Navarre railway centenary celebrations

Enthusiasts travelled from far and wide to attend the centenary celebrations of the opening of the Navarre railway line.

Enthusiasts stand on the roadway viewing a photograph taken in December 1953 on the same spot, which was the site of the Joel Station.

Enthusiasts stand on the roadway viewing a photograph taken in December 1953 on the same spot, which was the site of the Joel Station.

The Ben Nevis - Navarre railway centenary attracted 42 visitors from Melbourne, Ballarat and Geelong, who were interested in railway and local history. They were conveyed by coach around the area to look at the remains of the railway.

The line extended from a junction station at Ben Nevis, 20 kilometres from Ararat towards Avoca and headed north for 36 kilometres to Navarre.

Stations were located at Crowlands, Joel, Landsborough, Tulkara and Navarre. A siding was also open from 1918 until 1928 between Landsborough and Tulkara, to load firewood used as fuel by a Ballarat East boiler manufacturer.

The line carried inwards fertiliser, livestock and general goods supplies for the farmers and communities along the line. Freight railed out was mainly firewood, grain, livestock and other agricultural products.

Passenger services were provided until June 15, 1931. Goods trains were gradually reduced from running on several days a week, to weekly and finally fortnightly. The last train operated on Wednesday, February 24, 1954 and the line was closed from the following day.

Most of the rails and other materials were sold to the Shire of Stawell and they also used some of the land and embankments to convert into new roads. Most of the remaining land was sold to adjacent landowners.

The tour party also visited the Crowlands Hall, had lunch at the Joel Joel Hall and afternoon tea at the Navarre Hall. A detailed booklet with a brief history of the railway was distributed to all passengers and copies donated to local historical societies.

The Society would like to hear from anyone with memories of using the railway, working on it or with other information of interest for inclusion in a larger history book regarding the line.

Relatively few photographs have been located of the stations, railway employees or trains operating on the line.

Anyone with photographs or other information regarding the railway are requested to contact Michael Menzies, president of the Geelong Rail Heritage Society on 0419 546 251 or railexp@bigpond.com

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