Explore the world on tracks! Immerse yourself in our railways category, where we share stories and experiences from the heart of train journeys.

Discovering the untamed beauty of Taieri Gorge

Capturing the earthy hues of rugged cliffs and bursts of yellow wildflowers cascading down the rocky slopes kept me enthralled for the entire Taieri Gorge journey on New Zealand’s South Island.

In September 2019, standing on the platform of a passenger carriage, every twist, and turn of the tracks unveiled a panorama of untamed wilderness, inviting me to capture its natural beauty.

As the train wheels created a rhythmic beat, the Taieri River meandered through the gorge, setting the stage for a grand adventure.

Read further to discover the journey, noting that the Taieri Gorge Railway company has since undergone a transformation and is now recognised under the new identity of Dunedin Railways.

Dunedin Railways - scene

Embracing the beauty of New Zealand’s Taieri Gorge train tour, where vibrant yellow wildflowers are in full bloom.

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Spectacular journey with Dunedin Railways

Our journey began at the Dunedin Railway Station, a fine example of Renaissance revival architecture that stood as one of the city’s most fascinating landmarks.

With anticipation in the air, we stepped onto the train, which pulled away from the station and into the South Island countryside. As the train traversed areas inaccessible by road, we learned about the railway’s construction and other interesting facts from the onboard commentary.

As the lengthiest tourist railway line in New Zealand, this track follows the path of the former Otago Central Railway, spanning from the four-kilometre marker on the Taieri Branch to Middlemarch, a journey of about 60 kilometres.

The route along the Taieri River’s banks ventured through 10 tunnels and over a dozen viaducts, each unveiling a new chapter in the story of this vast landscape.

The Wingatui railway station, with its restored original building and signal box from 1914, marked a moment to appreciate the region’s history.

Crossing the Wingatui Viaduct, a 197-meter marvel that has stood as the largest steel structure in New Zealand since its construction in 1887, was a highlight of our journey after going through the Salisbury Tunnel, the longest on the line. With its riveted truss structure resting on seven concrete and masonry piers, the viaduct was a testament to engineering prowess.

Emerging from Mullocky Gully, the route hugged the Taieri Gorge, passing through former stations with quaint names like Parera, Mount Allen, Little Mount Allen, and Christmas Creek. The Hindon station, operating as a crossing point, offered a glimpse into the heritage of rail travel.

Continuing our expedition, the Deep Stream viaduct offered photo opportunities, as the landscape ascended higher and moved away from the gorge. As we traversed Pukerangi and Middlemarch, the railway occasionally embraced the Taieri River, crossing Sutton Creek over a combined road-rail bridge.

Heading back to Dunedin, every bend in the track revealed a fresh scene, keeping the ride interesting right until we rolled into the Dunedin Railway Station.

Dunedin Railways - Hindon Station

Hindon Station: A Crossing Point that’s a piece of living history on the Taieri Gorge railway journey.

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Ride the Dunedin Rails through the South Island

The Taieri Gorge Railway expedition, organised by Dunedin Railways, immersed travellers in the breathtaking beauty of New Zealand. The rhythmic clatter of the train wheels, the vibrant hues of the landscape, and the stories woven into each viaduct and tunnel linger vividly in my memory.

For anyone eager to explore the stunning landscapes of Dunedin and the Otago region, the Taieri Gorge railway calls. Head to Dunedin Railways’ website at https://www.dunedinrailways.co.nz/ for the most up-to-date information.

More photos from the Taieri Gorge railway adventure

Dunedin Railways - montage

Photos by Jocelyn Watts, 2019.

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If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like my fiction story Murder on a Runaway Train.

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Uncovering rail pioneers’ stories

Back in 2009, my husband, Don Watts, and I decided to take a jaunt through time courtesy of the West Coast Wilderness Railway in Tasmania. Picture this: the whistle of a heritage steam locomotive serenading us as we settled in for a journey into the past. We were on a mission—ready to dig into the tales of gutsy pioneers who once called the wild stretch between Queenstown and Strahan home.

