UPHILL BATTLE: Long-serving volunteer and former manager Ted Mitchell says it is imperative the revived Rattler go all the way to Imbil within 12 months of becoming operational again.
UPHILL BATTLE: Long-serving volunteer and former manager Ted Mitchell says it is imperative the revived Rattler go all the way to Imbil within 12 months of becoming operational again. Craig Warhurst

Volunteers to restore the iconic Valley Rattler

A NEWLY formed volunteer association has clear goals to restore the Valley Rattler as the region's iconic tourist attraction.

The Valley Rattler Volunteer Association was formalised Wednesday night following its first official meeting.

Members met face-to-face and discussed the future of the Valley Rattler.

VRVA chairman Ken Coulter, with more than 20 years involvement with the heritage railway, said the meeting was a success.

"The Valley Rattler is totally unique to this region and we should cherish it and do everything we can to get it up and running again," he said.

"I used to go and clean the carriages when they were in the museum and before they were moved to the railway."

The new association now has what it describes as "immediate aims".

They include having the workshops re-open in Gympie, starting fundraising activity to raise funds for boiler repairs on locomotive #967 and starting the clearance of vegetation on the track corridors with the help of the numerous Mary Valley communities.

Mr Coulter said the volunteer association sought to be professional.

"Everything (we) do will be on a strictly professional basis so everyone can see that we know what we are doing and can get the Valley Rattler up and operating once more," he said.

Public support had always been a backbone of the Valley Rattler's success, and community involvement, Mr Coulter said, would be necessary for the Valley Rattler to again grace the Mary Valley's landscape.

"To achieve this, we need assistance of the Valley communities and these days any (work) has to be safety assessed," he said.

"We already have a volunteer qualified in the training and instruction of safety assessment."

The work itself will include the clearing and burning of vegetation on the track along with killing weeds.

A meeting room has been offered to the association, but the group hopes to find a small office to act as a base.

There are also plans to have monthly meetings rotate between Gympie, Dagun, Imbil, Kandanga and Amamoor to be inclusive.

Re-opening the Valley Rattler's workshops is also of importance so work may begin on the steam locomotives which the group estimates will take months, if not years, to complete.

"Once we get approval we will be looking for a great price or donation of two cranes to lift the boiler from locomotive #967 on to a special wagon the volunteers have built so they may assess the boiler and firebox," Mr Coulter said.

Meanwhile, the former Newman Government's pledge of $2 million for track repairs and an additional $600,000 for rolling stock remains in doubt with the new Labor Government yet to commit.

Anyone wanting to become involved with the Valley Rattler Volunteer Association, contact Ken Coulter on 0417 769 993.

Gympie Times


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