Goldfields Stories: A Station with a Town Attached
"Don't you overlook that Maryborough station, if you take an interest in governmental curiosities. Why, you can put the whole population of Maryborough into it, and give them a sofa apiece, and have room for more." Mark Twain, during his 1895 tour of Australia.
Twain’s remark stuck, and Maryborough became known as the railway station with a town attached.
Why was Maryborough chosen for one of the nation's grandest stations? Was it meant for Maryborough, Queensland? Was it indeed a ‘governmental curiosity’, a monumental bureaucratic mistake?
In fact, neither is the case. The Maryborough Station tells a much larger story: the vision for a rail-connected Victoria in the age that preceded the motor engine. Maryborough would be a crucial junction between the Wimmera, Geelong, Ararat, Warrnambool, Ballarat, Bendigo and Melbourne, especially for freight such as wheat.
The original station was built in 1874 but, as part of the 'Octopus Act' of 1884, Parliamentarians began arguing the case for a grander station.
The new Queen Anne style red brick building with stucco trimmings and Dutch-Anglo influences was erected in 1890-1, with 25 rooms, an ornate clock tower, Flemish gables, oak wall panels, a large portico, and a spectacular platform veranda - the longest in country Victoria.
Here, oral histories, expert opinions and archival photographs from local collections are presented, giving us a sense of the station's importance, its role in an earlier era and, as a magnificent late C19 Australian building, the place it continues to hold in the district.