End of steam era in Gympie 50 years ago, reborn today
FIFTY years ago, almost to the day, the last commercial steam train pulled into Gympie Station.
Now, today, the Mary Valley Rattler will steam out of Gympie Station for the first time since.
That is not counting the formation of the Mary Valley Heritage Railway which began operations in May 1998 and closed down in 2012.
According to a front page article of The Gympie Times from Tuesday, October 1 1968, the last steam engine steamed into Gympie station at midnight on Saturday, September 28, 1968.
A caption underneath a picture of a steam engine reads:
"This is becoming an increasingly rare sight these days, with the gradual dieselisation of the State's railway system. Shown above is one of the last steam engines to make the run to Gympie on the Kingaroy line. The last steam train to actually do so, arrived here at midnight Saturday. The once-busy loco shed is now deserted, and the engines will be hauled to Brisbane for scrap. Haulage on the Kingaroy line will be taken over by diesel hydraulics manufacted by Walker's, of Maryborough. Considering the present rate of progress, one may wonder whether diesels will last as long as the steam trains.”
Doubtless, the writer had under-estimated the nostalgia and romantic appeal held by the steam era, with today's launch of the Mary Valley Rattler a clear indication of the fascination that remains, even fifty years later.
The Rattler launch, held at the Gympie Station today, marks the official launch of the Mary Valley Rattler tourist attraction.
The event is set to be well attended with passengers paying a premium rate to be part of the historic run, plus there will be live entertainment by X-Factor star Caitlyn Shadbolt and special commemorate souvenirs on offer, while the Rattler Cafe will serve up food and drink to the hungry hoardes.
The first run will leave Gympie Station at 9.30am for Amamoor, via Dagun.