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Cairns Railway, Section from Redlynch to Crooked Creek Bridge

  • 600755
  • Kuranda


Also known as
Surprise Creek Rail Bridge; Kuranda Railway Station; Rail Bridge over Christmas Creek; Stoney Creek Bridge; Cairns to Kuranda Railway
State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
21 August 1992
Transport—rail: Bridge—railway
Transport—rail: Railway
Transport—rail: Railway station
Transport—road: Tunnel
4.1 Working: Organising workers and workplaces
5.3 Moving goods, people and information: Using rail
6.1 Building settlements, towns, cities and dwellings: Establishing settlements and towns
Gwynneth, John (Govt Engineer)
Hannam, Willoughby
Price, Vincent
Queensland Railway Department (1887-1932)
Queensland Railways
Robb, John (Melbourne)
Construction periods
1880, Ascent to Barron Falls Station (between 30.65km and 30.82km from Cairns) (1880s)
1890–1891, Surprise Creek Bridge (at 28.7km from Cairns) (1890-91)
1890–1914, Kuranda Station (at 33.23km from Cairns) (c1890 onwards (in particular 1914))
1890, Redlynch Railway Station (at 11.6km from Cairns) (c1890 onwards)
1890, Bridge 42 (at 27.72km from Cairns) (1890)
1891, Christmas Creek Bridge (at 29.23km from Cairns) (1891)
1891, Stoney Creek Bridge (at 23.15km from Cairns) (1891)
1909, Stoney Creek Station (at 22.53km from Cairns) (1909 onwards)


  • Kuranda
  • Redlynch
Mareeba Shire Council
-16.88092547, 145.66211386


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Criterion AThe place is important in demonstrating the evolution or pattern of Queensland’s history.

The portion of the Cairns Railway between Redlynch and Crooked Creek Bridge was built 1887-91 as part of a railway to the tin-mining town of Herberton. The railway's ascent of the coastal range demonstrates the Queensland Government's policy of building railways from ports to inland mining centres to promote economic growth.

The Cairns Railway is closely associated with the economic development of Cairns and the surrounding region. As a result of its selection as Herberton's port, Cairns became the largest town in Far North Queensland. Although the railway did not reach Herberton until 1910, the ascent of the range facilitated timber getting and then farming on the Atherton Tableland.

The place is also closely associated with the development of tourism in Far North Queensland. From 1891 the second section of the Cairns Railway facilitated visits to Stoney Creek Falls and the Barron Falls, and Stoney Creek Station and Kuranda Station became important stops for visitors. The township of Kuranda and Kuranda Railway Station remain major tourist attractions.

Redlynch Railway Station is significant as it contains early infrastructure located at the end of the first section of the Cairns Railway (built 1886-1887), and is the start of the ascent to Kuranda.

Criterion BThe place demonstrates rare, uncommon or endangered aspects of Queensland’s cultural heritage.

Kuranda Railway Station includes three early (c.1914) surviving Queensland examples of pre-cast concrete railway station buildings, and has one of the few mechanically interlocked signal cabins still commissioned in Queensland. The complex is also a rare surviving resort station, comparable with those at Spring Bluff [Main Range Railway, QHR 601480] and Yeppoon [QHR 602563].

Stoney Creek Station has a rare combination of scenic beauty and evidence of its past role as a service point for steam trains climbing the coastal range. The water tank provides rare surviving evidence of the age of steam trains in Queensland, and the sand shed is also rare.

The design of the curved, steel lattice girder Stoney Creek Bridge is unique in Queensland's railways. It and Christmas Creek Bridge are also the only two Queensland railway bridges constructed with wrought iron trestles.

Steel Bridge 9 (historically called Bridge 42) employs reused fishbelly plate cross-girders as its main span members, which is rare.

Surprise Creek Bridge is one of a small group of bridges extant in Queensland with pin jointed spans.

Christmas Creek Bridge is a rare example using both lattice girder and lattice truss span members.

Criterion CThe place has potential to yield information that will contribute to an understanding of Queensland’s history.

The sites of former camps and townships within the railway reserve between Redlynch and Crooked Creek Bridge have the archaeological potential to reveal information on the organisation and domestic life of 1880s railway camps in Queensland.

Criterion DThe place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a particular class of cultural places.

