Sugar Cane Railway may have to move

FLOOD DAMAGE: Australian Sugar Cane Railway member Ross Driver indicates the water level of the recent floods which did extensive damage to the railway system in the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail
FLOOD DAMAGE: Australian Sugar Cane Railway member Ross Driver indicates the water level of the recent floods which did extensive damage to the railway system in the Bundaberg Botanical Gardens. Photo: Mike Knott / NewsMail Mike Knott

THE Australian Sugar Cane Railway has been forced to consider relocating to safer ground after being damaged severely by the floods.

Secretary Ross Driver said he was distraught when he first saw the destruction of the railway station, shed, the overturned three-tonne ballast wagon and the locomotives that were submerged in floodwaters.

"It was gut-wrenching," he said.

"The shed is still covered in mud."

Mr Driver said it would cost them around $250,000 to get back up and running and relocated to a less flood-prone area.

"There is not much point building it back down here again," he said.

"It is something we need to consider very carefully because this is the second flood we've been through."

Mr Driver said floodwaters rose only 1m into the shed in 2011, whereas this time the water rose closer to 5m.

"And what's to say that this won't happen again?" he asked.

Mr Driver said it was difficult to estimate when they would reopen.

"It's hard at the moment but we'd be looking at June this year at least," he said.

Mr Driver said the four steam and one diesel locomotives were a significant part of Bundaberg's history.

"These aren't our locomotives; they belong to the community," he said.

"The people of Bundaberg own this railway.

"We are the custodians of the locomotives and keep the history alive."

And while confident of getting them fully operational once more, he said that with any subsequent flooding they would become harder and more expensive to repair.

"With every flood that goes over them it costs a lot more money to get them back up," he said.

Mr Driver said some of the locomotives housed at the railway were more than 100 years old.

"We have the Invicta which is an English Fowler which was built in Leeds, England in 1907," he said.

"That came to Australia in 1911 and brought to the Invicta Sugar Mill, hence the name."

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