Launch of the Tatong Railway Precinct

On March 11th 2006, the Tatong Railway Precinct was unveiled.

From 1914 to 1947 the Tatong branch railway ran from Benalla to Tatong via Karn, Lima and Mallum.
For the past sixty years its remains have been fading into the landscape.

Now the Tatong Heritage Group, with the Tatong Community, has commemorated this important part of the town’s history. More than 300 people came to Tatong to help celebrate.
Special guest was the Honourable Tim Fischer, Chairman of Tourism Australia.
Also participating in the opening ceremony were Benalla Mayor John Brownstein, and Councillor for Samaria ward Bill Hill.

In the Tatong Hall a grand exhibition had been prepared, which was opened at 10am.

Meanwhile down at the rail siding...
The site of the Tatong station is on the Tatong-Swanpool road about 1 km West of the present Tatong CBD (i.e. the pub).
The site itself, now in Toby Lewis's paddock, is marked by a duplicate of the original station sign.
The commemorative display is just East of this, on land amidst the junction of the Tatong-Swanpool, Mitchell, and Old Tatong roads.

On the morning of March 11th the story-board, and the plaque (set in stone), were waiting to be unveiled.
(Pictured Left, by the stone, is THG President Elaine Brogan, not so much veiled as Parasol-ed.)
Pictured Right is Rosemary Williams, Mavis McCauley and her sister-in-law Nita McCauley.
Nita has written in her memoirs of her family sending piglets off to market on the Tatong train; of a special school excursion leaving for Melbourne by train at 5:30am; and of her leaving Tatong to commence her nursing training in Melbourne on this train, in December 1937. ("Nita’s Childhood, Growing up in Tatong 1919 - 1937" available from the Tatong Heritage Group)


As well as those who drove to join the celebration, two buses brought people out from Benalla. Some had come from Seymour by historic train.
The buses were driven via the station sites of Karn, Mallum, and Lima, and were greeted by the land-owners.
At the old Karn Station site (for which Lloyds have named their farm) Jill Lloyd offered the visitors refreshments from a basket, and Peter Lloyd unveiled the Karn plaque.

In Castle Hill Road at the remains of Lima station, Jean Leaske gave a short talk on her memories of the railway, and unveiled Lima’s plaque.
At Mallum site Betty McCauley shared her recollections before unveiling the Mallum plaque. Collin McCauley presented Ron Bain, fireman on the last train to run on the Tatong line, with a lump of coal from the old railway site. (Curiously, the last train had to be fired by wood, due to a coal strike.)
At each site the Tatong Heritage Group has placed a duplicate of the sign which had once stood there, and a plaque to commemorate the once industrious location.


Once everyone was assembled under a quite warm sun, Councillor for Samaria Ward Bill Hill opened the proceedings.

Benalla Mayor John Brownstein (pictured left) spoke, and Elaine Brogan (pictured below) outlined the progress of the Tatong Heritage Group.

Then Mr Fischer, a rail enthusiast himself, described bygone competition in timber tramways, remains of which can be found in the hills. He spoke of the time when Australia had 22 different gauges of railway (now there are 9).
Tim unveiled the storyboard of the memorial. As he did so it is said that a steam train could be heard in the distance.

 A bit like this: (190kb)

Evan (Toby) Lewis (pictured left), whose property contains the old Tatong siding, unveiled the plaque placed in stone. He told of growing up by the railway, and such exploits as climbing the signal tower.
Heritage Group member Bill Dewing, former Benalla Station Master, had come attired in his uniform. He is pictured Left, introducing Ron Bain (fireman on the last Tatong train) to Tim Fischer.
Thanks to Harold Lacey for lending his busker’s amplifier, without which no-one would have been heard. (Harold was one of the founders of local blues band “Couchgrass”, and is pictured here (left) with Tim Fischer.)

With the Tatong Railway Precinct officially launched, the crowd moved to the Hall for lunch and the display. There they were welcomed by Kevin and Charlee (right). Drivers who purchased lunch also got a self-drive map, so that they could visit the stations on the way home. (Soon available on this site.)
Tim Fischer sold signed copies of his latest book, "Transcontinental Train Odyssey: The Ghan, The Khyber, The Globe".
The Tatong Young Bloods worked hard providing lunch for the multitude.

Some are pictured (left) slacking when they should have been slaving away in the hot kitchen.


The Hall exhibition created much interest. As well as old cuttings, pictures, information, and wares of the past, there were products of present day Tatong.
A display of old items attracted nostalgia from those who knew what they were, and fascination from those who didn't.

Produce such as locally grown wines and olives were raffled.
Yin Barun wines on display were possibly grown with a hint of ash in the soil from long-ago steam trains passing the property.

Local artwork was on display, such as paintings by Mike Larkin (left).

Downhill from the Hall a timber bogey has been re-constructed by Rod Lindsay.

Rod's hard work was much appreciated by the visitors, and the display clearly demonstrate how logs were once taken to the sawmills via the timber tramways.
(Rod is pictured left, leaning on his work of art.)

Thanks for a fantastic day go to so many.
To the hard-working member of the Tatong Heritage Group, especially Greg Kirk who has been dreaming of this day for years, and Mary Anne Hatters whose superb organisational skills brought it together.
To the Tatong Young Bloods. To the Tatong Community.
To everyone who helped, supported, and of course those who came along and enjoyed the show.
To the Honourable Tim who fitted us into his busy schedule. (If he hadn't turned up we would have said "Where the bloody hell are you?") To Mayor Brownstein & Councillor Hill.
To the landowners who permitted plaques and signs go up on their land - visitors please respect this.
To Rick Hann for parts of this text, and to everyone I've forgotten to mention, who contributed to the day.

Back Row: Greg Kirk, Bev Hakkennes, Les MacLean, Matthew Lewis, Tim Fischer, Kate Armistead, SaraJane Bowering, Darren Shepherd, Maryanne Hatters
Front Row: Nicole Ritchie, Jade Kirk, Jessica Ritchie, Katie Lewis


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