West Coast Wilderness Railway

Awaiting our departure from the West Coast Wilderness Railway Station.

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Chronicles of the West Coast Wilderness Railway

West Coast Wilderness Railway - man panning for gold

Don Watts panning for gold at Lynchford.

Our adventure began at Queenstown station, where we stepped aboard the Woodcutters Carriage. The plush upholstered seating and the promise of wine and nibbles set the stage for a luxurious experience. As the wheels started turning, we found ourselves transported not just by the train, but also by stories of the past 200 years.

Our first stop, Lynchford, a bustling frontier town in the 1880s, had faded away by the 1920s, leaving memories of a bygone era. We disembarked and treaded on the same soil that gold prospectors had once hoped would yield fortunes.

The Queen Hotel, a two-story weatherboard structure, loomed beside the station, witnessing the comings and goings of timber-cutters. Its kerosene lamps once illuminated the lively conversations of those seeking respite after a day’s toil. The town’s fate took a turn with the introduction of hydroelectricity in 1914, marking the end of the woodcutters’ era and the beginning of Lynchford’s decline.

As the train ascended above the King River Gorge, the landscape revealed the challenges those who built the railway faced. The construction started in 1894 and demanded resilience from the labourers who battled the unforgiving terrain and relentless weather. Rainfall of up to 150 inches (3800 mm) a year, hidden gullies, and rising rivers tested the mettle of the workers. Their camps had to perch on high ground, a strategic move against the unpredictable whims of the King River.

For almost seven decades, the West Coast Wilderness Railway was more than just the scenic route it is today. It was the Lyell mining district’s lifeline, ensuring copper ore transportation from Queenstown to the coast for global markets. The return journey brought essential supplies like timber and later, coke, for the smelter fires. The wagons also carried the pulse of daily life—milk, newspapers, mail, and, in a macabre twist, even the departed.

West Coast Wilderness Railway - historic timber bridge

Don and I were able to walk around one of the historic timber bridges as part of the West Coast Wilderness Railway adventure.

Tracing Tasmania’s rich history

Our journey on the West Coast Wilderness Railway was more than a scenic tour; it was a glimpse into Tasmania’s rich history. Lynchford’s rise and fall, the perseverance of those who built the railway, and its role in sustaining the mining district unfolded before us like pages of a captivating novel. As we disembarked in Strahan, I couldn’t help but feel a profound connection to the pioneers and workers whose spirits still lingered in the hills and valleys of Tasmania. The West Coast Wilderness Railway, now a tourist attraction, stands as a living monument to the resilience and tenacity of those who shaped the history of Tasmania’s untamed land.

CLICK THIS LINK TO FIND OUT HOW YOU CAN EXPERIENCE THE WEST COAST WILDERNESS RAILWAY.

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More photos from our West Coast Wilderness Railway adventure

West Coast Wilderness Railway - montage of photos

Photos by Jocelyn Watts, 2009.

  • With thanks to West Coast Wilderness Railway for generously hosting us for this journey. 
  • If you enjoyed this blog, you might also like my fiction story Murder on a Runaway Train.

***

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So, what are you waiting for? Click the links here to visit BOOKING.COM today and start planning your next trip.

Discover North Queensland on a railway adventure

Ah, the peace and tranquility that comes with travelling by train.

Kicking back in my high-back leather-look seat, letting time pass me by as the scenery rushes past outside – it was an experience I hadn’t had for several years until I embarked on a long-haul journey from Maryborough to North Queensland in July 2023.

Instead of dealing with the usual stress of airports and traffic, this year my annual trip north took me on a slow yet mesmerizing voyage of discovery from Maryborough to Townsville and Tully on the Spirit of Queensland.

What unfolded over the next 10 days was not just stunning vistas and family fun, but also interesting conversations with fellow passengers, making this an unforgettable adventure.

Let me tell you about my recent rail journey to North Queensland.

