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K class locomotive.jpg
K Class locomotive      Courtesy John Harvey


(by John Harvey, Beechworth)


The Beechworth branch line from Wangaratta was officially opened by the Governor of Victoria, Sir George Bowen on 29th September 1876. Total construction cost was £103,018. It took nearly two years to complete the line. The branch line represented the faith of the then Premier of Victoria, The Hon. George B. Kerford, and the leading citizens of Beechworth in the future of the district.

For many years Beechworth district residents had been frustrated with poor roads and high transport costs which were inhibiting the development of the Ovens region. The opening of the branch line meant a journey that once took many days could now be done in a few hours. The railway connected Beechworth with the main rail line at Wangaratta and opened up the district for further development.


The opening of the Beechworth Railway in 1876 was the biggest event to take place in the Ovens District since the gold rush of the 1850’s. The celebrations took place in the Goods Shed and a large circus tent erected for the occasion (the station building was yet to be built.). Thousands of people took part. The Governor, the Premier, the Mayor and Town Council were in attendance. A large contingent of the Chinese community turned out in their finery.


In 1891 the railway was extended to Yackandandah, another gold town near Wodonga. This branch line was in operation until 1954 when a bush fire damaged a bridge. The Government used this as an excuse to close that line. Remnants of the roadbed are still visible.



                                                       Beechworth Station Winter 1966 - Courtesy John Harvey


The Beechworth branch line was very busy until the post World War Two era. After the war, roads were improved; motor cars and trucks began replacing the railways. By the 1970’s rail traffic was reduced to two trains a day between Beechworth and Wangaratta.  The Victorian Government undertook a program of branch line closures across the state. The Beechworth branch was officially closed on December 30th 1976. However the last train (an enthusiasts’ special) ran on January 3rd 1977. The rails were almost immediately pulled up after that train cleared the points at Everton.











                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                Goods Shed Circa 2012 - Courtesy John Harvey


Today the roadbed is a tourist rail trail. The Station and Goods Shed survive in much altered states. A fettler’s cottage awaits restoration. The base of the yard crane is there. The actual crane is long gone. Very little else remains of the once proud Beechworth Railway.

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goods shed 2012.jpg
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The last train from Beechworth

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