All Aboard the Mary Valley Rattler

Our journey begins at Gympie – 84kms northwest of where we are on the Sunshine Coast- and the historic Gympie Station.

Gympie is touted as being the town that saved Queensland – and it turns out that claim is pretty close to the mark.

Queensland had officially separated from NSW on 6 June 1859 and became a self-governing colony. The problem being there wasn’t much industry – or population – up here to support that and the colony was pretty much bankrupt.

The government of the day decided that gold was the answer (isn’t it always?) and put up a reward for anyone who found gold within 145kms of Brisbane. It was James Nash, an English prospector, who struck gold in Gympie in 1876. Because Gympie was outside the mileage limits (150kms from Brisbane) he didn’t get the whole of the reward but did pocket a cool £1000 – a lot of money at the time as the average wage was around £1-2 per week. He also started a gold rush which saved Queensland from bankruptcy.

The railway, in turn, came from gold. Materials and equipment needed to be shipped in and the gold needed to be shipped out – and the nearest port for all of this was Maryborough. Just 5 years after James Nash discovered gold the railway line from Maryborough to Gympie was completed and by 1891 there was a railway between Gympie and Brisbane.

In the meantime, all of this activity meant that the Gympie region and Mary Valley began to develop in the areas of agriculture, dairy and timber – and it all required transport which the railways provided…which brings me to the Mary Valley Rattler.

Obviously the train we boarded hasn’t been in operation since 1881.This style of steam locomotive was built up until the early 1950s. Hilariously one of the kids in our carriage upon hearing the year 1953 said ‘wow, that’s so old,’ to which the volunteer guide commented that it was her birth year.

Anyways, the journey begins at Gympie where they have an old railway museum in the station.

Also in the station is the Rusty Rails Cafe where a man was playing the piano – the sorts of tunes that would have come from the war years. The cafe had plenty of yummy things to have with a cuppa and also a full breakfast and lunch menu.

We bought a cup of tea (in real cups) to have while we waited to board the train – although the slice in the pic below is one I brought from home.

Once on board our tickets were clipped (although I was disappointed that I didn’t get a message clipped in mine like on The Polar Express) and we settled in to the sound of the steam whistle and the rhythmic chug of the train.

As we left the station everyone came out to wave us off. There was more waving at the level crossings and still more as people stopped what they were doing to wave at the train. We watched as one kid came running out of his house, closely followed by his father, just to wave at the train. Cute.

We didn’t have long to wait before the drinks trolley came around…

The countryside we chugged through was lush and green – the Mary Valley at its best.

It took an our to reach our stop – the tiny village of Amamoor just 18kms south of Gympie. There’s a general store here (where you can get ice creams and pies and sausage rolls) and a little cafe where a band was playing), and for the train a small market was set up.

We watched as the engine was released from the carriages and turned on the heritage turntable in order to be reattached to the other end of the carriages for our return journey.

More Information…

The Mary Valley Rattler is run wholly by volunteers and operates between Gympie and Amamoor on Wednesdays and Saturdays, departing Gympie at 10am. The cost (at time of writing) is $62 for an adult, $32 for children and $56 concession. Family tickets are available.

On Sundays you can catch the “all stations” train where an additional stop at Dargun – where they have wine and cheese tastings and a little market – is added.

A Tasting Train – celebrating the produce of the Mary Valley – operates on Thursdays and during the summer school holidays there are also sunset services. Other themed services are scheduled throughout the year eg a “love train” is operating for Valentine’s Day.

Oh, one last thing, you can even take your well-behaved pooch with you – for an extra small charge.

For more information, check out the website.

It’s Thursday so linking up with the Lovin’ Life crew…

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Author: Jo

Author, baker, sunrise chaser

29 thoughts

    1. It’s a fun day out. We didn’t know what would be in Amamoor so took a picnic lunch with us. All the kids on board (and there were a lot of them) loved it & you can take your dog as well.

    1. They certainly don’t! It’s funny but as it puffed up one of the hills I found myself doing the whole “I think I can I think can” like the old nursery rhyme.

  1. What a great day out ..
    I’ve noticed a few train lines starting to operate again which is good to see
    There is one in Vic ..Puffing Billy

    1. I remember taking Puffing Billy when Sarah was little – I reckon she must have been about 5 – and she was so excited! I quite like how they bring a little bit of history to life.

  2. What a wonderful day out together Jo – and I like that there was that little market at the turnaround point – a win for you and a win for the locals. The old guy playing the piano was a nice touch too – and I want coffee and cake at that first cafe (I’d even put up with the piano music because it looked pretty good!)

  3. Hi Jo what a lovely outing and I really enjoyed your photos and story of the day. When I lived in Kiama we took the kids on a steam train ride to Robertson in the Southern Highlands and it was just beautiful. Isn’t it wonderful that history is preserved in this way. x

    1. It really is lovely that it’s preserved – and that so many volunteers are prepared to work to ensure it is.

  4. That sounds like such a fun outing! My boys and I took a train ride through one our local towns a few summers ago and it was a fun new way to see the sights then just 2 years ago my husband and I enjoyed a dinner train ride through a small town in Vermont.

  5. Very nice likely history post. Wonderful information journey by train . Awesome & nice place. I love historical story for gold mines & train facilities. I am so glad for reading post.
    Thanks lot.

  6. This is such a fun post, Jo. Interesting about Gympie. A town called Chemainus on the Island resurrected itself with amazing murals and fun shops. We used to have a train that travelled across the Island. Always a fun adventure. It has stopped running for now, although, we still have the scenic train tracks. I love all of the photos. Very picturesque area.

  7. That looks like a lovely outing, Jo. The scenery is beautiful. Train travel is a relaxing way to see the sights. Thank you for linking with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

  8. I saw this on your Insta and it looked absolutely glorious – this is my idea of a great day out and even better that it’s dog friendly too! If I ever get up to Queensland…

    1. I think it’s easier to come here than go the other way – I’m so scared of having the borders close behind me so will be glad when the vaccines begin to roll out.

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