The C17 No 45 steam engine was fully restored by the Gympie District Historical Society and leased to the Mary Valley Heritage Railway before falling into disrepair.
The C17 No 45 steam engine was fully restored by the Gympie District Historical Society and leased to the Mary Valley Heritage Railway before falling into disrepair. Troy Jegers

Sad story of Gympie's forgotten Rattler

THE C17 No 45 steam engine was a key figure in the history of the Rattler and served the region for more than seven years before being left to fall into its current state of disrepair.

Taken out of service in 1969, the engine was offered by the Queensland Government to Gympie City Council to place in Andrew Fisher Park.

Left to deteriorate and eventually be considered for the scrap yard, the train instead found its way into the hands of Gympie and District Historical Society in 1983. What followed was a labour of love to bring the engine back to life by eight friends over five years from 1987-92.

John Stark, pictured here with Mayor Mick Curran.
John Stark, pictured here with Mayor Mick Curran. Jacob Carson

The efforts of John Stark, his son Trevor, Frank Palmer, Tony Van Krevel, Trevor Laird, Greg Stolberg, Clyde Kunst and Jack Ison were captured in 2000 in The Return of Steam Locomotive C17, No 45, which details the extensive repair work to get the engine back on track for Gympie's 125th birthday at the behest of then Mayor Joan Dodt.

It was then hired by Mary Valley Heritage Railway to launch the historic line in 1998.

John Stark said in Return the train was moved to the Queensland Railway workshop "on the condition that it was all to be kept in full working order”.

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And it was an agreement he celebrated at the time given how he was told bringing No 45 back to life was "nye (sic) impossible to accomplish”.

"No 45 is ready for many years of delighting adults and children from all walks of life from across the world,” he said.

Gympie Times