The place is important in demonstrating the principal characteristics of a railway range crossing, incorporating 15 tunnels, 15 steel bridges and 24 timber bridges. The line's tight curves, embankments, cuttings, culverts and drains are also characteristic of the engineering techniques needed to traverse steep, unstable terrain. The culverts and drains are vital in a tropical climate with a high rainfall.

Kuranda Railway Station is an intact station complex and is an excellent example of the work of the architectural section of the Railway Department's Chief Engineer’s Office under Vincent Price.

The main elements of Kuranda Station which contribute to an understanding of the how the complex functioned include the concrete main station building, its platform and garden beds; the concrete male toilet block; the concrete signal cabin with its associated mechanical signal frame, linkages, semaphore signal towers, points, and points indicators; the goods shed; the trolley shed; the Station Master's residence; and the turntable.

Stoney Creek Bridge has remained substantially unchanged since it was built and is an important example of large metal truss bridges, which played an important role in creating the Queensland rail transport network.

The plate girder main spans of Crooked Creek Bridge are the oldest of their type still in use in Queensland, being a reuse of girders from an original 1867 bridge on the Main Range (Ipswich to Toowoomba line).

Criterion EThe place is important because of its aesthetic significance.

The train trip through the Barron Falls National Park is a highly popular tourist attraction, due to the rugged beauty of the terrain, the many bridges and tunnels, and the views from the railway.

Stoney Creek Station is a location of scenic beauty where day trippers once stopped to view Stoney Creek Falls and Stoney Creek Bridge. The latter is one of the most photographed railway bridges in Australia due to its remarkable location across a deep ravine with a waterfall backdrop. Photographs of the falls and the bridge have featured in railway advertising over many decades.

Kuranda Railway Station is renowned for its dramatic setting, established gardens and showpiece station buildings. Harmoniously combined, these elements create a picturesque aesthetic effect.

Criterion FThe place is important in demonstrating a high degree of creative or technical achievement at a particular period.

The ascent to a height of 327.7m at Barron Falls Station is an outstanding engineering achievement in a tropical environment, cut through unstable and rugged terrain. It demonstrates the nature of the challenge surmounted by John Robb, his workers and government engineers such as Willoughby Hannam and John Gwynneth. There were numerous deviations to the surveyed line during construction, and the railway utilises cuttings, embankments, tight curves, and multiple bridges, tunnels, culverts and drains.

The place contains the largest collection of late nineteenth century tunnels and timber and metal span bridges of any other section of railway in Queensland of comparable length.

Stoney Creek Bridge is a spectacular feat of civil engineering, with an 80 m radius curve, mounted on wrought iron trestles, passing in front of a waterfall. It is of technical significance for its degree of complexity on a difficult site.

As early surviving, fully concrete-lined, 19th century railway tunnels in Queensland, the 15 tunnels along the line are important in demonstrating the innovative use of concrete as an economic and effective method of railway construction in the 1880s.

Criterion GThe place has a strong or special association with a particular community or cultural group for social, cultural or spiritual reasons.

The train trip from Cairns to Kuranda, in particular the ascent past Redlynch, is a socially significant scenic railway attracting thousands of local, national and international visitors each year.

Stoney Creek Bridge and its accompanying waterfall has been an attraction for tourists visiting north Queensland since the 1890s, while Kuranda Railway Station is one of Australia's most popular tourist destinations and is known worldwide.


The Redlynch to the Crooked Creek Bridge portion of the Cairns Railway constitutes most of the second section (Redlynch to Myola) of a planned railway line to Herberton. It ascends the coastal range and travels around Stoney Creek Gorge and through the Barron Gorge, to a height of 327.7m at Barron Falls Railway Station. It proceeds through Kuranda Railway Station 21.7km from Redlynch, to Crooked Creek Bridge 23.2km from Redlynch. Built between April 1887 and June 1891 through a steep and slip-prone landscape, the section is a feat of engineering, which in 2020 included 15 concrete-lined tunnels, 15 steel bridges, and 24 timber bridges (from Redlynch Railway Station up to and including Crooked Creek Bridge).

A new railway

Mining provided the original impetus for building a railway line up to the Atherton Tablelands from Cairns. Cooktown thrived as a port for the Palmer River goldfield, discovered in 1873, but it was too far from the Hodgkinson goldfield, discovered further south in early 1876. Trinity Bay was chosen as the port for the Hodgkinson; the first settlers arrived in October 1876 and Cairns became a port of entry on 1 November 1876.[1] However, the founding of Port Douglas in 1877 almost stifled Cairns, as the former provided an easier access route to the Hodgkinson. When tin was discovered on the Wild River in 1880, the road from Port Douglas to Herberton was also preferred to the pack tracks from Cairns.

