Railway carries industry history

An early photograph of the railway station.
An early photograph of the railway station.

THE last station master of the Gin Gin railway station has compiled a history of the service in the region.

Alan Cheshire said just 25 years after settlement began in the Bundaberg region in the 1850s the pastoral and mining industries petitioned the government of the day for a better means of transporting their produce to the Port of Bundaberg.

"In 1878, during the last session of Parliament, approval was given for the construction of a railway that was to be known as the Bundaberg Branch Railway," he said.

"In 1879 the contract for the first section of 44 miles 36 chains was let to Messrs J and A Overend and company."

ALL ABOARD: The last rail motor to leave Mt Perry.
ALL ABOARD: The last rail motor to leave Mt Perry.

By the end of 1880 more than 350 men were employed in building the railway.

Mr Cheshire said the only construction difficulty was the sinking of the pylons for the bridge cross Splitters Creek, near North Bundaberg.

"Volcanic boulders were to hold up the construction of the bridge," he said.

This bridge was the largest construction of the first section of the line and was unique, as the timber trestle section was built as three bridges, one on top of the other.

Mr Cheshire said other sections of the track were built through the more mountainous country to Mt Perry.

"On one of these sections the Boolboonda tunnel was dug through the range.

"It was famous as there was no support used as it went through very hard rock.

"These sections were completed by 1884 and the branch line was complete but too late for the mining industry at Mt Perry."

The arrival of an excursion train at Mt Perry.
The arrival of an excursion train at Mt Perry.

Refreshment rooms were later provided in part of the railway station at Gin Gin.

Mr Cheshire said the Gibson and Howes sugar mill at Bingera had a branch line built to connect with the Bundaberg railway at Watawa, just west of Gin Gin.

The Burnett Valley Railway League advocated the construction of a branch line from Goondoon to the pine forest at Goodnight Scrub. It was approved in 1914 and opened to Wallaville and the Gin Gin Sugar Mill in 1920 and was extended to Morganville by 1931.

This branch was closed in the 19670s and the roadbed was used by the Bingera mill to extend their tramway system.

The line from Tirroan to Mt Perry was also closed in the 1960s.

Construction of the railway station.
Construction of the railway station.

Mr Cheshire said the Gin Gin line served the settlers and communities by carrying the goods and produce of the residents to and from their businesses.

"It became the lifeline of the communities before the advent of better roads and motor cars," he said.

Trains moved the ores from the Mt Perry mines and timber, and later sugar cane as that industry became established.

Later years saw train loads of pine logs from the Goodnight Scrub and sleepers to help build railways to the central Queensland mines.

Cement was taken to Gin Gin to build the Monduran Dam on the Kolan River.

Mr Cheshire said the railway services to Gin Gin and the surrounding area stopped on January 17, 1992.

After the closure the railway station and its environs were handed over to the Kolan Shire Council and the Gin Gin Historical Society to be a tourist attraction for the area.

Topics:  gin gin history trains

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