Casino - Murwillumbah Railway
Line closure proposal
Conversion to walking , cycle and  public recreation trail
by Kerry Whitfield

 
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  Brief History  

Line begins in Lismore
The Casino-Murwillumbah railway line originally began in Lismore. Locomotives, rolling-stock and materials were bought by steamer up the Richmond river into the Wilson river and unloaded at the wharves in Lismore. The first section of the line from Lismore to Murwillumbah opened in 1894. The Lismore to Mullumbimby section on 15 May and the remainder to Murwillumbah on Christmas Eve

The line from nowhere to nowhere
 It was originally thought that line would link up with the Sydney to Brisbane line at Tenterfield. The connection to Sydney didn't come until 1923. In the meantime the line was often referred to as the "line from nowhere to nowhere". But it served in the development of the pastoral industries and the establishment of Lismore, Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah as major centers and Byron Bay as a port for fishing, whaling and industrial center.

BBQ'd bullock and liberal quantities of ale
The first sod on the line was turned on 21 March 1891 by the Hon. Bruce Smith, the minister for Works, at a point slightly west of  Lismore station. To celebrate the occasion a bullock was BBQ'd and washed down with liberal quantities of ale. In only 3 years, on the 15 May 1894 the line was opened by the minister of works, the Hon. W.J. Lyne and the Mayor of Lismore, Dr Bernstein. A crowd estimated at 9000 attended the opening.

Lismore to Byron Bay in only 1 hour and 20 minutes!
The first train left Lismore station at 12.10pm loaded with passengers,  stopping at Bexhill and arrived at Byron Bay 1 hour and twenty minutes later at 1.30pm. With travel by horse and cart over dirt roads, one can only imagine the delight in the speed of train travel. The previous day, the party of VIP's who arrived at Ballina from Sydney by steamer traveled by road to Lismore, a distance of 22 miles that took 3 hours. The train continued to Mullumbimby and, after formalities, the train returned to Lismore at 5.45pm.

Line connects to Sydney in 1923
On 19 October 1903, the line was extended to Casino (now Old Casino). (Old) Casino and Grafton were connected by rail in 1905 but there was no connection to the south from Grafton until 1923. South bound passengers were conveyed by omnibus to Tenterfield to join the Brisbane to Sydney Express. Now on reverse, today's passengers from Tenterfield are conveyed by bus to Grafton to catch the XPT to Sydney!
W Brian Alexander, Casino and the Murwillumbah Branch
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Further Reading.
Lismore Historical Society "Our Railway 1979"
The Story of a North Coast City - Lismore by Maurice Ryan
Casino and the Murwillumbah Branch by W Brian Alexander

 

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