Cairns salvaged its economy after a heavy wet season in early 1882 closed the road from Port Douglas, resulting in calls for a railway from Herberton to the coast. Linking mining areas to ports by railway was already government policy. In August 1877 the Queensland government had approved three railways to connect mining towns to their principal ports: Charters Towers to Townsville; Mt Perry to Bundaberg; and Gympie to Maryborough.

The Minister for Works, JM Macrossan, commissioned the explorer Christie Palmerston to find a route from Herberton to Cairns or Port Douglas; but in August 1882 Palmerston reported that there was no natural route. The Johnstone Divisional Board commissioned Palmerston to find a route to Mourilyan Harbour during late 1882, but as the Board failed to pay him, Palmerston did not report his findings.

The search for a rail route continued, with the Railway Department's surveyor, George William Monk, arriving in Cairns in April 1883. Surveys of the various possible routes to Cairns, Port Douglas and Mourilyan were carried out by Monk and other surveyors and in late 1884 Robert Ballard, the Railway Department's Chief Engineer (Central and Northern Railway Division) reported to the Commissioner for Railways the cost would be the same from any of the three rival termini, but Cairns was the better port.[2] The preferred route from Cairns was via the Barron Gorge, although the Mulgrave River had also been considered. The government's decision in favour of Cairns was announced, much to the outrage of Port Douglas residents, on 10 September 1884. The decision to build the railway from Cairns ensured that it became the preeminent town in far north Queensland; yet the Barron Gorge was chosen in ignorance of its unstable geology,[3] which later proved costly in both money and lives.

Construction of the Line

Parliament approved plans for the first 24 miles (38.6km) of the Cairns to Herberton railway in late 1885[4] but the contract let to Messrs PC Smith and Co. on 1 April 1886 was only for the first 8 miles (12.9km). On 10 May 1886, the Premier Sir Samuel Griffith turned the first sod. Smith lacked the experience for even such a short section and McBride and Co took over the contract in November 1886. The government then had to take over from McBride in July 1887.[5] The first section opened on 8 October 1887 and the terminus was soon named Redlynch. In 1911 a deviation shortened the first section, meaning that Redlynch was no longer at the eight-mile mark from Cairns.

The ascent of the range to Kuranda began with the awarding of the 15 mile [6] (24.1km) second section of the contract (Redlynch to Myola) to John Robb of Melbourne in January 1887 for £290,984. Robb was an experienced contractor, and brought hundreds of men to the job. Robb also had mining, rural and business interests in South Australia, New South Wales and Melbourne, where he was a founding director of the Federal Bank in 1881. The Kuranda ascent was his most significant work, but his company's other contracts included Tasmania's and Western Australia's first railways. He returned home to Toorak when he left Cairns, was declared insolvent in October 1894 and died in May 1896, aged 62.[7]

Work on the second section began in April 1887. To aid construction Robb built a 2km branch line from Redlynch to the main construction camp at Kamerunga beside the Barron River, and public trains extended to Kamerunga from 20 October 1888. This branch line ran northwest from Redlynch Railway Station, up Kamerunga Road, before diverting north of Kamerunga Road near its intersection with Fairweather Road and continuing northwest towards the intersection of Harley and Sandwich Roads, Kamerunga.[8] Robb planned to work at various points along the line simultaneously, and tracks ran from Kamerunga to the sites for tunnels 2, 3, 6 and 9, to the Stoney Creek Bridge site and to The Springs.[9]

One feature of interest near the beginning of section two is Horseshoe Bend, located after the third timber bridge from Redlynch. In December 1888 the embankment at the bend was described as 51 feet (15.5m) high, 15 feet (4.6m) wide at the top, and 170 feet (51.8m) wide at the base, and was sown with Couch grass (Cynodon dactylon) on the sides.[10] The embankment has since been widened using landslide material. Section two used Horseshoe Bend to gain height, followed by the line ascending to the top of Barron Falls. The section then followed the Barron River to Kuranda, terminating at Myola, almost 3km past Kuranda. Nineteen tunnels had been originally planned between Horseshoe Bend and Barron Falls Railway Station, but four (two between Stoney Creek and Tunnel 14 and two at Red Bluff) were subsequently replaced by cuttings. Sand from the bed of the Barron River was used as the base material for concrete work on the second section; all the tunnels were concrete lined, and culverts and drains were also built in concrete.

