When the railway line west from Geelong reached Colac in 1877, the new station consisted of a collection of temporary wooden buildings built on a brick-faced passenger platform and a brick goods shed. Although a brick station building was proposed, similar to others on the line such as at Birregurra, Colac businesspeople lobbied for a timber structure so that local builders and timber suppliers could bid for the construction. The building which remains today was completed in 1879 and originally included a Station Master's residence, bars, a refreshment room, kitchen, toilets and a ticket office, with a parcels office in a separate building.
Colac is on the Melbourne-Warrnambool railway line, approximately 2 hours travel time from Melbourne, one hour from Geelong. There are three passenger services daily, with refreshment facilities, replaced sometimes on weekends with a coach service from Geelong. Of the many stations once open in the district, only Colac remains. There is one coach service provided by V-Line on Sundays only to Pirron Yallock and Birregurra.
The railway from Geelong and Melbourne arrived in Colac in 1877 and was soon followed by lines connecting Colac to nearby townships such as Forrest and Beeac and the narrow gauge line into the Otways around the turn of the century.
West Coast Railway
Between 1993 and 2004 passenger services on the Melbourne-Warrnambool line were operated by the West Coast Railway, until the company ran into financial difficulties, using early Victorian Railways diesel locomotives and refurbished rolling stock.
Each Saturday during the months without fire restrictions, one train named the 'Westcoaster' was hauled by an ex-VR R-Class steam locomotive.
The West Coaster pulling into Colac station.
Around the turn of the twentieth century, the Victorian Government decided to build a number of narrow gauge (2 foot 6 inch gauge) railway lines into developing areas of the state where geography inhibited the construction of broad gauge (5 foot 3 inch) lines.
The so-called 'Beechy' line ran from Colac to Crowes, just beyond the present township of Lavers Hill, via Gellibrand and Beech Forest. Its biggest cargo was the rich timber resources of the Otway forests being exploited at the time, and many tramways were built through the bush to bring the timber to stations along the narrow gauge.
After years of struggling, the line was finally closed in 1962, and the track subsequently removed and although many people have dreamt of rebuilding this potential tourist drawcard, too much of the right of way has been lost and the cost would be far too prohibitive.
Portions of the original right of way have been developed as a walking and cycling track which will eventually run from Colac to Beech Forest. The first section can be accessed from Birnam station site and picnic area which is just off the Colac-Lavers Hill Rd approx 15km south of Colac at Cashins Rd. The picnic area and trail start is approx 1km along Cashins Road. The trail is a gradual uphill climb through tall eucalypts which comes out at Maggios Road approximately 4.8km later. Turn right and follow the signs pointing to Birnam station picnic area, which will take you downhill along Robinsons Road, an unsealed road, back to the starting point. Alternatively return via the rail trail to Birnam station for a 9.5km round trip.