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25 January - Cootamundra, 8 Killed Train come off the rails

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25 January - Cootamundra, 8 Killed Train come off the rails

Unread postby Max ADU » Fri Jan 25, 2013 8:33 am

Today in Australian History
Sunday, January 25,


1885- One of Australia's earliest rail disasters occurs at Cootamundra in New South Wales.
The accident occurred in the early hours of the morning of 25 January 1885 about five kms south of Cootamundra.

It had been raining heavily for several days throughout southern NSW. Twenty-five centimetres of rain had turned the dry creek beds into rushing torrents, and part of the embankment of Salt Clay Creek had collapsed, and washed away, leaving only the unsupported tracks.

Telegraph wires had come down, preventing sufficient warning to be given that the culvert over Salt Clay Creek

The Sydney-bound train had left from Albury and was fully laden with mail and passengers, many of them travelling to Sydney to attend the Randwick races the following day.

Eight people were killed and another 49 injured in the accident.

Train wreck.jpg

The North Eastern Ensign described the aftermath:
The spot at which the accident occurred is situated so far in the bush from any road that it was found to be a very arduous task to bring proper aid to the sufferers, or to remove them to Cootamundra and other places, where preparations could be made to receive them.

These circumstances rendered an otherwise terrible catastrophe still more heart rending, as the poor victims of the smash were obliged to lie for hours under the pitiless rain which seems to have fallen in abnormal volume.


A coroner's inquiry found that the Railways Department was at fault for constructing a culvert too small to carry water flows of the volume experienced before the tragedy.

Cootamundra is a small town in the Riverina region of New South Wales, Australia, 390 kilometres from Sydney and 161 km from Canberra. It lies along the main Sydney to Melbourne railway line,
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