The replacement of brick or stone with concrete for tunnel linings was a recent technical development in Queensland. Concrete was first used during the extension of the Southern Railway from Warwick to Stanthorpe (constructed 1878-81) due to the influence of civil engineer Charles Lambert Depree. Resident engineer on the extension from 1875-1878, Depree is attributed with the design of concrete culverts, the Gorge Dam retaining wall and the Cherry Gully tunnel [QHR 601517] on the line. Although the Cherry Gully tunnel was the first tunnel in Queensland to use concrete, it was partially constructed with brick. HC Stanley, Chief Engineer of the Railway Department, reported in 1880 that the use of concrete, instead of bricks, for the tunnel provided a considerable saving for the department. The 1882 Normanby Tunnel (no longer extant) on the Brisbane exhibition loop was wholly constructed of concrete, followed by the Woolloongabba Branch Tunnel in 1884 (no longer extant). A concrete-lined tunnel (extant) was also constructed c1887-1889 at Ernest Junction, on the South Coast Railway Line [QHR 650228].[11] 

The Cairns Railway's range ascent tunnels represent the largest group of tunnels in Queensland and were the 24th to 38th of the 64 tunnels opened in Queensland from 1866 to 1996.[12] By 30 January 1889 tunnels 1 and 2 were finished; Tunnel 3 was in a forward state, while 4-9 and 12-13 were ready for lining. Tunnels 10 and 11 had headings through only, while tunnels 16 and 19 were not yet opened. Work was authorised on the redesigned and lengthened Tunnel 19 in December 1889. Due to the cancellation of four tunnels, tunnels 16 and 19 were renumbered as today's tunnels 14 and 15.

As well as tunnels, bridgework was a major element of the construction work on the second section. The total length of steel required to complete the bridgework was around 800 feet (244m). The steel work was all cut, fitted and partly riveted by Walkers Ltd of Maryborough. In 2020 the steel bridges between Redlynch and Kuranda included: six with lattice girders; plus Steel Bridge 9 (historically called Bridge 42) (1890), where fishbelly plate cross-girders have been reused as main span members; Mervyn Creek Bridge (which replaced an earlier timber bridge in the 1920s); and Jumrum Creek Bridge, which although mainly timber has a steel central span (the bridge was reconstructed in 1962). There were also five very short steel bridges by 2020. About 1.5km past Kuranda is Crooked Creek Bridge, which in about 1900 reused (shortened) plate girders from the 1867 Jumrum Creek Bridge on the Main Range. The bridge has been strengthened with new steel piers either side of the concrete pier, and its replacement steel cross girders also originally came from Jumrum Creek Bridge on the Main Range.[13]

There were 24 timber trestle bridges extant in 2020, but none of these retain their original timber. The local scrub hickory originally used in the bridges was of poor quality, requiring replacement work in the 1890s to 1900s.[14] Components of the timber bridges are also gradually being replaced with steel, due to the scarcity of suitable hardwood, and over the years some bridges have been replaced with concrete culverts.

The steel bridges have retained their integrity to a greater degree. The six steel lattice-girder bridges were all built during the construction of the second section. Three are located at Stoney Creek, Surprise Creek, and Christmas Creek.

Stoney Creek Bridge in front of Stoney Creek Falls, is built on a 4 chain (80m) radius curve and was designed by the government engineer John Gwynneth.[15] The design is unique in Queensland, the curve being the only way to avoid tunnelling. By the end of 1887 the concrete foundations on which the wrought iron trestles (Phoenix columns) were erected were well underway.[16] It is one of only two Queensland railway bridges constructed with wrought iron trestles, the other being Christmas Creek Bridge, further up the line.[17] A visit to Cairns by the Governor of Queensland, Sir Henry Norman, in April 1890 was taken as an opportunity to inspect the construction works. A marquee, covering a banquet table and open to the waterfall, had been set up on the almost completed Stoney Creek Bridge with planks laid over the sleepers. There were no speeches due to the roar of the waterfall immediately behind the bridge.[18] The bridge passed load testing on 30 June 1890.

