Mt Rouse Quarries

Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday 19 February 1889


Wednesday, February 13. Correspondence

From the Secretary for lands, stating that instructions were given to the police on the 22nd ult. to compel the railway contractors to desist operations in the Penshurst Park reserve, and to make good the damages therein done when prospecting for ballast.

From Messrs. H.Neil and Co., railway contractors, Penshurst, acknowledging the receipt of the Council's letter of 2lst ulto., and stating that they would at once have the holes made in the pack reserve filled up to the satisfaction of the shire engineer. Further that they would apply to the Minister of Railways for the necessary powers enabling them to remove scoriae from the reserve in question, and when obtained submit the same to the Council

Penshurst Free Press, June 1 1906

It is understood that it is the intention of the railway department to again open up the gravel pits on Mount Rouse for the purpose of obtaining ballast. If this is done it will give employment to a large number of workmen.

Hamilton Spectator 30-4-1907

New Steam Shovel. - The department has imported from America a new steam earth shovel, to be used in loading gravel required for ballast on the permanent way. The machine weighs approximately 80 tons, and costs about £3500, or nearly the same sum as a locomotive. The parts were put together at the Newport workshops. The new machine was manufactured in Ohio, and was purchased especially for use at the Mount Rouse gravel pits, which have for years been regarded as a place at which a steam shovel could be employed with advantage. In many instances, where rough country has to be traversed the cost of moving such a machine to the scene of operations is prohibitive. Where the ground is level and firm two temporary rails are laid for the purpose. When in operation the steam shovel rests on a set of rails alongside a train of trucks, into which the gravel is loaded. The material obtained at the site mentioned consists of volcanic ash and the department intends to supply the Western district lines with ballast from this source. Ballast of this class is not favoured for lines on which fast trains are run as it causes a great deal of dust. Broken metal is generally preferred, but gravel still has its uses. This is the first steam shovel used by the department.

Penshurst Free press, 3-5-1907

A novelty in the shape of a steam shovel is to be witnessed at work in the gravel pits at Mount Rouse. The implement, which is at present the only one in the state, was imported from America by the Railway department expressly for use at these pits, and was fitted up at the Newport workshops. The 'shovel,' with its equipment weighs about 80 tons, and it is claimed that it is capable of conveying to the trucks about two tons of scoriae at each operation, which means filling a seven yards truck in about seven minutes. It is mounted on the rails, and can therefore be shifted from place to place with ease.

Penshurst Free Press, Friday 1 November 1907


'Visiting the ballast' pits where the now famous steam shovel is at work, I was much interested. 'Whether we consider the operations there, as a mechanical triumph from an engineer's point of view, or from, the point of view of a geologist, the scene is one of interest. We cannot look at the blackened cinders which are laid bare by the modern giant without wondering how long ago the ancient giant belched forth the fire which so scorched the face of the earth, and the red-hot streams of melted rock that chased each other east, west, and south. Geologists tell us that it is of recent formation, which means only about 100,000 years ago, more or less, a mere tick of the clock, as it were, to the age of the earth. On looking up at the sides of the cutting it is easy to see the successive layers of ashes or scoria as they fell and formed the mound to the north-east and east of the crater, the directions being determined by that of the prevailing winds, which must have been then from south to south-west and west. Then we find where air has penetrated chemical action has produced the red and yellow oxides of iron, which give the surface soil and the subsoil its characteristic colors. Then we have the presence of a well-defined crater, now partly filled with water, which most likely was the last vent through which a great deal of the ashes was blown. At the top of the mount, forming as it were a wall of fortifications on the brow is a ridge of boulders, which, on examination proves to be just consolidated scoria — ashes bound together by a kind of natural cement, partly oxide of iron. At first appearance they seem lava boulders, but it seems that they were once loose ashes which the action of the air and weather has bound into rock, again to be disintegrated and form soil to be washed provide away down the slope to provide fertility for the plains below. One other thought may occur as one looks at the Mount. How many thousands of years will elapse before Mount Rouse will disappear from the face of the earth? Not many, if man keeps on at the rate he does— burrowing into it and carting away 3 or 4 hundred tons a day. A good many if the rain and weather have to do it all. 


Penshurst Free Press, 13th December 1907

Work at the local gravel pits will be discontinued by the Railway department on 23rd inst. Operations will probably not be resumed for between two and three months.

Age 4th January 1908

Mount Rouse, which is an old district landmark and was once the name of the township is one mass of volcanic scoria or gravel. The Railway department has on it one of their two main quarries for ballast, and all the ballast required for the western lines comes from this quarry. There is a huge steam shovel constantly at work shovelling gravel at the rate of 12 tons in five minutes into a long line of trucks. In the course of time the mountain will certainly disappear, and Mount Rouse will then be simply a mark on the map.

Penshurst Free Press, June 12 1908

The Railway department intends to commence work at the Mount Rouse gravel pit in about a week's time, with the steam shovel. Last Monday about twenty men arrived in Penshurst for the purpose of repairing the line to the 

pit and putting down new roads at the scene of operations. This will be the means of providing employment for a number of men, and making the town generally more prosperous. 


