Saturday, September 13, 2014

Origin of Names: Balaclava




Situated just south of Melbourne, a few streets back from the beaches of St Kilda, the Melbourne suburb of Balaclava is an unpretentious chunk of middle Australia. It has a large Jewish population, and perhaps is best known feature for the stretch of kosher restaurants and bakeries along Carlisle Street.

It also features an artistic depiction of the sailing ship The Lady of St Kilda, from which the adjoining suburb takes its name.


The Lady of St Kilda, depicted on a railway bridge in Balaclava.

But Balaclava has an interesting origin of name story of its own, which can be traced back to a fierce military conflict fought on the other side of the world. And like the root cause of many infamous conflicts throughout history, the starting point for this story largely rests with one man.

Tsar Nicholas I
Tsar Nicholas I of Russia was a strong willed, militaristic man, determined, stubborn and nationalistic. His ascension to the Russian throne in 1825 had been unexpected; he had two older brothers, both of whom had been groomed as future rulers.

But his eldest brother Alexander had died of typhus and his other sibling, Constantine, refused the throne and decided to stay in Poland, where he had established himself as Governor. Nicholas assumed the throne on Christmas Day 1825, and immediately had to confront an armed revolt, agitating for Constantine's return. His brutal suppression of his opponents set the tone for a turbulent rule.

Surrounding himself with hawkish advisors, and expanding the Russian army to a million soldiers, Nicholas was soon eager to flex his military muscle. He did this through a series of interventions in neighbouring countries; helping to suppress revolts in Poland and Hungary. Emboldened by these successes - Nicholas was known as 'The policeman of Europe' for a time - the Tsar then turned his sights on a traditional Russian enemy; The Ottoman Empire.




Founded in Northern Anatolia in 1299 by the Turk Osman Bey, the Ottoman Empire expanded aggressively in the 14th and 15th centuries under a series of military rulers. It reached its apogee in 1683, when it encompassed Egypt, all of northern Africa, the West of the Arabian peninsula and south eastern Europe, including Greece, Bulgaria and parts of Hungary. In the north, it expanded as far as southern Russia, where an Ottoman aligned puppet state had been in place since the 1450's, much to Russia's chagrin.

By the 19th century, however, the Ottoman Empire's boundaries were receding as its power and influence waned. Corrupt, bloated and poorly administered, the Empire was in the middle of an extended collapse. The sharp mind of Nicholas I saw a clear opportunity to right an historic wrong; reclaiming traditional lands from a weakened foe. In early 1852 Nicholas mobilised his enormous army and positioned them to the south, threatening Ottoman positions in the Black Sea and Dardenelles.


A Russian military camp, Crimean campaign.

But the other great powers of Europe, France and England, were not about to stand back idly while one of their neighbours made such a bold grab for territory and influence. While not naturally allied with the Turks, the British and French had interests in the region, and were concerned about Russia gaining control of vital shipping routes.

In July 1853, the Russian Navy routed the Turkish fleet in a major battle in the Black Sea, which convinced France and England that they would have to intervene if the Russians were to be stopped. An expeditionary force of 60 000 was assembled, and by March 1854 France and England were formally allied with the Ottomans, and at war with Russia.

In  September 1854, French, English and Turkish troops landed on the Crimean peninsula, preparing to mount an attack on the principal Russian base at Sevastapol. While the British Navy blockaded Sevastapol, British troops took the smaller port city of Balaclava to the south as their base.




General Menshikov, commanding the Russian forces, saw Balaclava as a weak spot in the allied position. With only 4 500 troops guarding the city, Menshikov reasoned he could rout the entire allied advance if he could capture their principal port. He assembled a much a larger force, 25 000 strong, for an all out assault on the city. The attack was launched October 25, 1854.


Unforms of the 93rd regiment, Crimean war.

The Russian forces easily overwhelmed the outer defences of Balaclava, but met unexpectedly stiff resistance from the 93rd Sutherland Highlanders, a Scottish regiment dug in on the outskirts of the city. Heavily outnumbered, and outgunned, the redoubtable Scots nevertheless managed to hold their positions and repel the Russian troops, a dramatic act of bravery immortalised by a Times journalist with the famous phrase; 'only a thin red line tipped with a line of steel stood between the Russian cavalry and the British base.'

Once The Thin Red Line checked the Russian advance, the British commanders sought to go on the offensive against the retreating Russian troops.


The Charge of the Light Brigade, by Richard Caton Woodville jr.

