Just a railway station? Or a Lodge Motel? You would never believe what actually lies beneath!
On Tuesday 4 February 1913, more than 4000 residents of the Manning River turned up to witness the first three trains arrive at Taree Railway Station. The first train arrived at 1:50 pm with about 1000 paying passengers on board. The second train with almost as many passengers was delayed by an hour. Then at 5 pm the official ministerial party arrived and performed the ceremony of cutting the ribbon. Taree had never had such a crowd assembled before.1
It was important for Taree to have a railway because until then produce was transported to Sydney markets by sea. Sea transport was seen as an unreliable and risky option with sometimes loss of produce or worse, loss of life.2
After the railway was opened, railway barracks were built to accommodate the engine drivers, firemen, and guards not stationed at Taree.3 The barracks have now been converted into the Taree Railway Lodge Motel. It is under this motel that a secret once existed. In World War II air raid shelters were built in Taree in case there was a bombing. A large underground air raid shelter was built at the railway barracks. People were only supposed to go there in case of an air strike, but many children knew of and played in the tunnels.4 It is unclear whether the tunnels still exist or if they have been filled in.
The railway line to Taree was an important development for the area and while roads have now taken over as the major transport route, trains are still a valuable part of our area.
Fun fact: Graffiti is not a modern thing. After the Taree railway station was painted a lunatic scribbler graffitied the station’s nice clean walls.5
Authors: Crystal Jenkins and Katelyn Matuszny, Year 6, Taree West Public School.
1 Manning River Times, 8 May 2013, https://www.manningrivertimes.com.au/story/1487314/100-years-ago-the-iron-road-arrives/; Richmond River Herald and Northern Districts Advertiser, 11 February 1913.
4 Wendy McKeough, Taree: ‘In my lifetime’. Taree Family History Inc: Taree, 2013.
5 Northern Champion, 9 April 1913.