The History of TLSS & How We Became Bulla Hill Railway
The Tullamarine Live Steam Society was founded in late 1974 by a small group of individuals who had decided to start a club in the north-western suburbs of Melbourne. The Tullamarine Live Steam Society approached the Broadmeadows City Council for a suitable track site, and was eventually granted a lease on a site in Wright Street, Tullamarine. The location of the original Club is, of course, the reason for our name: Tullamarine Live Steam Society.
The first circuit of track, which was dual gauge 3 ½” and 5”, was officially opened by the Mayor of Broadmeadows on July 25th 1976 and by early 1983 a 7 1/4” track circuit of almost 500’ length was also operational. Membership increased and over the years many facilities were added – sufficient to enable TLSS to hold a couple of very satisfactory AALS Conventions.
Unfortunately in 1995 the Council advised the Society that the site was to be put up for sale. Despite a lot of activity by both club members and members of the public, the lease was not extended. After twenty years this was pretty heartbreaking as members were now faced with starting all over again.
Through negotiation with the Hume City Council the Society selected the present site of approximately 6.7 ha on Public land in the township of Bulla, and this was leased to the Society for a 21 year period. This site is in an area dedicated to community use and also houses a Community Hall, a Tennis Club and public parkland. We also have the CFA, Historic buildings and the Rose Garden nearby, making it an attractive area.
The City of Hume assisted with the costs of relocating the moveable parts of the club equipment and tracks to the new site, as well as extensive planning details, a large amount of earth works, and much rebuilding of the facilities, for which the club was most grateful.
Members voted that the new site be called the Bulla Hill Railway.
Earthworks at the Bulla Hill site were completed by June of 1997, and Clubrooms and Workshops were erected in a private compound area along with separate carriage sheds. A circuit of 5”-7 1/4” track was completed by 13th March 1998. Work was also begun on a separate 3 ½” – 5” circuit of 800 metres.
A temporary Station for this circuit was erected utilising a garage, and roofing material created an area of covered raceway for the public, a ticket office, and the souvenir shop.
Bulla Hill Railway was officially opened on March 4th, 2000.
With the basics in place work then began on several necessary projects to provide adequate amenities for the public who support the club by coming along for a train ride. The major project of financing and building a brick station incorporating toilet facilities, kiosk, ticket-box and crew room was completed in 2004 as well as a private picnic area, complete with shelters and barbecue facilities. Work then began on “Bondy’s Bridge” which now gives access across the tracks to this picnic area. Although there was still much to do we were well and truly back in business.
The continuing story….
Hume City Council continues to provide support with its ongoing commitment to the whole area. The picnic area just outside our grounds, complete with children’s playground and picnic rotunda has been a valuable addition. Council also continues to provide indigenous plants and shrubs along with mulch for their protection. The first trees, planted in 1997, grew from 150 mm to 2 metres high in the first year, transforming an almost barren landscape. This beautification is a continuing project, with an area of 9969 sq m of landscaping completed by 2002.
Members somehow not only find time to work at their own personal interests, but willingly assist with all the ‘everyday’ maintenance at the Club. The club locomotives and carriages must be maintained in excellent running order, the track frequently has to be levelled and ballasted; there are over 6 hectares of grounds which need mowing, weeding, watering, planting and mulching, operating teams are required for public running days; buildings require painting and repair, as well as all the necessary administrative work. As well as this members keep adding improvements to our facilities and are justified in being extremely proud of the results they have achieved to date.