Gympie rail: Royal visits and world records and more
GYMPIE'S primary railway station for more than a century was on Tozer St.
Construction for a line to connect the new goldfields at Gympie with Maryborough, our nearest seaport, was approved by the Queensland Government in 1877.
This line, with only the two stations, one at either end, was opened on August 6, 1881.
Within that same year, Gympie representatives started to lobby for a rail link with the capital and, after a decade, the line from Gympie to Brisbane was opened in 1891.
The dead-end station, built for the original Gympie to Maryborough line, was re-sited to the southern side of the line, so that the track could pass through Gympie.
Construction commenced on the present station in 1913 and the chamfer-board building housed a bar, refreshment room and servery, waiting room, ladies' waiting room, station-master's office, telegraph and booking office and sheltered sales area.
The upper floor housed the kitchen, scullery and pantry, and service from this floor was achieved by a hand-operated lift.
Gold production in Gympie started to decline after the turn of the century and agriculture and dairy became the key industries in the region.
A line to the Mary Valley was opened in 1915, to bring produce from that fertile area of the region into town, and from there to all points of the compass.
The Wide Bay Co-operative Dairy Company opened in Tozer St in 1906 and in 1925 built the Gympie butter factory.
According to an article in The Queenslander from 1938, when it was built it was claimed to be the largest butter factory in the world.
It was serviced by a special railway siding, planned in 1923, coming directly from the station and terminating in Ransom Rd.
In January 1935, the butter factory made headlines when it broke a world record for the most amount of butter produced in a month - 1077.844lb or 488.90kg.
Fruit trains began operating from Gympie to Melbourne from 1923 and in 1929 the Gympie Fruit Growers Co-operative Association opened across the road, in the building now occupied by Sauers Produce and Garden Supplies.
The station continued to play an important role in the Queensland's rail network for more than a century.
Steam engines ceased operating at Gympie in 1968 and when electrification of the line between Brisbane and Rockhampton occurred in the late 1980s, an 8km bypass of Gympie station was completed and a new station opened at Gympie North on February 4, 1989.
The old Gympie station remained in service as a freight depot until 1995, before being closed.
In May 1998, the Mary Valley Heritage Railway began operations on the former Mary Valley branch line and became a tourist attraction to the region.
That venture closed in 2012 but was revitalised by government grants and Gympie Regional Council help and had its inaugural run in October of last year.
The Gympie station is now the home of the Mary Valley Rattler steam train and is once again a tourism draw to our region.