Construction work on replacement of Murray's Bridge over the Diamond Creek on the Diamond Creek Trail
Mary (Sweeney) Murray and John Wright Murray selected 80 acres, Lot C Section 16 and Lot 5 Section 17 Parish of Nillumbik, under an occupation license in 1866. John died in 1867 and freehold was granted to his son John in 1873. The farm was known as ‘Laurel Hill’. John Junior was an Eltham Shire councillor and sometime president from 1887 up until 1897. He added Lot A Section 16 to the farm in ca1888.
John and his younger brother James arranged to rent/purchase Lot B Section 17, across Diamond Creek to the west, in ca1900. It appears that John and James farmed separately for a few years, with a new homestead built for James ad family on the high point of Lot B Section 17 in ca1910. John sold off Lot 5 Section 17 in 1912. When John died in 1912 James took over the land on both sides of the Diamond Creek. The old homestead on the west side of the Creek disappeared. A farm bridge over Diamond Creek from this period may have been located close to the northern boundary of the farm.
John Langlands, owner of the farm known as ‘Ihurst’ on the west side of Diamond Creek to the south of the Murray’s land, died in 1907. In 1909 his land was then subdivided into 100 lots to become the ‘Glen Park Estate’. Other similar subdivisions of nineteenth century farms around Eltham in this period included the ‘Franktonia (or Beard’s) Estate’ to the northeast and ‘Bonsack’s Estate’ between Eltham and Greensborough.
Soon after the opening of the railway extension line from Eltham to Hurstbridge in 1912, Glen Park and nearby residents including James Murray agitated for a railway station or siding to be located half-way between Eltham and Hurstbridge, so that the Glen Park residents who used the railway daily did not have to walk into the Eltham or Hurstbridge stations. Some believed Coleman’s Corner (opposite Edendale Farm) was an appropriate spot for the platform. James Murray was among those who thought the railway should be located on his land, closer to half-way between Eltham and Hurstbridge stations. The Railways Commissioners warned that the locals would have to fund these works themselves.
The Glen Park Estate residents initially had difficulty accessing Eltham by road, with only an old low-level bridge over Diamond Creek at the south end of their estate. A new timber trestle bridge across the creek, now on Wattletree Road, was opened in 1915. Road access to the north was gained in 1927 when the new Murray’s Road, which crossed the Murray’s land, was built.
Residents continued to agitate for a Glen Park station. By 1926 the Railways Commissioners’ preferred site was on the Murray’s land. They arranged an estimate of cost of a full-length platform. The estimate was too much for the locals, who in 1928 argued unsuccessfully for a shorter and hence cheaper platform. By 1929 Murray had agreed to donate the land, but the locals would still have to fund the works. Murray decided, unilaterally it would appear, to commence work on a timber trestle road bridge over Diamond Creek to link the new Murray Road to the proposed station. Late in 1929 he stopped work on the bridge, for reasons unknown, but started work again and completed the bridge in 1931.
There is no further newspaper evidence of the campaign for the Glen Park station until 1939, when Murray and another local, Mr Maxwell, met the Railways Commissioner. The Glen Park locale now included 45 homes on the west side of the creek and 20 on the Eltham side. Most of the residents used the train every day. The Commissioner remained adamant that only a full-length platform could be built for safety reasons. It appears the campaign dissolved at this point. The increasing move to cars may have had an impact. There is no evidence of Murray’s bridge ever being connected to Murray’s Road, or of it having wide use for any purpose by locals.
James Murray died in 1947 and the farm was taken over by his son James (Jim). Jim started to sell off parts of the farm in the 1980s, retaining a few acres around the ca1910 homestead and building a new house there. Recreation reserves were established along the creek. In ca1990 Murray’s bridge was renovated with steel girders as part of a bike/pedestrian path in the reserve. The old farmhouse was demolished in ca2014.
Born digital image (5)