The Galong to Boorowa Branch Line
Photo by Peter Thomas
The railway line which operated between Galong and Boorowa was first considered a viable project in 1884, but the 29 kilometre line was not officially opened until October 1914. For years, the NSW Government had negotiated with members of the Boorowa community to find the most effective and efficient route. Eventually plans were finalised, finances were secured, the first sod was turned in June 1912 and sleeper laying commenced in August 1913. By October rails had been laid for half the distance. By January of the next year rails had been laid to within three kilometres of the town and four months later the permanent way had been laid throughout. In October 1914 the railway was officially opened. Following the closure, the station house itself was abolished. (source: N.J. Pollard A Short History of the Boorowa Branch Line(held by Australian Railway Historical Society New South Wales Division)
The line operated successfully for 73 years and closed in 1987.
Under the construction name of Burrowa, Boorowa, was commissioned on 2/2/1915 and had a 76m platform. Opposite the down-side station was the loop line, goods siding and grain siding. These served goods and grain sheds, a loading bank and gantry crane. At the up end of the station was a water tank. Further up the yard were several sidings providing access to a coal stage, turntable and engine shed. (source: nswrail.net)
The branch had three scheduled services a week, Mixed Trains running Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. In 1929, an additional railmotor service was introduced, running on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. In 1937, a 4-wheel Rail-bus was introduced on Wednesdays and Thursdays, but it was discontinued by 1942.
The railmotor services were discontinued by 1949, leaving the thrice weekly Mixed train as the sole service once again. Passenger services were withdrawn on 11 August 1974.
In 2012, following a concept put to Boorowa Council by the local community, plans were prepared for the construction of a permanent free standing weatherproof display illustrating the history of the railway line. This colourful display shows the original location of the station house and tells the stories of many of the railway personnel. With funds provided through the Bendigo Bank and with the help of many dedicated local volunteers, the completed display stands adjacent to the Court House in Marsden Street for public inspection. The Boorowa and District Historical Society and Museum accommodates the pieces of mh3orabilia provided by the community that remind us of the lost history. Visitors to Boorowa are invited to inspect the Museum and get a little bit of interesting railway history at the same time.
Further ReadingThere is a good entry on the Historic NSW Railway Stations blog.
The full text of Pollard's 1977 article is available as a pdf here.
Timeline of events for the Boorowa Station:
1869 Goulburn station opensBurrowa petitioned the government the next month to bring trains to the town but without success. Roads were poor. The railway was surely the answer for freight and passengers. This was the future.
1877 Line extends to Harden - lobbying begins for a branch line
1884 Burrowa Railway League was formed as a lobbying body
10 October 1914: “Boorowa” station opensAfter 45 years of lobbying the railway came to Burrowa as a branch line of pioneer quality from Galong — 29 km of timber sleepers over ash ballast. It was not meant to last. As well as massive parliamentary delays there had been much indecision about the actual route. Note the opening as reported in The Sydney Morning Herald: The railway station had always been called Boorowa, the official name, but the headline used Burrowa as the town was known at this time.
February 2, 1915: First service(Galong’s main line junction had to be reworked.)
The Stations:St Clements : opened 1927
Nannong: opened 1929, platform 1941
Oreston: opened 1931
St Michaels: opened 1946
Goorama was the only other station beside Boorowa with a 76 m siding on the Up side.
Steps were carried on trains for passengers alighting and boarding at St Michaels, St Clements, Nannong and Oreston.
The End:With road improvements, rail use declined. More people had cars. Trucks were a viable alternative for freight.
Galong Station: still intact
St Michaels: closed 1969
St Clements: closed 1975
Nannong wooden platform: closed 1974
Oreston milk platform: closed 1969
Goorama: closed 1974
Passenger services withdrawn: 11 August 1974
Boorowa platform and station building demolished: 1983
Last train: 23 October 1987Line ‘permanently out of service’ early December 1987
Duration of operation: 73 years
Boorowa stationBoorowa station has never closed as this requires an act of parliament. Officially it is just ‘out of use’.
Although nothing is left of the station structure, the memories linger on. It is of particular interest to railway modellers because it had an engaging suite of tracks, buildings and machinery which modellers replicate in HO scale (3.5mm to 1 foot). A turntable is a high point for a modelling enthusiast and the Boorowa one still exists although it no longer turns.
Railway history enthusiasts in the 1960s and 1970s organised vintage steam tours and Peter Thomas’s photos give a lively and colourful rendition of what it was once like to travel by train to and from Boorowa. Re-enactments included hold-ups by bushrangers on horseback (perhaps a little fanciful when the 1914–1987 era is concerned), and passengers were decked out in vintage finery on these occasions.