British commander Lord Raglan sent his own cavalry out into the field, intending to have them attack Russian ground forces from the rear as they fled. However, a tragic miscommunication meant that the British light cavalry, the Light Brigade, were instead directed towards the wrong target; being sent towards an entrenched Russian artillery position at the end of a fortified valley. While the Light Brigade took to the charge with gusto, and inflicted casualties on their target, they came under heavy fire from three sides and were decimated. Of the 600 men in the brigade, less than 200 survived to return to the British lines.

The Battle of Balaclava then ended in stalemate, with the Russian advance beaten back, but the Allies unable to capitalise on their success.

Alfred, Lord Tennyson.

News of the Battle of Balaclava traveled slowly back to England, taking several weeks for dispatches to reach the local press, where it was greeted with a mixture of pride and outrage. The bravery of the British troops was instantly, and widely, lionised, but criticism of the British military commanders was severe; several generals were recalled from the front and forced to explain themselves before Parliament.

The Poet Laureate, Alfred, Lord Tennyson, read of the Battle of Balaclava in the newspaper and was moved to write a poem to honour the men who had fallen. Written (according to his nephew) in just a few minutes, it contains some of the most well known verse in the English language:



Stories of The Thin Red Line and The Charge of the Light Brigade would soon reach every corner of the British Empire, and monuments to the participants of both were erected worldwide.

Locally, the suburb of Balaclava was named to commemorate this famous battle, with a number of streets within the suburb continuing this trend. Among the streets so named:




The war in the  Crimea continued until 1856, when Russia was finally forced out of the peninsula and Ottoman rule restored, at a cost of nearly half a million soldiers lives (some 200 000 of them Turkish). The Treaty of Paris was signed, barring Russia from the Crimea and limiting Russian naval strength.

But conflict flared between the participants again only 20 years later, in the Russo - Turkish war, which saw Russia claim Crimea, along with a large swathe of Ottoman territory in Eastern Europe. 

Britain and France did not join the fight over the territory for a second time.


References

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crimean_War

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicholas_I_of_Russia

http://www.nationalturk.com/en

http://www.historylearningsite.co.uk/the_crimean_war_1853-1856.htm

http://www.93rdhighlanders.com


Friday, August 29, 2014

The Radiant Baby


Running east-west through the inner North, the largely commercial stretch of Johnson Street is an unusual place to go looking for fine art. But there you will find it; among the trendy cafes and retro clothing outlets, standing five metres tall over the nearby Tote, a public mural by one of the 20th century's most famous street artists.




Born in 1958, in Reading Pennsylvania, Keith Haring showed a talent for art from an early age. After high school he studied drawing in Pittsbugh, where he had his first solo exhibition in early in 1978. Later that same year, he moved to New York to study at the renowned School for Visual Arts (SVA), an event which would change his life.

The late seventies saw a burgeoning street art movement in New York City, and Haring was quickly at the centre of a group of talented, like minded individuals (among them Jean-Michel Basquiat, who Haring befriended). Experimenting with different media, drawing energy from his contemporaries and influenced by Andy Warhol and Christo, among others, Haring became determined to express himself artistically in a public way.

He found an outlet in New York's subway system, the operators of which used to cover disused advertising with plain black board. This provided a free canvas, which Haring was eager to utilise.




Creating strange, cryptic images in white chalk, often with a subversive, socio-political message, Haring's subway drawings quickly became well known. He later described his subway work as his 'laboratory', the results of which were then transposed to rapturously received solo shows in the city's private galleries. By the early 80's, Haring was famous, a meteoric rise.


Keith Haring, 1980.

Founded in 1983, the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (ACCA) was part of a range of initiatives funded by Victoria's then Labor Government to promote artistic endeavours in Melbourne. From a modest start in a three bedroom cottage in the Botanic Gardens - ACCA's first exhibition was aptly titled '3 Artists/3 Rooms' - centre director John Buckley was keen to make an impression on the wider community.


ACCA's original home in the gardens.

Buckley had seen both Haring's subway work and an exhibition of his while visiting New York in 1982. When he met the artist in London that year, he extended an invitation for a visit to Melbourne, with the offer of some publicly commissioned pieces as an enticement. To the delight - and, perhaps, surprise - of the local artistic community, the rising street art star accepted. Haring arrived in Melbourne in February 1984, for a one month visit.

The main project Haring was to work on was a new design for the 'water wall' in the lobby of the NGV.





