A FUN DAY OUT: Anna Tennant, Kimberley Andrew, Allahn Lloyd and Estelle Holley ready for a picnic lunch on the Mary Valley Rattler's Red Rocket.
A FUN DAY OUT: Anna Tennant, Kimberley Andrew, Allahn Lloyd and Estelle Holley ready for a picnic lunch on the Mary Valley Rattler's Red Rocket. Troy Jegers

SNEAK PEEK: Join us on board the all-new Rattler experience

Take a sneak peek at the all-new Rattler: Gympie Times journalists Josh Preston and Troy Jegers take a ride on the Mary Valley Rattler.

THE trains are here, and they're here to stay.

Before the Mary Valley Rattler's brand new and ongoing Rattler Picnic Train lunchtime service launches on Valentine's Day, I was among the lucky few on board the Red Rocket rail motor for a sneak preview.

And on the journey to Amamoor Station, I got a snapshot of the beauty our region has to offer.

Views of rolling hillsides, country villages, rainforests, the mighty Mary River and the patchwork of grazing properties, dairies and small produce farms showcased the unique appeal sitting on our doorstep.

The Red Rocket is a marvel in itself, an "excellent example of the first type of rail motor used as a passenger service on the Mary Valley line in 1928, a rugged and reliable machine which continued in service until the early 1960s”.

"I just love trains,” fellow passenger Kimberley Andrew told me. "I did this when I was a kid and it's really exciting being able to do it again now that it's back.”

It's an important point to make.

The Rattler might be the most controversial attraction in Gympie region history, but it's about time we stop for a minute and celebrate its return.

Say what you will about blowouts, reports, transparency or whatever else. But there was a lot of hard work involved in bringing the Rattler back, and it's not going away.

The Rattler community continues to work with passion and love for what they do, so why shouldn't we match their enthusiasm for the sake of a local icon?

I'm not suggesting anyone should stop being critical. Everyone's entitled to have their say, and contribute to hot topics they are passionate about.

But there's no doubt the Rattler was and remains a headlining feature of our region. No matter the opinions, why can't we pause every now and then and enjoy it for what it is?

The Rattler Picnic Train launches on Thursday, February 14, leaving the historic Gympie Station every Thursday thereafter at 11am on a return three-hour journey to Amamoor.

Gourmet picnic hampers filled with local delicacies sourced from the likes of Rhodavale Pork and Kenilworth Dairies are also available.

Regular morning and afternoon services continue to run three days per week on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays on a return journey from the historic Gympie or Amamoor.

Visit maryvalleyrattler.com.au for more information.