Sparrowvale Tramway

The Sparrowvale Farm was established by the Geelong Harbour Trust on the site of the former Geelong Racecourse, near the Barwon River and Lake Connewarre in 1906. Two separte tramway systems were operated here.

The farm


Work begun on draining the low lying area in 1906, and the initial buildings were erected on the high ground to the west of the site. The farm covered 1,612 acres, with a fifty stall milking shed, and 35 feet high silos.

A light tramway was constructed to make fodder handling easier. A master plan of 1907 showed over 2 miles of tramway running to every existing and porposed building, as well as two routes to the flatlands. However the initial half mile of track was what remained for the life of the farm.

The tramway was of 2 ft or 2ft 6 in gauge, and used flat top, wooden bodied open top, iron bodied closed top, and 'V' skip type wagons. Motive power was by employees initially, with a locomotive purchased in 1908, but usage of it is uncertain before 1911, when it was used on the levee bank works.

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Drainage


The farm had been flooded by the Barwon River in 1909 and 1911, so in January 1912 the Trust decided to construct a levee bank three miles long along the north of the farm. Work started with horse drawn equipment, with steam shovels and a tramway erected along the bank.

A channel was started across a bend in the river, as a source of fill for the bank, and to relieve the build up of flood waters. The tramway went due east for one mile where it met the river, followed the bank for another mile, then turned due south for a half mile, then due west for another half mile.

Work continued though 1913 and 1914, with the bank reaching a stage where it prevented ordinary flooding, but was short of the 15 ft required to prevent major floods. In January 1915 the Trust was unsure if it had enough funding to complete the bank, and proposed to the engineer in charge that it be levelled off at 9 feet. The lower (south) end was not yet at this height, so work continued until September 1915 when funding ran out. Work ceased on October 6, 1915. The tramway, locomotive, and equipment was sold to Cameron and Sutherland in 1917.

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Demise


The Harbout Trust continued managing the farm until 1927 when controlled was passed to a leaseholder. In 1934 the Trust was required to sell all lands not required for its tasks as a port authority, and in 1936 Sparrowvale Farm was finally sold.

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Sources


  • 'Geelong Harbour Trust Tramways' by Norman Houghton (Light Railways, July 1981)
  • 'The Geelong Sewer Tram' by Norman Houghton (Light Railways, April 1983)
  • 'Horses, Shows and Trains' by Richard Aitken (Investigator, September 1978)
  • 'South Barwon 1857 - 1985' compiled by John Pescott (ISBN 0 949583 53 7)