Cootamundra Railway Precinct | NSW Environment, Energy and Science

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Cootamundra Railway Precinct

Item details

Name of item: Cootamundra Railway Precinct
Type of item: Built
Group/Collection: Transport - Rail
Category: Railway Platform/ Station
Primary address: Hovell Street, Cootamundra, NSW 2590
Parish: Cootamundra
County: Harden
Local govt. area: Cootamundra-Gundagai Regional


The boundary of the listing is the property boundaries along Victoria and Hovell Streets, the level crossing the tracks at Mackay St to the south-west and a line crossing the tracks approximately 20 metres to the north-east of the end of the platform. Please note this site is listed on the State Heritage Register (SHR) for which the curtilage may differ – see image gallery for more information. Any proposed development within the vicinity of the listed site should also consider the historic relationship between the listing and its surrounding area.
All addresses
Street AddressSuburb/townLGAParishCountyType
Hovell StreetCootamundraCootamundra-Gundagai RegionalCootamundraHardenPrimary Address


Organisation NameOwner CategoryDate Ownership Updated
RailCorpState Government 
RailCorpState Government 

Statement of significance:

Cootamundra railway precinct is of state significance as a major railway complex on the Main Southern line dating from a period of rapid railway expansion in NSW in the 1870s and 1880s. The Victorian Gothic station building is an excellent and unusual example of a first-class station building and is a major element in the Cootamundra townscape with a landmark tower marking the entry vestibule. The platform awning is also of aesthetic significance as a large and highly ornate structure with decorative cast iron columns and brackets. The quality and scale of the railway station demonstrates the importance attributed to this location during the late nineteenth century.

Other extant elements within the precinct contribute to an understanding of the development of the place and illustrate how a major railway centre operated. The station and yard have been continuously altered over time and demonstrate the development of a major railway facility during the 20th century. The 1927 barracks building is a good representative example of 1920s barracks accommodation for train crews, demonstrating the past custom of providing accommodation for railway staff.
Date significance updated: 26 Aug 08
Note: The State Heritage Inventory provides information about heritage items listed by local and State government agencies. The State Heritage Inventory is continually being updated by local and State agencies as new information becomes available. Read the OEH copyright and disclaimer.


Physical description: MAJOR STRUCTURES - Managed by RailCorp
Station Building - type 5, first-class (1888)
Refreshment Room (1929)
Platform Awning (c1894)

Signal Box - type O (1942)
Barracks (1927)

OTHER ITEMS - Managed by RailCorp
Up Platform (c1883)
Station signs
Station lights

Island Platform (c.1943)
Footbridge (1918)
Level crossing

The station building presents as a grand one-storey Victorian Italianate style station building with large gabled roof and prominent two-storey tower over the vestibule which has an unusual octagonal structure with stucco trim. The station is constructed of face brick laid in Flemish bond with corrugated iron clad roof and bracketed eaves. Two transverse gable ends feature traceried bargeboards and porthole ventilators. Running between the gables and the tower are two bullnose verandahs each with timber posts and cast iron frieze and brackets. The building features lower level attached wings to either side which have been altered from their original configuration. Original windows and doors are semicircular arched, while windows in the later additions are simple square head timber double hung windows and rendered sills. Corrugated iron awnings are mounted over some windows. Security frame installed to exterior windows match the original window panels and frames.

Major alterations to the station building took place in 1904-5, 1915 and 1943, all largely sympathetic to the original building. Plans dating c1922 show the building as internally comprising of a central public lobby and waiting room, a ladies waiting room, lavatories, a Station Master’s office, booking office, and parcels office. Small metal ramp installed provides access to rooms (eg RRR).

The RRR is a simple one-storey building with an L-shape plan. The building is constructed of face brick with a low pitch gabled roof. Fenestration features timber double hung windows with multi paned top sashes. French doors with fanlights are located along the platform elevation. The building originally included a main refreshment room, a bar, kitchen and scullery, and a store room and detached out-of shed. The building is connected to the main station building by modern awnings as well as the original 1894 awnings. Interiors of RRR (now a café) have been altered. A portion of the old RRR bar has been retained and is in use.

On the platform side is a finely built platform awning supported on fluted cast iron columns with decorative cast iron brackets. The awning extends past the length of the buildings and features a simple timber valance to each end. Extensive modern awnings which mimic the form of the original building are located along the street façade.

Simple rectangular fibro structure with flat roof.

