The Malmsbury Viaduct over Coliban River is situated approximately 100km north west of Melbourne CBD in the township of Malmsbury. The Viaduct which is 152.5metres long has a maximum height above the valley floor of 25metres and has five spans of 18.3metres. The viaduct is in continuous railway service for more than 160 years. Viaduct carried two tracks for most of its life but currently has single Irish Broad Gauge (5’3”) track.
The foundation stone for the viaduct was laid by then Commissioner of Public Works, G.S.W.Horne on 25th October 1859, in the presence of nearly 500 people. The keystone at the centre of the arch was fixed on 25th October 1860 by Dr Greaves, Commissioner of Crown Lands. Malmsbury Viaduct, which is the largest masonry structure in Victoria, required 132,000 cubic feet of bluestone. The blue stones were quarried from Malmsbury itself and at that time 500 people were employed quarrying blue stone for the railway work. Malmsbury blue stone was considered of remarkably high quality devoid of large pores. During the construction of the railways, population of the Malmsbury increased from a few hundreds to nearly a thousand. This viaduct is one of the earliest structures to use Portland cement in Victoria.
The viaduct was constructed as a part of the Melbourne to Bendigo Railway Line. In the 1850’s railways in Victoria were financed and built by private companies, but struggled to raise finance form the projects. In 1855, Governor Charles Hotham had suggested that the Government could take over the task and build the railways itself with the money borrowed from the London Markets. A legislative council set up suggested that the Government should build a railway from Melbourne to Bendigo and Geelong to Ballarat as a first step. In 1856, Surveyor General Andrew Clark negotiated with Mount Alexander Murray River Railway Company to sell the line they have started building to Bendigo to the Government.
The newly formed Victorian Railways designed the viaduct and was constructed by Cornish and Bruce, under the direction of George Darbyshire for the Victorian Railways. Joseph Brady was the supervising engineer for Cornish and Bruce. The Bendigo Railway had to pass through major river crossings at Taradale and Malmsbury. Viaducts were built at both places. The railway line was later extended from Bendigo to Port of Echuca.
The Viaduct is situated at the western side of Malmsbury Botanic Gardens. Due to this, visitors to the viaduct are privileged to enjoy the picnic settings and other facilities provided at the Botanic gardens.
Address: 92 Mollison St, Malmsbury VIC 3446