 

Rail Journey - Spirit of Queensland at Tully

The Spirit of Queensland pulls into Tully Railway Station.

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A slow yet mesmerizing rail journey

Picture this – a long-haul rail journey from Maryborough to Townsville and Tully, surrounded by breathtaking scenery and wildlife. It was a peaceful escape from the daily grind, allowing me to truly relax and take in the beauty around me.

At Townsville, I had something truly exciting waiting for me. My youngest son and his partner had just welcomed the newest addition to our family, little Bryson. The joy of meeting my grandchild was indescribable.

After enjoying lots of baby cuddles and exploring the stunning sights of Townsville, such as the breathtaking vistas from Castle Hill to Magnetic Island, and strolling along the vibrant Strand, it was time for my next adventure.

My other son whisked me off for a 2.5-hour drive north to the charming town of Tully, known for being one of Queensland’s major sugar hotspots and arguably the rainiest spot in Australia.

Life with his wife and kiddies, Riley and Rhys, in the coastal village that’s a half-hour drive from Mission Beach is nothing short of idyllic. Palm-fringed beaches, tropical rainforests, and the magnificent Great Barrier Reef are just a stone’s throw away. It’s paradise.

But, before I take you further, let us go back to the beginning of this epic journey.

Rail Journey - Overlooking Townsville from the top of Castle Hill

Overlooking Townsville from the top of Castle Hill.

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Don’t miss out next winter – book your railbed early!

I caught the Queensland Rail bus from Stocklands Shopping Centre in Hervey Bay for a smooth half-hour ride to the Maryborough Transit Centre, where fellow travellers joined us for the next leg of the adventure.

Maryborough, with all its heritage buildings, cultural significance, and industrial history, was my home for 27 years before moving to Hervey Bay in 2019. The city holds a special place in my heart.

Fun fact: Maryborough is the birthplace of P.L. Travers, the author of the classic children’s book and movie Mary Poppins. There’s a touch of magic in the air!

Rail journey - train interior

Economy class is comfortable with high-back leather-look seats and plenty of legroom.

As I waited for the train at Maryborough West Railway Station, the chilly winds were relentless, but the friendly Queensland Rail staff made me feel welcome and guided me to my designated, and sheltered, spot. At 7.30 pm, the train departed, and I settled into my economy-class seat.

Now, I had grand plans of booking one of those luxurious Railbeds, but alas, they were all booked out. Winter months in Queensland are prime travel time, so you have to plan well ahead.

Instead, I treated myself to a Trtl Travel Pillow. Compact, lightweight, and endorsed by Lonely Planet Magazine, it made the journey feel like first class.

And so, my adventure began. A 14-hour journey lay ahead of me, with the promise of arriving in Townsville at 9.38 am the next day. Well, if you count the Rail Bus leg from Hervey Bay to Maryborough, it’s more like 15.5 hours. But who’s counting when you’re having the time of your life?

Be comfortable in economy with a Trtl Travel Pillow

You’ve probably heard horror stories of being stuck beside an annoying traveller on long-haul journeys. But lucky for me, I have yet to experience such an ordeal, and this trip was no exception.

I was lucky enough to be seated next to an absolute gem of a guy, John Corbett, whom I’ll affectionately call Mr Cyclist. He’s a retired essential service officer who now spends much of his time exploring the world on his bike.

Mr Cyclist was on his way to Townsville with his trusty road bike in the luggage carriage, and planned to pedal all the way back down south along the National Trail, a grand adventure akin to Bill Bryson’s famous A Walk in the Woods.

The National Trail is Australia’s ultimate quest for independent explorers, spanning 5330 kilometers from Cooktown to Healesville. This incredible trail takes adventurers through stock routes, bush tracks, fire trails, and scenic roads along the Great Dividing Range.

For over three decades, the iconic R.M. Williams has lent his name to this extraordinary expedition. Teaming up with the Australian Trail Horse Riders Association, they have brought to life a trail that immerses hikers, horse riders, cyclists, and packers in the rich history of Australia’s stock routes.

