Bellarine Railway

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Coordinates: 38°15′42″S 144°39′35″E / 38.261772°S 144.659729°E / -38.261772; 144.659729

Bellarine Railway railway line, Victoria
Line details
Opened 1879
Closed 1976
Reopened 1979
Fate Active
Length 16 km (10 mi)
Stations Drysdale to Queenscliff
Tracks 1
Gauge 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm)
Type tourist
Rail transport in Victoria

The Bellarine Railway, formerly known as the Bellarine Peninsula Railway, is a volunteer-operated steam-driven tourist railway located in Victoria, Australia. It operates on a 16 km section of a formerly disused branch line on the Bellarine Peninsula between the coastal town of Queenscliff and Drysdale, near Geelong.

History as a working railway[edit]

Looking west along the Bellarine Railway to Queenscliff Station; at right is the Bellarine Rail Trail

The original line was commissioned in September 1878, and opened on 21 May 1879. It connected Queenscliff with South Geelong station, the terminus of the Geelong line, and the junction of the Warrnambool line. It was acknowledged at the time that although passenger traffic alone might not justify a railway line, military traffic from both the port and Fort Queenscliff—a key defence installation—would warrant its construction. It initially carried passenger, goods and military traffic, and continued to do so for several decades.

In the first few months of operation, it carried only one service per day, but at its peak, in January 1885, four trains per day ran in each direction, enabling the line to be used by commuters. However, this was decreased to three not long after, and was cut back to two trains a day in 1910. Traffic on the line continued to fall over the next twenty years, and in 1931, passenger services were dropped completely—apart from the occasional Sunday excursion train. Goods services continued to run, although they were cut to back at first to twice-weekly, and then weekly operation.

The line saw a revival during World War II, carrying mines from the Swan Island military base, but returned to pre-war levels afterwards. After the war, services became less frequent, with passenger services dropped altogether, apart from occasional special trains, and with goods services cut back to one a fortnight. The line was closed on 6 November 1976.

Preservation and re-opening as a tourist railway[edit]

In 1968, when the Queenscliff line was still officially open, the Fyansford Cement Works Railway near Geelong was closed. They donated all their steam rolling stock to preservation groups, and Australian Railway Historical Society's Geelong division, which was still in its infancy, received two engines. While Drysdale station was looked upon as a preferred site, this proved difficult to arrange, and a temporary site at the Belmont Common was used.

The Geelong division of the ARHS registered itself as the Geelong Steam Preservation Society in 1970 and an attempt was made to construct and operate a small tourist railway, the Belmont Common Railway, on the Common. However, the site faced ongoing problems due to adjacent developments and its location on a flood plain, and by 1976, it was apparent that continuing on the Belmont Common site would be unfeasible. When it became clear that Victorian Railways intended closing the Queenscliff line, the GSPS stepped in, and when the line was closed permanently in 1976, they began shifting operations to Queenscliff station.

Tasmanian DP class railcar approaching Drysdale station

During 1976 and 1977, the Society engaged in fundraising efforts and began regauging a short section of track around Queenscliff station, in order to enable their rolling stock to operate on the line. With the help of some government funding, they succeeded in operating their first services - from Queenscliff to Lakers Siding, in May 1979, and to Drysdale not long after.

Current operations[edit]

Train with "Thomas" face travelling westwards through Swan Bay saltmarsh

The railway currently operates a 'Heritage Train Service' between Queenscliff and Drysdale, along the southern shoreline of Swan Bay and through grazing land, with an intermediate stop at Lakers Siding.

The heritage service is available on Sundays, most public holidays, as well as Tuesdays and Thursdays during the Easter, June and September school holidays. During the Summer School holidays, trains run every day from Boxing Day until the end of the first week in January. Then every day until the Australia Day weekend, except for Mondays and Fridays. The Heritage Service does not run on Day out with Thomas and Queenscliff Music Festival weekends.

Carriage hire is available as part of the Heritage Service and perfect for children’s parties or groups looking for the benefits of private train hire without the added cost.

Experiences, specials and events offered:

  • School holiday programs
  • Locomotive Cab rides available on days the Heritage Service is running
  • Steam and Diesel Train Driver Experiences
  • Day out with Thomas weekends
  • Special occasion and wedding charters
  • Mid-week tailored group and school tours
  • The Blues Train, features live music on most Saturday evenings from August to May.

The remainder of the line between Drysdale and South Geelong has fallen into disuse, and the GSPS has not attempted to extend their operations back to Leopold or South Geelong. The sections of the former route from Drysdale to South Geelong, along with a walking track adjacent to the Queenscliff-Drysdale line, now form the Bellarine Rail Trail, accessible to cyclists and walkers.

