Hornsby, 1886


Given Ruben’s vast knowledge of trains either steam , diesel or electric; I’ve been trying to learn more about these fascinating engines myself recently. This is why while visiting a small local bookshop during my lunch break a yesterday, I decided to purchase a book called 30 Days On Australia’s Railways: A Diary of September Journeys.

Another reason that prompted this purchase, however, was that while flipping through the book interestedly in the store and thinking in the back of my head that I would never get the time to read it, inside I spotted a passage about Hornsby in 1886, in the entry for 17 September.

Hundreds of men living in tents and shanties were employed [...] to excavate 622,000 cubic yards of sandstone spoil for a right-of-way that demanded grades of 1-in40 and 1-in-50 through the villages of Dundas (Eastwood), Field of Mars (Epping) and Beecroft; the track-laying reached a level of 624 ft at Thornleigh before descending to 594 ft at the temporary terminus of Hornsby, 11 miles (17 km) from the starting point at Strathfield, where the elevation was 42 ft.

There’s more, but I won’t reproduce it here. It’s a fascinating look into this area’s history - important given this is where I’ve lived most of my life. I’d never known that the Epping area had been known as Field of Mars, though my friend lives in Dundas, now a smaller suburb near Eastwood.

This glimpse into history, plus the glorious glossy graphics, both coloured and in black and white, made it an instant buy.