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  • Writer's pictureKinglake Historical Society

The Railway to Kinglake

Updated: Aug 26, 2023

Articles in early newspapers tell the story about getting a railway line to Kinglake

In May 1882, a letter to the editor, signed by 'Mountaineer' of Kinglake, was published in The Australasian, a Melbourne newspaper of that time. The writer pointed out that there was now the possibility of a great deal of timber and farm produce being taken to the city from Kinglake but transport on bad roads was making this difficult and unprofitable. The problem could be solved by a railway line:

"All this lumber and produce might be carried by way of Whittlesea if the line was extended a few miles further to accommodate the selectors of Kinglake. With the steam horse to take our produce to market, we should do well; without it, the majority of us are being starved out. The gentlemen who have control of the lands should bear this in mind - that, if they cannot afford to construct a railway through a district like this, they ought not to allow it to be selected until they can do so.

"The reason is plain enough for those who seek it. When inexperienced men come here and appear to think that it is a grand thing to select land with plenty of large trees upon it, having no idea of the difficulties they will have to contend with, they muddle and fool away their time for three years, if they can hold out as long, then get their lease and off they go to some other part of the country, and you better believe they will not come back in a hurry."

By 1888, the need for a railway line was being realised by many residents of Kinglake and surrounding areas. John Lindsay Beale, who had represented Kinglake on the Eltham Shire Council since 1879, chaired a meeting at Queenstown (now known as St Andrews) for local residents to consider the steps to be taken to get an extension of the Heidelberg railway line to Kinglake and Muddy Creek (Yea). A committee of 10 members was formed 'to work towards a railway to be extended from Heidelberg up the valley of the Diamond Creek to Kinglake.' The Kinglake representatives were Cr J.L. Beale, Mr E.N. Staff and Mr J. McMahon.

In July 1888, sixty influential residents from between Heidelberg and Yea met in Melbourne at the Grand Hotel in Spring Street to decide the best steps to take in placing the proposed railway extension from Heidelberg to Kinglake before the Premier at the meeting to be held with him that afternoon at 2.30pm. Speakers were chosen to represent each district: Greensborough - Mr Gardiner, Eltham - Mr Gilbert, Arthur's Creek - Mr C. Draper, Diamond Creek - Mr E. Peers, Queenstown & Kinglake - Mr J.L. Beale, Muddy Creek - Mr McAleece.

By the time the group adjourned to the Treasury Building to meet the Premier, the number has risen to almost 100 people and they were accompanied by several members of Parliament, including Mr R. Harper MLA and Mr E. Cameron MLA.

The speakers were introduced and pointed out the needs of each district and the advantages of a railway extension. For Kinglake, Mr Beale said that the line would go through a valley of orchards, the gold industry was still active in the area, Kinglake could provide fresh fruit and vegetables to the Melbourne market and the productivity of the area would increase tenfold with the railway extension.

Over the next 40 years, Railway Leagues were formed in all the districts, statistics were collected, countless petitions and deputations were made, and possible routes for the railway line were surveyed but still the railway did not happen. We can only wonder how different Kinglake's history might have been if the line had ever gone through.

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