Overnight, however, Mr Cyclist attempted to catch some much-needed shut-eye, but his quest for comfort came up short. Like me, a fellow survivor of missed opportunities, he had missed out on a coveted luxurious Railbed booking and settled for economy class.

Little did he know, a Trtl Travel Pillow could have been his saving grace. Instead, he resorted to stretching out on a dining car seat, only to be chipped by a rail staff member for his audacity. Turns out that sleeping in the dining car is against QR’s rules. Oops!

rail travel - man collecting his bike from a train.

John Corbett, aka Mr Cyclist, collects his bike from the baggage area on the Townsville Railway Station platform.

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Rise and shine!

As we opened our eyes the next morning, the sun greeted us with a breathtaking show over mountains near Mackay. We couldn’t help but soak in the beauty while savouring a breakfast of raisin toast and tea in the dining car.

Here’s the plot twist: our train had a bit of a hiccup with the signals during the night, causing it to run behind schedule. But hey, that only added to the adventure! Finally, we arrived in Townsville around 11 am, ready to continue our epic journeys.

All aboard! Family fun on the Innisfail Mini Rail

In Tully, I had a blast with my family. Our adventure started with a quick jaunt to Innisfail, 53 kilometres to the north, where we all took rides on the Innisfail Mini Rail.

This delightful miniature train chugs along every second Sunday of the month at the beautiful 50-ha Warrina Lakes Park. We soaked up the scenery as we zipped past the serene lily-covered lake and ventured through lush pockets of rainforest.

The Innisfail Mini Rail Club, a squad of awesome volunteers, is the brains behind this fantastic train ride that has been entertaining folks since 2017.

Oh, and there was a terrific kids’ playground nearby too!

rail journey - Innisfail Mini Rail

Families enjoy a ride on the Innisfail Mini Rail.

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Roll on down to Murdering Point Winery

Despite the ominous name, Murdering Point Winery was anything but scary.

As we adults sipped on top-notch wines, the little ones, Riley and Thomas-the-Tank-Engine-fanatic Rhys, were in awe as a cane train hauling sugar cane rolled right by the entrance.

Founded in 2001 by the Berryman family, Murdering Point Winery has gained a reputation for its exceptional wines and innovative use of exotic tropical fruits.

The winery offers an array of uniquely Australian red and white fruit wines, ports, liqueurs, and creams that transports your taste buds to a tropical paradise.

rail journey - Jodie pours a sample of delicious tropical fruit wine at Murdering Point Winery.

Jody pours a sample of delicious tropical fruit wine at Murdering Point Winery.

Fish & Chips on the Beach with Tully Coast Guard

What’s better than white sand and kids’ playgrounds at Mission Beach? How about enjoying Fish & Chips on the Beach at the Tully Coast Guard’s annual fundraising event with the stunning sunset as the backdrop? It was the perfect finale for my time in Tully for 2023.

rail journey - sunset at Tully

The brilliant finale to my North Queensland visit was the Tully Coast Guard’s Fish & Chips on the Beach with this stunning sunset at the backdrop.

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Discover a lush oasis at Tully Railway Station

rail journey - Tully railway station platform

Potted ferns dot the Tully Railway Station.

Too soon, it was time to bid farewell to the family escapade and make my way back to Hervey Bay. At about 11.30 am, I hopped aboard the Spirit of Queensland once more at the charming Tully Railway Station, nestled near the heart of town.

This station had quite the eventful past – it endured some serious water damage thanks to the notorious Cyclone Yasi back in February 2011, but it’s since undergone a refurbishment. You can still spot the remnants of the old station building on the south side, with visible battle scars.

With potted palms and lush hanging ferns dotting the platform, it exudes an enchanting tropical atmosphere. It’s the perfect spot to kick back and wait for the next leg of my adventure. Time flies when you’re surrounded by this blissful oasis.