In the period of the early 1900s large quantities of rock in the vicinity of the bridge were removed, due to the risk of rock falls. Work was carried out in 1916 to strengthen riveted connections, and in 1922 timber longitudinals were substituted for the ballast flooring of the original bridge, to reduce corrosion problems.

Stoney Creek Bridge is one of the most photographed bridges in Australia due to the spectacular beauty of its location. Historian John Kerr called it 'the best-known structure on a line with the most spectacular scenery on the Queensland Railways'.[19] Trains would halt on the bridge and passengers could leave the train to walk along the bridge for a short period of time. In order to strengthen and improve the safety of the bridge, in the late 1990s new steel longitudinals were added under the bridge, the timber decking was replaced with steel grating and the walkways at the sides of the bridge were widened to improve maintenance access. The legs of the iron trestles were also reinforced.

Surprise Creek Bridge was constructed in 1890-91. Originally the main span had timber approaches, but these were replaced in the late 1890s by pin-jointed steel lattice trusses recycled from an older bridge. New interior steel longitudinals were added under the bridge in the late 1990s.

Christmas Creek Bridge was built in 1891. Some cross girders have been replaced after they rusted out.

The construction of the section's tunnels and bridges required a lot of labour. Queensland signed a special treaty with Italy in order to obtain indentured Italian workers, and many Irishmen were employed. At the height of construction up to 1500 workers were employed along the length of line.

The tunnelling work was done by hand. The usual danger from the extensive use of explosives in the tunnels and cuttings was increased by the unstable nature of the rock and the steep drop down the side of the Barron Gorge. The average slope of the ground was 45 degrees, covered with a disjointed layer of decomposed soil and rock varying in depth from 5 to 8m. Robb had to dig deep into hillsides to find solid ground, and multiple deviations from the original surveyed route also increased his costs. Red Bluff and Glacier Rock were exposed when earth, rocks and trees were removed,[20] again by hand, from above the line (escarpments had to be cleared and levelled back).

At least 23 accidental deaths occurred during construction of the second section, the main causes being premature blasting, injuries from rock falls and cave-ins, and falling.[21] One man, Giovanni Zappa, fell 250m into the Barron Gorge in September 1888. Other deaths resulted from malaria, ticks, scrub typhus (mites), dysentery, fevers, and snakes. Hundreds of men were injured, but despite the existence of the Queensland Employers' Liability Act 1886, only one worker was compensated.[22] Other labour issues led to the formation of a trade union - the United Sons of Toil, which called a strike in late 1890.[23]

During construction navvies' camps were established at most of the cuttings and at each of the bridges or tunnels along the range section. The main townships other than Kamerunga included New Cairns (later Jungara); Rocky Creek Falls (between tunnels 8 and 9); Stoney Creek; The Springs (between tunnels 14 and 15); Red Bluff; and Camp Oven Creek (just past Tunnel 15).[24] There were also small towns at Tunnel 3, Surprise Creek, and Gray's Pocket on Rainbow Creek above the falls.[25] These small townships of tents and portable buildings usually had at least one hotel, a general store, and a boarding house for single men. At Stoney Creek Falls, Patrick Paton's hotel possessed a billiard room, dining room, bar, ballroom and 28 double rooms, while New Cairns below the Horseshoe Bend had a hotel, sawmill, and at least two general stores. In all 26 hotels were licensed to operate from Kamerunga and Redlynch to Kuranda from 1886 to 1888.[26]

Due to the difficulty of the project both the contract price and the completion date of 26 July 1888 were greatly exceeded. After a very wet season in 1891 there was major damage to the track; about 140 metres of ground slipped and an embankment at one tunnel collapsed and required the ground to be drained.

When Tunnel 15 and Surprise Creek Bridge were completed by 14 March 1891, it marked the end of major works. The last rails were laid for the second section in May 1891 and the line opened for goods traffic to Myola on 15 June; and for passengers 10 days later.[27]

Despite the difficulties encountered during construction, the line proved to be well built, a tribute to Willoughby Hannam, Chief Engineer for Railways, Northern and Carpentaria Division (from 1885 to 1889), who had to survey many deviations when the original route proved impossible to construct. Hannam was succeeded by Chief Engineer Annett.[28]

