Macksville Railway celebrating centenary at the end of June

Until the railway opened in July 1919, residents could only travel by horse and cart or ferry and boats along the Nambucca River. Photo: Supplied
Until the railway opened in July 1919, residents could only travel by horse and cart or ferry and boats along the Nambucca River. Photo: Supplied

When the Kempsey to Macksville rail line opened on July 1 1919, the Nambucca Valley was changed forever.

This year is 100 years since that historic day, and to mark the occasion, Mary Boulton Pioneer Cottage Museum President Leanne Welsh, historian Geoff Minett and Mary Boulton Pioneer Cottage Treasurer Pat Kerr have planned a huge centenary celebration event for June 30 and July 1.

"We have two full mornings of activities planned thanks to many wonderful community groups contributing, as well as NSW TrainLink and Council supporting this historical event," Mrs Welsh said.

"Activities on Sunday, June 30 will cater to all tastes, train historians and children alike. The morning will start with Nambucca District Band performing at 10am, while Nambucca Shire Mayor Rhonda Hoban and General Manager Michael Coulter arrive by horse and carriage escorted by Jim McKenna and his faithful friend Clancy.

"There will be a working steam engine, static model train and railway display, World War I light horse display, photographs, memorabilia, mini quilt display and the railway centenary book written by Geoff Minett will be launched.

"Then on Monday, July 1, we will hold an official opening ceremony for the railway - righting a wrong of history that saw the Kempsey to Macksville sixth section of the north coast railway line never formally opened due to the danger of having people gather together as there was an outbreak of the Spanish flu.

"The Honourable Melinda Pavey MP will deliver the official opening speech at 10.25am along with the commemorative plaque unveiling, followed by cutting the centenary cake at 11am by Ron Curtis, a retired assistant station master from Macksville.

"The festivities over these two mornings are extensive, and I hope residents and visitors will come out and celebrate this important historical event with us."

Councillor Hoban thanked the committee and all contributing community groups for organising this special event celebrating the vital role rail played in developing the Nambucca Valley.

"Until the railway opened in July 1919, residents could only travel by horse and cart or ferry and boats along the Nambucca River," Cr Hoban said.

"This restrained people's ability to connect with each other and limited the growth and economic development of the Nambucca Valley. The only option for transporting local agricultural produce was via drogher to the mouth of the Nambucca River and then on to larger ships to markets like Sydney.

"Once the railway opened, people had a whole raft of new opportunities available to them, and it advanced our valley faster than any other single piece of infrastructure had ever done."

For more information on the upcoming centenary event contact Leanne Welsh on 0407 682 179, Pat Kerr on 0498 999 838 or Geoff Minett on 6568-1265.

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