Reg and Geoff (right) before the famous Valley Rattler steam train chugged through across the Dagun crossing.
Reg and Geoff (right) before the famous Valley Rattler steam train chugged through across the Dagun crossing. Contributed

Dagun farewell for flag bearers

THE last flag has flown, signalling the end of a tradition out Dagun way and for the rest of the state.

Sunday saw about 500 people celebrating the last time that flagmen would stop at the Dagun rail crossing to make sure motorists knew the train was approaching.

Reg Lawler, who helped set up the Dagun Community Group – which supplied volunteers to flag the trains for 12 years – said it was a pity the 150-year-old practice had to end.

He flew the last flag with Geoff Harvey as the Valley Rattler headed in from Amamoor.

“I still don’t quite understand it (the reasoning behind the stop),” he said over the phone.

Mr Lawler said trains heading into Dagun station from the north came out of a cutting in the side of a hill and were hard to see from the road. “They’re going to have to do something ... if the train comes unexpectedly drivers can’t see it.”

The train has to head uphill into Dagun from the south and needs some momentum behind it and safety was not going to be enhanced by not having a flag.

“Flags made it substantially safer,” he said.

He does understand that having the flagmen at select stations made some drivers complacent when it came to checking for trains, which could be a safety issue. But a stop sign may help drivers check for trains at Dagun, he said.

“The flags were good fun and something from the past we did to improve safety.”

Vice-president of the Dagun Community Group Brian Davis, said there had never been an incident at the crossing but there were a few close calls.

In the early days flagmen would travel to Kandanga flag the train there, check the line and come back to Dagun.

The celebration was great get-together for the community and an opportunity to talk about the good old days.

Gympie Times

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