Writing for pleasure to showcase the best Australia has on offer.
Published January 6th 2019
Victoria to Queensland, Railway History Ignites Town
In 1865, John Walker & Co set up a foundry in Ballarat, Victoria, named Union Foundry. The Foundry supplied mining machinery to all areas of Australia. The business was so successful that he decided to open a branch in Maryborough Queensland in 1867. John Walker & Co. Ltd in Maryborough is well-known for having been the manufacturers of the first steam locomotive built in Queensland. It was built for timber pioneers William Pettigrew and William Sim, who hauled logs in the Tin Can Bay region.
Maryborough's Whistle Stop Railways Museum (Author's Photo)
In 1869, the Foundry was renamed Walkers Limited manufacturing engineering, mining, locomotives and sugar equipment to local and overseas markets. Due to economic influences, Walkers Limited was sold to Evans Deakin Industries in 1980 but retained its name as the business was renown worldwide in the sugar industry to be a manufacturer of quality products. In 2003, Downer Group purchased the Evans Deakin Industries retaining the rollingstock business and selling the sugar part to Bundaberg Foundry Engineers.
Original Mary Ann Locomotive (Photo courtesy of Old Engineering Website
The original Mary Ann steam train locomotive was built in 1873 at a cost of 600 pounds 600 and weighing six tons. The replica was built in Maryborough by Wm Olds & Sons Pty Ltd at a cost $250,000 and weighs nine tonnes. Bill Olds, now second-generation proprietor, completed his apprenticeship at Walkers Limited.
The replica is used for train rides every Thursday on Maryborough Market Day and also on the last Sunday of each month between 9.00 am 12.30pm in conjunction with Maryborough's MELSA (Model Engineers and Live Steamer's Association) event in Queens Park. The Mary Ann is available for weddings and special occasion events.
Replica Mary Ann Operating in Queens Park Maryborough (Photo courtesy of Olds Engineering)
Passengers are picked up from Macalister Station, which is located behind the Bond Store Museum in the Wharf Street Precinct. They travel over part of the old "Golden Mile", meandering along Kent Street to the Hyne Timber Yards, passing close to the Mary River before entering Queens Park and onto Sussex Street.
Over the years, Walkers Limited/Downer Rail have manufactured 556 Steam Locomotives of B, PB, C, BB, Dd, KA and Q Class to Commonwealth, South Australian, Tasmanian and Queensland Governments, 12 Queensland 1170 class diesel-electric locomotives, 144 diesel-hydraulic locomotives, 80 electric locomotives to Queensland Rail, 782 electric multiple units to Queensland Rail, Transperth and Kuala Lumpur and 12 tilt trains to Queensland Rail. One can easily understand why rollingstock plays an important part in Maryborough's history.
Extensive Library of Records Displayed at Whistle Stop Railway Museum (Author's Photo)
The Whistle Stop Rail Museum is situated in Lennox Street Maryborough in one of the buildings from the old Maryborough Railway Station in the centre of town and is open every Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday (Maryborough Market Day) and Friday mornings from 9.00 am to 1.00pm. Visitors can purchase tickets at the museum for rides on the Mary Ann or at the train collection point behind The Bond Store Museum. Prices for rides are as follows.
Thursdays – Children $2.00, Adults $3.00, Family $7.00.
Sundays (longer ride) – Children $3.00, Adults $5.00, Family $12.00.
Family refers to Mum/Dad/Guardian and their school-aged children.
Model Train @ Whistle Stop Railways Museum (Author's Photo)
Although moderately sized in building space, the Whistle Stop Rail Museum is packed with railway memorabilia from early to recent years. It is run by knowledgeable volunteers with a passion for trains and Maryborough. The day I visited, a man named David was setting up two miniature train sets and a replica of the old Maryborough Railway Station. Many may not know that trains coming into the old Maryborough Railway Station had to reverse out as there was no ring rail system until the train was back on the Queensland tracks.
Other items of interest in the museum include the Station Masters Deck, hand-written tickets, ledgers, Railway kerosene lanterns, Railway clothing and staff hats, driver's tokens, trophies awarded to Railway employees in garden competitions and even the knock-off whistle from Walkers Limited.
Ex Walkers Limited Whistle Stop & Whistle Stop Railway Museum's Logo (Author's Photo)
If you are in Maryborough, a visit to the Whistle Stop Railway Museum is a must. A $2.00 entry fee is required at the door. If you would like to become a volunteer or give a donation, tabs for these can be located on their website. All donations are tax-deductible.