Day 55 Wednesday July 30th 2014 Normanton Croydon Normanton
We assemble at the Normanton railway station at 8:00am to board the Gulflander train to go to Croydon 150kms away. Yeah, I know that’s where we just came from but this little train choofs back and forth between Croydon and Normanton and is also known as the train that goes from nowhere to nowhere. As long as I’ve known about this train I’ve wanted to do this trip and I’m not a train buff. The pretty little wooden station is all gussied up with flowers in pots and railway relics. The ‘Queensland Maroon’ coloured diesel rail motor has three carriages. The 3ft 6inch wide line was opened in 1891 and the train shakes, rattles and rolls its way along at an average 25mph. In the dry season every Wednesday it travels to Croydon and every Thursday it returns.
Ken the driver gives a brilliant commentary for most of the five hour journey. We learn about the history of the rail and the flora and fauna. What happens in the wet season and the history of the region and the mining. We deliver mail to a cattle station and pick up tour groups along the way. During the tea stop at Black Bull Siding we get to see how the train works. Because of the regular floods the line has been built on hollow metal sleepers filled with sand. It requires very little maintenance and true to its design has withstood horrendous floods. In 1974 the flood waters were higher than the tree tops. In 2009 the flood waters didn’t recede for two months.
At 1:30pm we find ourselves back in Croydon and we have lunch at the Club Hotel while we wait for the bus to return us to Normanton in a very quick 2 hours.
Charlie Honey was a Gulflander train driver of yesteryear. The little train and its wobbly track is meant to be travelled slowly but Charlie liked to work hard on improving his times. One morning he left Croydon at 8:30am and at Normanton at 11:30am he answered the phone to be greeted by his superior. Charlie was sternly asked to change his habits and he did. Never again did he answer the phone before 1:30pm!
Towing Kms: 0
4 thoughts on “It’s a long way to the top, Day 55 – The Gulflander”
I don’t understand the science behind the flood-resistant railroad, but it sounds fascinating. What a fun trip.
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I often do a double take at your place names – Croydon, for example, where I once worked. 🙂
It is amusing to compare places with the same names we too have a Croydon in Melbourne. It is a leafy suburb that bears no resemblance to the dry dusty outback town in Qld. Melbourne’s most expensive suburb is called Toorak and I once found myself in a suburb of the same name in Suva, Fiji. Very different, very different indeed.
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