Queensland Rail Celebrating 150 years of rail in Queensland 1865-2015 Re-enactment Steam Train Journey
Kaye and I are very excited to be here for today’s steam train journey and to be joined by the students of the Murri School as our special guests.
As we gather here today it is important to recognise those whose heritage and connections with these lands stretch back thousands of years. The traditional custodians of these lands, whose elders past and present I acknowledge.
I am particularly pleased that these students can be part of this celebration of a hundred and fifty years of rail in Queensland because the grand-fathers and great-grandfathers of many of today’s young Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders helped to build Australia’s railways.
In the nineteen fifties, sixties and seventies, many Indigenous men left their traditional lands and their families to take up the job of laying tracks for our expanding national network. It was tough work in the heat and dust, but they did it because the pay was good and they could send money home to their families. And the men quickly earned a reputation as hard workers — in fact one gang of Indigenous track workers set a world record when they laid seven and a quarter kilometres of track in just twelve hours!
We will not be attempting to break any world records today — and certainly not any speed records, because we will be travelling through Brisbane at a very sedate pace in these beautifully restored heritage carriages.
One of the carriages is known as the Governor’s carriage and was built more than a century ago at the Railway Workshops in Ipswich, using beautiful Queensland timbers. It was truly magnificent when it was first completed, with two grand state-rooms, a dining room with seating for six, an observation room with lounge chairs, as well as a bathroom, a pantry, and original artworks on the walls.
This wonderful carriage was used not only by the Governor but by visiting members of the Royal family. On those occasions, the Royal Train would stop at every city and town along the line and the visitors would be greeted by military bands, speeches, and cheering crowds of school children.
The Royal visitor would sometimes declare an extra holiday in honour of the visit. Unfortunately for our special guests, even though I am the representative of Her Majesty The Queen here in our State, it is no longer a Royal prerogative to grant such holidays — but I think a trip around Brisbane in a heritage steam train is every bit as good as a holiday and I hope you all enjoy it as much as I know we will.
Thank you — and enjoy your day!