EXTENSION OF THE RAILWAY FROM.
WELLINGTON TO DUBBO.
An important section of that network of railways, which Sir William Denison long ago prophesied is to cover the whole of this colony, will to-morrow be thrown open for public traffic—tho extension from Wellington to Dubbo, a
distance of 29 miles, making altogether a length of 287 - miles now open on our Great Western line. In giving an account of the new portion of the line thus available for the use of the public, a favourable opportunity presente itself for a brief glance at the history and progress of railway
construction on the Western line.
The first section of this line, 14 miles in length, was
opened with much rejoicing on the 26th September, 1855. Great interest was taken by the public in the opening of this, the first piece of railway ever constructed in Australia. The day was kept as a public holiday, and thousands of people assembled in the' vicinity of the Redfern station— now covered with streets and houses—to see the trains go by. Very many of these people, immigrants as well aa natives, had never seen a locomotive in their lives before, and to those who had recently arrived from the old country it was an amusing sight to witness the crowds picnicing along the fine, and to observe their childish glee when they saw the trains go by. It was not until 1860 that a further extension of the West- ern line was finished, but ou the 4th July of that year 8 miles more to Blacktown were opened, and 3 miles more to Rooty Hill ware completed in December of the following year. A further length of 10 miles was thrown-open ia 1862, the first portion. 6 miles, to South Creek, on the 1st May, and another 5 miles to Penrith on the 7th July.
A considerable time now elapsed before any fur-, thor extension of the Western line was made, the engineering difficulties had now to be faced of a character that might well have caused the boldest to hesitate. Penrith is situated on the banks
of the Nepean River, and could only be crossed by a bridge involving a considerable amount of expense. But
this was nothing compared to what was beyond, for at a distance of only some three miles from Penrith the Great Dividing Range, known here as the Blue Mountains, rises' like a gigantic wall, presenting a barrier to the progress of the iron horse which might well have been deemed inunsmount-
able. Much time and labour had been expended in search-. ing for a practicable route, and many schemes had been proposed which had to be abandoned as hopeless. But the genius of Mr. John Whitton, our Engineer-in-Chief, was equal to the occasion, and he hit upon the happy idea of ascending and descending the mountains by means of zig- zag tracks—an idea which was by many laughed to scorn when propounded, but which has been carried ont so suc- cessfully as to form an imperishable monument to his engineering skill. The bridge over the Nepean was erected,
and the Lapstone-hill Zig-zag was constructed, and on the 11th July, 1867, the extension of 28 miles to the Weather- board was opened for traffic. To give an idea of what had been accomplished in this extension of 29 miles, it may be mentioned that whereas Pen- rith is only 87 feet above the level of the sea, the Weatherboard (or Wentworth Falls as it is now called]}
ia 2856 feet above the sea level. The next section of 15 miles to Mount Victoria was opened on the 11th Julv, 1868 ; and a further length of 20 miles, to Bowenfels, was opened on the 18th October, 1869. This last extension in- cludes what is known as the Lithgow Valley Zig-zag—-a work so stupendous that it needs to be seen te be appreciated. Another work of great magnitude on this section of the line is the Clarence Tunnel, 3758 feet above the lovel of the sea, and situated only a short distance on the eastern side of the great Zig-zag. In the following year 14 miles more, to Rydal, were made available for public use, and here the terminus of the line remained for nearly two years ; the next extensions, 19 miles to Locke's Platform, and five
miles to Macquarie Plains, having been opened on the 22nd
April and 1st July, 1872, respectively. The last-named station (now known as Brewongle) is only 10 miles from' Bathurst, but it was nearly four years before that short distance was opened for traffic. Five imiles of the distance, to Ruglan, were completed on the 4th March, 1873, and three more, to Kelso, on the 4th February 1876, but the railway was not actually oponed into Bathurst until the 4th April, 1876. What the cause of the delay was we need not now stop to inquire, but at the banquet given to celebrate the opening into Bathurst, Sir Hercules Robinson plainlv attributed it to the apathy of the Government. Whether he was right or wrong, the fact is certain that very much more energy has been exhibited since, for on the 1st November of the same year the section of 27 miles from Bathurst to Blayney was thrown open to the traffic of the public. From that town to Orange, a distance of twenty miles, was completed and opened on the 19th April, 1877. The further progress of the Western line was then arrested for a while through a differ- ence of opinion as to the route that should be taken, whether by way of Molong or Ironbarks. Great was the contention in Parliament and in the Press as to which of these lines should be adopted; but eventually Ironbarks won the day, and the section from Orange to Wellington was opened on the 1st June last, being a distance of 66 miles, and making a total length on the Great Western Rail- way up to that time of 248 miles from the Redfern station. There are yet 222 miles of this railway to be constructed from Dubbo to Bourke-for whioh the money has been voted by Parliament, and which will, doubtless, be pushed on with vigour, now that tho extension from Wellington to Dubbo is complete.
