Step Back in Time to 1876

On the 20th October 1876 and with great excitement, the first train pulled into Avoca for the official opening of the Maryborough to Avoca railway line. 24 kilometres in length, the line was later extended to Ararat in November 1890 thus forming a through route between the two main lines.

On Thursday the 20th October 2016 it will be 140 years since the ribbon was cut by His Excellency Sir George Bowen to open the rail line from Maryborough to Avoca.

History records that in lavish style, the town and road to the station were decorated with an enormous quantity of flags and bunting and large Union Jack flags were displayed at both entrances to the town. The unfinished station was decorated with colorful bunting, and the walls were draped in greenery and flowers. ‘Festoons of bright banners’ flew from the Avoca Hotel to the Post Office and flags flew from the Avoca Hotel and from the Victoria, Union and Albion.

All schools in the district were granted a special holiday and not less than 1,725 children from twenty schools met at the Avoca school before setting off at 12 noon for the procession to the station. Each school carried a distinguishing banner and all the children held a little flag. On arrival at the station the children were treated to a feast while the adults consumed a roasted bullock that was provided by the council and a hogshead of ale donated by Mr Scrase of the Lillicur brewery.

At half past one the procession commenced with the approach of the Chinese Pageant from Avoca Lead. This was a highlight of the day as the Chinese were dressed in their grandest silks, carried an array of warrior weapons and played music for the crowd. At precisely 2.25pm the special train carrying Sir George Bowen and some 200 guests stepped off the train to the cheers of 5000 people who were assembled close to the platform.

Loo Chin of Percydale presented his address on behalf of the Chinese residents and then three cheers were given for the Governor and the Avoca Railway. After the National Anthem was sung by the gathering the procession headed into the township.

What a grand occasion for the township of Avoca and neighbouring district!

140 years ago these celebrations were a highlight for the community and it is felt that this significant page in our town’s history should not be overlooked, especially with the railway station building due to be refurbished in the coming months and the return of trains to the railway line eminent.

This week, community members attending a meeting to look at options for celebrating this event agreed that the occasion should be acknowledged and suggested that an appropriate date and possible activities be investigated. With the refurbishment of the station due to be completed in November/December it was felt that a joint celebration might be the best option.

We welcome interest from the many community groups in town, as 140 years ago all the groups were involved with the celebrations in some form or other. Let’s Celebrate!

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