Site 6 — Boyd Park and the Outer Circle Railway

Street address: Boyd Park

Boyd Park is part of the original route of the Outer Circle Railway line. Despite it being long closed, the remnants of the railway line, including its tracks and a bridge, were present when Merric Boyd came to Murrumbeena. The line opened in 1890 and operated for just five years in Murrumbeena. It had originally run for 12 kilometres, from Fairfield to Oakleigh, and its construction overseen by the young, and later highly distinguished, Sir John Monash. It was first proposed in the early 1870s in a period of Victorian railway expansion to bring rail traffic from Gippsland into Melbourne through its northern suburbs. Its construction was seen as being an advantage to the government of the day in restricting the growth of privately owned rail companies, and was supported by Melbourne’s outer eastern districts which saw the line as a way of encouraging development.

The railway was a commercial failure. A major problem was that it never ran as one continuous line, which made it necessary for passengers to change trains between sections. The land boom that was expected to take place along its course did not eventuate, and goods and passenger traffic from Gippsland never used the line into Melbourne. By the time it was in operation, the government had bought the private railway which operated from South Yarra to Flinders Street, and a line connected Oakleigh to Melbourne. The Outer Circle was shut down in sections, beginning in 1893. The Oakleigh to Ashburton section, which included Murrumbeena, closed in 1885 and would never open again.

In Murrumbeena, the Outer Circle came off the Dandenong line near present day Hughesdale and ran the short distance to Neerim Road, continuing on a gentle downhill slope into a minor valley formed by Murrumbeena Creek in present day Boyd Park. The creek, now barrelled and running entirely underground, ran through what is now Springthorpe Gardens in Neerim Road and into Boyd Park. It and the Outer Circle Railway intersected at the bottom of Wahroongaa Crescent, a bridge and embankments carrying the line over the creek. Although the creek ran barely a trickle in summer, it could become a torrent after heavy rain. Local children, including the Boyd children often played in the creek after a downpour. A number of them, including David and Mary Boyd, and Lucy’s son Robert, almost lost their lives in a flooded Murrumbeena Creek.

After the Outer Circle’s closure and as Murrumbeena developed, it became a space for local residents to use. Sections were fenced and leased for horse agistment and for a period, a riding school operated from there. Children used the reserve — and especially the railway bridge and its embankments — as an adventure playground. They, including David Boyd, built a bike track on the large section of open space on the slope between Wahroongaa Crescent and Wahroongaa Road. Locals constructed communal bonfires for events such as Guy Falke’s Night. An especially large one was built to celebrate the end of the Second World War.

Around 1930, the railway bridge was demolished. The line remained until wartime when the rails were pulled up for scrap. Later, when the creek was barrelled, the two small footbridges that had crossed it at Wahroongaa Crescent and Wahroongaa Road were demolished. Merric often sketched from the Wahroongaa Crescent bridge. It was also frequently used by the Boyd family and countless others to buy their milk from the well-known Cove’s Dairy in Wilson Street.

In 1955 the Outer Circle Railway in Murrumbeena was rezoned from Railway Easement to Future Main Road Reservation, in order for a new road to be built. This was abandoned in December 1983. It was then proposed to zone the railway land Residential C, enabling sections of it to be sold and subdivided. A community association, the Murrumbeena Outer Circle Parkland Retention Group, formed to fight the proposal. Their lobbying, which included significant media events and the involvement of Guy Boyd through the The Age newspaper, was supported by Caulfield Council. It led to the formation of a study group to investigate creating one long linear park that incorporated all of the remaining Outer Circle land. In late 1986 the study group recommended that the Outer Circle Railway land be transferred to Crown ownership and that an Outer Circle Railway Linear Park be established, and in February 1988, this took place. In 1989 and 1990 significant community tree planting began in the reserve, organised by the Caulfield Environment Group with the assistance and support of Council. It was officially named Boyd Park in 1992.

The Boyd Walk is proudly presented by Glen Eira City Council, produced by Matt Blackwood and written and narrated by Colin Smith.

For a downloadable map of all eight Boyd Walk sites, click on the links below:

Boyd Walk Murrumbeena Map(PDF, 1009KB)

Image left to right:

Murrumbeena Creek in flood in what is now Boyd Park, c.1965. Merric often stood on the foot bridge and sketched. Photograph by and courtesy of Erin Luckman.

The Black Bridge, c.1925. The Black Bridge was part of the Outer Circle Railway and carried the line over Gardiner’s Creek. It was demolished in 1938.