While well received, unfortunately the NGV mural did not last long. Only a few weeks after the piece was completed, a bullet was fired through the wall, shattering the glass and effectively destroying the artwork. The broken glass was beyond salvage and the wall had to be replaced (The shooters motive could not be established from any of the available reference material).

Haring then made a flying visit to Sydney, where he produced another large scale work for the state gallery; this time an internal mural at the Art Gallery of NSW.



This piece lasted much longer than the work at the NGV, but was also, subsequently, removed. While in Sydney Haring, open about his homosexuality, also appeared on a float dedicated to him in Mardi Gras.

With Haring returning to Melbourne near the end of his trip, Buckley hoped to facilitate one final, major public work from the artist. As Haring liked to work with young people, Buckley wanted to arrange for the work to adorn a school, and so approached the Principal of the Collingwood Technical School, then on Johnson Street. The blank wall at the east end of the main school building was given over for another mural.




Haring's final Australian mural was created in one day; March 6, 1984.




Haring left Australia two days later, never to return.

His distinguished career subsequently took him to many parts of the world and he left large scale public works in many of them, similar to what he had produced in Australia. Always engaged with important causes and charity work, in the late 80's Haring devoted an increasing amount of his time to raising awareness of AIDS, then in its infancy as a global health risk.


An AIDS awareness poster created by Haring.

Sadly, this cause would intervene directly in the artists life, when Haring was diagnosed with the illness himself. Haring died of an AIDS related complication in Manhattan on February 16, 1990. He was only 31 years of age.

In its obituary, the New York Times called him 'one of the most astonishingly unique talents of recent times.' Among the broad legacy the artist left behind, his most famous image seemed to sum up some aspects of his short life:


The Radiant Baby. Many people who met and worked with Haring remarked on his energy and enthusiasm, much as John Buckley had done, traits that seem to be captured in the image above.

In the years after his passing, the Haring mural in Collingwood slowly faded into neglect. It's out of the way locale, and outdoor positioning, meant that while the elements took their toll, little was done to preserve the artwork. By the 1990s, the paint had faded badly, and parts of the wall had become damaged.

Victim of neglect; the mural in the 1990s.

With the Collingwood Technical School relocated, the building was acquired by Arts Victoria, who began to investigate ways to restore the work. But the assessment was both lengthy and frequently delayed, as the merits of different restoration techniques were debated.

In 2013, the Victorian Government finally appointed Italian expert Antonio Rava as chief conservator and the restoration project commenced. Cleaning the original work, and re-touching where required, the mural was several months in being restored. It was re-unveiled in August 2013, to much acclaim.

The restored work unveiled by the Arts Minister, Heidi Victoria

But there is one final prologue to the story.

When the work was first completed in 1984, Haring signed his name on a small service door at the bottom centre of the wall. You can see the spot for this on the image, above.

Shortly after the mural's completion, the door went missing, although exactly when seems to have been unrecorded. By the time it's absence was noticed, it seemed too late to do anything to recover it. The door then remained missing throughout the mural's slow decline, for 29 years.

When the restoration project began to gain pace, Arts Victoria made a public plea for anyone who may have souvenired the door to come forward and return it. Remarkably, this was successful, and an anonymous package containing the door was delivered to Project Administrator Jessica Hochberg.

Hochberg with the returned door.

The door's authenticity was verified with Haring's estate, and returned to the mural shortly afterwards. The Collingwood mural is now one of only 31 Haring murals left in the world.



References

http://www.haring.com

https://www.accaonline.org.au

http://www.theage.com.au/entertainment/art-and-design/keith-haring-mural-restored-to-its-former-glory-20130819-2s5xa.html

http://kellyfarrelldesigns.com

http://vertufineart.com

http://www.crazytownblog.com

http://www.melbourneharingmural.com.au



Saturday, August 23, 2014

I Wanna Be Loved




In 1984, rock-pop musician Elvis Costello was close to the peak of his popularity.

His previous record, Punch the Clock, had been a critical and commercial success; it featured one of his biggest singles, Everyday I Write the Book, alongside edgier moments, like his denunciation of Thatcherism, Pills and Soap. Costello was hip, credible and popular.




But, behind the scenes, all was not as well as it appeared.

His marriage to wife Mary Burgoyne, who he had known since his teens, was faltering. And tension between Costello and his backing band, The Attractions, had been building for some time. In particular, the relationship between the singer and his bass player, Bruce Thomas, was on the slide, an issue exacerbated by the band's frustrations with the previous album.