 

Find a travel buddy on the Spirit of Queensland

On my return journey from Tully to Maryborough, first I had the pleasure of sitting next to Mr Garden Guru, a fascinating chap with long hair, a beard, and a love for faded jeans.

Not only was he a successful garden business owner in Cairns, but he was also a marketing guru who spilled the beans on using artificial intelligence for blogging.

But wait, there’s more! He was also a vegan on the hunt for some fruit in the train’s galley, only to be disappointed. Luckily, he had a stash of lychees in his backpack, which he happily devoured.

When Mr Garden Guru hopped off in Townsville to pick up his new ute and return to Cairns, I was accompanied by my new travel buddy – Mr Entrepreneur.

This former tobacco farmer turned restaurant owner turned garden maintenance enthusiast knew how to make some serious money by mowing grass and trimming shrubs in North Queensland.

He was headed to Brisbane to reunite with his wife, who had arrived a few days earlier.

Together, they were going on a shopping adventure looking for a motorhome, eager to join the ranks of the “grey nomads.”

As for me, my time on the Spirit of Queensland came to an end at Maryborough West at about 7.30 am and I boarded the Queensland Rail Bus bound for Hervey Bay.

After a total of about 37 hours of rail time (including delays), I left with cherished memories and a renewed appreciation for the magic of rail travel.

 

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North or south? The choice is yours!

Looking for a relaxing way to tour Queensland’s breathtaking coast? Meet the Spirit of Queensland, your ticket to adventure!

rail journey - train at a platform

With regular weekly services, this fabulous train will take you to see friends and family, or let you explore some of Queensland’s most stunning destinations.

Think Whitsundays, Townsville, Cairns, Bundaberg, Fraser Coast, Sunshine Coast, and Brisbane – the list goes on. And if you’re feeling extra adventurous, you can even connect to the glamorous Gold Coast.

Whether you crave the natural wonders of the north or the dazzling lights of Brisbane, the Spirit of Queensland has got you covered.

It’s a convenient way to travel between Brisbane and Cairns. So why wait? Hop aboard and let the journey begin!

 

Jocelyn travelled on the Spirit of Queensland at her own cost.
Published 20 July 2023

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If you enjoyed this train-inspired post, you might also enjoy these:

All Aboard the Mary Valley Rattler
Murder on a Runaway Train

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So, what are you waiting for? Click the links here to visit BOOKING.COM today and start planning your next trip.

 

Travel back in time on a classic steam train

Have you ever wanted to travel back in time? If so, and you’re in the Sunshine Coast or Gympie areas, then you’re in luck… well, almost.

Riding the iconic Spirit of the Mary Valley Steam Train is the closest I’ve come in recent years to experiencing an authentic railway journey in the Gold Rush era. It was the next best thing to actually being onsite in the 1800s.

And, I didn’t need a DeLorean time machine as seen in the 1985 American science fiction film Back to the Future to get there!

I travelled from Hervey Bay to the Gympie Historic Railway Station in my 10-year-old black Nissan X-Trail, picking up my daughter and three of her children along the way.

Nestled in the heart of the Sunshine Coast hinterland, the Mary Valley Rattler runs between Gympie and Amamoor stations.

This vintage C17/967 locomotive and wooden carriages take passengers on a journey through picturesque rural landscapes and quaint country towns, providing a uniquely charming experience that is not to be missed.

So, jump on board with us and enjoy the ride!

Mary Valley Rattler - Gympie Station

Waiting to board the Mary Valley Rattler at the Gympie Historic Railway Station.

 

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Disclosure: As a Booking.com affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases made through links in this post.

A Brief History of the Mary Valley Rattler

The Mary River line, launched in 1881, was an important transport link in the region’s Gold Rush era for transporting materials and equipment in and exporting the gold out from the area.

As the golden era ended, local calls for the railway line to be expanded through the Mary Valley to cater to the fast-developing agriculture, dairy, and timber industries.

In 1915 the rail line was extended to Brooloo, which led to the establishment of small townships at Kandanga, Imbil, Amamoor, and Dagun.

