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 Construction & Heyday 

 The North East of Tasmania is rugged territory criss-crossed by hills, rivers and valleys, dense forests and open, grassy plains. Early settlement was sparse and getting in and out of the ares an arduous task.

A railway line was authorised to be constructed shortly after 1882, principally to freight agricultural and timber products out of the region, as well as passengers. The rugged isolation of the area demanded resourcefulness, ingenuity and inventiveness from its inhabitants, mostly migrants from Scotland, England and Ireland.

The physical barrier of the Sidling (an escarpment) was in part overcome in 1889 when the railway from Launceston first reached Scottsdale. This was a particular boost to the local sawmills which had been carting timber out by horse and cart since the first sawmill began operating in 1862.

 

Railway Station Scottsdale Tasmania. Undated Photograph.

 

The building of the Launceston to Scottsdale line, which was contracted out, cost over £9000 per mile. The Scottsdale to Branxholm line, officially opened on July 12, 1911, was constructed by government workers, and even though the terrain was just as difficult, with many mountains and ravines to traverse, the building of this section of the railway came in at approximately £6000 per mile. The railway was described as the “lifeline” of the north east, with many recalling it being used as an ambulance and opening the region to the remainder of Tasmania.

 

The Scottsdale Line — Three survey parties have been engaged at present for making working surveys, and are at work under the supervision of Mr McCormick, an engineer, whose qualifications are highly thought of by the Government engineers in Victoria and South Australia, and who has been personally recommended. A trial line some 20 miles long has been run through heavy forest and scrub, passing near Golconda, by which it is hoped the line will be shortened some miles and good land tapped. Levels of this portion are about to be taken to test cost as against sanctioned line. Another engineer will be over from Melbourne in a few days to form a fourth survey party.

Daily Telegraph – 10 March 1884

 

A detailed account of the railway under construction was published in The Tasmanian newspaper on August 14, 1886. A transcript of that report is available here.

 

A map showing the extent of the Inveresk railyards. Access in and out was via the bridge

across the North Esk river shown in the bottom right corner.

 


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