Gundagai, being roughly half way between Sydney and Melbourne, was for a long time an important transport hub. Sadly, nowadays it is a town most people speed by in a vehicle on the Hume Highway or in a metal tube 30,000 ft above the town.
The first train arrived into Gundagai on 21 July 1886 and the last one departed on the 13 January 1984. It was weather damage to the track that provided the New South Wales Government a welcome excuse to close the line in 1984.
Following significant local pressure for a rail connection to Cootamundra, on the main line to Sydney, a route survey was carried out in the early 1880s. Alas, all the survey documents were destroyed in a fire in Sydney before they could be assessed necessitating a second survey with consequential delays in connecting Gundagai to the remainder of the New South Wales rail network. Work finally commenced on construction of the 53 kms Gundagai railway branch line from Cootamundra in late 1883. The line and the station, the longest railway station made from timber in NSW, were completed in mid 1886. In 1903 the branch line was extended to Tumut, 103 kms from Cootamundra.
The station building, goods shed, water tank and weighbridge were restored to their current pristine condition during the 1990s. Today, the station building contains a small museum detailing the history of the station and the line. The display includes an especially interesting series of photographs depicting day to day life at the station in the early 1900s. The photographs were taken by local physician and amateur photographer, Dr Charles Gabriel.
There is certainly enough here to excite anyone with an interest in railways.
Speaking of interesting photographs, an extensive display comprising hundreds of Gabriel’s photographs of late 19th and early 20th century Gundagai providing a fascinating insight into life in a small country town at the turn of the century can be seen in the Gabriel Gallery in the centre of the town. I strongly encourage you to visit the Gallery – see my separate review on the Gabriel Gallery.
The Railway Museum is managed by a volunteer team and entry is by “gold coin” ($1 or $2) donation.
Thursday – Sunday: 12pm to 4.30pm
Monday: 8am to 4.30pm
Tuesday: 8am to 12pm
The only sad thing about visiting here is realising that a train will almost certainly never pull into Gundagai again. Standing on platform takes one back to another era, when the only efficient way to travel in these parts was by train.
Address: Rusconi Place / Hemans Street