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Discover Wallangarra Town Past and Present

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by Cris (subscribe)
I am an Organiser of the Group Hiking South East Qld and More on Meetup. Visit the website at https://www.meetup.com/HikingInSEQLDandMore/ is free to join all the activities posted on the hiking group.
Published May 10th 2021
Historical Border Town with a Railway Line Past
Wallangarra is a charming little rural town located on the New South Wales-Queensland border with a fascinating grand Victorian-era railway station that tells the story of the old rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales.

Wallangarra town is home to the heritage listed Wallangarra Railway Station, to the informative Wallangarra Railways Station Museum and to the endearing Wallangarra Railway Cafe.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Take a photo on the touristic train in charming Wallangarra. It is free! Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Railway Station

Wallangarra railway station is a heritage-listed railway station at Woodlawn Street, Wallangarra, Southern Downs Region, in Queensland.

Today, the railway line in the Queensland side is used to run historical trains from Warwick to Wallangarra and return. The railway line in the New South Wales side is abandoned.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales
Wallangarra railway line is used only for historic train journeys: Warwick to Wallangarra and return. The New South Wales side is abandoned. Photo by Author.


Sunnyside Bridge runs over Tenterfield Creek, in 1166 New England Hwy, Tenterfield NSW 2372. The bridge is an example of truss technique, a structure of connected elements. It is part of the railway line going to Wallangarra and it is now in disuse.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales, Sunnyside Rail Bridge
Sunnyside Bridge s a truss bridge running over Tenterfield Creek along the New England Hwy, NSW. It is a historical landmark in Tenterfield, New South Wales. Photo by Author.


The Wallangarra railways station was a product of the two state governments deciding to build railways of different gauges: 1067 mm for Queensland and 1435 mm for New South Wales.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Wallangarra Railway Station, the Queensland side. The railway line is still used to run historic steam trains. Photo from Author.


When the railways were completed, it meant that people travelling from one state to the next had to alight at Wallangarra and change trains. The tiny settlement of Wallangarra became a major railway junction and it flourished as a town.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
The plaque on the border. Photo by Author.


The Wallangarra railway station was built astride the state border with a single island platform with one building, with the western side for the narrow gauge line from Queensland and the eastern side for the standard gauge line from New South Wales.

The Queensland side awnings (western platform) being to Queensland design patterns and that on the standard gauge side (eastern platform) being built after New South Wales pattern.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
The two different type of awnings. On the right is the New South Wales and on the left is the Queensland. Photo by Author.



Wallangarra hosted many important travellers, in particular Sir Henry Parkes changed trains at Wallangarra on his way to deliver the "Tenterfield Oration". He is considered the "Father of the Federation". For more than a century, Wallangarra grew through hard times. It made his contributions to the nation. It matured in a complex world of economy. - information from the Wallangarra Railway Museum.


The original Railway Refreshment Rooms are now a café and the size of the room shows just how many people would have been making their transfers between trains.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the Wallangarra Railway Cafe. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Railway Station Museum

The Wallangarra Railway Museum is a small free entry and interesting museum situated in the Station master's office. It houses many press cuttings, memorabilia and you can sit and watch a film about Wallangarra Railway Station.

Please leave a donation to support the museum.

The Meeting Place


Once the Kambuwal people roamed a vast area from Inglewood in the west, to Bonshaw in the south, Millmerran in the north and eastwards to the slopes of the Great Dividing Range.
The Jakambal, Kwiambal and Ngarabal people lived to the south.

The Wallangarra, Girraween district was a meeting place for Aborigines. Family groups or clans came together for marriages, trade, gift exchanges and ceremonial gatherings such as corroborees and feasts. The woodlands and waterholes of the Severn River system offered a plentiful food supply.

Soon after the arrival of white squatters and settlers, the Aborigines disappeared from the area. Cattle and sheep drove away the Kangaroos and wallabies and damaged soil and vegetation. The Kambuwal people were excluded from waterholes and many of their traditional food sources. Sacred sites were destroyed when farmers ploughed the valley. Today, little evidence remains of the special culture of the Kambuwal Aborigines.
-from the Wallangarra Railway Museum.



The Border Railway


Queensland's narrow gauge railway to the border opened in 1887. A year later, the New South Wales standard gauge line reached Wallangarra. The two colonial capitals of Sydney and Brisbane were now joined by rail. A new era in transport had arrived. Intercolonial Express trains were soon introduced.

Wallangarra became an important and busy hub in Australia's land transport system. It was a break of gauge transfer station. Every passenger changed trains. Every bale of wool, every bag of mail was transhipped from one train to another. Even circuses had to unload and reload.

A new town divided by the border, grew to service the railway - Wallangarra on the Queensland side and Jennings in New South Wales. The post office was transferred to the railway station. The station became the social and business centre of the community. The coming of the railway improved communication, It made transport of goods easier. It helped to open up tourism in the Southern Highlands. - from the Wallangarra Railway Museum.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the museum. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the museum. Pick up the phone to relive the war years. The WWII was a demanding time for many people. In the forefront was Queensland Railways. Railway Workers were unsung heroes in keeping alive Australia's war effort. To hear the experiences of one ordinary engine driver in an extraordinary time, listen to his story on this telephone. Historian and QR heritage Greg Hallam, enjoyed working with Locky Campbell of Warwick as he recounted his memories. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the museum. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the museum. Photo by Author.


