As the state government and Public Transport Victoria reveal their new, multi-coloured map of our rail networks, it’s instructive to also consider many of the rail lines that have been lost in our region over time.
The new map, which bears a striking resemblance to the iconographic masterpiece designed for the London Underground by Harry Beck in 1931, shows Ballarat – or the Serviceton line as it’s properly known – as the junction for just two lines: one through Creswick terminating at Maryborough and another going out through Wendouree to Ararat.
But in 1930, there were several branch lines and sidings in the city, including stations or platforms at North Ballarat, Ballarat East, Cardigan, Dowling and Kopke.
Ballarat East was just beyond the gates at Humffray Street, and is now part of Bombardier.
There were also several siding lines in use to service factories such as the Phoenix Foundry, which supplied over 350 locomotives to the Victorian rail system; and even Selkirks brickworks.
There was also a direct connection to the saleyards, branching off at the Linton Junction onto the line that also once went to Skipton.
Many of these lines operated until relatively recently. The Skipton line existed until 1985, and the saleyards line going to Redan was still in existence in 1997.
The first rail line to Ballarat opened in April 1862. It came not from Melbourne but Geelong, and was soon extended through Maryborough to St Arnaud, and from Ararat to Horsham.
The line was built to a high standard, with double track provided throughout, bluestone station buildings at all of the initial stations, a number of bluestone bridges for roads that crossed the line, and the substantial Moorabool Viaduct.
The line remained the only rail route from Ballarat to Melbourne until 1889, when the Melbourne to Ballarat was opened. By 1900 the greatest part of the state’s railways were completed, including the extensive lines around Ballarat itself.
Today only a few vestiges of Ballarat’s once great steel network can be seen.
Sign up for our newsletter to stay up to date.