terminus is correct. In hindsight considering what is there, I find it surprising that when I asked the milk bar owner about the railway station he didn't know where the station was. Strange considering the infrastructure and memorial.
I also walked the line from Eureka to the junction at East Ballarat. The developments at the stockade have cleared some of the formation next to the tile works. A rail trail and historical signage has been placed along with an "artificial" right of way next to the actual one which is inside the boundaries of the adjacent caravan park. At the level crossing (which names escapes me as I'm on a dodgy Pielink terminal atm) there is still rails in the surface. The track then curves towards the main line. The buts of a trestle bridge can still be seen where the trail crosses a creek. It then enters a cutting before coming to the Victoria St bridges. At road level another Bunny Line sign can be found. Road widening work as mentioned has meant the main bridge has been demolished being replaced by a culvert style tunnel. Although I guess it is meant for pedestrians it was under half a foot of mud and slush and sadly the formation here contained reeds and stagnant water.
It's funny how its commemorated and all, but I was practically standing on the platform (thinking the building was change rooms for the tennis court or something) and didn't even notice until a friend of mine (knowing my interest in railways pointed) out the sign to me.
It was then that I also noticed the wheels on the broad guage bit of track. I was caught completely by surprise by all this, especially as we had been given a fairly detailed map of Buninyong which had no mention of railway or station, yet showed the tennis court next to it.
This interests me a little...
My Grandfather grew up on a farm at Navigators near Buninyong, and I vividly recall him telling me about the railway crossing his farmland. I do remember him saying that goods traffic had tapered off by the time he left for WWII, and passenger traffic had stopped somewhat earlier, which tallies with the plaque.
He noted that they had a small halt shed setup and very often flagged the train (passenger or goods- the later being better value ) in either direction to get to Ballarat or Buninyong, which must have been quite handy!
That'd be cool, almost like his very own station/siding, just flag the train down and jump on!
Just out of interest is this the same line which used to link Ballarat through to Colac or was the Colac line a link from the Geelong or Skipton lines.
Bunninyong was the terminus of that branch which was built to serve the indusries of a sattelite town of then booming Ballarat. The Ballarat-Colac line branched from the Skipton line at Newtown about 20km. from Ballarat, taking a direct route to Colac via Cressy.
Thanks, so that would mean that when the Skipton line was discontinued the Colac line was as well.
Not quite. The Newtown - Cressy - Colac line closed long before the Skipton line did.
I have reopened this old thread as I seek assistance in a project about this line and the information in posts above is very pertinent and will save unnecessary repetition. My project to stop me going senile in my dotage is to prepare maps of the routes and stations on dismantled lines in Victoria using the Land Victoria Property maps.
This has worked very well in a number I have completed so far, as the right of way for closed lines stays on each parcel of land until there is a new or pertinent sub-division. The location of stations can be ascertained by the widening out of the right of way for station yards. All but about 2% of the first line closed in 1881 is still on the current maps
However, due to recent heavy development in the southern area of Ballarat, this does not work for the "Bunny" line. Only a small part of the old right of way appears on the maps. I am having trouble ascertaining where a number of the intermediate stations were located in relation to streets and roads.
The first three stations are easy ( Eureka, York St. and Levy, as they are the names of streets). If any member can supply the mileage from Melbourne of the stations on the line from an early Gradients and Curves Book, or else direct me to a list of mileages of past and present Victorian stations on the web, I would be very appreciative.
The next station, Canadian, may have been close to either Wilson or Spencer Sts, any help would be welcome. I have worked out that Mount Clear was possiblly near Recreation Road, Reid near Greenhill Road, as Reid Park Rd is the other side of the main road, and that Mount Helen may have been close to Gear Ave. All the above are west/east roads which the line would have crossed.
If anyone can confirm or correct my suppositions, or supply the mileages of the stations, I can convert them to kilometres and use the scale on the maps. Thank you in anticipation.
