Oberon Tarana Heritage Railway Inc.

The opening of the Tarana – Oberon railway was a significant historical event in the European development of the Oberon Plateau. The prime mover behind the development of the line was a local MLA Valentine Carlyle Ross Wood Johnston – in conjunction with a local organisation known as the “Oberon Railway League”. Public meetings to support a Tarana – Oberon railway line had been held as early as 1884 and the “League” was formed in 1908.

The purpose of the line was to exploit local produce and industry which included – potatoes; fruit; cereal; peas; livestock; the products of gold & copper mining and to export the valuable local timbers (blackbutt, mountain ash, cedar & various hardwoods).

Plans for the line were drawn up in 1922 and the line was opened on Wednesday the 3rd October 1923 . The ribbon cutting ceremony at Oberon was carried out by the wife of the President of the Oberon Railway League – Mrs Burcher.

The station previously named Kierstone was renamed Carlwood in honour of the local MLA. It is interesting to note the extent of his support – his last wish was to have his ashes scattered on the line & this was done in 1957 – in front of the Oberon Station.

The line operated for passenger services until the 27th August 1971 with the last freight service running on the 27th September 1979. Services were “suspended” on the 1st of October 1979 with the line never actually closing. Oberon station remained open as a parcels office until the 28th March 1980 .

The line is 15 miles 7 chains long (24.3 km) and Tarana is located 123 miles (198 km) from Sydney. Steam service on the line lasted until the end of 1962, predominantly by means of 19 class locomotives (& rarely by 26 class saddle-tank locos).

Steam engine ‘1919' had the longest association with the line (18 years) with ‘1957' (10 years) and ‘1942' (7 years). The latter two were scrapped and ‘1919' has passed into the care of the Glenreagh Mountain Railway and is now operational.
49 class diesels were first used in 1963 and later 45, 47 and 48 class.

Loco number ‘1904' was the subject of a negotiation between the then Public Transport Commission and the Oberon Tarana Steam Train Company Ltd (1975). A report in the Western Advocate, July 31 1975, indicated that a "a cheque representing 10% of the purchase price was paid to the PTC in late 1975". It is not known what happened subsequently both to the Oberon Tarana Steam Train Company or to the deposit paid to the PTC but loco ‘1904' is currently in the possession of the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum. Recent (May 2005) unsubstantiated advice from the then treasurer of Oberon Tarana Steam Train Company Ltd indicates that the money may never have been paid. Evidently there were "industrial problems" and the donated money was refunded.

In the 1950's local identities working on the line included Bill Osbourne (driver), Jim McGrath (fireman for Bill) and Herb Cunyghame (guard). Bathurst based fireman Ken Green and driver Pat Taylor were also periodically based here.

Rick Fletcher


Ray Love, p96-119, “The Steam Locomotive Depots in NSW – Locomotive Out-depot Oberon” in Byways of Steam 16, Eveleigh Press, 1999

Ron Preston, p 54-65, “Oberon Obituary” in Byways of Steam 1, Eveleigh Press, 1990

Barry Webb, A compilation of period newspaper articles concerning the Oberon Tarana railway line, self published, 2001 (largely drawn from the Western Advocate, Lithgow Mercury, Sydney Morning Herald and the Oberon Review)

The Independent Transport Safety & Reliability Regulator: http://www.transportregulator.nsw.gov.au/

Background information on the Glenreagh Mountain Railway:     http://www.gmr.org.au/

Background information on the Dorrigo Steam Railway & Museum:     http://www.dsrm.org.au/

Background information on line management – Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd:   http://www.artc.com.au/