Kuranda Railway, Yorkey's Knob, Queensland, Australia
By Judy Evans
November 10, 2017 10:10pm CST
Thanks to @pgntwo for bringing to mind Kuranda Railway near Yorkey’s Knob (strange name) in Queensland, Australia. I wrote about it in Bubblews in 2013 but this discussion doesn’t bear much resemblance to that one. Kuranda Railway was built to provide railway access to the hinterland so tin miners and agriculturalists had access to markets and supplies on the coast. The terrain was such that it was impossible to travel overland to the inland areas. Little settlements grew up along the line to cater for the needs of the workers. During World War II, the largest field hospital in the southern hemisphere was situated at Jungara at a point alongside the line. The Kuranda Railway has 37 bridges and 15 tunnels. Some 3 million cubic metres of earth were shifted during its construction. Before you ho-hum about the figures, this was all done by manual labour and real horse-power. Slopes averaged 45 degrees and the ground was a mix of loose rock, rotting vegetation and soil. At one point, 1500 men were working on the project. Most were Irish or Italian. Their pay in September 1888 was 85c per day. The longest tunnel is 490 metres and has three curves and eleven safety culverts. The bridge at Stoney Creek Falls stands on three trestle piers and was completed in 1890. This outstanding bridge is of iron lattice construction. By April 1890, Stoney Creek Bridge was almost complete and a vic e-regal visit was paid by the Governor of Queensland. John Robb, who was in charge, prepared a full banquet on the Bridge which was suspended many metres over the gorge. Due to the roar from the waterfalls, there were no speeches! We travelled past Robb's Monument, a natural rock formation left in place as a monument to John Robb and his engineering skills. The line was finished in 1891 and climbs 328 metres up the Macalister Range. The line is a testament to the hundreds of workers who toiled with pick, shovel and dynamite to get this line through. In 1973, the train was held up at Tunnel 6. It was carrying wages for men on the Tablelands further inland. The bandits escaped on trail bikes and were never caught. I’ve chosen a photo from one of the photographic opportunity stops along the way.
15 people like this
• Derry, Northern Ireland
Impressive! Rails did so much for many otherwise inaccessible places, and we often forget that the people who worked to lay them had to get in there initially to construct them... They were probably second only to the line-gangs that brought telephone and telegraph to such remote spots...
• Bunbury, Australia
Another great poem by Robert Frost. Thanks for putting it up. We've just finished listening to 'Too Long in the Bush'. I have the book but we listened to the audio book on our trip to our home town and back. I must write about it as the incredible hardships they underwent are hard to believe.
• Gainesville, Florida
What a wonderful description of the history of this railway line! Now I've got one more thing to add to my Australian bucket list. Thanks to you Judy, it is starting to get quite lengthy! I hope I have enough time and money to complete everything! haha
• Gainesville, Florida
@JudyEv I've already decided that I'm going to come visit the west coast instead of the east coast! Well, I think I will spend the majority of my time on the west coast! It would be a shame to fly all the way around the world to visit the land down under and not visit Sydney! haha
How huge the engineering! We can well imagine that workers would encounter untold difficulties and dangers during building the railway ,seeing that they didn't have large machinery and transport equipment ,such as excavators,cranes .