Brad Boustead, Valley Rattler volunteer.
Brad Boustead, Valley Rattler volunteer. Jacob Carson

Volunteers prove the backbone of Rattler revival

AFTER a recent round of State Government funding put some coal in the engine of efforts to revive the iconic Mary Valley Rattler, volunteer efforts have gained steam.

This week saw reconstruction efforts ramped up, with an open call out to the community to lend a hand.

Registration has opened for general workers, gardeners, cleaners, painters and carpenters.

There was a small crew working at the site today, continuing the painstaking work of repairing and refurnishing the engine and it's carts - the remains of which dot the old station.

"There's certainly a sense of scale, particularly with these massive engines,” says Brad Boustead, who's been travelling to Gympie from the Sunshine Coast once a week to assist where he can.

"But a lot of the work comes down to small components - if something is slightly loose or out-of-shape there's definitely a knock-on effect.”

The worksite of the day for the Rattler restoration volunteers.
The worksite of the day for the Rattler restoration volunteers. Jacob Carson

The former history teacher and train aficionado says many of the materials needed to repair the train and it's track are currently on site.

"I was never mechanically inclined you know, but I really love this stuff so I try and get down and lend a hand wherever I can,” he says.

"Even just to look there are engines, break pads and original signs just sitting around here, it's unbelievable.”

Signage at the workshop.
Signage at the workshop. Jacob Carson

A quick tour around the grounds reveals a number of features of the train, including guest and guard carriages as well as a firefighting tool to put out any brush fire caused by the tracks sparking.

"Every one wants to be a train driver,” he laughs, "nobody really wanted to do all the cleaning up.”

The firefighting engine designed to trail behind steam engines.
The firefighting engine designed to trail behind steam engines. Jacob Carson

The day's work was centred around time-consuming restoration of carriages, constantly dealing with metal components that were rusted, warped on severely damaged.

There's currently a greater need for cabinet makers and carpenters on site, to repair the wooden interiors of the carriages, with much of the mechanical work already being handled.

However, there's also a need for boilermakers and diesel fitters as well.

Works this weekend saw road closures around the station on and off today.

The workshop, at the Old Gympie Station on Tozer St is open to volunteers from Tuesday to Saturday.

Restoring the iconic train and track has been a passion project for both the Gympie Regional Council and Qld Government.

The logistical difficulty and high costs have seen efforts stop and start, but Mayor Mick Curran says Gympie can expect a completion date toward the end of the year.

If you're interested in registering and volunteering on the project, the revitalisation team have asked applicants to get in touch at volunteer@maryvalleyrattler.com.au, or alternatively phone 5482 2750.

Gympie Times


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