Early proposals

The first serious proposals to build a railway to Wensleydale were raised by members of the Barrabool Shire in 1883, in order to induce settlement along the route and secure firewood for Geelong from the Otway Forest.

A surveyor from the Victorian Railways reported that a railway could be easily constructed from Moriac in a south-westerly direction for eleven miles (17.7 km) to a geographical feature called "The Saddle" on the ridge of the Otway Ranges. Continuing the railway further to Lorne would be impracticable due to the gradients.



The railway was included in the Railway Construction Act of 1884, with the railway to be 11 miles in length, for goods traffic only, no passenger facilities, and of the cheapest possible construction. The construction contract was signed on 15 June 1888 with work started at the Moriac end.

The first six miles (9.6 km) travelled across undulating country, before a climb to the terminal at Wensleydale. 25 cuttings were required, the deepest being 10 foot (3 metres) deep, and the longest was 30 chains (600 metres) long. The longest embankment was a 1/2 mile (800 metres) long.

16 bridges and 23 box culverts carried the railway over watercourses and drains. The longest bridge was 83 feet (25 metres) in length with seven spans of 11 feet (3.35 metres).

Three gate keeper's cottages were provided: at the 62 mile post, at the Anglesea Road crossing on the Wensleydale side of Layard station, and at Wormbete.

Construction was completed by December 1899. The first revenue train ran on 4 February 1890 from Wormbete to Geelong loaded with timber, but the official opening was 17 March 1898, but this also passed without fanfare.



The line saw little passenger or goods traffic, and by 1899 the Victorian Railways had threatened to close the line. Further closure threats occurred in 1907, 1917 and 1919. Passenger services were never restored to the line following the 1899 closure.

The main goods despatched along the railway was timber and gravel to Geelong. Brown coal from the Otway Coal Company Siding at Wensleydale was a later development.

A fall in gravel consignment in the late 1930s saw the line see little use, with the last goods services withdrawn in April 1943. World War II saw trains run as required to a military camp at Gherang, the last one running in 1945. Trains for civilian traffic never returned.

The railway closed for good on 12 October 1948. The railway was dismantled in 1953, the rails being recovered with a converted 'Blitz' wagon.



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