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Sources Consulted

Primary Sources


Debates and proceedings in the Victorian Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council were recorded and printed as the Victorian Parliamentary Debates (Hansard). These many volumes have been used extensively, and are available online at:- Historical Hansard

Parliamentary Papers

The Victorian Railways was a government Department prior to 1883, when it became the world’s first statutory corporation. Prior to 1883 Parliament held numerous inquiries into railway affairs. Inquiries continued after 1883, but not as frequently. These sometimes voluminous documents were tabled as Parliamentary Papers, and those listed below provided a valuable source of information for this history. They are available online at:- Parliamentary Papers

Papers Relating to the Chewton Station, Railway Breaks, etc., Victorian Parliamentary Papers (VPP), 1864-65, A 22.
Railway Department First Report of the Board of Land and Works, VPP 1859-60, No. 26.
Railway Stations, VPP 1864-65, C 21
Report from the Select Committee on Railway Contracts, VPP 1864-65, D 20.
Report from the Select Committee on Railway Extension, 1865, VPP 1864-65, D 24.
Report from the Select Committee on the Colac Railway, VPP 1867, D.11.
Report of the English engineers consulting by direction of the late government on the subject of rails, etc., and the rolling stock of the North Eastern Railway, VPD 1870, Vol. 10.
Report of the Select Committee of the Legislative Assembly upon Railways, VPP 1857, No. D 37
Report of the Select Committee on Railway Extension, VPP 1869, D 10.
Report of the Select Committee on Railways, 31 August 1871, VPP 1871,Vol.1, D5.
Report on the Observations on Railways made during a tour in 1874 and 1875, undertaken by direction of the Government of Victoria, by Thomas Higinbotham’. VPP, 1876, Vol. 2, No.15.
Mr. R.G. Ford, Engineer for Construction’ VPP, 1882-83, Vol. 2, No. 3.
Evidence taken at the Bar of the Legislative Council on the Railway Bill, VPP 1871, D 4.
Select Committee upon Victorian Water Supply, VPP 1869, D 6.
Report of the Select Committee on the Railways of the Colony, Queensland Parliamentary Papers, 1866, Vol. 9, No. 38, 4 October 1866. Appendix M.
Report of the Survey of the Woodend portions of the proposed North Eastern line of Railway VPP 1867, C 39.
Memoranda on Railway Extension in Victoria, VPP 1868, A 13
Correspondence in Relation to the Recent Construction and Working of Railways in England and Elsewhere, VPP 1869, No. 41.
Recent Construction and Working, VPP 1869, No. 41.
Further Correspondence on Broad and Narrow Gauge Railways. VPP 1872, A 4.
Further information received in correspondence with the Agent-General in relation to the recent Construction and Working of Railways in England and elsewhere, VPP 1869, A 26.
Report of Mr. Elsdon on Railway Construction, and the report of Mr. Higinbotham on the same subject, VPP 1871, C 1.
Report of the Board appointed to enquire into the management of the Williamstown Workshops, VPP 1869, No. 73.
Williamstown Railway Workshops, Observations and Statement of the Engineer-in-Chief, VPP 1869, A 48.
Railway Gauge: Copy of Letter from the Agent General, VPD, 1872, Vol. 1, A.3.
Report of the Overseer of Workshops and Locomotives to the Hon. The Commissioner of Railways, VPP 1871, C 2.
Narrow Gauge Railways, Queensland, VPP 1871, A 26.
Railway Gauge. Copy of a letter transmitted by the Agent General from Walter E. Evans, C.E. of New York, VPP 1872, A 13.
Railway Locomotives, VPP 1871, C 3.
Locomotive Engine No. 51. Report of the Board of Inquiry, VPP 1871, A 16.
Select Committee on Railways, VPP 1871, D 5.
Victorian Railways – Branches and Officers, VPP 1882-82, C 7.
Locomotives Nos. 103 and 105, VPP 1874, C 11.
Correspondence and Return Relative to Proposed Lines of Railway, VPP, 1873, No. 86.
Public Departments – Persons Employed, VPP 1882-83, C 14,
Officers of Railways and Public Works Departments whose services have been dispensed with, VPP 1878, C 2.
Civil Establishment for the Year 1865, VPP 1867, No. 1.
Civil Establishment of the Colony of Victoria for the Year 1866, VPP 1867, No. 40.
Echuca Bridge; Report of the Royal Commission, VPP 1878, No. 57.
Negotiations between the Government of Victoria and the Melbourne and Hobson’s Bay United Railway Company for the Purchase of their Property, VPP 1876, No. 53.
Public Departments – Persons Employed In and Promoted Since 1st July 1881, VPP 1882-83, Vol. 1, C.14.
Public Departments, VPP, 1882-83, Vol. 1, C.14.
Woods Continuous Brake, VPP 1882-83, Vol. 1, C.20.
Woods and Westinghouse Continuous Automatic Railway Brakes, Report of the Brake Trial Board, VPP 1883, No. 14.
Board of Inquiry on Lancefield Railway Accident, VPP 1888, No. C19.
Correspondence between the Minister of Railways and the Railways Commissioners, VPP 1891. No. C16.
Parliamentary Standing Committee on Railways, Fourth General Report, 26 June 1896, VPP1896, No. 13.

