This online research site related to folklore Australian railway has its origins in a projected created by workers in the Chullora Railway Workshops in NSW in 1984. At the time these workshops along with many other railway workshops and depots that had operated during Australia’s steam railway era for 130 years were about to be closed and the great railway family of tens of thousands of workers who help establish Australian Industrial heritage where to be reduced to a small proportion of their former numbers.
In the midst of massive downsizing and privatisation sell offs of this Australian Industrial Wealth these workers and other like the Trade Unions saw the necessity to collect and record the history of this 130 years and equally important the folklore of Australian Railways the songs the poems the stories that had been passed on in an oral way both by those who worked in the massive railway network and those who used their services.
The bringing together material that would tell the wider experience of railways particularly how workers had encountered and seen the many social changes that had occurred over this long period began immediately with the bringing together of the Trains of Treasure Exhibition that is discussed in detail throughout this website. Many other successful projects in line with the objectives of the Chullora Railway Workers followed.
The project in general terms continues today after nearly 30 years of ongoing activity. Efforts to bring together heritage related material continues alongside projects like the recent contemporary railway song and poem competition of the Rail Tram and Bus Union who are encouraging the ongoing recording of Australian Railway events by to-day’s songwriters, poets, storytellers filmmakers and other artists. Many local cultural groups like the Bush Poets and Bush Music Club are publishing railway songs and poems that can be in local events also.
Our next step in this project is directed towards the 100 or more Australian heritage railway sites scatted across the nation. In a short time we will be contacting these local rail heritage groups that took up the local challenge to collect and preserve their local railway history and folklore. They will be encouraged to make an extra effort in conjunction with local sources like the town library, museums, local historians and folklore people to make a search for the local railway songs poems and stories that we all believe are in such sources or still with local railway workers and their families.
You will find in this Railway Story Web Site an eighteen chapter guide to Australian Railway Songs and Poems that cover the Australian Railway ongoing history with a range of examples. Research methods to-date indicate that the search for material is often locked away in related events like the two great wars, the 1917 strike, and the 1930’s depressions or local trades and union branches.
If you find such material we urge you to make local records but also use the Australian Railway Story Website to add to the sites existing knowledge.
This can be done directly by submitting a blog under the theme headings of our guide or establishing a link to your material if you have copy write concerns or wish to maintain an independent web collection.