While Punch the Clock had been a hit, Thomas felt the group had drifted too far from their roots. The clean production and accessible tunes were a long way from the raw, new wave style of the band's earlier albums.

Attractions bassist Bruce Thomas

With these different tensions in the background, the group gathered at Sarm West Studios in London to record a new record, ominously titled Goodbye Cruel World. The sessions did not go well; tensions between the band members were quick to surface, exacerbated by further differences with producer Clive Langer (who urged the band to continue with their recent, more polished approach).



Guest musicians were brought in, substitute producers hired for individual tracks, and Costello subsequently called the recording 'tense and unproductive,' and the resulting record 'our worst album.' Reflective of the behind the scenes disagreements, the content of Goodbye Cruel World was a hodge podge of many different musical styles and approaches.

One of the tracks from the new record was a cover of an obscure 1950's song called I Wanna be Loved, originally recorded by Teacher's Edition. This slow tempo, moody love song was one of the cuts on Goodbye... to get a big, commercial production and so was chosen by the record label as one of the album's singles. To support the release of the song, the label also sprung for a music video.

To create this, Costello would make a left field choice. Possibly still trying to balance commercial and artistic considerations, he selected a largely unknown, avante garde crew of Melbourne film makers, who had come to his attention after he had seen some film they had shot of The Birthday Party (then just a fringe group themselves).

Evan English

Evan English was a maverick, iconoclastic visual artist in the finest film school tradition. Studying film at Swinburne University in Melbourne in the late 70's, English - in conjunction with his classmates Paul Goldman, John Hillcoat and Chris Kennedy - established a reputation for heavy drinking and wild behaviour. Together, they were dubbed 'The Gang of Four'.

Their group's antics were at least as well known as their unusual, experimental films. In one instance they dumped frozen chickens into a lecturer's swimming pool, in another they set a school office on fire. A classmate recalled, 'They were intelligent but dumb, optimistic but nihilistic, stressed out and driven by a creative urge.' They were, effectively, film making punks and their involvement in the local punk music scene would lead them to the collaboration with Nick Cave and The Birthday Party, that brought them to Costello's attention.

Forming an ad hoc production company, The Rich Kids, English turned his attention to directing Costello's music video clip.

And true to his reputation, English proved difficult and demanding to work with. He insisted that the clip be shot in Melbourne, and so forced Costello to fly half way round the world right as his marriage was falling apart. Recalling this time much later, Costello remembered sitting in his hotel room on his own, depressed and uncertain.

For the clip itself, English had a simple, if unusual conceit.

Costello would sit in a photo booth at Flinders Street train station, with the camera positioned directly in front of him. As he sang, different people would join Costello in the booth, interract with him, have their photo taken and depart. To give it some edge, the director did not disclose to the singer who would join him in the booth, or what they would do.


The emotion of the shoot is apparent, as Costello looks slightly dazed at times in the clip, and mutters half of his lines.

But the video is a clever, surreal, highly original piece of work, and provides terrific accompaniment to the song. Costello was certainly pleased with the outcome, describing it as 'probably my favourite' from among the band's music videos. The clip rounds off with a nice shot of the station's well known entry hall, as Costello collects his photos and walks away.




(Viewing on an iPhone? Click here).

The song proved a hit as well, making the top ten in the UK (the last Attractions song to achieve this for a decade).

While The Rich Kids didn't last, Evan English continued to work in the local film and music industries, most notably with his old schoolmate John Hillcoat (English wrote and co-produced Hillcoat's remarkable prison movie Ghosts of the Civil Dead in 1988). But his fan favourite music video clip remains an enduring achievement, and a neat time capsule of Melbourne in the 80's.


Saturday, May 17, 2014

The Origin of Names: Sassafras


Due east of Melbourne, on the outer suburban fringe, the suburb (and town, pop. 1008) of Sassafras occupies the green, forested slopes of the Dandenong Ranges. The scenic beauty of the region is well known, but less well known is how it came by its exotic name, one of my favourites in the city.





As Melbourne expanded in the decades after the gold rush, the city's new inhabitants began to explore their surroundings more thoroughly. Mild of climate and richly forested, the Dandenong Valley drew visitors from Melbourne well before any settlement was based in the area.

One of these early explorers was English born chemist Ambrose Eyles, who arrived in Melbourne in 1849.


Atherosperma Moschatum, or Southern Sassafras.

