October 19, 2021

Old Places

Where we study the past to define our future

Cattle Tunnel - Bylands

Cattle Tunnel - Bylands

The Old Cattle Tunnel

Just outside Wallan and close to Bylands lies a mysterious tunnel.

One which can only be reached by following a set of instructions passed down from one generation to the next: Go to the white gate, enter the paddock and follow the creek to the hill, climb the hill, and on the side of the hill you shall see the entrance.

…Or you could just find the right location on the Northern Highway and climb down the embankment to it.

The Northern Highway, which the tunnel hides beneath was once no more than a dirt track leading towards Sydney. But as horses made way to car there was a need to accomodate the growing amount of vehicles by improving and widening roads. This presented a problem for Farmer Ted Poulter who herded cattle from one part of his land to the other, and over a previously simple one lane road. Now the roadside was too steep, and even if it could be reached was too dangerous for his cattle to pass over. There was, however, a solution – and a simple solution at that:

BUILD A TUNNEL!

The Country Roads Board (CRB) was the government authority responsible for the construction and maintenance of main roads in the State of Victoria, Australia between 1913 and 1983. So during the construction of the Northern Highway they built a tunnel. And a damn fine tunnel at that showing no indication of rust after 58 years. No doubt, the galvanising of the tin material it was constructed from aided in this.  A plaque stating C.R.B 1962 for the year of the tunnel’s creation is shown in the pictures below.

The tunnel was used successfully for many years and it has been said vehicles could also pass through this particularly one. In later years, it was also used to store hay and was used as a shelter by the odd mob of kangaroos.

But the farming land of early settlers and our pioneers is now being swallowed by urban sprawl, driven by the needs of those looking somewhere more affordable to live away from the CBD. So too for the Poulter family and the former cattle grazing land was sold to the developers of the Hidden Valley estate. A large percentage of the rich fertile soil previously used for farming now lies below concrete and ashphalt, and is a playground for the residents of the estate who call it home.

Yet, the tunnel still survives. It looks on and bears witness to the changing times.  But  happier times are now a distant memory; the days of where it welcomed it’s bovine visitors are long gone. Disused and underappreciated, the tears it weeps provide nourishment for the bracken growing on its doorstep.

But there is still the occasional day of where it smiles, if but only momentarily: when a explorer discovers it’s presence and shares it with others.