Monday, 12 September 2016

Warrnambool: Victoria's Port Fairy Line


It's hard to believe that more than a year has passed since I boarded a train from Melbourne to Warrnambool, simply to see what was waiting for me at the end of the line. Warrnambool Railway Station lies 267 km west of Melbourne's Southern Cross Station, and is the end passenger terminus on what was once the Port Fairy Line along Victoria's west coast. Having an interesting past which included a time between 1993 and 2004 where passenger services were operated privately by the West Coast Railway, today the Government operated V/Line continues to provide two daily trains between the state's capital and this slice of paradise pressed hard against the sea at the end of the Great Ocean Road.


Warrnambool's 1892 railway station building, as photographed in July 2015.

Warrnambool Station first opened way back in 1890, after the railway line had been extended southwest from Geelong via the towns of Colac, Camperdown and Terang, and at one time continued 37 km west of Warrnambool to the town of Port Fairy. The line to Port Fairy closed in 1977 and today the rails end a few kilometres west of the city at the WestVic container loading terminal near Walsh Road. Warrnambool's current brick railway station building dates back to 1892, and after more than a century in use is still a busy station with connecting road coach services to Ararat to the north and the South Australian town of Mount Gambier to the west.

Warrnambool Station entrance and road coach interchange, July 2015.

Having caught the 7.20 am train from Southern Cross Station, I arrived in Warrnambool at 10.52 am on what was a 3.5 hour long scenic trip through Victoria's best dairy farming region. With the return midday train due to depart for Melbourne at 12.08 pm, I had just over 1 hour to take a quick look around the city before climbing aboard for my next destination of Geelong. Walking up Merri Street past the Warrnambool RSL Club, I followed Artillery Crescent until I reached the top of Cannon Hill lookout. From here on a clear day you can look out across Lake Pertrobe towards the ocean. The lookout is also a well-known location to train photographers, with views of the Pertobe Road overpass to the east, and Warrnambool Railway Station to the west.

The view from Cannon Hill lookout above Warrnambool Station, July 2015.

Pertrobe Road railway overpass, the ocean is lost somewhere in the white background haze.

Warrnambool Station as seen from Cannon Hill lookout, July 2015.

After snapping some photos from this location for my book 30 Years Chasing Trains, I hurried back past the RSL Club, crossed the road into Gilles Street and followed this for a block until I reached Timor Street. Here you are able to see the historic former Court House and Post Office buildings.

Warrnambool's historic old Post Office, as photographed July 2015.

The Western Hotel on the corner of Timor and Kepler Streets Warrnambool, July 2015.

Continuing left along Timor Street, I followed this for a block before coming to the impressive Western Hotel on the corner of Timor and Kepler Street. Here you can turn left again to head back towards the train station, or continue for one block further until you reach Fairy Street and also turn left. Both ways will lead you back to the train station within the hour provided you are a brisk walker like myself. Or, simply stay for the entire afternoon and catch the 5.50 pm train back to Southern Cross.

Selfie time in front of N475 at Warrnambool, before riding the train back to Geelong. Photo July 2015.

Back at Warrnambool Railway Station, the lead locomotive had already run around it's train and coupled on at the Melbourne end of the platform ready for the return service. There was just enough time for me to take a selfie in front of locomotive N475 the 'City of Moe' before climbing aboard. For a city as beautiful as Warrnambool, a one day visit doesn't do it justice, let alone a one hour visit! But I had a train to catch and another city to visit down the line to collect photos for my train chasing book. My next stop is Geelong, but as usual, that's a story for another day.



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See also; Geelong: A 19th Century Survivor

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