Exploring the Dandenongs in 1850, Eyles identified large numbers of the tree species Atherosperma Moschatum in the gullies of the area. The Atherosperma, or Southern Sassafras, is a medium sized, native evergreen tree that requires a cool climate and high rainfall, meaning it is mostly found in Victoria and Tasmania.

The concentration of Sassafras trees in one river valley lead to the area becoming known as 'Sassafras Gully' (and the river as 'Sassafras Creek').


Painting of Sassafras Gully by Isaac Whitehead, 1870.

Sassafras Creek, 1870.

As the formal city boundaries were pushed further east in the late 1800's, more land was opened to development and agriculture. The lush soil and mild climate of the Dandenong Valley was well suited to farming, and small farm lots went on sale in 1893. A post office, at the time often the key sign of a township's development, opened in 1901.

The new town was initially known as 'Sassafras Gully'.


An early homestead in Sassafras Gully.


Alongside farming, the forests of Sassafras Gully seemed well suited to logging and the timber industry was soon active in the region. But from a surprisingly early time, locals realised that an even more lucrative enterprise was available to them.

The popularity of Sassafras Gully as a getaway destination for Melbourne's inhabitants soon meant that tourism became the bedrock of the local economy. Hotels, cafes and restaurants sprung up to cater for the demand created by city folk who wanted a weekend away in the country, conveniently only 45 km from the city.

By the time the name of the region, and town, was shortened to plain 'Sassafras' in 1917, the area was well established as one of Melbourne's foremost tourist destinations. A role that it continues to serve to this day.


Main street of Sassafras, 1940s.

Main street of Sassafras, today.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Melbourne's Phantom Railways


Melbourne is a city of phantom railways.

There are those that were built and then removed, those that were built and then altered and those that were proposed and then left in purgatory, something that Government's of every stripe have done from time to time. Some of these phantoms have left their mark on the landscape while others have simply disappeared, effectively into the footnotes of history.


A wikipedia map of Melbourne's railways; showing some present, past, future and phantom railways.

Most of the train lines would be welcome in modern Melbourne, so they stand as a testament to the sometimes short sighted nature of public policy. The following is a brief study of these curious industrial artifacts.




THE PORT MELBOURNE LINE


Port Melbourne train station, circa 1890.

Present day.

When the city was founded in the 1830's it was a totally isolated outpost in the middle of a vast wilderness. Most of the fledgling city's goods, communications and would be citizens came in via sea routes, lending Melbourne's port a particularly high significance. As the city itself had been built upriver, a link between port and township was also of high importance. Thus, the first major road in Melbourne ran from the city to the sea and the first rail route followed a similar path.


Painting of the Port Melbourne steam train by William Burn, 1870.

Driven by the explosion in Melbourne's population during the gold rush, a rail link to Port Melbourne from Flinders Street was built in 1853, and opened in September 1854. Large crowds turned out to watch the inaugural journey, where Lieutenant Governor Charles Hotham and his wife were presented with copies of the timetable printed on silk. It was Australia's first steam railway. The journey ran direct from the city to the port, as none of the intervening stations had been built, a trip which took only ten minutes. By 1855, four British made locomotives were servicing the line, with trains running every half an hour.

The line crossed the Yarra just east of William Street, over the specially built Sandridge Rail Bridge, and ran along a diagonal corridor of land through South Melbourne. Today, the bridge has been converted into a pedestrian walkway and the path of the railway into a light rail track, which still follows most of the old route.

The Sandridge rail bridge in the 1950's.

The bridge today.

The Port Melbourne railway line was closed in 1987, one of several to go as part of state Government cost cutting. The Heritage listed Port Melbourne station is still in it's original location and is now home to a cafe.





THE ST KILDA LINE


St Kilda train  station, shortly after opening.


Circa 1885.

The station today.

Sharing a similar origin, life span and fate to the Port Melbourne line, the St Kilda line was built over 1856-7 with both lines sharing the same crossing over the Yarra. Once south of the city, the two train lines diverged near what is now the Westgate Freeway flyover, and there were three more stops (South Melbourne, Albert Park and Middle park) before the end of the line at Fitzroy Street.

Shortly after the line opened, in 1859, an additional loop was added, that allowed trains to continue on from St Kilda to Windsor Station, a short distance away in Prahran. At the time, Windsor station (then called 'Chapel Street Station') was the northern terminus for trains serving the southern beachside suburbs, so the additional loop allowed train passengers direct passage into the city. A wooden bridge was constructed to allow these loop trains to pass over St Kilda and Punt Roads, already busy thoroughfares.


