Murrurundi Historical Society web site


Fares between 1855 and 1864 varied but the general rule it was 3d per mile for 1st Class and 1¾d per mile for second class. Third class had been abolished in July 1863. Freight traffic — uniform rate was abolished in 1861 — it had been 3d per ton per mile and a division into two classes was made at 3d and 4½d per ton. To give you something to compare with. The yearly wage for a shepherd in 1864 was £42 while the wage for a cook was around £27.




For four years (1872-1876) Murrurundi (Moli) was the end of the line with the Liverpool Ranges proving a formidable barrier to extensions north. The town boomed during this period providing services for increasing number of people associated with the transport of goods and passengers between rail and road.

In 1872 NSW Premier Henry Parkes promised the extension of the line to Tamworth. In 1873 the route over the Liverpool Range had been staked out. William Wakeford's tender for construction of the line was accepted on March 4, 1874 to be completed in two years. The Ard Glen tunnel was difficult to construct through the hard basalt. It was not until August 29, 1876 the first steam engine went through. The tunnel was completed in December 1876.

Parkes promises

Wth landslips occuring to the earthworks, a bout of material shortages, incompetent labor delays and the discovery of gold at Hill End created labor shortages resulting the payment of high wages. After much delay the extension from Moli to Quirindi was opened on August 13, 1977. Ard Glen, (then Doughboy Hollow until 1893) and Willow Tree (then Warrah until 1879) were opened. The station Temple Court was opened in 1879 and closed in 1975. Pangellor and Kankool were opened as crossing loops much later. Pangella means kangaroo and Kankool means wallaroo.

Gold discovered

From Moli the trains climbs a one in 40 grade up and through the Ard Glen tunnel and went down another side in a one in 40 descent from Doughboy Hollow down the other side to Kankool. Bank engines in both directions complicated the operation and the skill of the train operators ensured safety and efficiency. The engine depot at Moli was opened in 1891. In 1898 a new shed with coal stage and tank stands along with a 50ft turntable was provided. The turntable was later replaced by a 60ft one.

A one in 40 grade

In 1913 Moli's importance decreased when the new depot was opened at Werris Creek. In 1920, Moli was reduced to a sub-depot using engines from Broadmeadows or Werris Creek for banking dutiers. The depot was finally closed on August 12, 1965 following the abolution of steam trains over the Liverpool Ranges. In its hayday railway enmployees living at Moli numbered about 250 including 40 locomotive drivers and the same number of firemen, engine cleaners, guards, mechanics, labourers, station and administrative staff controlling for Muswellbrook north. The locomotives were changes on every train passing through and trains going north had an assistant engine over the range. Train crews worked to Newcastle, Armidale and Narrabri.

Closed in 1965

With the number of trains increasing as the rail line extended to Moree, Inverell and Walget more crossing loops were contructed including Pangela and Kankool to avoid standing time to cross other trains. With working shifts being limited to 10 hours from about 1911, it was necessary to shorten the journey for crews which were changed at Werris Creek and Singleton and later at Muswellbrook consequently by-passing Moli. Administrative staff were moved to Werris Creek in May 1914 and the district superintendant staff followed in 1926.

Movin' on down the line

The introduction of diesel locos eliminated the last of the steam bank engines and their crews in 1964. Rail traffic today (2012) at Murrurundi involves a diesel Countrylink daily passenger service linking Moree and Tamworth with Sydney. A freight train traverses on a regular basis but the main traffic on the line is coal being transported to Newcastle and in some cases to Port Kembla. Despite having three high-powered diesel engines, the 70x100 tonne coal wagon trains need the same number and capacity banking diesels for the 1-in-40 Kankool to Ard Glen tunnel on the southern journey but on the northern empty run the three diesels can easily handle the 70 wagons despite the 1-in-40 incline from the Pages river to the Ard Glen tunnel on the Moli side.

Today's rail

This website is sponsored by the Murrurundi Pioneer Cottage and compiled by Des Dugan, © Email address © Phone: (02) 6546 6664) Mobile: 0418 211 404