A Journey to Destiny (An ACL publication)

John McNeill AO

61 pages

Ca 1990

Rail Geelong.jpg


Cement production began at Fyansford (Peter McCann and others).

Initially the Australian Portland Cement Company had all raw materials carted from the limestone quarry located in a hillside at Batesford 3.5 miles (5.6 kilometres) to the processing plant (cement works) by horse-drawn wagons.

At this stage a tramway was laid from the edge of the quarry south-east for three km across a paddock to meet the nearest road where road cartage took over.



Transport difficulties due to the lack of proper roads were soon manifest forcing the company into liquidation.



Plant reopened and production recommenced.

Blog #2   The early days

Blog #1   The primary information sources


An expansion program saw the old plant being replaced by a new rotary kiln.



An aerial ropeway was installed enabling the limestone to be taken direct from the quarry to the works. This ropeway was fed by a narrow gauge system of portable lines worked by horses with the trucks being loaded by scoops and shovels.

An article in the Melbourne Leader (Saturday 20 July 1912) described how the rope way,

“which automatically brings the limestone from the quarries to the works, a distance of 2½ miles, attracted special attention, the clockwork regularity with which the ropeway buckets, ‘each with a burden of a quarter of a ton of limestone, arrived one about every minute’ being marvelled at. The process of manufacture was watched as closely as possible followed by the visitors. They were shown how the limestone upon arrival was tipped into the mouth of a huge gyratory crusher, which reduced it to a fineness suitable for drying, then passed it into a huge reinforced concrete silo, of 600 tons capacity”…



The original plant located at the foot of the Fyansford Hill between Deviation Road and Hyland Street underwent further expansion.



Connection of the cement-making plant to the wider world was initially by horse drawn wagons. However, following passage of the North Geelong to Fyansford Railway Construction Act a broad gauge rail-line was opened between North Geelong and the works.



Steam shovels were introduced, as well as a narrow-gauge railway system on the quarry floor. To keep up with increasing demand at the works for limestone, major changes were made at the old quarry with steam shovels introduced with larger wagons and crushers at the ropeway loading bin. The program continued through to 1926. The rail system was laid down only in the quarry floor and was not connected to the works as the ropeway did this job.

Blog #3   Just gotta be a better way...

This early photo Ca 1900 is my only image of the ropeway



To keep up with increasing demand at the works for limestone, major changes were made at the old quarry (steam shovels introduced with larger wagons and crushers at the ropeway loading bin). A narrow-gauge railway system was laid down on the quarry floor. It was not connected to the works as the ropeway was still sufficient.



The plant expanded across Hyland Street, becoming the main production site in later years. 


The Australian Portland Cement Company opened a private 3'6" railway, replacing the aerial ropeway, between the quarry and processing plant. There were two routes: the top line that went to the old quarry and works depot, and a longer branch that descended via a tunnel to the open-cut quarry.

The grade on the line to the old quarry was 1 in 25, with the line to the new open-cut quarry being on a 1 in 37 grade and running through a 4,376 ft (1.3 kilometre) long tunnel, the longest in Victoria. The total length of the main line from quarry to the works was 5.6km.


The initial route of the railway from plant to quarry extended from the north side of Hyland Street, north to the Moorabool River which was crossed via a wooden trestle bridge, then north east to the quarry itself. The grade out of the river valley was up to 1 in 20. The railway lines in the first quarry were movable, with limestone loaded directly into the 10 cubic yard (20 tonne) railway wagons by steam shovels.


The smaller Hudswell Clarke locomotives shunted the wagons to a limestone crusher on the quarry floor, where the limestone was then taken by the Vulcan locos to the works. Haulage ropes were utilised to pull the wagons at the unloading facility, with side-unloading wagons being tipped by a hoist.

At the old quarry, the Moorabool was diverted back to the unused workings during the late 1920s to take its course further away from the sensitive section of the new quarry face.


1926   Ropeway replaced by a private narrow-guage 3"6' 


Late 1920s Work commenced on the new quarry.

Uncle Mal and myself

waiting for D1 and train to emerge from the tunnel

Click to view

Blog #4   Railway comes to Fyansford


Blog #5   Can't keep the overheads down

Wikipedia gives a good overview

of the rise-n-fall of the Fyansford Railway


Plant expanded again.



