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THE State Government will proudly unveil the newly refurbished Clunes train station this weekend — but with one glaring omission.
Contractors working on the $7 million project ripped down the station’s ornate iron verandah and sent parts of it to a scrap merchant.
Local residents are appalled and are still waiting for answers to how the mishap will be fixed.
Hepburn councillor Don Henderson called it a travesty.
“It’s just a piece of our heritage that is gone and will never be returned,” he said yesterday.
“It’s irreplaceable and in a town like Clunes, where heritage is so important, it’s a very big loss.”
Transport at Clunes president John Sayers, one of a small band who have helped negotiate the return of rail services, said he was horrified when he learnt about the mistake.
“It’s an appalling situation to have arisen,” he said.
Mr Sayers said the verandah superstructure, which held up the corrugated iron roofing, was chopped up and sent to a metal dealer while the solid iron posts were saved.
These had been removed to Creswick station for safe keeping, he said.
“We’re hoping some sort of verandah will eventually be built which will hopefully include the old posts.”
Cr Henderson said the verandah was an exact copy of one carefully preserved at the restored Creswick rail station.
“People will still be able to see what existed on this particular railway link,” he said.
But while many local rail enthusiasts were in mourning, those involved officially with the station’s renewal were reluctant to talk.
Building contractors Abigroup referred The Courier to the Department of Transport. A departmental media spokesperson said she would look into it, as did a spokesperson for Transport Minister Terry Mulder.
Neither responded to questions by press time.
Acting Hepburn chief executive officer Peter Reeve said there was an ongoing investigation into the missing verandah.
He said the planning permit included verandah removal to allow platform works and its restoration.
The station will hold a government-sponsored community barbecue on Saturday, with a train departing Ballarat for Clunes at 12.15pm, and returning at 2.15pm.
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