We Australians have always been fascinated about the way our railways expanded throughout the Era of the Steam Train. Australia was not at first a country with a single government to make its decisions. It was a collection of autonomous British colonies, each needing to determine its own way forward. When it came to the gauges of their railway lines these matters were influenced, not only by the English experience, but by the way several Irish migrants in the early nineteenth century felt about anything English.
This produced poor communication and a lack of cohesive planning throughout the colonies. There were other influences like the cost of track laying and an early belief that local railway lines would never extend to being part of a railway system spanning the continent under a single government of one country – Australia.
The advent of steam locomotives had an immense influence around the world. In Australia it followed the telegraph in its importance of bringing the country together. Although other forms of transport have changed the influence of our railways, trains will always remain important.
This talk, which includes a PowerPoint presentation using over forty images, runs for 25 to 30 minutes. It usually stimulates an interesting series of questions.