This extension commences at the Wellington passenger station, at about 247 miles 40 chains, and terminates at Dubbo, at 278 miles 16 chains, being a length of 30 miles 55 chains, and the works thereon are included in and form a portion of the contract from Orange to Wellington and Dubbo, let in July, 1877, to Mr. W. Watkins, contractor; and since his death the works have been carried out by his executrix, Mrs. W. Watkins. In the account published at the opening of the line to Wellington, in June, 1880, a full description of the works was given, and also of the Welling- ton station yard and buildings.
It may, however, be stated that on the present extension
to Dubbo there are no heavy earthworks, steep gradients, or sharp curves, the heaviest cutting being 24,526 cubic yards, and the heaviest embankment 9606 cubic yards ; the
sharpest curve is 40 ohains radius, and the steep gradient is 1 in 40, of which there are only 120 ohains in all ; there are no heavy timber or other bridges between the crossing of the Macquarie River, at Wellington, and the town of Dubbo. The total quantity of earthwork executed on this extension between Wellinnton and Dubbo amounts to 226,000 cubit yards, and there are 22,000 cubio feet ot tim- ber in small bridges, flood opening«, &c.
At Wellington the Macquarie is spanned by a massive and handsome wrought-iron lattice girder bridge, of three spans of 150 feet each, and two spans of 60 feet each, of wrought-iron plate girders resting on brick abutments 20 feet long, the total length of the girders being 612 feet, and the total length ot the bridge 648 feet; the height of the rails above the bed ot the river is about 70 feet. The river piers euch consist of two cast-iron cylinders, 11 feet in diameter, for a height of about 63 feet, and are then reduced to 9 feet in diameter for the remainder of the length ; pier No. 1, at the Wellington end of the bridge, is 50 feet in length; No. 2,112 feet; No. 3, 105 feet; No. 4, 50 feet. The cylinders of the two river piers are sunk to a depth of 48'feet, and 40 feet lespectivelv, below the bed of the river ; and all the cylinders are filled with cement concrete and strongly braced together with wrought-iron bracing. From the situation of this bridge, upon a long straight stretch of the river and the height of the girders above the ordinary water-level, viz., some 02 feet, it presents a very striking and imposing appearance.
The first stopping-place, after leaving Wellington, is at Maryvale st 253 miles 43 chains, where there is a siding platform, waiting-shed, gatekeeper's house, &c. ; and at Murrumbidgore, at 266 miles 70 chains, there will also be a platform, waiting-shed, &c. ; at 275 miles 40 chains there are very extensive sheep and cattle yards, draft« and leads and siding accommodation.
At Dubbo there is a large and commodious station-yard, 35 chains in length and 6 chains in width.
The passenger-station presents a very neat appearance, and is built of coursed rubble stone, . obtained in the district, 'and contains the following accommo- dation, viz., a booking-office, 16 feet x 11 feet 6 inches ; a general waiting room, 21 feet x 16 feet ; a parcel office, 25 feet 6 inches x 16 feet ; ladies' waiting room, 16 feet x 16 feet ; station master's office and telegraph office, luggage ooloo, porters' and lamp rooms, lavatories, latrines, &_. There is also a large goods' warehouse and a platform for. loading wool, &c: an engine shed, turn-table, coal stage, and porters' cottages and engine driver's quarters are in course of erection. ,
1 A station master's residence has also been provided, and is built in masonry similar to that used in the passenger station. There are about 2 miles of sidings and urou-ing« in this yard. The contractor for the whole of these station buildings was Mr. H. A. Brigg, of Dubbo. The height of the rails at Wellington station is 996 feet above high water-
mark of Sydney, and at the Dubbo station, 866 feet.