There has been a recent push to see the old Bowning Railway Station restored and ready for use, headed by NSW Heritage Railway Stations and Infrastructure’s Phil Buckley.
Phil recently visited the old site and described the station as “rare” and “majestic”, declaring it must be better maintained before it decays to the point of no return.
“Bowning railway station is a rare example of a southern line station with a combined rare station master’s housing and station building setup.”
“It needs to be kept better maintained and preserved rather than let it decay. The timber building on the western platform needs work to keep it maintained before it becomes unstable,” he said.
The station was once an essential part of connecting the bush to the city in NSW, a fact Phil believes makes it an important part of history to preserve.
“The state of NSW was built in the mid-1800s and onwards and expanded mainly due to the massive ability of the railway network to reach out into north, west and southern NSW. This connected the bush to the city and vice versa.”
“Without rail, the connectivity wouldn’t have happened on the scale it did and continues to this day, but with a lesser focus on connecting towns in rural NSW with passenger trains,” he said.
Phil sees Bowning’s Railway Station as a potential tourism destination that could also aid many businesses in the village and surrounding areas.
“The heritage railway stations provided and still do focal points for towns and communities, tourism destinations and business opportunities.”
“Railway heritage station tourism is a growing niche market and under-appreciated at State and Federal government level. It is not taken seriously enough as a job growth and job security for towns.”
Phil used his own recent trip as an example of expenditure by heritage-inspired tourists.
“I drove 4000km in May 2021 across NSW to inspect assorted heritage stations. I spent $1200 in one week in country towns, and some of that was in Yass too,” he said.
Speaking from his experience with similar projects, Phil stressed the urgency of the issue. He pleaded for government bodies to commit to the restoration of the site sooner rather than later.
“Having worked as a volunteer on around 10 rail projects, I’ve seen several decaying stations turned into brand new tourist destinations with museums, local community businesses and groups using the sites.”
“We have to ensure our past in NSW isn’t demolished as we see many stations have been lost, even in recent years a few have been demolished or lost to decay via termites and environment.”
Phil says public awareness is critical to maintaining the heritage and that the NSW Heritage Railway Stations and Infrastructure helps to do this, encouraging interested people to visit their resources at www.nswhrsi.org.