Dorrigo railway line

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Dorrigo railway line
Ulong station.jpg
Ulong railway station
Termini Glenreagh
Stations 11
Opened 1924
Closed 1972
Operator(s) NSWGR
Line length 41 mi (66 km)
Number of tracks 1
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm)
Highest elevation 731 m (2,398 ft)
North Coast railway line from Sydney
Orara River
Glenreagh West Depot
Tunnel 1
Tunnel 2
Timber Top Siding
Mole Creek Tank
Little Nymboida River
Bobo River
Wild Cattle Creek
Bielsdown River

The Dorrigo railway line is a closed railway line in the north of New South Wales, Australia. It branches from the North Coast line at Glenreagh.[1]

Part of a Grander Scheme[edit]

The Dorrigo line was intended to be part of a much larger rail system linking the ports of Coffs Harbour and Grafton with the Northern and North western lines. The line would have joined with the system at Guyra, Inverell and Werris Creek. These plans never came to fruition and construction work was commenced on only two sections, between Glenreagh and Dorrigo and Guyra and Dorrigo. Only about 13 km of the latter was partially constructed.[2][3]

The Dorrigo[edit]

Dorrigo, the terminus of the Glenreagh to Dorrigo line, is situated on a plateau some 730m high in some of the best dairying country in Australia. It has a consistently high rainfall and is the main township for the area known as "The Dorrigo" (short for 'The Dorrigo Plateau'). The town is situated in a geographical location which could best be described as mountainous. Being a rainforest area, it has a high rainfall and fertile soil, but it is also given to landslides and land subsidence. It was into this setting that a line of railway was built, encountering many difficulties in its construction.[2]


On 28 December 1910 the Glenreagh to Dorrigo Railway Act[4] received assent to sanction the construction. It was not until early August 1914 that construction officially commenced.[5][6] Because of the First World War, a lack of finance and a dispute with the contractor, progress foundered. The contract was terminated on 28 March 1917 and construction passed to the Railway Commissioners who promptly suspended work.[7][8]

It was almost two years after the end of the First World War that the Railway Commissioners decided to press ahead with construction.[9] Delays occurred due to landslips and washaway and it was not until 27 September 1924 that a construction train reached Dorrigo.[2] Construction was finalised by 5 December and an inspection of the line was conducted by Railways staff on the 10th.[10]


The line opened on 23 December 1924.[11]


The Dorrigo line was one of the costliest branch railways built in New South Wales. It had some of the steepest gradients and tightest curves on the system and experienced high maintenance and running costs. It experienced repeated losses throughout its entire existence.

Although goods other than timber were carried, timber was the main revenue source for the railway. Just prior to the suspension of services, there were loadings of up to 13 wagons, mainly of timber from Dorrigo. Most of the logs and processed timber were sent to Sydney. In the early days of the line, the NSWGR obtained sleepers for the North Coast region from the area. These were transported by rail to other centres.[2]


The line lost its passenger service on 1 December 1957 and goods services were suspended on 27 October 1972 after flood damage. By the end of December 1972, it was becoming apparent there was little prospect of the line re-opening as the Public Transport Commission, the Authority then charged with operating the State's railways, would give no indication of its intentions.

Dorrigo station remained open until November, 1979, providing staff to facilitate the road transport of goods between there and Raleigh.[2]


Parts of the line are used by heritage railway organisations Glenreagh Mountain Railway and Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum.

See also[edit]

Dorrigo Line stations[edit]

External References[edit]


  1. ^ The Railway in the Dorrigo Ranges Swan, K.T.D. Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, August, 1953 pp93-96
  2. ^ a b c d e Paull, Malcolm 1988 The Glenreagh to Dorrigo Branch Railway Australian Railway Historical Society, New South Wales Division ISBN 0-909650-25-X
  3. ^ "Guyra-Dorrigo Line.". The Land. XVIII (924). New South Wales, Australia. 5 October 1928. p. 4. Retrieved 21 May 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  4. ^ Glenreagh to Dorrigo Railway Act 1910 No 39 (NSW) Australasian Legal Information Institute
  5. ^ "GLENREAGH-DORRIGO LINE.". The Clarence and Richmond Examiner. Grafton, NSW. 25 June 1914. p. 5 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "SUMMARY.". The Clarence and Richmond Examiner. Grafton, NSW. 11 August 1914. p. 2 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "STOPPAGE ON NORTHERN LINES.". Sunday Times. Sydney, NSW. 22 April 1917. p. 2 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "NORTH COAST AND DORRIGO RAILWAYS.". The Raleigh Sun. Bellingen, NSW. 27 April 1917. p. 2 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "The Canowindra Star". Canowindra Star and Eugowra News. XXIII (32). New South Wales, Australia. 11 August 1922. p. 4 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "COMPLETED RAILWAY LINE.". Northern Star. Lismore, NSW. 6 December 1924. p. 4 – via National Library of Australia. 
  11. ^ Bozier, Rolfe; et al. "Dorrigo Line". Retrieved 7 May 2007.