Penshurst Free Press, 21 August 1908

We have been informed that the steam shovel will be started at the Mount Rouse gravel pits shortly. It would probably be at work now, but for the scarcity of engines, and just at present the demand for locomotives is very great, owing to the large number of excursion trains required to convey people to the metropolis. When in going order the pits will be the mean of employing a good number of men, as four engines will be used in conveying the ballast to the various centres where required.

Hamilton Spectator, Tuesday 20 October 1908


Quite a large number of people visited the ballast pits on to have a look at the steam shovel, which was upset and somewhat damaged by the fall of scoriea on Friday night. It is estimated that about 100 tons of stuff must have fallen. Some of the iron bars were broken like matchwood, and there is not the slightest doubt had the fall occurred during working hours many lives would have been lost. The men have got the shovel on the rails again, and expect to have everything in full working order within a week's time.


Hamilton Spectator Monday 10 May 1909

PENSHURST.-Saturday. -

On Wednesday morning last, the steam shovel which was engaged at the Mount Rouse gravel depot was removed from the railway station, where it has been , lying since operations at the pits have been discontinued..

Hamilton Spectator 6th May 1913

Mount Rouse Shire Meeting

Cr. Chesswas moved that when the day labourers are engaged on shire work, quarrying, or other heavy work they should be granted an extra shilling per day. They were getting more satisfaction out of day labour than contract work. He suggested the extra pay should be for 20 days.

Penshurst Free Press 11-7-1914

The local gravel pits were reopened this week, the first load going out on Wednesday. Last week the railway line leading to the pits was cleared ready for operations. The opening of the pits gives employment to some 14 men.

 Penshurst Free Press , Saturday 1 December 1917


A fall of earth occurred at the Mount Rouse ballast pit on Thursday afternoon, causing the death of Hugh Evans, 46 years of age, whose home is in Gipps street, East Melbourne. A gang of 21 men in charge of Ganger Richard Liston, is at present engaged in excavating gravel from Mount Rouse for the purpose of railway ballast, and the unfortunate victim of Thursday's accident was working on a twenty five feet face of gravel, the first fifteen feet of which was sloping on a grade of about one in one and a half from the bottom, while, the remaining portion was slightly overhanging. The deceased was on a ledge of about three feet width, engaged in mining the top portion of the western wall, and was working with a long bar from the side, so that should the" ,projecting material fall he would be quite clear. He was a practical miner, having been for some years in the Mount Lyall mine, and in consequence of his acquire skill in this class of work, he was always regarded as a most careful workman.

Journal, Adelaide, SA Thursday 13 December 1917


SOUTH-EASTERN BORDER, December 11.—Eight trucks fully loaded with balast "bolted" from the gravel depot at the side of Mount Rouse, and entered the yard at a speed of about 60 miles an hour. Only for-the fact that they were derailed by a patent slip lock they would have dashed into a passenger train on which were 50 travellers. Fearing a bad collision the passengers had left the train. Five trucks were badly damaged All the points, crossing, and semaphore were wrecked, and the road was torn up for 100 yards. The trucks stopped within 70 yards of the platform. A gang was set to work to put in a loop line to enable the morning passenger train to get through to Warrnambool.

Penshurst Free Press, Saturday 26 January 1918


The manner of the death of Mr K. Evans" of East Melbourne which took place in the gravel pits at Penshurst recently aroused the deepest sympathy of the townspeople with the bereaved wife and family. A movement was initiated by his workmates-not from, the desire to provide a relief fund but rather that sympathy might take practical for. Though no public movement wan organised, these men collected sums from the townspeople willing to contribute, after having, themselves headed the list with a creditable donation. Mr R H Bear, head, teacher of Penshurst State school, on being requested, accepted the position of treasurer, and just before Christmas over £20 was sent

Age Friday 30 September 1932

Mount Rouse Ballast Pits.

PENSHURST, Thursday. — Local unemployment will be partly relieved next week, when the Railway department will reopen the ballast pits at Mount Rouse. Twenty six men will be employed, fourteen being local married men and the remainder from Alvie, The rate of pay in 16/4 per day, and the hours 34 per week. No provision has been made for single men, many of whom have been out of work for some considerable time.

Age, Saturday 26 August 1939

Killed In Quarry

PENSHURST, Friday, — Cecil Lucas was killed instantly in a municipal scoria pit at Mount. Rouse this morning. Lucas was shovelling when a huge piece, loosened by recent rains, fell and struck him. He was 26 years of age, married and had one child.

Age, Saturday 2 September 1939, page 32

PENSHURST - At the coroner's inquiry concerning the death of Cecil Lucas, killed by a fall of scoria in the shire pit on August 25: the jury returned a verdict of accidental death due to injuries sustained. He added a rider that in future efficient supervision be enforced by the authorities in charge. Inspector Board, of the Mines department, recommended that at present no one be allowed to enter the pit, one part of which was in a bad state, being undermined from 8 to 10 feet.

Age, Thursday 21 September 1939

PENSHURST. — The ballast pits under the control of the Railway department at Mount Rouse have been reopened. Reporting at a meeting of the Mount Rouse shire council on the state of the shire, scoria Pit at Mount Rouse, Cr. N. Fry said it was a wonder anyone had nerve enough to enter the place to get material. Recently a fatal accident had occurred at the pit, the condition of which staggered one.

by Val Heffernan 28-5-2018

Penshurst Free Press 1961
Penshurst Quarry
Work needed
Quarry in 2017

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