Monday, February 1, 2010

Australia's Riviera

I'd like to be a Tram-man, and ride about all day,
Calling out, "Fares, please!" in quite a 'ficious way,
With pockets full of pennies which I'd make the people pay.
But in the hottest days I'd take my tram down to the Bay;
And when I saw the nice cool sea I'd shout "Hip, hip, hooray!"
   But I wouldn't be a tram-man if ...
      I couldn't stop and play.
         Would you? 
 CJ Dennis (A Book For Kids - 1921)

What a grand day it must been when Mr Cary from the Excelsior Land Company smashed a bottle of champagne over wheel of the locomotive and declared the £15,000  tramway officially open on the 7th March 1891. The 100 or so invited dignitaries made the 6 minute trip from Fassifern Station  and were greeted at Toronto by  Mr Samuel Fisher (owner of the Toronto Hotel) who had prepared a banquet to celebrate this momentous occasion. This tramway was only one of three privately run ventures in NSW, with the others being at Parramatta and Rockdale in Sydney.

A day trip to the Toronto picnic grounds was a special day indeed and with the Excelsior Land Company selling land throughout the boom years of the 1890's the tramway's future seemed assured. While the early years proved productive for this privately run venture, with the economic downturn of the late 1890's, the standard gradually fell away, even to the point where locomotives were replaced by horses to complete the 5klm journey and so local residents started to demand that the Government take over the operation. 

So it was on the 28th May 1911, NSWGR reopened the totally refurbished railway, including a new station at Toronto, new tracks and upgrading of the bridges to mainline standard, capable to taking any of NSWGR's rolling stock.Once again Toronto had became a day trippers delight with visitors coming from Newcastle and some as far away as Sydney, to partake in the pleasures of what was described as Australia's Riviera.

However, with the advent of the private motor car, the fascination of a long train trip to Toronto fell away and so on 30th March 1990 the last diesel electric train left Toronto, to be replaced by a bus service (ironically called 'The Train'). 

Today the entire length of the railway is a is an easily traversed bike/walk track, which is sealed all the way and is quite a pleasant way to spend an afternoon. The old rail tracks are still visible through the encroaching scrub and there are many points of interest along the way.

So grab your camera, grab a picnic lunch and spend an enjoyable day along one NSW most historic railways, the railway to Australia's Riviera. 

 Further reading on this subject can be found at


LiLA said...

love the one with the train rails !

good job, keep it up

The Reverend said...

I just love getting out & looking around, surprising what you can find