Why the Rattler overhauled every inch of a 100yo carriage
THE rail cliche "all aboard" is now reality at the Mary Valley Rattler thanks to a brand new carriage for wheelchair access unveiled by the heritage train.
Paralympians Steven Elliott and Hannah Dodd were on hand to celebrate the grand opening of the all access carriage, which is almost a century old and was extensively renovated to get it on the tracks.
The carriage was originally built to host 90 passengers; this was been redesigned to hold 56 in a more spacious environment and includes four wheelchair bays.
Expert Gympie craftspeople brought the carriage back to life with its most comprehensive restoration since its original construction in the Ipswich workshops 96 years ago.
Internal and external panelling has been replaced, while windows, frames, doors and floors have been repaired, sanded, painted and varnished.
The sympathetic restoration has been designed to preserve the changes throughout its history, while adding new access ramps to ensure an even wider cross section of people can experience the historic steam train's journey through the Mary Valley.
The restoration was undertaken in the Old Gympie Workshops by a local carpenter, with the assistance from a wide range of volunteers.
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General Manager of the Mary Valley Rattler, Micheal Green, said the realisation of the project was testament to the passion, skills and community spirit of the restoration team, and it was fitting that two inspirational Paralympians should launch the carriage.
"Making the Mary Valley Rattler accessible to a wider cross-section of the community and visitors has always been a priority of the team," said Mr Green.
"Having Steven and Hannah - who must be amongst the most dedicated and inspirational athletes in Australia - ride the Rattler for the launch of the all-access carriage makes the inauguration even more rewarding.
"Both have overcome enormous personal obstacles to achieve their success in the sporting world, and of course with Steven being raised in Gympie, we hope their involvement will highlight even further the importance of accessibility in major tourism attractions and community assets.
"I'd also like to thank Duncan Cooper of the Gympie Motor Group for coming on-board with sponsorship of the all-access carriage. The Rattler is a unique heritage attraction for Gympie, and the support of local business is vital to ensure we can maintain the service and add extra facilities such as the All Access carriage."