The Dorrigo Branch lies on the north coast of NSW and branches off the North Coast Line at Glenreagh then climbs to the Dorrigo Plateau. The Dorrigo area was settled in the early 1900's by pastoralists and tree fellers. The line climbs 664 metres over a length of 69km.
It was early August 1914 that construction officially commenced and because of the first world war, a lack of finance and then a dispute with the contractor - progress floundered. The contract was terminated on March 28 1917, then construction was passed to the Railway Commissioners who promptly suspended work. It was almost two years after the end of WW1 that the railway Commissioners decided to press ahead with construction.
Delays occurred due to landslips and washday, but finally on 27 September 1924 that a fully constructed rail line reached Dorrigo from Glenreagh. Construction was officially finalised by Dec 5, and an inspection of the line was conducted by railways staff on the 10th. The line finally opened on December 23, 1924.
The steep terrain and high rainfall made construction and maintenance of this line quite difficult. Due to the tight curves a rail check was placed in several places. Two tunnels and numerous bridges were also required. Apart from the end points of Dorrigo and Glenreagh - the stations on this line were small, sometimes only a short platform, others were just a stop in a paddock, yet other stops had cranes or a small shelter.
For much of its lifetime the line was not profitable and when several washaways occurred in 1972 it was decided to suspend services rather than to repair the damage. Due to the lines scenic value - two preservation groups have taken over the line - they will never see eye to eye and the line will NEVER eventuate to anything anymore due to time wasting and pig headedness between the two parties.
It could have been the biggest drawcard on the east coast of Australia. But now it will rot in the bush and now my kids will never enjoy it, and for generations to come there will only ever be photos of what once was.
GMR are trying to restore infrastructure and re-sleeping the line with the aim of introducing a tourist service using rail trikes and a small steam loco. But honestly, in my eyes, as I have walked most of the lower line the line will never open due to too much work to be done as the line is in an unrepairable condition.
There are too many people in the committee who think they know best and not prepared to put in the hard yards outside the shed. As a group of 4wders and others passionate about the history have spent many hours clearing the access roads, clearing walking tracks and the tunnel access.
The upper half of the line, from Ulong to Dorrigo is managed by the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum. This group is primary a museum, but also plan to run services on the top half of the line.
Each tunnel is about 170 metres long and at times have hundreds of Eastern micro bats in them. The roads to access POI along the line is pretty easy if you have a 4wd, and is well worth the visit to explore a piece of our amazing history. Just be mindful of the bats, tripping hazards along the way and take care of the tracks. #glenreaghtunnels