Navarre's railway line centenary

The Navarre community is gearing up to celebrate the centenary of the opening of the Navarre railway line this weekend.

The Navarre railway line centenary celebrations will take place this weekend.

The Navarre railway line centenary celebrations will take place this weekend.

The railway line at Navarre officially opened on May 26, 1914, with five stations, Navarre, Tulkara, Landsborough, Joel, Crowlands and the terminus, Ben Nevis, where the line connected with the Avoca railway line.

Rolling stock, engines such as the Victorian Railways Dd class locomotive, drivers and repair crews were supplied from Ararat and the service began by running services three days per week.

The line ran through lightly undulating, partly wooded countryside for some 36 kilometres.

Gold was found in the region during the 1850s and many pioneers who had arrived there at that time remained to establish their own farms and businesses.

Although the railway also operated a passenger service, one of the biggest users of the line were timber cutters and for a while, six mills operated in the area supplying firewood to connecting stations including Ararat, Ballarat and further to Melbourne.

From its opening in 1914, returns from the operation of the line were adequate enough to justify its existence. However, by the late 1940s, with dwindling supplies of suitable timber, the advent of motorised transport and rising operating costs, the single goods service was reduced further from once a week to once a fortnight by 1953. In an advertisement in The Argus newspaper of 14 February 1954, the closure of the line was announced with the last service to run on 25 February that year.

While little remains of the railway today, aerial photographs clearly show sections of the right of way to the west and north-west of Landsborough.

The terminus at Ben Nevis, just 100 metres or so off the Pyrenees Highway, exists only as a couple of weather beaten railway crossing signs on a dirt road which crosses the disused Ararat to Avoca rail line.

Crowlands Station remains as little more than mounds of earth by the roadside.

A group of railway history enthusiasts plan to 'walk the railway route' from Navarre to mark this centenary.

Anyone interested in getting together to 'tidy up' the Crowlands Station site prior to May 31 should contact Bryan Putt on 0407 348 563.

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