Queensland Rail is celebrating 150 years this year. As a part of the celebrations a commemorative steam train is making a journey from Brisbane to Far North Queensland, and last Saturday the train stopped in Oakey.
So this week I thought I’d have a look around and see what other interesting snippets I could find about the Western Line (the railway not the hotel). Back in 1868, Prince Alfred (the second son of Queen Victoria) travelled from Ipswich to Jondaryan by train. Special arrangements were made for his trip from Ipswich, including an open carriage placed in front of the locomotive covered in flags and flowers so he could have an uninterrupted view of the recently completed works on the Main Range to Toowoomba. He was even served his lunch half way up the Toowoomba range.
Construction on the Goombungee to Kingsthorpe line began in the early 1900s. The August report from the resident engineer listed that 4556 sleepers had been received, over 100 tons of rails was waiting at Kingsthorpe (formerly known as the Gowrie Junctions) and that the erection of the telegraph line had been started. An interesting headline caught my attention while researching this section of track. “Goombungee Railway: The rival routes. Meeting at Goombungee, a lively meeting, the police interfere to protect lives”. Not everyone was in favour of the Kingsthorpe to Goombungee route it would seem, and a public meeting was held by the Rosalie Shire Council to vote on which route to be taken. In the end the Kingsthorpe line was chosen as it would cost the ratepayers £16,000 ($32,000) less than the alternatives. The debate for and against got heated enough that the police had to interfere to keep order.
I spoke the other week about the medical centre on Cherry Street. The Cherry family settled in the Oakey district in 1871, where the five sons established homes. Sam Cherry, one of the five sons, was an avid train watcher. He worked at the old Hogarth Meat Works, prior to it closing, and also shore on Sir Patrick Jenning’s Westbrook station. He was known to always be down at the railway station at “train time”, and it was said (at the time) that the only train he failed to meet came to grief while steaming out of the station.