Town of Boorgunyah Parish of Barnawartha North

From our archives, written by Alex Savidge in 2002

In 1873 when the railway connection was commenced in Wodonga the northern portion of the three contracted sections was a contract won by the firm of Cain, Dalrymple and Holtom, with Holtom allocated the Chiltern to Wodonga section. Holtom set up his work site on open paddocks on the south side of the then High Street.

In a way, Holtom got the easiest section since there were no wide rivers to cross and the terrain generally flat with few deep cuttings involved. Rock for ballast was obtained from North Barnawartha, from the quarry at the foot of Mt. Lady Franklin by the Rutherglen turn-off overpass over the Hume Freeway.

In the early days of Victoria a town was planned and laid out just west of Redbank to be known as Boorgunyah. However, it was never settled it seems because the river boat trade ceased soon after the railways reached Albury.

Whilst history records are silent on the matter it does seem that Holtom, to get supplies stranded at Redbank by a river too low for larger steamers to sail beyond Redbank, a channel was cut between the Murray at West Wodonga, through the then river bank and into a long billabong lagoon once an ancient Murray course and left flowless when the Union Bridge arm of the river became the main channel. This long billabong ran from the Murray in Pemberton Street, west Albury vicinity, towards where Wodonga Creek bridge stands now, through a complex series of lagoons and marshlands west of the present stock route with a large half-moon shaped lagoon west of Hume Street, now Church Street and north of the present Batt Avenue. At that lagoon which had become Sumsion Gardens Lake (Lake Belvoir) the railway contractor created a wharf, the remains of which could be seen until quite recently, just below the end of Wodonga Street. Heavy railway equipment was brought by horse drawn drays up the slope into the then Hume Street then along to Holtom’s workyards at the station.