Railway Annual Reports

An essential primary source of official information is contained in the Railway Annual Reports. They have been digitised and are available online at:- here

Search terms:-
Victorian Railways: report of the Board of Land and Works
Victorian Railways: report of the Victorian Railways Commissioners


Nineteenth Century newspapers are generally factual and extensive in their reporting, with much detail that provides essential background. Over one hundred newspapers have been consulted. These are digitised and are available at National Library of Australia.

Similarly, those from New Zealand are available at :- Papers Past.


Age, Argus, Australasian, Bacchus Marsh Express, Ballarat Courier, Ballarat Star, Banner, Bell’s Life in Victoria and Sporting Chronicle, Advocate, Albury Banner and Wodonga Express, Alexandra and Yea Standard, Ararat Advertiser, Australasian Sketcher with Pen and Pencil, Australasian Sketcher, Australian Town and Country Journal, Avoca Mail, Bairnsdale Advertiser and Tambo and Omeo Chronicle, Bendigo Advertiser, Bendigo Independent, Champion, Coburg Leader, Colonial Mining Journal Railway and Share Gazette, Euroa Advertiser, Free Lance, Geelong Advertiser and Intelligencer, Geelong Advertiser, Gippsland Times, Great Southern Advocate, (Korumburra), Hamilton Spectator, Herald, Horsham Times, Illustrated Australian News for Home Readers, Illustrated Australian News, Independent, (Footscray), Kerang New Times, Kyneton Guardian, Leader, Lilydale Express and Yarra Glen Wandin Yallock Upper Yarra Healesville and Ringwood Chronicle, McIvor Times and Rodney Advertiser, Melbourne Punch, Mildura Cultivator, Morwell Advertiser, Mount Alexander Mail, Narracan Shire Advocate, North Eastern Ensign (Benalla), North Melbourne Advertiser, North Melbourne Courier and West Melbourne Advertiser, Ovens and Murray Advertiser (Beechworth), Portland Guardian, Record (Emerald Hill), South Bourke and Mornington Journal, (Richmond), Sportsman, Sunbury News and Bulla and Melton Advertiser, Table Talk, Telegraph St Kilda Prahran and South Yarra Guardian, Tocsin Victorian Farmers Journal and Gardeners Chronicle, Victorian Government Gazette, Weekly Times, Williamstown Chronicle, Wodonga and Towong Sentinel, Yackandandah Times.

South Australia

Adelaide Observer, Advertiser, Border Watch, (Mount Gambier), Camperdown Chronicle, Chronicle, Evening Journal, Express and Telegraph, Narracoorte Herald, Northern Argus (Clare), Register (Adelaide), South Australian Advertiser, South Australian Register, South Australian Weekly Chronicle, Yorke’s Peninsula Advertiser.

New South Wales

Australian Windsor Richmond and Hawkesbury Advertiser, Barrier Miner, Bathurst Free Press and Mining Journal, Corowa Free Press, Daily Telegraph, Evening News, Goulburn Herald, Illawarra Mercury, Le Courrier Australien (Sydney), Maitland Mercury and Hunter River General Advertiser, Maitland Weekly Mercury, Sydney Mail and New South Wales Advertiser, Sydney Morning Herald


Brisbane Courier, Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, Queensland Times Ipswich Herald and General Advertiser, Queenslander, Capricornian (Rockhampton), Telegraph, The Week, Worker

Western Australia

Bunbury Herald, Sun (Kalgoorlie), Swan Express, (Midland Junction), W.A. Record, West Australian Sunday Times, West Australian, Westralian Worker


Cornwall Chronicle (Launceston), Courier (Hobart), Daily Telegraph (Launceston), Examiner (Launceston), Hobart Town Courier, Launceston Examiner, Mercury, Tasmanian (Launceston), Tasmanian News (Hobart), Zeehan and Dundas Herald.

