Railways in Australia date from the 1831 when the Australian Agricultural Company officially opened the first railway in Newcastle, New South Wales. By the 1850’s it was assumed the private sector would develop and own the railway network. It happened in the colonies of Victoria and New South Wales in 1854, however the companies went bankrupt and the projects were completed by Government. As government projects, unprofitable lines could be funded to help with developing and servicing Regional Australia.
The colonial railways were built to three different gauges, which became a problem once lines of different systems met at Albury in 1881 and Wallangarra in 1888.
The first line opened Queensland in 1865, from Ipswich to Grandchester in the Darling Downs. The line was extended from Grandchester to Toowoomba in 1867 and was connected from Ipswich to Brisbane in 1875. From Toowoomba it was extended in stages to meet the New South Wales standard gauge line at Wallangarra in 1887.
You can follow most of the “Great Norther Rail Line” by driving the New England Highway from Toowoomba to Wallangarra and further into NSW.
Considering the technology available in the day and the remoteness and lack of population along the route, it is a testament to the vision and resilience of these nation builders. It’s still possible to find some beautiful old Stations along the way while most of the early bridge infrastructure has gone.
The Great Northern Line
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- More Info: https://arhsnsw.com.au/australian-railway-history
Deepwater Railway Station, on the New England Highway.