Tag Archives: History

Carlsruhe-Daylesford ex-Railway Line

I lived briefly in Daylesford in the late 60s. I remember it being cold and at least three other interesting things Smile , but I don’t remember any trains. Years later I heard the town had re-invented itself “after the railway closed”.   Fairly recently I stumbled upon some excellent scans of very old Victorian Railways engineering documents & drawings# These include  ‘steepness’ guides – called Grade Books – like this one (extract  shown):


You can see the whole document online. My reading is that Grade is Gradient and so the numbers like 50 mean “1 in 50” gradient.  The above is also showing Stations (in Bold) and other items (like the Coliban River). 

Brief History of the Line

To keep things logical, I’ll jump ahead in my discoveries and give a summary of the line. I found this out after I’d found the drawings (above and below).

The Wikipedia article on Carlsruhe station gives a good summary of the Line: “The station was opened in 1862, and became a junction in 1880 when the first section of the line to Daylesford was opened. The Daylesford line was closed in 1978 and staff withdrawn. The station was one of 35 closed to passenger traffic on October 4, 1981 as part of the New Deal timetable for country passengers. The signal box was abolished in 1980 and the station closed in 1982 …The surviving station building is now used as a private residence … Carlsruhe was the junction for one of the lines to Daylesford (the other running from North Creswick) although most trains using this line actually originated in Woodend.”

Here’s my OziExplorer/OSM map of the approximate position of the Line, with the Stations just shown as numbers.  Not how far Carlsruhe station is/was from the town. Interesting!  It was/is on the Bendigo line, which is shown in grey.  Note: virtually all the Stations have gone now as has the Line.



My June 2015 Trip

Further digging (links on the same page as the above Grade Book, if I’m being honest) revealed very detailed 1878 drawings of sections of the entire track.   Such as this one, again from 1878:


The original PDF is online.   Some quick observations on these finely detailed documents:

  • The scale is quite fine. The bottom numbers (10, 20) are chains, which are a cricket pitch, that is pretty much 20 metres. So the little division is 20m.
  • The zero point for this scale – as noted in the top left corner – is the “Centre of S.W. platform Carlsruhe station”
  • It has assorted heights, but that’s not my real focus
  • There is a ‘Curve (of) 17 chains rad(ius)’ not long after the Line breaks away from the main one.
  • It has ‘points of interest’ such as fences and roads, which intersect or are near the Line. I should say ‘as it was in 1878’

That last bit was the reason for my trip in June 2015. After looking at Google Earth:



…I wondered if I could find some of the 1878 features?  I’m pretty sure that’s the route of the old railway line (top arrow), even though it’s gone per se.  Note the curve and it crossing a road (lower arrow).

To cut to the chase, the very helpful owner of the house (ex Station) explained:

  • The trees have covered the first bit of the old track and all traces have gone
  • You can’t get to the rest as it’s fenced off
  • It’s apparently still a ‘railway reserve’ or similar, which means the “Government” owns it.
  • There has been talk of building a Rail Trail bike path on the old route, but nothing so far
  • You can see sections of it, further on, particularly a bit where the ‘gorse trees had been burnt away’

After some exploring, local knowledge was again shown to be best kind; all of this was true. Here’s some photos of my trip (more later)

Firstly the old Carlsruhe Railway Station

DavidS_20150621_122312 Google Image link 

And a bit further on, the old Line looks obvious to me. At least the sheep are making use of it!

DavidS_20150621_124305 Available here too

(I’ll put more up later, plus add more text)


# Drawing is the preferred term for such engineering diagrams even today, when they are done by computers.  As you can see, the ones here seem very much hand drawn.

Paisley Station

Some quick notes on this unused – but still there – station.


Just beside the Millers Road overpass on the Geelong (& main Werribee??) train line. East of the overpass, that is, towards Williamstown.

Screenshot - 28_04_2014 , 5_05_50 PM_ver001


“Paisley was built as a wayside station on the Geelong line some time in the 1920′s. It was just a platform with no building or fence for many years. When the line to Werribee was electrified about 1983, Paisley had an island platform and station building, but there was very little traffic using it., In 1985 the Werribee trains were diverted through Altona and Westona to Laverton and the station (as well as Galvin at Maidstone St) were closed to traffic.”  Source:  http://www.railpage.com.au/f-t11343618.htm 

My 2014 Photos

I took these rushed shots, in the rain with (I found out later) a faulty lens on the Sony Nex-6 camera. Ah well, treat them as snapshots:


Above: From the Millers Rd overpass, looking East towards Williamstown


Above: from Ross Road, looking ~South. The fence isn’t that big here. But it would be dangerous to jump it.