The ACL railway ceased operating with the company disposing of all rolling stock. In its place was a crushing plant on the quarry floor and an overhead conveyor belt. This remained in use until closure of the works.

Click to view


Blog #6   Taking Portland Cement to the world 


The Fyansford rail-line was opened in 1918 to serve the Cement Works located at Fyansford. The line branches from main Geelong-Ballarat line at North Geelong, weaving uphill through the suburbs of Geelong until reaching Herne Hill where the cement-works plant was located. The processing plant is located at the bottom of the Fyansford hill, with a conveyor system bringing the finished cement to the silos located by the rail line atop the hill adjacent to a substantial yard for the marshalling of wagons. Services along the line were mainly shunt moves from North Geelong Yard and return. Over the years a number of rail-fan specials also ran. Usage of the line declined by the 1990s as road haulage took over. A bike path and linear park ran beside the tracks from the early 1980s. The plant closed in the early 2000s and was demolished. However some of the rail tracks are still evident on site. 

The North Geelong to Fyansford Railway Construction Act 1916 was passed and the line was opened in September, 1918. The cement company purchased the private land required, and transferred the title to the Victorian Railways, for as long as the line remained in use. The construction cost was £5,404. ($10,808) but the company was required to pay £2,345 pounds ($4708) per year in freight for 15 years. It was also required to send all cement capable of delivery by rail to any place further than 16 km from the works by rail.

The line is on a steep rising grade, starting at 17 metres above sea level at North Geelong increasing to 64.6 metres at Fyansford, an average 1 in 120 grade, although many sections are much steeper. Up until the late 1960s steam was frequently used on the line. Locomotives up to the B class could be used; the 'J' class steam locomotive could take 450 tons up the hill, 'K' or 'N' classes were allowed 15 tons less and all locomotives were permitted 1,250 tons on the downhill return. The use of 'bank' engines was frequent, i.e. where an extra locomotive was added to the rear (to provided extra power). A 25 kmh speed limit applied on the line.

Traffic on the line served the Cement Works exclusively and operated in both directions. Inward coal arrived from Northern NSW via the Geelong wharves, gypsum from North-Western Victoria, iron oxide, bags, and straw. In 1965 it total freight totalled 261,116 tonnes (255,997 tons). 

For the best sequence of images

from the North Shore / Fyansford branch-line see:  Along the Fyansford line. 


Blog #7   Rolling Stock 

Blog #7   Rolling Stock 

Fyansford Cement Works Railway


The Fyansford Cement Works Railway was an industrial railway near Geelong, Australia, built by the Australian Portland Cement Company to carry limestone from its quarry to its cement works at Fyansford.

The railway was notable for including a 1.3 km (0.81 mile) tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in Victoria, apart from the underground sections of the Melbourne City Loop. It had a fleet of one diesel and 11 steam locomotives, the majority of which have been preserved by heritage railway operators, in particular the Bellarine Railway.


The line was built in 1926, replacing an earlier overhead ropeway from the quarry to the main works. The railway had two main sections: one from the works depot to an older quarry, and a longer track which used the tunnel and connected to a newer quarry. The length of the main line from the new quarry to the depot was 5.6 km (3.5 mile). The rail track had a gauge of 3 ft 6 in (1,067 mm), one not often used in Victoria, where the predominant rail gauge was 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm).


The cement works railway operated until 1966, when it was replaced by an above-ground conveyor belt between a new crushing works on the quarry floor and the cement works. At the time of its closure, the railway's motive power consisted of a diesel-electric locomotive (which was sold to the Victorian Railways), and six steam locomotives, which were donated to preservation societies.


Of the original twelve locomotives, seven (one diesel and six steam locomotives) are still in existence today. With the relocation to Queenscliff of the Australian Standard Garratt from the Australian Railway Historical Society Museum in May 2013, all six steam locomotives existing at the time of the line's closure are now in preservation at the Bellarine Railway”. Wikipedia

Fyansford Rail-line


Australian Steam -

Preserved Steam Locomotives Down Under


Rail Back on Track – Forum

Weston Langford ~ everything a rail enthusiast could wish for...

Source: Weston Langford Railway Photography


For a direct link to Weston's

Fyansford collection (73 photos)

Weston Langford Photos 2.jpg
2 Senior Downsizers.jpg
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© John Flatt 2015