February 7th - 10th 2019
Violet Town will commemorate the 50th anniversary of the
Southern Aurora railway tragedy.

The terrible sound of a head-on train crash just after 7:00am on Feb 7 1969 shook the town awake. Without delay volunteers went to work: to enter the wreckage, locate and rescue survivors and control the fires in the tangled mess. Others did much behind the scenes like: first aid, transport, communications, catering, security, nursing, accomodation and spiritual and human support. 

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media Coverage

The nation was shocked to hear of the Southern Aurora tragedy in 1969, and the media covered the story broadly.

While many helpers on the scene were irritated by the media chasing stories, they understood the need for the story however horrific to be told.

The story was told in newspapers, magazines, and on radio and television. The story went around the world. And people have not forgotten.

Most stories in the media were built around the graphic & horrifying images of the wreckage. However a theme that was increasingly picked up was the rapid, generous & brave work of everyday men and women in difficult circumstances.


The Memorial

The commemoration gardens has an overall theme of Helping Hands. It is a way of signifying how people stepped forward to help each other, whether women or men, staff or passengers, whether voluntary or paid, or whether local or from far away. Everyone did what they could.

We hope the gardens area can be a place of reflection, calm, remembering and acknowledgment into the future.

One of the key highlights of the garden area is embedding of words within the surface of curving and inter-twining pathways. The words to be embedded are positive human attributes displayed on the day of the tragedy like: courage, hope, love, generosity, kindness,

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The Stories

People from Violet Town and district, plus passers-by arrived quickly on the scene and went about the urgent business of locating and rescuing people, controlling fire outbreaks and giving first aid.

Gradually as the news got out more people arrived to help in what was a very busy scene all day. Whether it was the ‘switch-board girls,’ the firemen, Dr Dunn, the Red Cross ladies, railway gangers, local nurses or local policeman Jack Knowles: all did their best to help, using their knowledge and their humanity.

And everybody has their individual stories.


How to support us


Attend the commemoration weekend 7-10th February 2019. Anyone with any sort of connection to the tragedy is invited, as are all interested people.

Help us with: stories/recollections; volunteer to help at the event in February; lend us your objects, memorabilia, photos etc for the exhibition.

Donate to help us build the memorial gardens with a theme of Helping Hands to acknowledge all those affected by the 1969 tragedy, and demonstrate of the kindness of people, especially volunteers. You can donate cash, or click below on our ‘Go Fund Me’ page (you will need to use a credit card) this will help us continue to improve and maintain this important memorial.

Sponsor and partner with us to create an iconic commemoration gardens, surrounds and information areas so that this tragedy and aftermath is remembered by future generations. See the sponsor banner at the bottom of the page to see who has already helped us ‘in-kind’ and with funds. Don’t miss out on this opportunity for your organization to volunteer in this very special way. There will be an appropriate and permanent acknowledgment.



Former Southern Aurora sleeper car 


Aurora carriage NAM 2337, has been donated by VLine to the Violet Town community to be one focus of the commemoration gardens being built and grown in Cowslip St Violet Town, and is being located on short tracks across the railway line from the station. NAM 2337 was not part of the set involved in the crash which claimed nine lives. However there were several sister NAM carriages in the crash: NAM 2335, 2336, 2339 and 2343

VLine’s Matt Busettil and project supporter Doug Cumming at Downer’s Newport Workshop.

VLine’s Matt Busettil and project supporter Doug Cumming at Downer’s Newport Workshop.

Jeff Jennings and Iain Atkin inspecting the inside of the stripped carriage at Downer’s Newport Workshop.

Jeff Jennings and Iain Atkin inspecting the inside of the stripped carriage at Downer’s Newport Workshop.

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