The beginning of the end for the railway


There was much excitement when the coastal railway line from Sydney to Brisbane via Kyogle opened in 1930. Travel times were so much shorter. But this event led to the decline of the longer inland route and of Wallangarra itself.


The depression had already caused reduction in railway staff and services. The station building was gutted by fire in 1927. The Railway Refreshment Rooms had been a significant business at Wallangarra. Almost everyone changing trains had a meal. The year after the Kyogle line was opened, the number of meals dropped from 37,000 to 5,700.


Wallangarra served Australia's transport requirements well for forty years. In doing so, it had developed and flourished as a town. Nothing could reverse the impact of the new coastal railway line. World War II would place heavy demand on the railway through Wallangarra. But Wallangarra never regained its former importance as a significant railway town and a vital hub of Australia's railway network. - from the Wallangarra Railway Museum.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Inside the museum. Photo by Author.



A Railway at War


During World War II, troop trains moved thousands of Australian and Allied troops through Wallangarra. With coastal shipping greatly reduced because of the risk of enemy attack, the railway was crucial to the war effort. The Wallangarra line relieved the interstate coastal railway, which was congested with traffic, It was a key transport artery to the north.


Total freight tonnage increased sevenfold during the war with the movement of troops, tanks, motor transport, supplies and equipment. Hospital trains carried sick and wounded soldiers to locations around the country. Troops were fed at Wallangarra. All equipment was transhipped from one train to another. Over fifty trains a day arrived or departed from Wallangarra during busy periods.



Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
One of the first American AC16 locomotives. Photo by Author from an image in the Wallangarra Railway Line Museum. .



To cope with the increased traffic, new locomotives were desperately needed. AC16 class steam locomotives were obtained from the United States of America under the Lend Lease Scheme. With "USA" in large letters on their tenders, they were often seen in Wallangarra.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Australian troops depart for war in a new New South Wales train. Photo from Author from an image in the Wallangarra Railway Line Museum.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Scenes like this publicity photo taken in 1940 were common, as war casualties were loaded or moved from one ambulance train to another. Photo by Author, from an image in the Wallangarra Railway Line Museum.



Weather in Wallangarra


Climatically Wallangarra weather seems to come from the south, in many other ways it is very much a Queensland town. In winter, it can be particularly cold and sometimes temperatures can drop below freezing although tropical Queenslander houses, designed to allow cool air to circulate freely in the summer months, are still in evidence.

Wallangarra had experienced snow in July 2015. A thick layer of white snow covered the trees, the bushes and the grass, giving to the town a real cold winter.

Wallangarra is 878 m above sea level.

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
The colours of autumn in Wallangarra. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
The Queenslander sculpture in Qld. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Wallangarra Railway Station. Photo from Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place,
Detail of the Wallangarra Railway Station. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales
The post office at Wallangarra. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales, Sunnyside Rail Bridge
Water station to refill the tanks of the steam trains. Photo by Author.


Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales, Sunnyside Rail Bridge
The railroad switch to shift the trains from one track to another one. Photo by Author.



Steam Train Journey from Warwick to Wallangarra and return.


The steam train departs from Warwick Station at 8:00am for a leisurely day on the heritage train to Wallangarra, arriving at 12:10pm.

The train departs from Wallangarra at 2:00pm for a leisurely heritage train trip back. The train travels arrives back in Warwick at 6.00pm with a setting sun.

If you like you can include the experience of stepping out of the train and straight to 2 course lunch at the Railway Cafe, located in the old Wallangarra Refreshment Rooms Restaurant.

Book your tickets following the link:

https://southerndownsandgranitebelt.com.au/events/classes-lessons-workshops-and-talks/steam-train-journey-warwick-wallangarra-6

Wallangarra Town, Wallangarra Railway Station and Museum, Wallangarra Railway Café, The Meeting Place, Sir Henry Parkes, Tenterfield Oration, Rivalries between Queensland and New South Wales, Sunnyside Rail Bridge,Steam Train Journey from Warwick to Wallangarra
Steam Train Journey from Warwick to Wallangarra. Photo from southerndownsandgranitebelt.com.au/events/festivals-and-celebrations/southern-downs-steam-railway-warwick-to-wallangarra/



Related articles by the Author

www.weekendnotes.com/basket-swamp-national-park

www.weekendnotes.com/hiking-camping-bald-rock-national

www.weekendnotes.com/bald-rock-national-park/194033

www.weekendnotes.com/discover-liston-nsw


Reference

www.facebook.com/Wallangarra-Railway-Cafe-197273710295510

www.aussietowns.com.au/town/wallangarra-qld

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wallangarra,_Queensland
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Your Comment
Thank you for an absolutely wonderful trip down memory lane with this article about Wallangarra and the train line. I have many memories of travelling on this line in the 1940s and early 1950s, where changing trains took on a whole new meaning. Memories of everything off one train and onto the Queensland train, the cafe, waitresses grabbing cups and plates as the train moved out of the station and throwing our newspapers and magazines out the window to the railway gangs. My family lived in Sydney and we travelled on this line to Brisbane and then on to Mount Morgan to visit grandparents and other relatives. Thank you so much. Ann
by annmo (score: 1|10) 504 days ago
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