The former barracks building faces Hovell Street, at the north-eastern or Sydney end of yard. It is a relatively large building (108' x 26') with brick walls and chimney, modern metal roof, timber veranda posts, and exposed rafters. There are two 7' wide verandahs off the amenities area (which includes a transverse passageway linking the bedroom area to the linen room and verandas). The kitchen and lavatory are accessed from each veranda with the dining room accessible from both verandas and located at the end of the building. Bedrooms are accessed from a central corridor. In 1937, an additional six bedrooms were provided. In 1991 the toilet block was demolished, and the building closed as resting accommodation, but later re-opened as a heritage/ tourist centre in c2001.

PLATFORMS (c1883, c.1943)
The c1883 Up platform face has stone facing and has been extended in brick. It has also been raised 2-3 courses in brick. The platform features goose neck light poles and signage. The c.1943 Island platform is constructed of brick and is now landscaped with low hedging.
Modern bins, seats and signage.

Steel girder design consisting of taper-haunched girders resting on platform trestles and brick piers. The stair features timber newel posts at the bottom of the stairs. Railway footbridge (overpass now) previously allowed access to the small narrow island platform. Steps to that platform now removed and platform disused. Timber deck present in footbridge, along with old newels and old handrails.

Mature trees adjacent to the station provide a pleasant setting. Sympathetic timber picket fencing along platform, along with other metal rural railway fencing and gates. Rough rubble rock garden surrounds. Platform garden boxes modest/sympathetic.

NSW Railway heritage listed sites contain significant collections of stored movable railway heritage, including furniture, signs, operational objects, ex-booking office and ticketing objects, paper records, clocks, memorabilia, indicator boards and artwork. Individually, these objects are important components of the history of each site. Together, they form a large and diverse collection of movable objects across the NSW rail network. Sydney Trains maintains a database of movable heritage. For up-to-date information on all movable heritage items at this site, contact the Sydney Trains heritage team. Key items at this station include but are not limited to:
Seth Thomas clock "1423" in Travel Centre
Decorative gooseneck light posts
Recent period-style timber fencing
Granite-edged garden beds
Cast concrete keg-style platform flower pots
Wedderburn scales
Cast iron Ajax safe still in use in the baggage rooms
Display of semaphore signals mounted onto early steel staunchion
Three trikes on display on verandah
Cast iron and concrete door thresholds and boot scrapers
Timber benches
Museum display of refreshment room objects, lamps, signs, framed photos and prints and ex-railway objects in ex-barracks buildings
Metal stove hood, ex-refreshment room
Bakelite lights and switches and timber mounting blocks
Blue CountryLink luggage trolleys
Large electric Timetic double-sided platform clock, working
“Cootamundra” incised timber platform benches
Wrought iron and timber platform bench in front garden
Timber and iron window hoods
Wall-mounted flag pole
Galvanised steel and wire farm gates
Small steel and timber platform in yard
Plaque – “Centenary of Rail Services 1 November 1977”
Plaque – “Opening of Tourist Information Centre 21 April 1992”
Physical condition and/or
Archaeological potential:
Generally in good condition.
Date condition updated:24 Nov 09
Modifications and dates: 1889 Engine shed constructed
1891 15.2m diameter turntable fixed
1898 Engine shed extended.
1901 Station layout altered with an island platform
1902 Ash pit in the track built at Sydney end of platform.
1907 Transhipping shed provided.
1907 Traffic and Permanent Way Inspectors’ offices provided.
1910 18.288m diameter turntable fixed
1913 Additional rest house accommodation provided.
1922 Railway Institute building constructed.
1927 10-room rest house built.
1967 Wheat depot erected.
2007 Signal gantry relocated behind barracks. Signal box decommissioned.
n.d. Former gatekeeper's residence sold for private ownership.
2017 Transport Access Program (TAP) upgrades. Including coach interchange upgrades, new waiting room and ramps
Further information: The large signal gantry was relocated in 2007 and placed on display in its present position behind the barracks. Signal box decommissioned 2007. The former gatekeeper's residence is privately owned.
Current use: Operational railway station and railway sidings
Former use: Station and yard


Historical notes: Cootamundra Railway Precinct is located on the Main South line.

Contracts were let in 1877 for construction of a temporary timber station building, goods shed, and Station Master’s residence, with Cootamundra station opening on 1 November 1877. The line from Harden to Cootamundra was opened by Mr. John Lackey, Minister for Justice & Education, who, along with the Commissioner for Railways, John Rae and other dignitaries, led a procession through Cootamundra before attending a banquet and ball in the newly constructed goods shed (Forsyth, 1989).

Early additions or improvements at Cootamundra included barracks, a coal stage and turntable (1877) (the barracks were relocated from Harden and then, along with the coal stage, moved to Bethungra in 1878), stockyards, a lamp room (1878), gatehouse at Gundagai Road level crossing (1879), 10 tonne cart weighbridge, office and 5 tonne crane (1880), erection of fences and name boards (1881) and lengthening of the platform (1883). In 1888 a new grand Victorian Italianate station building replaced the original timber building (Forsyth, 1989).