I have located the Buninyong station on Google Earth as the tennis clubhouse is built on the platform.
penov - I believe Mark Bau has scanned a 1927? or 1913 Gradients and Curves book in fairly high-resolution. As well, send me a PM and I will see what I can also help you with.
I've got a Army Survey map of the line, would a Lat & Long of Canadian & Mt Clear help?
Hi MOM - The interactive maps have Lat and Long for the cursor in degrees, minutes and seconds to two decimal places. So the booking office for the station would have a different reading from the ladies' loo !
Yes, your Army Survey Map would be a help.
I have fully tabulated data (in M.C.L.) from the original 1880's survey in addition to copies of the original VR 1928 W&W Track Charts.
PM me and I'll arrange to get you copies.
Lat & Long will be of little use here as the station boundary was much greater than the decimal place to the Ladies WC!
This information has been obtained from Ballarat Sheet.1:63500 (1" to 1 mile series) Surveyed 1933.
I've transposed the location to a large scale map that is in the VicRoads Country directory Edition 3.
Using the map on page 257 (Ballarat Sth). The stations are locate thus:
Canadian was located along Butt St. Q 16/17, Starting from Elsworth St. East(Southern Boundary) to Clayton St. (Northern Boundary)
Mt Clear was located from the mapped bend along Olympic Ave Q1/2 22/23
directly South of Mt. Clear Secondary College. Southern boundary may have been the 2nd. mapped road (90 degree bend).
Not surprisingly, neither is located at exactly it's place name, but generally a mile or so away.
Interestingly, there was a siding (branch) shown to a Brick works in the locality of Eureka Stockade. (located North of the currently shown position, in fact North East of the pool shown on Page 255 diagonally across from Charlesworth St.) Perhaps the Buninyong Branch was used for longer than recorded, with brick/clay traffic to this branch of the branch line?
Hope this assists you in your project.
Mount Helen may have been close to Gear Ave. All the above are west/east roads which the line would have crossed.
This doesn't exist on the 1933 map as a station.....
Edit: The first 3 stations you mention don't exist either.
I suspect that all they may have been are "stops" similar to RMSP's?
On my first trip to Buninyong in around 1988 I spotted something that looked like an old turntable pit from the shops across the road from the tennis courts. I began to look around quite a lot more and discerned a yard formation, road crossings and former RoW. All very interesting but boring to uni students studying PE and Education, to whom I helpfully pointed out the information.
A lot of PE teachers who went to Ballarat Uni have this horror of Mt Buninyong ... as part of the course, they had to run up and down Mt Buninyong , something closely akin to self-flagellation, according to all the graduates I knew from that Uni ... check their magazines, they have this phrase "Running Bunni"
Anyway, back to history and penov's dotage
It might be more helpful to consider "which stations appear in the WTT and when?" to obtain an aetiology of when stations opened and closed.
I believe there is a joint project with tabulation of every Weekly Notice ever issued, which possibly might also be of assistance with regard to information about stations.
Photographs taken in the late 1940s to the late 1950's of the site of Buninyong station show the turntable pit overgrown but intact - it is likely that it may well survive.
As well, the approach to Buninyong was though a massive cutting - does that survive?
You raise an interesting point. The remains of a turntable pit I spotted back in 1988 was because I saw unkempt tall weeds in a large circular depression ... and all the other weeds around it were sort of cut back or reduced and they were higher than these weeds. That was sort of the germ of an idea that there might have been a railway line here some time ago ... the lights went on ... eventually.
As well, the approach to Buninyong was though a massive cutting - does that survive?
Mt Buninyong sort of towers up on one side and the Uni is sort of built on the side of Mt Buninyong at the base, as it were. It is quite hilly in the Uni.
Access roads to the Uni from the main drag into Ballarat cross the old RoW, and that is easily discernible. Look the other way, and you would see former RoW contuinue towards the tennis courts. This was still discernible in 2000, the last time I was at Ballarat Uni.
Yes, there is a cutting, but my memory is faded. Perhaps others can assist.