|Dates of operation||1913–1944|
|Track gauge||3 ft (914 mm)|
The tramway was owned by the sawmill at Powelltown, but, while the primary role of the tramway was to move sawn timber from the mill, it operated a timetabled service for passengers, and carried goods as a common carrier. The tramway also operated a number of logging lines into the forest east of Powelltown.
The 3 ft (914 mm) forest railway connected the 5 ft 3 in (1,600 mm) Victorian Railways at Yarra Junction with a sawmill in Powelltown and led from there to the forest areas further east. It led through a 313 m (1027 foot) tunnel built in 1925 and over several large trestle bridges.
The Powelltown Tramway was built in 1912-13 by the Victorian Powell Wood Process Ltd (VPWP). This could freely decide with which gauge the railway should be built. While the Australian forest railways of Colac, Gembrook and Walhalla were built with a gauge of 762 mm (2 feet 6 inches), due to the existing horse-drawn railways with wooden rails in the Powelltown area, the decision was made to use a slightly wider gauge to carry long timber on their long timber trucks to be able to transport without reloading. The construction of the 3 and 5 ton trucks was similar to that of the trucks in Western Australia which, however, had a track width of 1067 mm (3 feet 6 inches). The bridges and overpasses of streams were almost identical to those in Western Australia.
The forest railway was used three times a day to transport long timber. To be on the safe side, the long timber trolleys were decoupled from the locomotive on the incline and braked using brakes attached to the trolleys. The steam locomotive then followed at the maximum speed intended for it. Around 30 giant eucalyptus trees with around 30,000 super feet of logs were cut down and sawn each day. There was also scheduled passenger traffic in mixed passenger and freight trains.
Change of ownership
The Powell wood preservation process used by VPWP was unsuccessful. The company therefore became insolvent in 1914. The assets were taken over by the Victorian Hardwood Milling & Seasoning Company, which had far less capital than its predecessor.
The right of way of the former forest railway is now used by a 45 km long hiking trail, the Powelltown Tramway Rail Trail. It runs on private land, so access rights are limited to the path itself. It was removed from the list of the Victorian Heritage Register.
The forest railway was initially operated with two brand-new steam locomotives specially built for it:
- Little Yarra, a Baldwin 2-4-0 locomotive (builder no. 37718 of 1912) was primarily intended for mixed passenger and freight traffic.
- Powellite, a Bagnall 0-6-0 locomotive (builder no. 1965 of 1913) was mainly used to transport sawn timber, but was also used to transport long timber in the bush. It was only delivered in 1914, and this delay in delivery may have been the reason why Squirt was procured.
They also purchased four second-hand locomotive:
- Squirt, an Andrew Barclay and Sons 0-4-2ST locomotive (builder no. 311 of 1888), from the Warburton ��� Big Pats Creek Tramway. With it, the wooden bogies of the log trucks were pulled uphill into the cleared areas, which then rolled back to Powelltown into the valley after loading during a later trip, sometimes only driven by gravity.
- In April 1916, Coffee Pot, a Kerr Stuart 0-4-0T locomotive (builder no. 643 of 1898), from the Tasmanian Gold Mining Company in Beaconsfield, Tasmania.
- In 1919, a Lima 0-4-4-0TG Shay geared locomotive (builder no. 2575 from 1912), from the Abercrombie Copper Mines Limited in Burraga, New South Wales.
- In 1927, Green Beetle, another Lima 0-4-4-0TG Shay geared locomotive (builder no. 2576 from 1912), from the Hoskins Steel Works in Lithgow, New South Wales. It, like its identical sister locomotive 2575, was involved in a fire that destroyed all wooden parts and bent the frame. It was refurbished in the Powelltown workshops, with the damaged section cut out of the frame. As a result, it was a little shorter than before and offered less space in the driver's cab.
With the exception of Squirt, which was withdrawn from service and dismantled in the 1930s, all steam locomotives were used until the forest railway was closed in 1944. Only Powellite was later used on the Nauru narrow-gauge railway to transport phosphate.
- Shay 2575—Scrapped 1947. The remains of the boiler still exist at Carpolac in Western Victoria, but in bad condition, some other parts may exist by lucky thieves from the 1960s.
- Shay 2576—Owned since mid-1960s by M. McEwen who located the remains, frame, boiler, tank, cylinders and many other parts. No trucks survived. Currently located in Melbourne.
- The Powelltown Tramway Buckland, John Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, August 1940
- Locomotives of the Powelltown Tramway Buckland, John Australian Railway Historical Society Bulletin, September 1940
- Powelltown Tramway Centenary 1913-2013 Mike McCarthy and Frank Stamford, ISBN 978-0-909340-50-6
- Stamford, F.E.; Stuckey, E.G.; Maynard, G.L. (1984). Powelltown, a history of its timber mills and tramways. Melbourne: Light Railway Research Society of Australia. ISBN 0-909340-21-8. (151 pages)
- Stamford F.E, Stuckly E.G, Maynard G. L.: Powelltown. Page 128 describes access in 1984.
- Walk Into History. Map. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- Hugh Richards: A Ride on the Bush Line – 1927. In: Victorian Railways Magazine, February 1928. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
- Powelltown tramway centenary. 17 November 2013. Retrieved 26, July 2018.
- Frank Stamford: Steam locomotives on Victorian timber tramways – Part 3. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- Powelltown Tramway – Trail Description. Retrieved 26 July 2018.
- Stamford F.E, Stuckly E.G, Maynard G. L.: Powelltown. P. 128.
- Heritage Inventory Number D8022-0041. Retrieved 27 July 2018.
- Walk into History: Big Pats Creek, Starlings Gap, ADA Tree, Powelltown. Length: 33 Kilometres.
- Light Railways April 2010 p3