A historic train carriage has been installed in a memorial garden in Violet Town ahead of the 50th anniversary of the devastating Southern Aurora railway crash.
The NAM 2337 carriage, which was not involved in the crash in 1969, but was used for the Southern Aurora passenger service, was transported from Melbourne today and was hoisted into place by 10.30am.
Southern Aurora Memorial Committee chairman Gary Abley said about 100 people observed the milestone, which comes following a campaign for better recognition of the accident.
“This is what we’ve been waiting for, as it’s the final piece to the puzzle,” he said.
“It’s one of only a few carriages like it; there’s some in NSW that are restored, and this was pretty much rescued and donated by V/Line.
“It’s stainless steel which is different to what we see now – and once we deck it out later with sleeper compartments, people will see how luxurious it was.”
The carriage will now be cleaned up, interpretative boards installed and the finishing touches put on the surrounding garden, near where the Southern Aurora collided with a goods train at the McDiarmids Road crossing.
Nine people died and more than 50 were seriously injured, but many more lives were saved by the hundreds who assisted at the time.
Mr Abley said a number of dignitaries were expected to attend the official opening on Sunday, February 10, but more importantly the community members connected to the event would be honoured.
“We have a population of about 1000 people and half of them have a connection to it,” he said.
“The first ambulance that arrived at the scene in 1969 will be part of a vintage emergency services parade.
“We have also found the names of the firefighters from Euroa who were among the first to arrive and they have been invited.
“We encourage people to attend and if they can’t, try to make a special effort to come and look at the gardens at some point – I think they will be impressed.”
The Victorian government’s $100,000 contribution to the project, support from V/Line and the ARTC, and countless others have helped make the memorial park a reality.
The program for the anniversary begins with a 6.30am vigil on Thursday, February 7 followed by the opening of an exhibition at the Violet Town Community Hall on Friday evening.
On Saturday, there will be markets and music, and the official opening of the memorial will take place at 10am on Sunday.
For information visit www.southernauroraviolettown.com.au.