In 1901, alterations were made to the station layout, including the addition of an island platform between the then single Main line and the Branch line to Gundagai. In 1911, a triangle loop was opened for traffic to give access to and from the branch line but was suspended in 1914 due to the cost of providing staff at two signal boxes. In 1917, duplication of the main line was introduced from Wamba Loop to Cootamundra North Junction, and a footbridge constructed across the yard in 1918. A new 10-room barracks was constructed in 1927, and in 1929 the present refreshment rooms replaced the original refreshment rooms.

Further remodelling of the Cootamundra yard also took place in association with duplication works between Cootamundra North to Cootamundra South in 1943, and Cootamundra South to Tanyinna in 1942 (Forsyth, 1989).

Other significant changes within the Cootamundra yard included many attempts to secure a reliable water supply for steam locomotives. Despite initially sourcing water from Jindalee Creek, problems with the water supply continued for many years. In 1877 a 45kl tank was erected and was augmented by a 63kl tank in 1883. In 1907 a circular 90kl tank and two jibs were erected between depot tracks, in 1908 a water column erected at the north end of the platform, and in 1911 two new water tanks erected at the North Junction. Water was also carried from Gundagai for several years and in 1919 a 45kl tank and water column erected at the north end of the platform. In 1920 a 180kl tank was transferred from Muswellbrook to Cootamundra, in 1922 a bore was used, in 1923 a well was sunk, and in 1926 a reservoir was established. Further efforts were made to secure water supplies in the late 1920s and in 1930, including the addition of a 90kl excavated tank and pumping plant in 1927 (Forsyth, 1989).

Cootamundra remains an important, although much altered, operational railway station and yard.

Historic themes

Australian theme (abbrev)New South Wales themeLocal theme
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Communication-Activities relating to the creation and conveyance of information Signalling and safe working-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Pastoralism-Activities associated with the breeding, raising, processing and distribution of livestock for human use Servicing the pastoral industry-
3. Economy-Developing local, regional and national economies Transport-Activities associated with the moving of people and goods from one place to another, and systems for the provision of such movements Making railway journeys-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Accommodation-Activities associated with the provision of accommodation, and particular types of accommodation – does not include architectural styles – use the theme of Creative Endeavour for such activities. Servicing and accommodating railway employees-
4. Settlement-Building settlements, towns and cities Towns, suburbs and villages-Activities associated with creating, planning and managing urban functions, landscapes and lifestyles in towns, suburbs and villages Shaping inland settlements-
8. Culture-Developing cultural institutions and ways of life Creative endeavour-Activities associated with the production and performance of literary, artistic, architectural and other imaginative, interpretive or inventive works; and/or associated with the production and expression of cultural phenomena; and/or environments that have inspired such creative activities. Evolution of design in railway engineering and architecture-

Assessment of significance

SHR Criteria a)
[Historical significance]
Cootamundra Railway Precinct is of historical significance as an important and early railway precinct on the Main Southern line dating from a period of rapid railway expansion in NSW in the 1870s and 1880s, and is a major location on the Main Southern Line. The station building constructed in 1888 demonstrates the importance placed on railway development in country NSW during the earliest period of railway construction in NSW, as evidenced by the quality and scale of the buildings constructed at this site. The station and yard have been continuously altered over time and demonstrate the development of a major facility to accommodate increased services and changes in technology. The barracks building is significant for demonstrating the past custom of providing resting accommodation for railway staff and as an example of a 1920s standard design.
SHR Criteria c)
[Aesthetic significance]
Cootamundra Railway Precinct is a significant part of Cootamundra’s townscape and is situated at the terminus of one of the main streets in the town. It includes a large railway yard that extends along a significant portion of the eastern boundary of the town. The Victorian Gothic style station building is an excellent and unusual example of a first-class station building and is an imposing structure with a landmark tower marking the entry vestibule. The platform awning is also of aesthetic significance as a large and highly ornate structure with decorative cast iron columns and brackets.

The refreshment rooms have aesthetic significance as a modest interwar building with original detailing and fabric typical of standard railway design.