In common with all railway contracts, the price was calculated by multiplying the quantity of each type of work required by the quoted price and summing up the individual amounts. If the survey was altered to require more excavation, the government paid for the extra at the schedule rate. The unstable nature of the terrain in the second section meant that the slopes of cuttings and banks had to be reduced. As Robb had to remove five times as much material as originally estimated for cuttings and tunnels, he was eventually paid £880,406. He claimed a further £262,311, but only received £20,807 of this after arbitration. With rails and other costs, the second section cost the Queensland Government £1,007,857; the most expensive line in Queensland.[29]

The huge cost overrun on the second section, along with the financial depression of the early 1890s, delayed the Cairns Railway's extension to Herberton. The contract for section three (Myola to Granite Creek/Mareeba) was awarded to Alexander McKenzie & Co. in early 1891 (Robb’s tender failed) and this section was opened on 1 August 1893.[30] A lack of funding meant that the line stopped at Mareeba for some time. It did not open to Atherton until 1903 and to Herberton until October 1910. By this time timber and agriculture, rather than tin, drove the railway's extension and the line was extended past Herberton. It opened to Tumoulin in July 1911 and finally to Cedar Creek (Ravenshoe) in December 1916. Meanwhile, a branch line from Tolga opened to Yungaburra in March 1910, to Malanda in December 1910, and to Millaa Millaa in December 1921.[31]

Kuranda Railway Station

By 1891 Kuranda Railway Station was the most important station on the second section. It had also become a tourist destination due to its proximity to the Barron Falls. Kuranda was surveyed in 1888 in anticipation of development which would accompany the arrival of the railway and the first station buildings were relocated from Kamerunga after services to the latter location ended in 1891. The station master's house from Kamerunga was also moved to Kuranda, in 1908.[32] By 1913 Kuranda Railway Station included (from northwest to southeast) the office, a separate refreshment room (operated by the proprietor of the Kuranda Hotel from 1894), men's and women's toilets and a goods shed. Construction of the Chillagoe Company's private railway lines from Mareeba to Chillagoe and Forsayth, during 1898-1901 and 1907-1910 respectively,[33] increased freight traffic through Kuranda, and tourist traffic was also increasing prior to World War I.

A 1910 report had recommended a new station building at Kuranda on an island platform that could be made ornamental by planting trees. Vincent Price was in charge of the architectural section of the Railway Department's Chief Engineer's Office when the passenger station block, described by the Chief Engineer as 'after the style of a Swiss Chalet, the idea being to make Kuranda a show station',[34] was designed in 1911. Modified plans were drawn in 1913-14, and included the main station building (with booking lobby, booking office, waiting shed, ladies’ toilets, passage, refreshment room, kitchen, pantry, scullery and kitchen yard); a signal cabin; and a utilities block (with men’s toilet, porter's room, store room, and lamp room). Each of these three buildings was constructed of precast concrete units, in a Federation style with a Marseilles terracotta tile roof.

Expansion of the station began in 1913 and continued into 1915. Changes involved the extension of the platform and yard, the signalling and interlocking of the station and the construction of a timber overbridge and new station buildings. The main station building was 'nearing completion' by September 1914.[35] Its main spaces survive, although the former refreshment room and kitchen are now the gift shop and café, and the former kitchen yard is now a lean-to extension.

One of the earliest stations to be built in Australia using standard precast concrete units, Kuranda is the second oldest remaining example of its type in Queensland. Two earlier examples at Northgate (1911-12) and Chelmer (1913) in Brisbane have both been demolished, while another example opened at Ascot [QHR 602195] in February 1914[36] survives. A luggage lift from the overbridge to the platform, installed in 1915, was demolished after 1939, but a new lift with a shed at its base has been built since 1994.

The signal cabin included a fully interlocking McKenzie and Holland 37-lever mechanical signal frame (still extant). Before railway 'safeworking' systems were computerised and centralised in Queensland, mechanical signals were controlled from signal cabins, which dealt with the traffic on a particular block of railway line. Signal cabins coordinated signals that indicated whether or not a section of track was clear of other traffic. Early signals were mechanical, while later signals were operated electrically. The most common form of mechanical signal was the semaphore signal. These consisted of a metal framed tower with one or more arms that could be inclined at different angles, with the arm at the horizontal signalling 'danger', or do not proceed. Examples of this form of signalling system survive at Kuranda Railway Station. At night, lights were necessary, and kerosene lamps with movable coloured spectacles displayed different colours, including green (proceed), yellow (prepare to find next signal red), and red (stop).

