Community celebrates 120th anniversary of Winton rail line

Community celebrates 120th anniversary of Winton rail line

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Wool being carted along the Winton rail line.

Wool being carted along the Winton rail line.

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This week marks the 120th anniversary of the opening of rail in Winton - an original section of the Great Northern Railway.

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This week marks the 120th anniversary of the opening of rail in Winton - an original section of the Great Northern Railway, now known as the Mount Isa line.

Queensland Rail's Historian Greg Hallam travelled to Winton to join the community to mark the occasion, speaking on the line's history at the opening of two new railway exhibitions in the town.

Paying homage to the important role the line has played in Queensland's history, the exhibitions are on display at the Outback Regional Gallery in the Waltzing Matilda Centre.

"It's fantastic to see the Winton community coming together to celebrate this anniversary and learn about the history of rail in Central West Queensland," Mr Hallam said.

"I'm excited to be here to be part of the celebrations which include the opening of two new exhibitions - Life on the Line and I've Been Working on the Railway, between 5.30pm - 6.30pm on Friday 6 December at the Outback Regional Gallery.

"Open until February 28, 2020, the exhibitions offer insight into the history and varied tasks undertaken by people who have worked on Queensland railways for the last 150-plus years."

The rail line opening from Winton to Hughenden.

The rail line opening from Winton to Hughenden.

Mr Hallam said the celebrations would continue on Saturday, December 7, with a rail history presentation scheduled to take place at the Sara Riley Theatrette.

"From 10am to 11am on Saturday (December 7), I'll be hosting a free history talk on Winton's incredible rail history dating back to the late 19th century at the Sara Riley Theatrette in the Outback Regional Gallery, with early photographs of Winton and the surrounding regions on display.

"Everyone is welcome to attend, from the local community, rail enthusiasts, visitors, school students and families."

According to Mr Hallam, when the Winton line first opened, it was the missing link between central west Queensland and the Great Northern Railway, eventually known as the Mount Isa line.

"Built in an era which saw railways transition from coastal ports such as Rockhampton towards inland Queensland, the opening of the railway was seen as a guarantee of success for farming communities and settlements, as well as anyone connected with its construction.

"The Winton branch line was mainly used to transport wool, but during the years of the First World War, local volunteers took the train to Townsville and went to war from here. The railway line took three years to complete.

"The south west extension to Winton from Hughenden, opened to Stamford on 13 December 1897, and Corfield on 15 October 1898.

First train to leave Winton in 1898.

First train to leave Winton in 1898.

"In 1993, Queensland Rail introduced the Spirit of the Outback service, operating from Brisbane to Longreach along the Central Western line and further connecting customers to Winton via coach.

"Queensland Rail continues to connect rail freight services along the North-West rail corridor directly to Winton, supporting local industry and businesses.

"At Queensland Rail, we're extremely proud of our 154-year history in Queensland, and the role we have played in communities like Winton during this time.

"To find out more about this historical piece of Queensland history, be sure to stop by and say hello this Friday and Saturday at the Waltzing Matilda Centre."

The story Community celebrates 120th anniversary of Winton rail line first appeared on The North West Star.

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