By Mikayla van Loon
Moorolbark’s station building has a long history and has had a long working life.
It is now marked for removal as construction of the new station gets underway and despite all efforts, the building will be relocated to Tarrawarra as part of the Yarra Valley Railway.
Mooroolbark History Group president Marion Stott said she can’t understand why the building isn’t being repurposed for community use as originally promised.
“It was meant to be repurposed for community use and there are lots of stations throughout Victoria where reports had been done and they were repurposed for community use. Anyway it’s not happening, we’re not getting any of it,” she said.
The original section of the station dates back to 1887, when George Clewett was employed to build the platform and station building for £343.12 and one patent earth closet for £4.15.
A newer section was added in 1922 when electric trains came into action and a signal room had to be built.
Prior to the Level Crossing Removal Authority starting works at Mooroolbark, discussions were had about the future of the station building.
Initially, the crossing authority was going to demolish the entire building, until the Mooroolbark History Group made a plea to save it.
From there the crossing authority was going keep the 1922 end of the building in Mooroolbark, with the proposed location being the Red Earth Community Park.
It was an ideal location Ms Stott said because it was beside the senior citizens centre, near the peppercorn tree, which were a common feature around stations and it had accessible amenities nearby.
But instead of being included in the discussions, Ms Stott said the council and the crossing authority met in confidence, deciding that the building would be relocated and the council would look after it.
“They hadn’t done a [feasibility] report on the station because initially they thought it was just going to be pulled down, until they heard the local sentiment about it,” Ms Stott said.
“So we took it onboard to find funds, to get sponsorship, in actual fact it was the Bendigo Bank, they supported having an independent report done on the station.”
The report came back showing that the original end of the building was the oldest and largest of its type in Victoria, which made the crossing authority change their minds.
“Now they have changed their mind yet again, the crossing authority, and they are giving them the other end of the station which is the original part of the station.
“It is to be dismantled, put on a truck and taken to Box Hill TAFE in Lilydale for the students to restore, then it’s meant to be shipped out to the proposed tourist line from Yarra Glen to Healesville near the Tarrawarra Abbey.
“So in actual fact Mooroolbark doesn’t get anything, that’s what is so disappointing.”
Although Ms Stott is pleased the 134 year old history of the Mooroolbark station building won’t be demolished, she said that is exactly what would have happened if the history group had done nothing about it.
“There could be such community involvement and something for us to be proud of, that we’ve kept the 134 year old building, which has been working all its life and the thing is once they’re gone they are gone.”
While the 1887 end of the building will be restored, Ms Stott expects now that the 1922 end will be demolished, with no plans in place for its restoration.
Ms Stott said, however, the remaining part of the building could still be saved and used for the community if the council allowed it.
“We’ve got the men’s shed, we’ve got people who are interested. If they had moved it, fair enough we would like council to put electricity and water on but the community could restore it but we weren’t given the chance, the opportunity to, it never came back to us as an opportunity, as an option, it just wasn’t an option.”