|Historical notes: ||Junee Railway Precinct is located on the Main South line.
Following the completion of the first railway from Sydney to Parramatta Junction in 1855, proposals for railways to the rest of NSW were driven by pastoral communities seeking improved transport for their produce from the inland centres such as Goulburn, Bathurst, Singleton and Muswellbrook. In April 1873 John Sutherland, the Minister for Public Works, set out a policy to complete ‘the main trunk railways’; both the Main Southern line to Albury and the Western trunk route to Bourke on the Darling River were responses to the threat that wool and other produce from the Riverina and the west of NSW would be diverted to Melbourne via river boats and the Victorian railway to Echuca on the Murray River, which opened in 1864 (Lee, 2000, p98).
The 1870s and 1880s saw a boom in railway construction, with the Junee section of the Cootamundra to Wagga Wagga section of the Great Southern Railway opening in July 1878, with Junee station opening for service in the same month. The original layout provided for an Up Platform Loop with station buildings, and a stockyard loop provided on the Down side of the line. The main station building, contracted to William Sharp in 1878, was of timber construction with an awning over part of the platform, and was equipped with a men’s toilet, ladies toilet, ladies waiting room, ticket office, general waiting room, parcels office and porters lamp room. A carriage dock was also built into the Sydney end of the platform to enable hose carriages to be unloaded from the passenger trains. Opposite the station was a wool stage, yard crane, sheep & cattle yard, goods shed and Station Master’s residence (Forsyth, 2009).
In 1881 a branch line between Junee and Narrandera (later extended to Hay) opened, making Junee a major railway centre. The construction name 'Loftus' was changed to 'Junee Junction' in February 188, before assuming its present name, 'Junee' in 1940.
In January 1882 the original ‘temporary’ timber station building (dating from 1878) ceased to be used and may have been relocated to Gundagai. The new brick station building was built between 1882-1884, and opened in 1885. The 1885 station building at Junee was one of a group of grand NSW railway buildings opened in important regional centres during the 1880s, including Werris Creek, Albury, Hay, Newcastle and other locations (Sheedy, 1996; Forsyth, 2009).
In conjunction with the branch line, a large marshalling and goods yard was laid out behind the station building, with a goods shed, loading stage, four brick and timber cottages, a brick gate-house, and a three ton crane added in 1884 (Forsyth, 2009; Ferry et. al, 1999).
With Junee’s rapid growth in the late 19th century, accommodation at the station became inadequate. An additional wing was added to the eastern side of the Refreshment Room in 1892. It included a large sample room for commercial travellers and a billiard room on the ground floor, with another 19 bedrooms provided above. In 1897, further alterations to the station buildings began in order to accommodate a District Superintendent’s office. The new work required the detached post and telegraph office wing to be joined to the main building, the infill of which created a large clerical office under the surveillance of the District Superintendent who was located in what had been the telegraph office. In addition, the porter’s room on the south side of the building was demolished, and the verandah of the station building extended to include the new additions (Ferry et. al, 1999).
The last of the external changes to the station building occurred between 1906 and 1908, when an out-of-shed was added to the northern end of the platform, and the eastern wall of the station building was removed to make way for a new telegraph office. With the rearrangement of the internal composition of the Refreshment Rooms in 1915, a new weatherboard sample room was constructed on the street side of the building, and in 1917 additional accommodation was provided for staff above the kitchen scullery (Ferry et. al, 1999).
With the remodelling of the station yard and the construction of the Down platform by 1920, the track alongside the Up platform was reclassified as a siding, and a footbridge was constructed (Forsyth, 2009).
With the duplication of the line to Junee in c1945, the locomotive depot was relocated to a new position a mile south of the station. Here the railway department built the largest locomotive roundhouse in New South Wales, opening in 1947, which was evidence the growing significance of Junee as a major railway depot. The site included a relatively large and important shunting yard, two large signal boxes, junction arrangements for the Junee-Narrandera-Hay-Griffith branch line and a modern locomotive depot. The depot comprised a roundhouse, large elevated 1000-tonne capacity coal bunker (for fuelling steam locomotives), boiler wash-out plant, ash handling facilities, large and modern machine shop and a substantial amount of equipment essential for the rapid and efficient servicing and repair of steam locomotives working in the district, including a coal transporter and crane, two 1.125ML water reservoirs, two 90kL water tanks, a152mm bore water column, and a 30.480m diameter electric turntable (Ferry et. al, 1999; Forsyth, 2009).
In 1964 a new toilet block was constructed behind the Refreshment Room. This unsympathetic addition is of a new modernist style, making no reference to the style or scale of the older station buildings. The 1960s also saw the gradual demise of the concept of catering on site, with the use of refreshment rooms and larger scale railway catering largely replaced by buffet cars and vending machines. The southern fibro annex, the yard, laundry building and staff quarters at Junee all disappeared in the 1960s. In the 1980s the bedrooms were completely remodelled as office space. Elements of the station yard and depot were also removed at this time, including the carriage shed, and a number of residences (Ferry et. al, 1999).
Half the roundhouse is still used for commercial reconditioning and rebuilding of locomotives. The other half operates as a museum opened in 1994 by a group of volunteers with a vision of keeping the town’s rail story alive.