Mary Valley Heritage Railway

About MVHR

History of the Mary Valley Line.
Gympie Railway Station.

Gold! The discovery of the precious metal by James Nash in 1867 brought a flood of people seeking their fortune to the banks of the Mary River. This influx of people brought the need for food and supplies for the miners, their families and the community which would become Gympie. Transport was needed urgently! The most efficient means of transport to connect Gympie to the outside world was seen to be the newly established railway system introduced into Queensland in 1865. 

The local community of Gympie began to agitate for a railway. But it was not until 1877, that the Queensland Parliament approved the construction of a railway line from Gympie, northwards to the Port of Maryborough. The railway line between Gympie and Maryborough was opened on 6 August 1881. Gympie was opened as a dead end station, but this was soon to change!

Old Gympie Railway Station.Because of Gympie's economic and political importance (due to the continued production of gold), pressure was brought to bear for a railway line to connect Gympie to Brisbane. In 1889 the line to Brisbane was opened and Gympie became a through station. Before this travellers from Brisbane were required to travel by coastal steamer to Maryborough and then by train to Gympie or by stagecoach to Noosa and then steamer to Brisbane. Travelling into Gympie Railway Station from the south required a long climb from Monkland station to Gympie
(109 feet - 30 metres - in the last mile - 1.6 kilometres - the heaviest grade on the North Coast line). Even today, when approaching Gympie from Monkland the Rattler does struggle on the last section of line

Historic Gympie Station - Home of the Valley Rattler.

The original Railway Station was demolished in 1911 and the present Railway Station was built in 1913. (This building is now the headquarters of the Mary Valley Heritage Railway). The new station building was part of a major redevelopment of the Gympie Railway yards which included new signalling, Signal box and refreshment rooms. The Signal Box stood about five metres north of the last building on the platform was decommissioned in 1980. The Refreshment Room are now the tea rooms of the MVHR and closed as a Railway establishment in 1975.

With the upgrading and electrification of the Main North Coast line in 1989, Gympie was relegated to a freight and goods depot and closed as a Queensland Railways station in the late 1995. The MVHR became the custodians of the Gympie Railway precinct in 1997.Two interesting facts about Gympie are, the length of Gympie Railway yard limited the size of trains heading north during World War 2 and the rail line connecting the locomotive depot to the lines opposite the Gympie Railway Station is called the Burma Road after the military campaign in Burma during the Second World War.

John Kerr: Triumph of Narrow Gauge, Boorolong, 1998, Brisbane.
Greg Hallam: QR Historian PSG Heritage. Remembering the Kingaroy Branch. 1998.
Pat Towner: Rock ‘N’ Rails. Gympie Times. 1998. Gympie.

The Mary Valley Line.

Originally, the area to the south of Gympie was considered as an alternative railway to the coastal line from Brisbane in 1884-1885. The original route of the Main North Coast railway line was favoured because the route to Brisbane through the Mary Valley would have been too expensive to construct. When the residents and rural communities of the Mary Valley learnt that they were to miss out on the services of the railway, they began to agitate and lobby for the construction of a railway to serve the Mary Valley region.

It was not until 1910 that a railway to the Mary Valley was approved and construction of the line began in 1911. The line commenced at Monkland and ran parallel the North Coast mainline to facilitate easier operations of trains. The construction of the line met obstacles such as union strikes, difficult engineering of the foundations of the Mary River Bridge and the heavy earth works needed for the railway line. But in March 1914 the Mary Valley line was opened for service with its terminus at Kandanga.

The second section through Imbil to Brooloo was opened in April 1915. The State Government approved an extension to Kenilworth in 1920 but this section of the line was never completed. The Mary Valley branch was closed beyond Melawondi in 1993 and was officially closed in 1994/1995. The Mary Valley Heritage Railway commenced operations on the former Mary Valley branch on 23 May 1998.

Dagun is 20 kilometres from Gympie, is the indigenous name for Home Camp.  When operated by Queensland Railways, the products that were transported by rail from Dagun were dairy products, pineapples and timber products. The facilities, refreshments and service that are available at Dagun station are provided by the Friends of Dagun. This is a volunteer organisation and the MVHR thanks the volunteers for their hardwork and pleasant service. 

Amamoor, which is located 23 kilometres from Gympie, is the terminus for the Saturday trips of the Rattler and the turntable provides the opportunity for travellers to observe the steam locomotive or RM 76 being turned. Amamoor is located close to the Muster Country Music site. The facilities, refreshments and service that are available at Amamoor station are provided by the Friends of Amamoor. This is a volunteer organisation and the MVHR thanks the volunteers for their hardwork and pleasant service.

On approaching Kandanga, 30 Kilometres from Gympie, the line crosses Kandanga Creek by a unique system. The bridge across the creek is 80 feet or 27 metres in length but there is a road bridge, which crosses Kandanga Creek underneath the rail bridge. The maintenance of the Kandanga Station Building and the markets and refreshments in the precinct of Kandanga Railway station are provided by the Friends of Kandanga, a volunteer organisation. The MVHR thanks the people of Kandanga for the services they provide and their pleasant service.

 Imbil, the terminus for the Mary Valley Heritage Railway, is 40 kilometres from Gympie. A turntable located in the railway yards, which was installed by the MVHR, and the steam locomotive or RM can be observed being turned on the turntable. There is the opportunity to experience the charms of a country town and enjoy the hospitality of Imbil.

At Imbil there are at least three dining establishments. Most frequented are The Railway Hotel, The Rattler Café and Pepper’s at the Empire. As bookings are essential for when there are capacity or near capacity trains please contact the Rattler Office (5482 2750) for contact details for these dining establishments, so country hospitality and meals can be enjoyed.

More Information can be gained from the Rattler Website:

John Kerr: Triumph of Narrow Gauge, Boorolong, 1998, Brisbane.
Greg Hallam: QR Historian PSG Heritage. Remembering the Kingaroy Branch. 1998.
Pat Towner: Rock ‘N’ Rails. Gympie Times. 1998. Gympie.

About the Mary Valley Heritage Railway.

The Mary Valley Heritage Railway had its genesis in 1984 when the Apex Club of Gympie and the Gympie and District Historical Society proposed that steam locomotive No 45 be preserved. No 45, after being withdrawn from service with Queensland Railways, had been placed in Andrew Fisher Park in Gympie. With the locomotive being exposed to the elements, it was in danger of becoming a health risk and being cut up and sold for scrap. On 4 January 1984, No 45 was moved to the Gympie Museum for preservation and conservation after Queensland Railways indicated that No 45 was to be preserved.

In 1985, Queensland Railways was approached to discuss whether No 45 could be returned to working order. The Railways outlined the procedure and the length of time needed for such a project. A daunting task was then undertaken and in 1992, seven years after the original discussions, No 45 was finally returned to working order at the Gympie Museum. The loco ran on a short length of track within the Gympie Museum grounds.

In 1993 the Apex Club proposed that a tourist train be based in Gympie to run along the Mary Valley branch line which was to be closed by Queensland Railways in 1994/1995. (Previously, in 1986, the Apex Club had approached the Gympie Museum to run a tourist train along the Mary Valley line.) Negotiations with Queensland Transport, Queensland Railways and the Gympie and District Historical Society were entered into, and operations of the MVHR commenced in 1998. Steam locomotive No 45 was the motive power and the first train ran on the 23rd May 1998. The Mary Valley Heritage Railway has been its own entity and heritage railway since 1998.

Source: The Return of Steam Locomotive C 17, No.45. R.J. Stark. Deneger Timms.
             2000. Gympie.