The barracks building at Cootamundra is a utilitarian structure with few architectural refinements; however it still displays some notable features including a large brick chimney, exposed rafters, and simple but elegant verandahs on each side.
SHR Criteria d)
[Social significance]
The site is of social significance to the local community on account of its lengthy association for providing an important source of employment, trade and social interaction for the local area. The site is significant for its ability to contribute to the local community’s sense of place, is a distinctive feature of the daily life of many community members, and provides a connection to the local community’s past.
SHR Criteria e)
[Research potential]
The Cootamundra Railway Precinct as a largely intact major railway centre has the potential to provide an understanding of the early use of the site and illustrates how a regional railway centre operated in the late 19th and early 20th century.
SHR Criteria f)
Although the station building follows the general layout of a standard railway platform building, its form, style and long platform awning is rare.
SHR Criteria g)
The site has representative significance for its collection of railway structures including the footbridge, signal box, turntable and other related items that collectively demonstrate widespread 19th and early 20th century railway customs, activities and design in NSW, and are representative of similar items that are found at other railway places in NSW.

The 1927 barracks building, while not as significant as railway barracks at Albury, Bathurst, Goulburn, and Tenterfield, is a good example of 1920s barracks accommodation for train crews.

The footbridge is noted as the only example of its type in regional NSW.

The signal box is one of the best examples of a type O signal box in NSW, with other examples extant at Bathurst East, Gosford and Newcastle.
Integrity/Intactness: The station buildings have a high level of integrity/ intactness and later additions have generally been sympathetic to the original design. Substantial modern awnings have been added as part of the Countrylink coach stop at the station. These have been sympathetically designed but are obtrusive in their scale.
Assessment criteria: Items are assessed against the PDF State Heritage Register (SHR) Criteria to determine the level of significance. Refer to the Listings below for the level of statutory protection.

Recommended management:

1. Conservation principles: Conserve cultural heritage significance and minimise impacts on heritage values and fabric in accordance with the ‘Australia ICOMOS Charter for Places of Cultural Significance’. 2. Specialist advice: Seek advice from a qualified heritage specialist during all phases of a proposed project from feasibility, concept and option planning stage; detailed design; heritage approval and assessment; through to construction and finalisation. 3. Documentation: Prepare a Statement of Heritage Impact (SOHI) to assess, minimise and prevent heritage impacts as part of the assessment and approval phase of a project. Prepare a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) prior to proposing major works (such as new additions, change of use or proposed demolition) at all places of State significance and all complex sites of Local significance. 4. Maintenance and repair: Undertake annual inspections and proactive routine maintenance works to conserve heritage fabric in accordance with the ‘Minimum Standards of Maintenance & Repair’. 5. Movable heritage: Retain in situ and care for historic contents, fixtures, fittings, equipment and objects which contribute to cultural heritage significance. Return or reinstate missing features or relocated items where opportunities arise. 6. Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage: Consider all aspects of potential heritage significance as part of assessing and minimising potential impacts, including Aboriginal, archaeology and natural heritage. 7. Unidentified heritage items: Heritage inventory sheets do not describe or capture all contributory heritage items within an identified curtilage (such as minor buildings, structures, archaeology, landscape elements, movable heritage and significant interiors and finishes). Ensure heritage advice is sought on all proposed changes within a curtilage to conserve heritage significance. 8. Recording and register update: Record changes at heritage places through adequate project records and archival photography. Notify all changes to the Section 170 Heritage & Conservation Register administrator upon project completion.


Heritage ListingListing TitleListing NumberGazette DateGazette NumberGazette Page
Heritage Act - s.170 NSW State agency heritage register     

Study details

TitleYearNumberAuthorInspected byGuidelines used
State Rail Authority Heritage Register Study1999SRA261State Rail Authority  No
S170 Register Update Project2009 ARTC/ ORH  Yes
Heritage Platforms Conservation Management Strategy2015 Australian Museum Consulting  Yes

References, internet links & images

TypeAuthorYearTitleInternet Links
WrittenCottee, J.M.2004Stations on the track: selected New South Wales country railway stations: an historical overview
WrittenJ.H. Forsyth1989Stations and tracks: volume 2: Main Southern Line: Granville Junction to Albury
WrittenJohn H Forsyth2009NSW Railway Stations - An Alphabetical Arrangement of Railway Station and Place Names
WrittenMcKillop, R2009NSW Railways (RailCorp) Thematic History
MapRailCorp RailCorp Historic Plans, various
WrittenScobie, Love, Ellsmore2001Cootamundra Railway Station Crew Barracks CMP
WrittenState Rail Authority of NSW Archives1993How and why of station names
WrittenWard, D./ ARTC2009Heritage Study: railway barracks in country NSW

Note: internet links may be to web pages, documents or images.

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(Click on thumbnail for full size image and image details)

Data source

The information for this entry comes from the following source:
Name: State Government
Database number: 4806261

Every effort has been made to ensure that information contained in the State Heritage Inventory is correct. If you find any errors or omissions please send your comments to the Database Manager.

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