New Zealand

Lyttelton Times, New Zealand Herald, New Zealand Times, Otago Daily Times, The Press(Christchurch)


Derby Mercury

Secondary Sources


Adrian Gunzburg, A History of W.A.G.R. Steam Locomotives, ARHS Western Australian Division, 1984.

Alfred W. Bruce, The Steam Locomotive in America, New York, 1952.

A.N. Palmer and W.W. Stewart, Cavalcade of New Zealand Locomotives, Wellington, 1965.

Arthur Mellen Wellington, The Economic Theory of Location of Railways, New York, 1899.

Asa Briggs, Victorian Cities, London, 1963.

Bradshaw’s Guide to Victoria, 1 September 1879.

Bradshaw’s Guide 1906.

Brian Reed, ‘The Norris Locomotives’, Loco Profile No.11. Windsor, U.K., 1975.

C.E. Sayers, David Syme: a Life, Melbourne, 1965.

Christian Wolmar, The Great Railway Revolution: The Epic Story of the American Railroad, London, 2012.

Clement E. Stretton, The History of the Midland Railway, London, 1901.

Clive Baker and Greg Knight, Milne Bay 1942: The Story of ‘Milne Force’ and Japan’s First Military Defeat on Land, Loftus NSW, 1991.

David Cooke, Don Estell, Keith Seckold, John Beckhaus and Dennis Toohey Coaching Stock of the NSW Railways, Eveleigh Press, Sydney, 1999.

David V. Beardsell and Bruce H. Herbert, The Outer Circle, Melbourne, 1979.

David Roberts, From Swampland to Farmland, Rural Water Commission Victoria, 1985.

Department of Railways NSW, The Railways of New South Wales 1855-1955, Sydney, 1955.

Department of Railways NSW, A Century Plus of Locomotives 1955-1965. ARHS, Sydney. 1965.

Don Garden, ‘Victoria: A History’, Nelson, 1984.

Don Gibb, Canterbury: A History, Melbourne, 2019.

Don Hagarty, The Building of the Sydney Railway, ARHS Sydney, 2005.

Douglas J. Puffert. Tracks Across Continents: Paths Through History, Chicago, 2009. (via Google Books)

E.E. Morris, Memoir of George Higinbotham, London, 1895.

E.L. Ahrons, The British Steam Locomotive 1925 – 1925, London, 1975.

Edgars Dunsdorfs, The Australian Wheat Growing Industry 1788-1948, Melbourne, 1956.

Edward A. Downs, Speed Limit 20, ARHS Vic Division, 1963.

Elizabeth Morrison, David Syme: Man of the Age, Monash University Publishing, 2014.

Geoff Hocking, Wyndham –our story, Hong Kong, 2013.

Geoffrey Blainey, A History of Victoria, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Geoffrey Blainey, Black Kettle and Full Moon, Penguin, 2003.

Geoffrey Blainey, The Tyranny of Distance, Melbourne, 1966.

Geoffrey Serle and James Grant, The Melbourne Scene 1803-1956, Hale & Iremonger, 1978.

Geoffrey Serle, The Golden Age: A History of the Colony of Victoria, 1851-1861, MUP, 1963.

Geoffrey Serle, The Rush to be Rich, Melbourne University Press, 1971.

Graeme Davison, The Rise and Fall of Marvellous Melbourne, MUP, 2nd Ed, 2004.

H.G. Turner, A History of the Colony of Victoria, Vol. 2, 1854-1900, London, 1904.

H. Holcroft, An Outline of Great Western Locomotive Practice 1837-1943, London, 1971, 2nd ed.

Hamilton Ellis, The Midland Railway, London, 1953.

Hamilton Ellis, Railway carriages in the British Isles from 1830 to 1914, London, 1965.

Hosea 8:7. KJV.

Ian Mudie, Riverboats, Adelaide, 1961.

John Charles Mackay, Light Railways for the United Kingdom, India and the Colonies, London, 1896.

John D. Keating, Mind the Curve! A History of the Cable Trams, MUP, 1970.

J.F.L. Train Lighting by Electricity. The Locomotive Publishing Co. London. 1914.

J.M. Powell, The Public Lands of Australia Felix, Melbourne, 1970.

John Gunn, Along Parallel Lines: A History of the Railways of New South Wales, MUP, Melbourne, 1989.

