THOUSANDS of people flocked to Bendigo Railway Station yesterday to welcome Bendigo’s own R711 steam train and mark the 150th anniversary of rail to the town.
Among them were Peter and Alan Burrowes, great-grandsons of former Bendigo mayor Robert Burrowes who welcomed the first steam train to Bendigo in 1862.
Peter came up on the historic train from Melbourne, keen to be a part of family history.
His great-grandfather was a notable figure in Bendigo during the late 1800s, arriving from Canada in 1856 and fathering 13 children.
“He was a parliamentarian for Bendigo for 27 years and he was minister for mines in 1880,” Peter said. “He was involved in the formation of the Mt Alexander Rifles and the fire brigade.”
Peter and the rest of yesterday’s passengers were met with fanfare from the Bendigo Brass Band, rifle fire from the Mt Alexander Rifles and a special re-enactment of the historic occasion led by current mayor Alec Sandner in the role of Robert Burrowes.
Peter said it had been a long but enjoyable journey.
“We left at 7.37am, so it was about four-and-a-half hours,” he said.
“Every road crossing there were people waiting with cameras.
“At the Taradale viaduct there was a brass band and people dressed up.”
Platform two was buzzing by the time the steam train chugged into the station, the late arrival eliciting light-heartened mumbling of “typical V/Line”.
Speeches and cake were rolled out and people posed for pictures with the train before it was sent back to Melbourne, where it is on loan to the Australian Railway Historical Society.