The lush farmlands of the Mary Valley will once again resound to the rhythmic chug of steam trains following the Queensland Government's announcement of a major grant to help get the historic Mary Valley 'Rattler' back on the rails.
The Rattler was thrown a lifeline when the Queensland Government announced the Mary Valley Rattler Project as a successful project for the Palaszczuk Government's Works for Queensland funding.
The $4 million grant is aimed at reviving the popular tourism attraction, which stopped services in 2012, due to the need for significant investment in upgrading the line. A further funding commitment of $600,000 was announced for the construction of a River to Rail recreation train on the Mary River including construction of pathways, viewing decks and signage.
The historic 40 km Mary Valley journey commences at Gympie, and after crossing the Mary River, negotiates an abundance of curves, gradients and bridges to pass through the small country villages of Dagun, Amamoor and Kandanga to Imbil. The railway line and Gympie station date back to pre-1880,
Gympie Regional Council Mayor Mick Curran said in response to the announcement: "In the immortal word of Johnny Cash 'I hear the train a coming'...and it's a sweet sound.
"We have been working closely with the Queensland Government and the Rattler Rail Company Board to get this project on track and we are delighted, as I know the community will be, with the announcement."
"Stage one of the project will include getting the Mary Valley Rattler up and running and commercially successful from Gympie to Amamoor and vice versa. We will then explore the feasibility of the train continuing to Imbil for stage two," said Mayor Curran.
Visit Sunshine Coast CEO Simon Latchford said that the funding commitment would help put the Sunshine Coast's Mary Valley back on the tourism map.
"This is one of the most beautiful parts of Queensland, with rich landscapes, outstanding food producers and historic towns, and having a tourist drawcard such as the 'Rattler' will provide major tourism impetus for the area," said Mr Latchford.
"The aim of the project is to give people easier and better access to the region, which offers so many ecologically rich experiences. It will help reconnect people to a hidden gem".