Macksville Railway officially opened at its centenary celebration

It's been one hundred years to the day since the first engine roared into Macksville Station.

But at the time of its inauguration, an epidemic of Spanish Flu - which killed 15,000 Australians - was sweeping across the country and so the 'little station that could' never received its due pomp and circumstance.

Well today, on the centenary of that non-event, that wrong has finally been righted.

"It might be 100 years late, but it's never too late," local member Melinda Pavey said.

There may have been a few sniffles in the crowd this morning after the recent cold snap, but history was not about to repeat itself as dignitaries, students, a couple of hundred locals, and a horse named Clancy, all paid homage to the sixth section of the North Coast railway line.

Jim McKenna escorted some fair ladies in their finery via his horse and carriage, while Brian and Gloria Welsh cruised in to the occasion in style seated in their 1928 Model A Ford.

Aunty Raelene Ballangarry graciously welcomed the crowd to country while students from Macksville Public School called the whales into the ceremony with some special Indigenous choreography.

Meanwhile the dulcet tones of the St Patricks School choir led a chorus of 'Locomotion' which had Mrs Pavey bopping along and Mayor Rhonda Hoban joining in the vocals from her seat.

The Governor of NSW Margaret Beazley AO entertained the crowd with some revelations.

"There are two things I should tell you about today. It's the first time I've been upstaged by a horse," she said, to laughter.

"And you should know how it is that we came to be here today...your very vibrant local member came to breakfast one day, and after, she handed to the official secretary a scrappy piece of paper. And on that scrappy piece of paper it was written: Macksville Railway Station, 100 years, July 1, 2019...and here we are."

She also revealed that on that fateful day 100 years ago, A Mr Fraser, the Commissioner of Railways, was one of the one-third of Australians affected by the Spanish flu epidemic.

"He should have been here looking for those puffs of smoke that would herald the arrival of the first passenger train at this tiny, tiny station to officially open it," she said.

In spite of the outbreak, 400 people braved the conditions to see the first train arrive.

"For the people of Macksville this was not only an historic event. It opened up this beautiful area, to trade, to industry and to tourism, she said.

Before the railway opened, the only way to get produce to the markets in Sydney was by ocean freight.

"Any sea journey is treacherous, but you have the bar at the mouth of the river, and there were times when the produce could not get out of the Valley down to Sydney and that caused extraordinary deprivation in the area," she said.

"The railway with its reliability and its accessibility changed all of that and it opened up this area to a remarkable period of prosperity."

The captains of Macksville High - Ulysses Roberts, Matiese Trisley and Blake Howell - recited a poem which recalled a time gone by.

And then retired assistant Station Master, Ron Curtis, who was there with his two sons (also railway employees), cut the official centenary sponge, hand in hand with the Governor.

The merry crowd mingled over tea and cake served by volunteers from the Mary Boulton Pioneer Cottage and basked in the nostalgia of the event in the warm mid-morning sunshine.

Enjoy the images and footage of today's auspicious event.

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