The line operated for nearly 100 years before being closed in 2012 for safety reasons.

However, thanks to the Gympie Regional Council providing funds and a passionate group of volunteers putting in the hard yards, the Mary Valley Heritage Railway was restored as a major tourist attraction.

They were successful in getting the heritage-listed railway up and running again in 2018 and now tourists can enjoy all the Mary Valley Rattler offers while supporting a vital piece of Australian history.

Whether you’re a railway enthusiast or just looking for a unique way to see the stunning Mary Valley region, the Mary Valley Rattler is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

You’ll love the Rattler’s friendly, casual atmosphere

There’s no need to worry if you’ve never been on a heritage railway before—the friendly Mary Valley Rattler staff are more than happy to help you with anything you need.

When we arrived at Mary Valley Rattler’s historic railway station in Gympie, a friendly volunteer was there to greet us. She even offered to take our photos with our cameras in front of the entrance.

Inside, a welcoming attendant checked our bookings and gave us an overview of what was available at the station while we waited for our three-hour Classic Rattler Run to start.

The Rusty Rails Café had delicious food options for breakfast or lunch. We could also choose a Rattler Railway Company Coffee or other beverage.

The gift shop was stocked with railway souvenirs and the museum with memorabilia from bygone eras. There was even a porter in a period costume who was happy to be photographed.

As a not-for-profit organization, any Mary Valley Rattler purchases we made supported its ongoing restoration and preservation, so the future of this historic rail experience is ensured.

Mary Valley Rattler - Boarding

Boarding the Classic Rattler Run from Gympie to Amamoor and return.

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Visiting the bygone era of coal-fired locomotives

Once we were settled in our seats, we sat back as we waited for your journey through the scenic Sunshine Coast hinterland to begin.

Soon, the smell of burning coal filled the air, steam hissed and the engine tooted as the train pulled out of the station.

We were on board one of several vintage carriages filled with visitors from Mackay, Maryborough, Hervey Bay, Gold Coast, and New Zealand.

Pulling us was the C17/967 locomotive that was built in 1950 at Walkers Limited in Maryborough, Queensland.

Mary Valley Rattler - Google Maps

As Jeff, the volunteer carriage attendant, punched holes into our vintage-style train tickets, he fueled the kids’ anticipation by telling them about the Harry Potter-like tunnels they’d see on this trip through the Mary Valley.

Another volunteer asked around for any birthdays, anniversaries, or other celebratory milestones that anyone onboard was having on or near that day.

Our Mr 13, who was about to turn 14, ducked for cover, anticipating that everyone onboard singing Happy Birthday to him would be embarrassing!

However, a number of other passengers volunteered to tell of their special days.

Looking around the carriage interior, our trio – Mr 6, Miss 9, and Mr 13 nearly 14 – were fascinated with the polished brass railway luggage racks overhead, the leather 1950’s bench-style seats, and other historical fittings.

Mary Valley Ratter - Amamoor platoform.

Amamoor platform.

Through the open-air windows that had wooden shutters, which could be pulled down or up to open or shut, we watched the world go by.

As we crossed old wooden bridges and went through tunnels, pulled along by a full-scale, genuine steam locomotive we felt like we were travelling back in time.

The rolling hills blanketed with farmland and quaint townships offered us a visual escape from our fast-paced lives, adding to how brilliant this adventure felt.

For the next hour, the train rattled along, taking us on an enjoyable journey through the township of Dagun and on to Amamoor, a quaint little town filled with old-fashioned shops and market stalls.

There we watched as the rail staff turn the C17/967 locomotive around on a huge turntable before heading back to Gympie.

Mary Valley Rattler - Amamoor

Turning the Mary Valley Rattler at Amamoor.

Dagun, the next stop on the Rattler’s journey

The ‘All Aboard’ call came sooner than expected and we were soon back in our seats, anticipating our next stop at Dagun where the locals welcomed us with live music and market stalls, as well as delicious tastings of local wine and cheese.

