One Australia steam train experiences gets back on the rails again
The future is looking bright for one of Queensland’s most -loved tourism attractions, with the steam and diesel engines of the Mary Valley Rattler again chugging their way through some of the Sunshine Coast hinterland’s most picturesque countryside.
After many years of extensive upgrades to existing track work and improvements to its fleet of historic steam and diesel locomotives and carriages – each with their own unique story – the heritage railway experience has been relaunched after an almost seven-year hiatus. At its peak, the Valley Rattler, as it was then known, played host to upwards of 30,000 passengers annually.
Morning and afternoon services on the Mary Valley Rattler will now run three days per week on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays for a return journey from the historic Gympie or Amamoor stations via Dagun.
Reputed to be the largest timber railway building owned by Queensland Rail during the 20th century, the historic Gympie station is the headquarters of the Mary Valley Rattler and arguably one of the most stylish and elaborate in the context of timber railway architecture.
Along with a gift shop and a historical display, the station is home to Platform No.1 Café offering dine-in or takeaway options including wine and cheese platters (featuring the best regional produce) to enjoy aboard one of the Rattler’s lovingly restored heritage trains as it winds through 46-km of breathtaking scenery.
Dotted with quaint country villages and known for its high-quality produce, the Mary Valley is a patchwork of grazing properties, dairies, small produce farms, rainforests and endless rolling hills.
Mary Valley is home to descendants of the original pioneers of the area and with a half hour stop at the beautifully restored stations at Amamoor and Dagun, the Mary Valley Rattler is an ideal way to experience the laidback welcome atmosphere of rural living at its best.
Best known for the annual music Muster held nearby, Amamoor is a delightful village bordered by a verdant forest reserve home to more than 120 species of bird, waterfalls and great waterholes to cool off on hot days, also look out for the elusive platypus that are often seen in the waterways.
It’s at the Amamoor station, in a fascinating process reminiscent of a bygone era, where the locomotive engines are turned on a restored turntable for the return trip to Gympie.
Cheese tasting from the popular Kenilworth Dairies is available for passengers on the platform at Dagun Station. There is also the opportunity to purchase locally grown spray-free fruit and vegetables from the Dagun Growers Market collective on Saturday afternoons.
Restroom facilities and refreshments are available at all stops.
A ride on the Mary Valley Rattler is a fun, half day adventure suitable for the whole family just an hour’s drive north from the Sunshine Coast airport and less than two hours from Brisbane.
Mary Valley Rattler Chairman Ian McNicol said that the Mary Valley Rattler was a really special attraction that fascinates people of all ages.
“The half day return journey really is a showcase of all the different elements the Rattler has to offer: a heritage railway experience; our historic railway stations, which are amongst the best examples of their kind in Queensland; our Platform No.1 Café and event space; the rich mining history of the area; and the fine produce of the region,” he said.
“We are absolutely delighted to see the Mary Valley Rattler back on track, it’s a huge achievement for everyone involved and we are looking forward to sharing the experience with as many people as possible.”
Simon Latchford, CEO of Visit Sunshine Coast, said the return of the Mary Valley Rattler was a massive boost for the region’s tourism industry.
“The Mary Valley Rattler was one of the region’s peak attractions for decades, and the combination of the romance of steam trains and the beautiful countryside it passes through will ensure it quickly regains its legendary tourism status,” Mr Latchford said.
“We also see this as a great opportunity to increase the profile of the Mary Valley, which offers such a rich holiday experience with its tremendous range of adventure activities, heritage villages, high-quality food experiences and attractive accommodation.”
SCHEDULE: Twice daily on Wednesdays, Saturdays, Sundays
COST: Free Admission to stations, Rattler tickets: Adult: $55, Concession: $45, Child (4-12) $30, Family (2 Adults, 2 Children): $145
For full details, ticket purchases and departure times visit www.maryvalleyrattler.com.au or call the Mary Valley Rattler on 07 5482 2750.