John Marshall, The Guinness Book of Rail Facts and Feats, 2nd edition, London, 1978.

K.A. Austin, The Lights of Cobb & Co, Sydney, 1976.

K.M. Bowden, The Great Southern Railway, Melbourne, 1970.

L.T.C. Rolt, George and Robert Stephenson: The Railway Revolution, Pelican Books, 1978.

L.T.C. Rolt, Red for Danger, London, 1955.

Leo J. Harrigan, Victorian Railways to ’62, Victorian Railways, Melbourne, 1962.

N.G. Butlin, Investment in Australian Economic Development 1861 – 1900, Cambridge University Press, 1964.

James A. Lerk, Robert Gray Ford: Colonial blacksmith, inventor, engineer and one time Bendigonian. Bendigo, 2007.

John Armstrong, Locomotives in the Tropics, Brisbane, 1985.

John Kerr, Triumph of Narrow Gauge: A History of Queensland Railways, Boolarong, 1990.

John H. White, Jnr., American Locomotives: An Engineering History 1830-1880. John Hopkins University Press, 1997.

John Wolfe Barry. Railway Appliances: A Description of Details of Railway Construction, London, 1876.

Jos. Pickersgill, Victorian Railways Tourist Guide, Melbourne, 1885. (State Library of New South Wales online).

Kathleen Thompson and Geoffrey Serle. A Biographical Register of the Victorian Parliament 1859-1900, Canberra, 1972.

Keith Turton, Six and a Half Inches from Destiny, Melbourne, 1973.

Kristin Otto, Yarra: A Diverting History, Melbourne, 2005.

L.A. Clark, Passenger Cars of the NSWR, Canberra, 1972.

L.T.C. Rolt, Red for Danger, London, 1955.

Manning Clark, A Short History of Australia, New York, 1963.

Matthew J. Murray, Memories: Notes of a lecture to the Historical Society of Victoria 25th June 1917, Melbourne, 1973.

Margaret Glass, Tommy Bent ‘Bent by name, Bent by nature’, MUP, 1993.

Michael Cannon, The Land Boomers, MUP, 1966.

Nick Anchen, Railways of the Ovens and King. Melbourne, 2015.

Norman Cave, John Buckland and David Beardsell, Steam Locomotives of the Victorian Railways Volume 1: The First Fifty Years, Melbourne, 2002Ranald MacDonald, David Syme, Vantage House, 1982.

Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory. Fixed Wheel Coaching Stock of Victoria. Sunbury, 2008.

Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory, Bogie Wooden Coaching Stock of Victoria, Sunbury, 2009.

Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory, Steel & Special Coaching Stock of Victoria, Sunbury, 2009.

Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory, Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria A to J. Sunbury, 2009.

Norm Bray, Peter J. Vincent & Daryl M. Gregory, Fixed Wheel Freight Wagons of Victoria K to Z, Sunbury, 2009.

O.S. Nock, Locomotion: A World Survey of Railway Traction, London, 1975.

Proverbs 15.1 KJV.

Queensland Railways, First Half Century General 1864 – 1914, Brisbane, 1914.

R.L. Wettenhall, Railway Management and Politics in Victoria 1856 -1906, Canberra, 1961.

Robert Butrims and David Macartney, The Phoenix Foundry: Locomotive Builders of Ballarat. ARHS, Williamstown, Victoria. 2013.

Robert Lee, Colonial Engineer: John Whitton 1819-1898 and the Building of Australia’s Railways, Sydney, 2000.

Robert Lee, The Railways of Victoria 1854-2004, Melbourne, 2007.

Robert Ritchie, Railways; Their Rise, Progress, and Construction, London, 1846.

Robin Gollan, Radical and Working Class Politics, Melbourne, 1960.

Ron Stewien, A History of the South Australian Railways, Volume 1: The Early Years, ARHS, Victoria, 2007.

Rod Clarke, Narrow gauge through the bush: Ontario’s Toronto Grey & Bruce and Toronto & Nipissing Railways. Toronto, 2007.

Rowland A.S. Abbott, The Fairlie Locomotive, Newton Abbot, U.K., 1970.

Roy Williams, The Midland Railway: A New History, David & Charles, 1988.

South Australian Railways, History of Construction and Operation 1854-1954, Adelaide, Undated.

Stephen J. Pyne, Burning Bush: a fire history of Australia, New York, 1991.

Tony Dingle, The Victorians: Settling, Fairfax, Syme & Weldon Associates, 1984.