There were also old-time games available to play, making this a perfect opportunity to enjoy the company of friends and/or family while exploring what makes these places special.

All too soon, again, we were back on the Rattler returning to Gympie.

As we rolled into Gympie, the town that is reputed to have saved Queensland, it was time for one of nature’s greatest shows: the annual display of jacaranda flowers.

We were treated to an amazing Spring show of purple blossoms. Miss 9 was especially pleased to see the display… every year in early October, in the lead-up to her birthday, jacaranda trees bloom just for her!

Mary Valley Rattler - Dagun

Market day at Dagun.

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You’re spoilt for choice of things to do on the Rattler

There’s no shortage of options from which to choose when it comes to a Mary Valley outing:

  • The Classic Rattler Run takes passengers on an exciting adventure on the C17 steam train from the Gympie Historic Station through the scenic Mary Valley and the small town of Dagun, before arriving at the Amamoor Heritage Station.
  • The All Stations Train allows passengers to explore more of the region, stopping at both the Heritage Dagun Station and the Amamoor Station.
  • The Rattler Tasting Train is a fun experience for the whole family. Hop on board the Heritage Railmotor RM76 – which traditionally ran the Brooloo line to Gympie providing a daily link to the town for shopping, transportation of goods, and children getting to school.
  • Ride with Driver Experience lets you ride as a guest in a cab with train drivers (18+ years old).

Choice of packages

  • The Mary Valley Rattler’s Ride and Dine package includes priority pre-boarding, assigned seating, morning tea onboard, lunch at the Rusty Rails Café, and a bottle of water.
  • The VIP Club Car package allows you to enjoy priority preboarding, cheese plate and beverage onboard the Club Car, access to the verandah for stunning photos, plus water and a souvenir cooler.
  • Pets are welcome aboard on Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays (terms and conditions apply).
  • Get your day underway at sunrise with the Rattler’s drivers on a Light Up & Workshop Tour, which includes a hearty breakfast of your choice in Rusty Rails Café.

Education trips and special occasions

  • The Mary Valley Rattler offers an educational and fascinating journey back to a bygone era for students of all ages.
  • The Rusty Rails Café at the historic Gympie Station can cater to up to 120 people, with a menu that has been designed to be light and contemporary.
  • Special Occasions can be tailored aboard any of their fleets, with dedicated staff on hand to help plan the perfect event.
  • Ample parking is available for coaches, and they recommend pre-booking for groups of over 10 people.
  • The Rattler regularly hosts themed outings such as Halloween and the Agatha Christie-styled Murder on the Mary Valley Rattler. 

Visit the Rattler website for more information.

Experience the beauty of rural Queensland, Rattler style!

If you’re looking for a fun day out, with beautiful scenery and a friendly, casual atmosphere, the Mary Valley Rattler is definitely worth checking out.

It’s an experience you won’t soon forget!

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous Sunshine Coast hinterland—all while supporting a vital piece of Australian history.

We’re sure you’ll love the experience!

Mary Valley Rattler - Return Journey

Spectacular scenery on the return journey to the Gympie Historic Railway Station.

 

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If you go:

Gympie Historic Station

Tozer Street, Gympie, Queensland 4570, Australia

P: (07) 5482 2750

E: info@maryvalleyrattler.com.au

W: maryvalleyrattler.com.au

 

Mary Valley Rattler is open 7 days a week except for Christmas Day.
Please note its hours may vary on public holidays.

GET DIRECTIONS

VIEW MAP

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If you visit in May, check out the Mary Valley GourMay Festival.
Click the link above for a glimpse of what you’ll experience!

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With thanks to the Mary Valley Rattler for hosting us for this very special experience.

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If you enjoyed this story, you might also enjoy these:

Where to next?

Wherever you want to go in the world, don’t forget to check out Booking.com.

With so many amazing deals on accommodation, flights, car rentals, attractions, and airport taxis, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for – and more!

