Have you see a white concrete post on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, upon which there is a black number? Maybe you have seen more than just one!
A replica VR marker post – O’Keefe Rail Trail. Photo: Garry Long
In the former Victorian Railways (VR) rail network, the location of each the railway station, crossing, overhead stanchion, and other infrastructure components, were identified with a distance from a reference point. The location was specified in miles, chains (80 per mile), and links (100 per chain), the standard measurement before Australia was converted to metric measurement. These VR marker posts, sometimes referred to as ‘mile posts’, were sited at mile intervals from a central datum point that is commonly believed to have been within the grounds of Spencer Street Station, now named Southern Cross Station, Melbourne.
The posts were numbered in increasing order, heading away from that datum point, and are sited on the ‘Down’ (left hand side in this direction) side of the rail reserve. As well as being used by VR’s internal operations, including the loco drivers, such marker posts also aided the train travelling passengers as to where they were along the railway. The railway reserve was usually an unfamiliar area to most passengers, and places between obvious landmarks were often in an unidentifiable ‘no-man’s-land’. Many of these posts still remain today on operating lines, yet usually in weathered concrete finish, many for well over 150 years.
So when you see a white concrete post on the O’Keefe Rail Trail, the number effectively represents the number of rail miles from the ‘Spencer Street’ Station Melbourne. Due to the removal of these marker posts when the former Wandong, Heathcote, Sandhurst Railway was recovered, the current replica concrete posts seen along the O’Keefe Rail Trail have been manufactured and installed by the Friends of the Bendigo-Kilmore Rail Trail members. All the missing original posts have now been replaced by the replica posts, between Heathcote and Bendigo, now that the trail extension section between Heathcote and Axedale has been completed.
A question for O’Keefe Rail Trail users is….”What can be seen on the rear of each of these replica marker posts?”