The man behind the idea, MVHR volunteer and Coles Express Gympie service station attendant, Quentin McLachlan (centre) with MVHR Coles Express operations manager Peter Sheean and Shell Queensland corporate representative Graham Box.
The man behind the idea, MVHR volunteer and Coles Express Gympie service station attendant, Quentin McLachlan (centre) with MVHR Coles Express operations manager Peter Sheean and Shell Queensland corporate representative Graham Box. Renee Pilcher

Railway fuelled by donation

MARY Valley Heritage Railway volunteers are doing what they can to keep the tourist attraction running.

And, at this point, every little bit counts.

A donation from Shell of 1000 litres of engine oil, worth about $5000, will definitely help.

Railway volunteer and Coles Express petrol station attendant Quentin McLachlan, took advantage of a one-off opportunity to bring in the big guns.

On the opening day of Coles Express Gympie, Mr McLachlan approached company executives and asked them to consider backing MVHR by supplying engine oil to service the locomotives.

He asked both Shell and Coles Express to support the local community by donating oil to the region's biggest tourist attraction.

Unaware of the heritage railway's plight, the company executives jumped on board simply as a public relations exercise. At yesterday's official donation handover, Shell Queensland corporate representative Graham Box learned of the organisation's hardship.

"I think people need to put their thinking caps on," he said when asked for his thoughts on a way to save the Rattler.

Mr McLachlan inquired about a donation because the railway workshop had run out of oil and there was no money to purchase more to service the engines.

"It's a big tourist drawcard," he told The Gympie Times.

"Little communities in the Mary Valley will be at risk of becoming ghost towns without the Rattler bringing visitors to the towns."

With the organisation in dire straits due to a number of contributing factors, MVHR has begun to sell-off some of its assets.

A number of vintage railway carriages and other rolling stock have been put up for sale. Some items were in operation recently while other items have been described as "decrepit".

Nevertheless, all items have historic significance and would be of interest to railway enthusiasts.

Photographs of the carriages, inside and out, can be viewed online at artq.net or by emailing MVHR manager Jim Walker at jim@mvhr.org.au.

When asked why the track was under scrutiny when a tender wheel was the cause of the minor derailment and not the condition of the track, Mr Walker said the situation would be made much clearer next week.

"Until we see what the (rail safety) regulator says, I can't comment," he said.

For the time being, it was all smiles as the heritage railway's team accepted the generous donation yesterday.

"It's great to see a national company and local employer come on board to support MVHR," Mr Walker said.

"This is a real shot in the arm."

Gympie Times


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