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Volunteers keep us together

Heritage rail volunteers turned a tourist attraction into a vital link between Gympie and Monkland.
Heritage rail volunteers turned a tourist attraction into a vital link between Gympie and Monkland. Craig Warhurst

VOLUNTEERS helped keep Gympie together during last year's floods.

Among them were the rail enthusiasts who turned the Mary Valley Heritage Rail into a vital lifeline, bridging flooded waters to link Gympie and Monkland.

But the chance to help the community came at a high price for the MVHR which, like many flood-affected businesses, missed out on paying visitors during the disaster-related slump.

Many Queenslanders appeared to have been too busy coping with their own emergencies to have their normal holidays.

A hard year financially also has challenged an organisation which has become an important trademark for the Gympie region.

Vice president Peter Alder, a qualified steam train driver, said yesterday that volunteers, including himself, had effectively taken over the railway to run their flood service.

"For the three to four days the roads were flooded, we ran the 2000 Class silver railmotor (the Silver Bullet) just about hourly.

"We carried 3500 passengers, carrying workers to work and carrying many other Monkland residents needing to get to town for one reason or another."

Many residents gratefully recall being picked up on the Gympie side and delivered home, via several generally disused railway platforms which were swung back into service during the emergency.

But even as the MVHR gets back on its feet after a year that started badly and became even worse, volunteers are planning to improve their emergency contribution.

Mr Alder said yesterday the organisation was looking now to improve its service to areas from Southside to Imbil.

"The rail bridge goes underwater often, but - flood levels permitting - we could provide a link for towns like Amamoor, Kandanga and Imbil," he said.

 

Rattler vital flood link for Monkland

THE people of Monkland could still eat and get to work, despite being effectively marooned on their own island, just south of the flood-bound city of Gympie.

And city supermarkets could still supply meat to their customers, with the Mary Valley Heritage Rail carrying tonnes of frozen meat products from Nolan's, at East Deep Creek, into town by rail.

"We carried about 3500 passengers," Mary Valley Heritage Rail vice president Peter Alder said yesterday.

"It was a free service for workers and a donation for other passengers. We ended up carrying milk and bread and a few boxes of eggs. We brought in about five tonnes of meat from Nolans.

"The meat was all boxed up and they had refrigerated trucks delivering it to Monkland Station.

"We took it to town and the shops had refrigerated trucks to pick it up at that end.

"Every morning we took bread and milk - and the Gympie Times - to the Monkland Store.

Topics:  crisis disaster flood gympie volunteers

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