Workshops Rail Museum curator David Mewes with the 93-year-old railmotor that is leaving for a trip to north Queensland.
Workshops Rail Museum curator David Mewes with the 93-year-old railmotor that is leaving for a trip to north Queensland. David Nielsen

Railmotor on 2200km journey

THIS old blue girl may have clocked up more than her fair share of hard miles in her time but she’s not finished yet.

A massive 2200km journey awaits the Ipswich-built Panhard-Levassor railmotor, which despite being more than 93 years old was still looking spectacular before departing for Normanton, in Queensland’s Gulf of Carpentaria, on Wednesday.

The historical train will play a starring role in Normanton’s 120th anniversary celebrations of the Gulflander rail service.

Queensland Rail CEO Paul Scurrah said the railmotor would be protected with bubble wrap and airbags for the long journey north-west.

“It is an important part of our history and plays a significant role in introducing a new generation of young people to our future,” Mr Scurrah said.

The 22 horsepower petrol Panhard-Levassor – originally designed as a conventional car engine – was converted into a railmotor in Ipswich in 1918.

After arriving in Normanton it carried 10 passengers and a driver along the 100-mile trip to and from the central north Queensland town of Croyden.

The Workshops rail museum curator David Mewes said the hardy little engine would also tow three tonnes of freight on the four-hour trip.

“It was the only means of travel during the wet season at that time,” Mr Mewes said.

The little railmotor provided most of the line’s services between 1923 and 1929.

It was returned to Ipswich’s Redbank workshops in 1968, where it stayed until 1992.

It was left in storage until 2002, when it was put on display at The Workshops in North Ipswich.

North Queensland Heavy Haulage driver Allan Turner has only four days to cover the massive journey to the Gulf.

He departed from the Sunshine Coast early yesterday and plans to stop only at Emerald and Cloncurry along the way.

“I’m hoping to do it in two-and-a-half days,” Mr Turner said.

Workhorse

The railmotor is based on a Panhard-Levassor road wagon and was built at the Ipswich Railway Workshops in 1918.

It was powered by a 20-22 horsepower petrol engine, weighs just under 4 tons and had a capacity of 11 (10 passengers and a driver).



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