Rosewood History ©

Railway workers digging a cutting for the Grandchester line.
(Photo: State Library of Qld)

RAILWAY
Ipswich to Bigge’s Camp

The first movement to establish a railway network in Queensland was met with some opposition from a sector that wanted to start a private tramway company. They opposed any measures by the Government to establish an inexpensive and light rail system. The tramway idea failed to launch and the Government put their Bill forward for a second time and it was passed by a majority of one. An appeal was made to the public and at the general election it was evident that the people wanted a railway. When looking at a map, there was no doubt how much of the State would benefit and be accessible to Moreton Bay by the construction of a rail network.

The line was to commence in Ipswich, cross over a bridge built across the Bremer River to North Ipswich, and run parallel to the river to Ironpot Creek, then follow the general direction of the old road from the One Mile Creek via Campbell’s Gully to the Rising Sun Inn at the Rosewood Scrub. Here the first railway station would be built. From there it would run through the township of Alfred and on to Bigge’s Camp, where a second station would be situated. The track would continue over the Little Liverpool Range with a tunnel at the summit of the incline, then cross the range over several gullies and ravines, through to Laidley then run parallel to to the Gatton road, across the Lockyer River on another new bridge, on to Grantham, Murphy’s Creek and ascend the Main Range to Toowoomba. From Toowoomba it would go in two directions, to Dalby and to Warwick.

The ceremony of the turning of the first sod was held on Thursday, 25th February 1864 at North Ipswich. Lady Bowen (Governor’s wife), assisted by Hon A. Macalister (Minister for Lands), to cut the turf using a sliver spade taken from an ornamental cedar barrow. Messrs. Peto, Brassey and Co., Contractors, were assigned to take charge of the task. The photo above was taken on the day by G. H. Woodelton.

Seventeen months later on Monday, 31st July 1865 the first section of the Southern and Western Railway, from Ipswich to Bigge’s Camp (Grandchester) was opened by Governor Bowen.

First Timetable

100th Anniversary of the First Queensland Railway | Monument Australia

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The Marburg Branch

Opening ceremony of the first train to Marburg from Rosewood, 1912
Photo: Picture Ipswich

The hopes of 30 years were realised when the Rosewood to Marburg Branch line was officially opened on 26th January 1912. A PB15 class locomotive (No 406) built by Evans, Anderson, Phelan & Co drove through a blue ribbon stretched across the track at Marburg Station, while the Marburg Brass Band, led by F. Viertel, played “See the Conquering Hero Comes”. On board were the Minister for Railways, Hon Walter Trueman Paget and local member, Henry Morton Stevens who opened the throttle and drove it through the ribbon held by Misses Ruby Heiner and Thelma Gibson. Also on board were other dignitaries and a large number of passengers who’d joined the train along the way on its journey from Brisbane Central Station. 

The line was was built under the guarantee system. The Minister estimated the cost of the line at £47,721, and up to the end of December, when the work was not quite complete, the expenditure amounted to about £1,000 less than that sum. In his speech that day he reminded the residents of the district of their obligation to provide a yearly revenue of £1,410. It was their duty to provide the passengers and the produce to make the line pay, otherwise the Commissioner would have to strike a rate of 1s. 4½d. per acre. 

The line ran from Rosewood and took a winding course through gently rising country for the greater part of the distance, through rich agricultural land with pleasing scenery all the way. Construction began on the first 8¾ miles (14.08 klm) branch in October 1910 and it was completed to Marburg on 18th December 1911. The first station was North Rosewood, then Perry’s Knob, Cabanda, Kunkala, Talegalla, Birru, Malabar, Marburg. During construction, the line was extended an extra mile (1.5 klm) through to Woodlands Sugar Mill. 

Over the years the line proved to be unprofitabale and passengers on the mixed train could take 3 hours to get to Ipswich. The branch line remained intact until June 1964 when the section from Birru to Marburg closed. By June 1969 it was truncated back to Kunkala and by 1974 the track was effectively closed beyond Perry’s Knob. 

In late 1984 members of the Queensland Division of the Australian Railway and Locomotive Historical Society began reinstating the track between Cabanda and Kunkala as part of the Rosewood Railway. Their vision was to give visitors the experience of the late steam and early diesel era. It was a momentus occasion on 20th November 1988 when the first paying passengers were carried on DL3 “Mt Surprise”. 

The last train from Rosewood to Perry’s Knob ran on 13th December 1995, when two rail-motors purchased by the Rosewood Railway were driven there from Redbank. 

ARHSQD hold the lease for the line from Rosewood to Kunkala and from January 1993 ran trains for visitors until 2004 when operations were paused. 

Kunkala Station is now the “Rosewood Railway Museum”.

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Railway Tapes Episode 7 – Rosewood Rail Museum. Janet Skinner. Romance of the Rail, History in Art and Word.
Artist Janet Skinner interviews Dr Greg Cash, 1997

This is a very intersting site and worth a look for railway history enthusiasts.
RAILWAY ARCHAEOLOGY IPSWICH (QLD) –  Alister J Cameron