Powerhouse Museum

The Powerhouse Museum: (33° 52′ 43″S, 151° 11′ 57″E) 500 Harris Street, Sydney (central Sydney) has a number of pieces of gold rush memorabilia in its collection including an English version of the Race to the Gold Diggings of Australia board game, about 2 km from Macquarie Place — the start of the Great North Walk.

The Great North Walk Companion extract- page 179

“You see at that time, the 1850s, the Newcastle system is described as ‘isolated’. Surveying any route really matters when it comes to cost: doing it well can save hundreds of thousands of pounds and, badly, the other way. The surveyor needs to take into account proposed grades (that is, the slope of the track), curves, avoiding land likely to flood and how to cross rivers. They also needed to be aware of the capabilities of the available locomotives to pull up the hills.”

After some initial surveys, the New South Wales Parliament decided on the route and a more detailed survey followed; then the engineering design of bridges, tunnels and stations had to be commissioned. In the late 19th century, the ratio of trial to permanent surveys was 17,116 miles to 4,640 miles. In NSW, they chose the most common gauge of 4 ft 8½ in — everything was measured in old units then — feet and inches. You know, of course, that Victoria chose 5 ft 3 in, which caused huge difficulties when the two sets of state lines met in the mid 1880s. The NSW Railway Construction Department (later part of the Public Works Department) created 3000 miles of track.

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