The first Wattle Day at Hurstbridge 1912
Only a few months after the railway extension from Eltham to Hurstbridge was opened, a special train for a day excursion brought nearly 1,000 people from Melbourne to celebrate the Wattle Day holiday. As the mass of passengers poured from the platform, they were greeted by photographers with tripods ready to take photographs and carriages and jinkers waiting to transport them.
For its return journey to Melbourne the steam locomotive and some carriages were decorated with wattle branches.
Wattle Day – A Floral Excursion
An article in the Argus of Friday, 30th August, 1912 gives an insight into the Wattle Day tradition.
The Wattle Day League are not resting content with an appeal to flower-loving Australians to preserve, to grow, and to admire the wattle, but they have arranged for tomorrow a floral excursion by special train to Hurst-bridge. This is one of the new stations on the extension from Eltham, and is in the very heart of the wattle country, which is now a mass of golden bloom. The line, which has just been opened, follows the valley of the Yarra, where, by the river banks there is virgin wattle country, and the outlook from the train windows is one not soon forgotten. The special will leave Prince’s-bridge station at 1:30 on Saturday, will stop at all stations to Clifton Hill, and thence run express to Hurst-bridge. On the return the train will leave Hurst-bridge at 20 minutes past 5. At Hurst-bridge light refreshments and afternoon tea may be had, and one of the best lines in the announcement as to the excursion is added by Mr. F. Taylor, the caterer at Hurst-bridge—”Visitors are asked only to pick such wattle as they can wear. They are asked to protect bird life. Pea-rifles absolutely prohibited.” This is the danger that has to be guarded against. If excursionists only go to strip the trees, the facilities given will have been misused, and this is the very thing the Wattle Day League are anxious to avoid. A sale of wattle for charitable purposes has been organised for Monday next in the streets of Melbourne. The funds will be devoted to charities connected with the betterment of women and children. This means of dispersing money, excusable under the special circumstances, may be easily overdone. The frequent appeals made to save the wattle have already had some effect. The gathering is largely confined to hand bunches, the taking of which, with discretion, is not harmful, but on the banks of the Lower Yarra irreparable damage has been done in the tearing away of great boughs of bloom for the sake of a few hours display.