Next Steps

To try and find some old photos of it when it was active.

Melbourne Museum: Melbourne Gallery (and Story)

Small bit of rain about so I thought: why not spend some time at the Melbourne Museum as I’d heard that they had recently totally re-done the large Melbourne Gallery section. Plus being a Museum Members keeps the entry price to exactly zero.

That area is called Melbourne Story and they have done a great job with it. It now tells the story in logical time order and sections. So first it’s pre-1835 (before white settlement), then from 1835 to the 1850 gold rush and separation from NSW etc. Each section has a well thought out mixture of the Big Picture items and context, right down to individual stories and objects.

I have recently been interested in the history of Little Lonsdale street; aka Little Lon. Having worked just near there for a year in Albert St, I got to learn more about early Melbourne’s most infamous street. One main source being the excellent Bearbrass book.

A few years ago, a large archaeological dig there revealed a mass of objects from early Little Lon. A fair few of these have been cleaned up and are on display as part of the Melbourne Story. Also there is a walk-though recreation of a number of shanty-town ‘houses’. Just 2 rooms in each. And both houses sharing the one tiny outdoor toilet. An added touch is the use of dark and dingy lighting in these houses, to really transport you back 150 years ago.

Even if you have just a tiny interest in Melbourne’s history, then I’m sure you’ll find the Melbourne Gallery section of interest. Plus there’s the rest of the wonderful Museum to explore too.

Closing Hell’s Gates (by Dr Hamish Maxwell-Stewart)

It would have been bad enough to be a convict back in 1822, sent halfway around the world from England to Australia. But for the repeat offenders, the recidivists, it was much worse. They may have found themselves sent (literally) through Hell’s Gates.

This is the name of the entrance to Macquarie Harbour in south western Tasmania. And home to a fearful prison

I’ve just started reading the above new book. It was sitting there in the new books section of my local library. I’ve been fascinated by what the wretched souls went through at the Harbour, so couldn’t believe it when I saw this book. Could it be about this very topic? A quick look at the back cover showed:

In October 1827, nine convicts who had endured years of unimaginable cruelty at the hands of the system opted for ‘state-assisted’ escape. Five terrified witnesses – their hands and feet bound – were forced to watch as the chained convicts seized Constable George Rex and drowned him in the tannin-stained waters of the harbour. When the sentence of death was pronounced upon them, the condemned prisoners uttered just one word in reply: Amen.

For twelve long years between 1822 and 1834, Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour was the most feared place in Australia. Clinging to the shores of the wild west coast of Tasmania and hemmed in on all sides by rugged uncharted wilderness, the environment itself formed the prison walls that confined the unfortunate convict re-offenders who were sent there. But the conditions were so brutal that many went mad, or chose death or a very uncertain escape into the bush rather than spend their time in this notorious place.

Based on detailed accounts from the time, Closing Hell’s Gates contains dozens of personal stories of the harsh and unforgiving life that people were forced to lead, both as convict and overseer, and in so doing reveals some startling insights about human nature when it is pushed to extremes.

(Quote also on the official web site too)

So far, it’s excellent. I feel cold and miserable already – but in an informed way – and I’m only a 60 pages in.

Ancient Egyptian cures for toothaches

From a reliable source. That would be a dentist. The Ancient Egyptians had two main cures for toothache way back around 1500 BCE.

Cure 1: Oil of Cloves (still used today)

Cure 2: Cut a live mouse in half, longways. Place one half in each cheek and ta da. Toothache – and, I’d argue half your stomach contents – gone. (may not be used much today)

The Williamstown Racetrack circa 1869

My latest pet interest is the history of the Williamstown Racecourse.

Now just a small pile of ruins and one palm tree, it was once Melbourne’s 3rd major track.

“Once” means about 1902. But – even then – the track was over 30 years old. It boasted fine lawns, beautiful gardens and a large grandstand.

Today, it’s 99.8% vanished :-(
The ruins are off Racecourse Road, Williamstown right near where the Ford crosses the creek. Melways Map 55 C-8.

You can easily see the lone Palm Tree. I think the rubble pile – between the Tree and the Ford – was the Grandstand. It has a few steps visible.

I’ve only just started this project and the people at the local Williamstown Museum have been very helpful. I’ve found at least three books that mention the Racecourse too. More will appear as I discover it…

If you know anything or can point me in the direction of some good resources, please click on the Comments link. That would be great!