Rail journey lines up a tour mecca

STEAMED UP: ’Ken Biggs’, the train, at Cabanda station for the opening of the Rosewood Railway heritage line.
STEAMED UP: ’Ken Biggs’, the train, at Cabanda station for the opening of the Rosewood Railway heritage line. Rob Williams

THE inaugural Rosewood Railfest has marked the official reopening of the historic railway between Cabanda and Kunkala stations after the popular tourist attraction was damaged during the floods.

Nearly 1000 residents and visitors were treated to two days of picturesque rides on Saturday and Sunday behind Ken Biggs, a 1922 C17 class steam locomotive, and RM55 Red Fred, an historical 1930s railmotor.

The restored route, departing from the Tallegalla platforms, climbed a spur of the Little Liverpool range with 180-degree view from Mt Flinders to the Great Dividing Range, allowing travellers to enjoy the sights and sounds of the authentic steam train journey which is steeped in the region's history.

Australian Railway Historical Society's Queensland division president Greg Cash said the flood events in 2013 caused a major landslip on the track, cutting off access to two-thirds of the line and severing the connection to the Cabanda Station.

Through the dedicated efforts of Rosewood Railway's volunteers, the railway track was rebuilt and opened between Cabanda to Kunkala stations, which forms part of the historic Rosewood to Marburg branch line built in 1911.

"It is with great satisfaction that full, regular running of trains between our Kunkala and Cabanda stations is back after the tireless efforts of the members and overcoming the demands placed on the railway's resources due to the flooding rains," Dr Cash said.

Rosewood Railway's management committee chairman Darrell McCulloch said it had been a hard and dedicated effort from the Rosewood Railway's 100 per cent volunteer workforce over the past year to reopen the full length of the track.

"We have a vision to grow the Rosewood Railway and make it an interesting and educational destination for day trips and for domestic and international tourists to this part of Queensland," he said.

Rosewood councillor David Pahlke described the attraction as "a little time warp" and glimpse into the region's railway past which survived only on miniscule grants.

"From a tourism point of view, it is unheralded.

"Running on the smell of an oily rag with very little assistance from the state and federal governments, any money put into this infrastructure would be multiplied six or seven times by the passion and thousands of volunteer hours these guys put in," Cr Pahlke said.

"From Ipswich to Grandchester, railway is in the blood of all residents."

Cr Pahlke said the dream was to one day reopen the track into Rosewood, which required significant investment in bridge reconstruction.

Rosewood Railway's regular running day is the last Sunday of each month.

Rail history

  • The Rosewood to Marburg line was constructed in 1910.
  • Sections were closed from 1964 as the need for locomotive coal decreased.
  • Australian Railway Historical Society's Queensland division began rehabilitating the track in 1984 and officially reopened the railway on Australia Day 1993.

Topics:  steam trains

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