Victorian Railways, Diagram of Gradients and Curves, Melbourne, 1927.

Victorian Railways Rolling Stock Branch, Diagrams & Particulars of Locomotives, Cars, Vans & Trucks. 1914. (Reproduced as a facsimile in 2008).

Victorian Railways Chief Mechanical Engineer’s Branch, Diagrams and Particulars of Locomotives Cars and Wagons, March 1897.

William M. Sellew, Steel Rails: Their History, Properties, Strength and Manufacture, London, 1913.

Australian Dictionary of Biography

Sally O’Neill, ‘Henry Coathupe Mais’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974.+

Jill Eastwood. ‘Charles Joseph LaTrobe 1801-1875’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol .2, MUP, 1967.+

Geoff Browne, ‘William Austin Zeal’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 12, MUP, 1990 +.

Gwyneth Dow, ‘George Higinbotham’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, MUP, 1972. +.

Geoffrey Bartlett, ‘James Macpherson Grant’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, MUP, 1974. +

Betty Malone, ‘Thomas Turner à Beckett’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 3, MUP, 1969. +.

Margot Beever, ‘Duncan Gillies’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 4, MUP, 1972. +

Weston Bate, ‘William Collard Smith’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, MUP, 1976.+.

Geoffrey Bartlett, ‘Sir Graham Berry’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 3, MUP, 1969. +

Jill Eastwood, ‘John Woods’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6, MUP, 1976.+

.M. Ingham, ‘Sir Bryan O’Loghlen’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 5, MUP, 1974.+

Jill Eastwood, ‘Alexander Kennedy Smith’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6, MUP, 1976. +

Alan Barnard, ‘Augustus Morris’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974. +

J.D. Walker, ‘William Thow’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 12, MUP, 1990.+

Michael Venn, ‘Richard Speight’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6, MUP, 1976. +

Carole Woods, ‘Richard Ford’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, MUP, 1972. +

Marian Aveling ‘James Liddell Purves’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974. +

John M. Tregenza, ‘Charles Henry Pearson’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974. +

Geoffrey Serle, ‘James Service’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 6, MUP, 1976.+

J.H. Forsyth ‘Charles Augustus Goodchap’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, MUP, 1972.+

Weston Bate, ‘Sir Thomas Bent’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 3, MUP, 1969. +

Jacqueline Clarke, ‘Francis Longmore’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974.+

S. Murray-Smith ‘William Charles Kernot’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974. +

W.E.H. Stanner ‘William Alfred Howitt’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 4, MUP, 1972. +

David Dunstan ‘Arthur Purssell Akehurst’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Supplementary Vol. MUP, 2005. +

S. Murray-Smith, ‘William Charles Kernot’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 5, MUP, 1974. +

K.J. Cable ‘William Meeke Fehon’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 8, MUP, 1981. +

B.R. Penny, ‘Thomas Brassey’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 7, MUP, 1979.+

John Rickard ‘Allan McLean’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 10, MUP, 1986. +

Peter Westcott ‘George Chaffey’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 7, MUP, 1979. +

Bruce Scates, ‘William Arthur (Billy) Trenwith’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 12, MUP, 1990. +

Geoffrey Serle, ‘William Shiels’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 11, MUP, 1988. +

Susan Johnston, ‘Sir Thomas James Tait’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, Vol. 12, MUP, 1990. +

J.M. Bennet and Ann G. Smith ‘Sir William Hill Irvine’, Australian Dictionary of Biography, MUP, Vol. 9, 1983. +


Heritage Council Victoria, Victorian Heritage Database Report: Little River railway Station and Goods Yard, Statement of Significance, May 2, 2000.

Heritage Council Victoria, Victorian Heritage Database Report: Former Victorian Railway Headquarters, Statement of Significance, January 13, 2000.

Jack Vines, Coal Mining Heritage Study in Victoria, Heritage Council of Victoria, 2008.


J.E. Parnaby, The Economic and Political Development of Victoria 1877-1881, Ph.D. Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1951.

M.A. Venn, The Octopus Act and Empire Building by the Victorian Railways During the Land Boom, Master of Arts Preliminary Thesis, University of Melbourne, 1973.

James Cairns Docherty, The Rise of Railway Unionism: A Study of New South Wales and Victoria, c1880-1905. M.A. Thesis, School of General Studies, ANU Canberra, December, 1973.

Joseph Aron. ‘Railways and Road Transport’, B.A. Honours Thesis, Department of Geography, University of Melbourne. 1971.