So, what are you waiting for? Click the links here to visit BOOKING.COM today and start planning your next trip!

Mary Ann’s priceless nameplate comes home

A priceless piece of Queensland’s railway history has reappeared after 127 years.

Ipswich railway enthusiast Merv Volker, who visited the Maryborough last week, has donated the nameplate from the original Mary Ann locomotive to the Whistlestop museum where its replica locomotive is housed.

Mary Ann was the first steam locomotive built in Queensland by John Walker & Co. Ltd. in 1873 for William Pettigrew and William Sim.

The timber pioneers used the loco to haul logs in the Tin Can Bay area but she vanished in 1893 after a Mary River flood and fire at the Dundathu sawmill where she was stored.

In 1999, Maryborough engineer Peter Olds launched a full-size replica that he and his team at Olds Engineering built using just three historic photographs to guide its creation.

The Mary Ann replica is now an iconic attraction in Maryborough, regularly chuffing her way through Queens Park pulling carriages filled with enthusiastic sightseers.

Where has Mary Ann’s nameplate been for 127 years?

Mr Volker, a former Granville resident and now volunteers at the Ipswich railway museum, said he bought the solid brass curved plate bearing the name ‘Mary Ann’ from a long-time friend in Gympie.

“He had it for some years before I bought it from him 23 years ago,” Mr Volker said.

“I don’t know how he came to have it and I don’t want to say how much I paid, but it wasn’t a lot.

“Several times I’ve been going to bring it up to Maryborough but I’ve had doubts about its authenticity.

“I couldn’t give the museum something that was a reproduction. Peter can make his own reproductions – I don’t need to give them one.”

Is it the original nameplate?

Mr Olds said he was thrilled to receive the “priceless” railway artifact from Mr Volker.

“It has to be the genuine plate,” he said. “You just can’t put a price on this type of history.”

Telltale signs include it having a reverse curve and no grooves on the back.

“We also got a piece of plate off an old boiler that’s three-foot six diameter and it fits exactly.

“And, the shape of lettering on the plate is identical to the lettering shown in the old photographs.”

Mr Olds said the nameplate would have been attached to Mary Ann’s original boiler with two screws.

“There’d be steam pressure on those screws and they wouldn’t come out too easily. Whoever took it off would have had to do so with great care.

“It’s amazing the plate is still in such good condition, apart from being slightly bent.”

What will happen to the historic nameplate?

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was planning to fix the original nameplate to the Mary Ann replica.

“It’ll be on the rear end of the engine so passengers can see the plate from the front carriage, touch it and take photographs.”

Mary Ann

Railway enthusiast Merv Volker (left) donates the nameplate from the original Mary Ann to Peter Olds on behalf of the Whistlestop museum in Maryborough, Qld.

Why donate it now?

When asked what prompted him to donate the plate now, Mr Volker said that being 76 years of age, the time had come to downsize his collection of railway memorabilia.

“There comes a time when you have to clean up after yourself,” he laughed.

“I have a large collection and if I was hit by a bus tomorrow, (my sister) Marilyn (Jensen) would have to clean it up.

“It’s a hell of a job. It’ll take me all year to dispose of it. We’ve been going a couple of months already and there’s still so much other stuff.

“My collection includes a lot of Queensland Railway china. I’m not letting that go, but the rest can go.

“Marilyn knows that if something happens to me, she’s to give the china to the railway museum at Ipswich because there are pieces in there they haven’t got.

“Different people who are involved in collecting railway history have different prime subjects. Some people collect tickets only. Others collect things such as lamps and uniforms.”

Call for more relics and photos

Mr Olds said the Maryborough City Whistlestop committee was keen to accept more donations of other local railway relics and photos, including the second locomotive made by John Walker & Co. Ltd, Mary Ann’s sister ‘Dundathu’.

To contact the committee phone (07) 4121 0444 or email mborowhistlestop@bigpond.com

For more on Mary Ann’s history, visit https://maryboroughwhistlestop.org.au and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cooloola_Tramway

 

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