The railway features a working collection of locomotives from all four state government-run 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm) gauge railway bodies in Australia; Tasmania, Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland; as well as from a number of Australian industrial railways. In late 2011, the railway negotiated to relocate the last remaining Australian Standard Garratt to the Bellarine Railway, from its current location as a static display at the Victorian State Railway Museum in Newport.[1] The transportation of the locomotive took place on 31 May 2013, with the Bellarine Railway hoping to restore it to active service.

Locomotives[edit]

Steam[edit]

Image Number Type Builder Serial No. Year built Status Notes
6 0-4-2T Hudswell Clarke & Co., Leeds, England 646 1903 Stored Originally used as a shunter at the copper smelter in Wallaroo, South Australia. Later used by Australian Portland Cement (APC) on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Fyansford near Geelong until 1966.
454 PB15
(4-6-0)
Walkers Ltd., Maryborough, Queensland 99 1909 Out of service Used by Queensland Railways until 1969. Hauled tourist trains at the Bellarine Railway for some time, but is currently awaiting overhaul before a return to service.
Bellarine-peninsula-railway-no4-steam-loco.jpg
4 0-6-0ST Vulcan Iron Works, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA 1916 Stored Used by APC on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Fyansford near Geelong until 1966.
5 0-6-0ST Vulcan Iron Works, Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA 1916 Stored dismantled Used by APC on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Fyansford near Geelong until 1966.
T251 SAR T
(4-8-0)
Walkers Ltd., Maryborough, QLD 276 1917 Operational Used by South Australian Railways until 1970. Purchased by GSPS and was in traffic on the Bellarine Peninsula Railway until 1991, when it was withdrawn due to mechanical condition. Returned to service on the BR on 11 April 2009.[2]
Pozières 0-6-0T Andrew Barclay Sons & Co., Kilmarnock, Scotland 1543 1918 Operational Previously used by Broken Hill Associated Smelters, Port Pirie, South Australia. Was on display at the Puffing Billy Railway's museum at Menzies Creek until June 2010, when it was relocated to the Bellarine Railway. Restored to steam in 2011.[3]
Klondyke 0-4-2T Perry Engineering Co., Adelaide, SA 271 1927 Operational In use at Pioneer Sugar Mill in Ayr, Queensland until 1966.
S547 WAGR S
(4-8-2)
WAGR Workshops, Midland, WA 1947 Stored dismantled Used by Western Australian Government Railways until 1971. Acquired by Bellarine Railway in 1980 for possible eventual restoration.
M6 TGR M
(4-6-2)
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd., UK 7427 1951 Stored dismantled Used by Tasmanian Government Railways until 1971. Hauled tourist trains at the Bellarine Railway for some time, but is currently awaiting overhaul before a return to service.
V1209 WAGR V
(2-8-2)
Robert Stephenson & Hawthorns Ltd., UK 1955 Stored Used by Western Australian Government Railways until 1971. Brought to Victoria in 1982 by the Bellarine Railway and restored to traffic. Currently stored pending repairs.
11 0-4-0T Perry Engineering Co., Adelaide, SA 267 1926 Under restoration Originally used by the State Rivers and Water Supply Commission of Victoria in construction of the Hume Weir. Later used by APC on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway until 1966. Was on display at the Puffing Billy Railway's museum at Menzies Creek until June 2010, when it was relocated to the Bellarine Railway for eventual restoration.[4]
2 2-6-0+0-6-2 Beyer Peacock, Manchester, England 6935 1938 Stored Garratt locomotive used by APC on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Fyansford near Geelong until 1966. Was on display at the Puffing Billy Railway's museum at Menzies Creek for some time before relocation to the Bellarine Railway for eventual restoration.
Australian Standard Garratt.JPG
G33 4-8-2+2-8-4 Victorian Railways Newport Workshops, Newport, Victoria 1945 Stored The last remaining Australian Standard Garratt, used by APC on the Fyansford Cement Works Railway in Fyansford near Geelong until 1966. Relocated from ARHS museum in May 2013, intended for future restoration

Queenscliff line stations[edit]

Queenscliff railway line
Main line to Melbourne
South Geelong
Main line to Warnambool
Geelong Showgrounds Siding (Closed pre-1900)
Cheethams Siding (Closed 1978)
Moolap
Leopold (Closed 23 January 1961)
Kensington (Closed 30 July 1881)
Curlewis (Closed 23 January 1961)
Scarborough (Closed 30 January 1914)
Drysdale
Mannerim (Closed 23 January 1961)
Marcus (Closed 6 February 1961)
Suma Park (Opened 1996)
Point Lonsdale Road (Closed 1920)
Workshop (Opened 2007)
Lakers Siding (Closed 6 November 1976, reopened 1979)
Swan Bay Halt (Opened 2004)
Queenscliff

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  • Kenny, Paul; & Kenny, Kathleen (2010 (4th edn)). Trains,Troops & Tourists - The South Geelong Queenscliff Railway. Drysdale. ISBN 0-646-43782-8.  Check date values in: |date= (help)

External links[edit]