Rail bridge over St Kilda road, circa 1890 (some time after the rail line closed).


A map of Windsor circa 1860, showing a section of the
loop line and the bridge crossing Punt Road (centre left).


But the Brighton line was soon after extended into the city and the St Kilda-Windsor loop fell into disuse, before closing in 1862. The St Kilda line continued well into the 20th century, before being closed as part of the same program of cutbacks that caused the Port Melbourne line closure. The St Kilda line was also transformed into a cheaper light rail version, and St Kilda station was significantly refurbished and is now home to a variety of up market shops.






THE INNER CIRCLE LINE



A simple map from the 1940's showing the Inner
Circle Line stations; N.Carlton and N.Fitzroy.

Former North Carlton train station, now a community centre.

When Melbourne's train network was first constructed the two central hubs, as now, were the Flinders Street (including the adjacent Princes Bridge Station) and Spencer Street stations. Trains ran to and from theses stations to different parts of the city, and there was no direct link between the two of them, or the services that they provided. They operated almost like two hemispheres of a brain; connected, inter-related but quite separate.

Trains servicing the northern suburbs originated from Spencer Street, and traveled through North Melbourne before splitting off in different directions. To service the north east from this starting point, it was necessary to build a line that cut through Carlton and Fitzroy, before continuing onward through Northcote and Preston. This was the Inner Circle line, built in 1888, prominent traces of which are still visible in the fashionable inner north.


Train tracks still visible, crossing Brunswick Street.

Signal posts still visible near Royal Park.

The Inner Circle line was also used by freight trains, utilising the rail yard in Fitzroy.

The line ran in its original configuration only until 1901, when track connecting Flinders Street and Clifton Hill stations was laid. This more direct route, and easy access provided by trams along St George's Road and Lygon Streets, meant much of the original passenger base for the Inner Circle Line was removed. But the line continued to be operated, now trafficking a variety of 'city loop' style services, for another forty years, before being closed to passengers in 1948.


The Fitzroy Goods Yard, 1980.


A small number of freight trains still used the line, which continued until 1981 when the Fitzroy goods yard was closed. No trace of the site remains, an apartment block currently occupies the spot.


A freight train on the Inner Circle Line,
shortly before it' final closure.

The line then fell into disuse and disrepair.


A section of the former railway in 1988

But a vigorous program of public works revitalised this old infrastructure, and it was converted into part of the 'Capital City Trail,' a thirty kilometre bike path and walking track circling the city. While the Inner Circle Line would undoubtedly be popular if it were running today, the scores of people who use it regularly for exercise are undoubtedly grateful for its current incarnation.






THE OUTER CIRCLE LINE



A basic map showing the stops on the Outer Circle Line.

Former train line in Kew, which saw service for just two years.

Black Bridge over Gardiner's Creek, Outer Circle Line.


The Outer Circle Line was a rail curve through the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, running from Fairfield station (formerly 'Fairfield Park') through to Oakleigh. It was first proposed in 1867, initially as a method of connecting the suburban rail network with the rural line to Gippsland, but was not built until the late 1880's, with services commencing in 1891. The line crossed the Yarra near Kew, and serviced 11 new train stations.

The Outer Circle crosses the Yarra.

A train on the Outer Circle near Shenley.


But in the 1890's this part of Melbourne was essentially still farmland, so the new train line attracted very little traffic, with the line running between empty fields. The Gippsland service was also eventually connected to the city by a different route, running direct through Caulfield. 

The Outer Circle was broken up into sections, with different train services running for a few stops on each, but this also proved unsuccessful. By 1893, sections of the railway had been closed down, and by 1897 the whole ten kilometre length was out of service.

In 1900, the growing suburban population caused one section to re-open. The track between Riversdale and Deepdene came back into service, with a steam train known as the Deepdene Dasher running between these stations at 90 minute intervals. This was to be the last steam train to work a passenger route in Melbourne.



The Deepdene Dasher.


The electrification of the Melbourne's rail network began in the 1920's and was completed by 1924, which spelled the end for urban steam trains. Due to low passenger numbers, it was decided not to electrify the section of track that the Dasher ran on, and this service continued until October 1926, when it was retired for good. It was replaced by a bus service.

Freight trains continued to use the Outer Circle Line until 1943, when these services were re-routed through more modern tracks, after which the line fell into final disuse. Today, the Outer Circle Rail Trail re-traces some of the old route, which clearly stands out on a modern map.