Proposed railway to Portarlington

In the Railway Construction Bill 1890 a railway between Drysdale and Portarlington was proposed, but rejected by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways in 1892.


On the Saturday 9 March 1889 the Queenscliff Sentinel, Drysdale, Portarlington and Sorrento Advertiser spoke of support for the proposal.

A number of the leading residents at and around Portarlington and Clifton Springs have actively taken in hand the proposal to urge on the Government the desirability of extending railway communication to the first-named township.

It is held that the importance of the district as a producing centre is sufficient to warrant the construction of a branch line from Drysdale to the Port a distance of about six or seven miles—and that the work, if entered upon, could be carried out at a comparatively cheap rate.

A preliminary step in the matter was taken on Wednesday by the Portarlington Town and District lmprovement Association, four of its members, namely, Messrs A Calhoun, P Cameron, W Marchant, and McIntosh, waiting as a deputation on the Bellarine shire council to obtain support for the project preparatory to laying it before the Government. The delegates were accompanied by Dr Chipman and Messrs F. Willey, W. Bates, H. Bellingham Smith (of the firm of Howard Smith and Sons), and W. A Cuddy.

In a written address by Mr Calhoun it is stated that the residents in the vicinity of Portarlington considered the time had come when their claims for the rail communication deserved fair consideration.

There were many tangible and important reasons why the contemplated line was needed, and would pay if constructed. For the conveyance of produce the convenience of the residents generally and the accommodation of excursions such a line was needed, and there was no question that it could be made reproductive.

The greater portion of the route, covering a distance of about seven miles, would be over Crown lands and there were some splendid sites (also Crown land), which could be used for railway stations , if necessary. He believed that the expense of laying down a line under such conditions would not exceed £2000 a mile, and that would be a very cheap rate as compared with the cost incurred in the establishment of railway communication in many less important parts of the colony.

The resources of the district are undoubtedly varied and important. Besides theexisting industries there was plenty of scope for the manufacture of fancy tiles and bricks, and earthenware pipes ; and right alongside the proposed route there were rich deposits of limestone, which would be developed on railway transit being made available. Lara was an instance of what the railway line between Drysdale and Portarlington would be—a great boon to the onion growers in the district. He believed that, the line would be very largely availed of by up-country people in excursion times. Dr Chapman briefly pointed out the many advantages which a railway line would bring, to the district. He referred particularly to the use which could be made of it for the conveyance of firewood to Portarlington.

The residents of that township also wanted some better means of reaching Geelong and Melbourne than those which at present existed. During, the winter, he believed the boats only called about twice a week at the Port, and persons under the necessity of going to the metropolis. Geelong, or any other place at a distance, were often obliged to resort to inconvenient methods of reaching the railway.

He believed that desired railway extension would result eventually in Portarlington and other adjacent portions of the bay frontage being formed into a great watering place. Messrs Cameron and Willey supported the remarks of the previous speakers. Mr Marchant considered that enough had been said on the main features of the project, and he thought the council should now be asked for its active support in laying the matter before the Government.

Mr H. B. Smith favoured the construction of a line from Drysdale by way of the Clifton Springs. He said the deviation involved in touching at the Springs would not be very great. There were many lines being constructed at three times the estimated cost of the Drysdale to Portarlington line in both localities that were much less productive. Mr. Cuddy thought it was very important that, if a line were constructed, it be taken along the beach to the springs before reaching Portarlington.

The president of the council (Cr, Dalley) thanked the deputationists for their very full explanation of the matter, which he considered of great importance to the district. There was no doubt that the hearty assistance of the council would be given as soon as the proper time arrived for definite action to be taken. The speakers after thanking the Council, withdrew.

Although no formal motion was passed by the council it was tacitly understood that the project should be assisted in any reasonable way.



Rough guess at what route the railway would take.



On 29 March 1892 Sectional Committee No. 2 of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways rejected the proposed railway to Portarlington.

The line from Drysdale to Portarlington was remitted to the Committee on the motion of a private member. It is 7·58 miles in length, the steepest gradient being 1 in 40, the sharpest curve 20 chains radius, and is estimated by the Railway Department to cost £99,070, or £13,070 per mile.

The Sectional Committee have inspected this line, and have taken evidence at Portarlington and Drysdale. The country traversed by the surveyed route is very rich, and the greater portion of it is under cultivation - onions, peas, hay, and root crops being the principal products grown.

The Committee have been supplied by Mr. McWilliams, C.E., engineer to the Bellarine Shire, with an estimate for a line between Portarlington and Drysdale very much below that of the Department. Mr. McWilliams asserts that the line could be built for £39,032, including rolling-stock. There is no doubt the official estimate is excessive, "land and compensation" alone being set down at £20,466.

But even at Mr. McWilliams' estimate the Sectional Committee do not think the line is justified. The roads throughout the district are very good, and conveyance to market cheap and convenient. On one side of the district traversed there is the Drysdale railway station, on the Geelong and Queenscliff line, while two lines of well appointed steamers call at Portarlington daily, and furnish a cheap and direct communication with the Melbourne market.

The following resolution has been agreed to:-

That, in the opinion of Sectional Committee ~No. 2, it is not expedient to construct a line of railway from Drysdale to Portarlington.