To coordinate signals so that it is impossible to give a 'clear' signal to a train unless the route is actually clear, the signals could be interlocked. An interlocked yard is a railway yard where semaphore or coloured light signals are controlled in such a way that the signals will not allow a train to proceed unless the points that operate in conjunction with the signals are correctly set. A mechanical interlocking device, located under a mechanical signal frame, is a system of rods, sliding bars and levers that are configured so that points cannot be changed in conflict, thus preventing movements that may cause a collision or other accident.

Although 169 Queensland railway stations had interlocking by 1918,[37] mechanical interlocking technology eventually became obsolete, as electrical interlocking or electro-pneumatic systems replaced it. Computerised Centralised Traffic Control (CTC) signalling systems now control most of the network.

As well as the station buildings, signals and interlocking, the station was beautified. The ornamental planting proposed in the 1910 scheme was developed by George Wreidt and Bert Wickham, both station masters at Kuranda. The tropical vegetation in the platform's gardens and under the platform shelters helped to soften the lines of the station, which first won the Northern Division of the Railways' Annual Garden Competition in 1915 and was so often the winner in subsequent years that it became folklore that Kuranda won every year.

By 1927 the station included a goods shed to the southeast of the main platform, and a turntable at the northwest end of the station. The current turntable is apparently smaller than the original, which was relocated to Port Douglas.[38] Elements that were present in 1932 which no longer exist include a motor shed by the turntable, and signalman's, ganger's and waitresses' quarters to the south of the station near Arara Street.

Due to the position of the station at the top of the range climb the station played a key role in freight handling. Extra trains would usually run to Kuranda where their load was transferred, as trains operating west of Kuranda were able to haul double the load they could carry up the range.

As well as freight services, tourist trains ran to Kuranda, although the tourist service was not a formal part of the public timetable of the Queensland Railways until the 1960s.[39] The tourist potential of the second section was recognised early on, with Cairns Alderman Macnamara in September 1887 calling it a great engineering feat, which 'would prove a great attraction to tourists from all parts of the globe'.[40] In 1893 local representatives from the Barron Divisional Board met with the Railway Commissioners to discuss a proposed viewing stop on the line for the Barron Falls.[41]

The growth of tourism in Kuranda was linked to the popularity of the passenger services of the Adelaide Steamship Company, the Australian United Navigation Company and Australian Steamships (Howard Smith Ltd). Travellers from Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne came to Cairns by ship until the opening of the rail line to Brisbane in 1924. In the early 20th century Queensland Railways published a brochure called 'Train Trips While the Steamer Waits' which urged tourists not to miss the unsurpassable natural beauty of the mountains, best seen by taking the train to Kuranda. Another early tourist booklet 'The Glory of Kuranda' describes the station as the most picturesque in Queensland. In the late 1930s a 'Grandstand Train' ran to Kuranda. This had special carriages with two rows of tiered seats both looking out the same side, through scenic windows.

Tourist travel stopped after Japan’s entry into World War II (WWII). However, Kuranda was one of the busiest stations at this time, handling freight for the many troops which were stationed on the Atherton Tablelands from early 1943 for rest, rehabilitation and training in a malaria-free environment close to New Guinea. Rail traffic was so great that the road from Cairns to Kuranda was constructed to relieve congestion. [42]

Diesel-electric locomotives were introduced onto the Cairns-Kuranda railway in 1959, and tourism recovered after World War II, with a 100 percent increase in passengers between 1965 and 1975.[43] During the 1960s Kuranda became an alternative lifestyle centre, and the Sunday Markets which began in the late 1970s boosted tourism to the town and the railway station, as did the building of the Skyrail ride in the mid-1990s.[44] By 2003 some 500,000 people visited Barron Gorge National Park each year via the Kuranda Scenic Railway,[45] often returning on the Skyrail.

The tiled roofs of the station buildings were replaced with plain iron sheet in 1961 which was in turn replaced by ribbed metal sheeting in 1989-90. The southern section of the foot bridge was rebuilt in steel in 1990, and the northern section has since also been replaced in steel. The station master’s house survives just to the northwest of the railway station, although its verandahs have been enclosed.

Over time, other stations between Redlynch and Myola have included Jungara, Stoney Creek, The Springs, Barron Falls, Hydro, and Fairyland. Only Redlynch, Stoney Creek, Barron Falls and Kuranda retain any built structures, and those at Barron Falls are modern.

Redlynch Railway Station

In 2020 the remaining infrastructure at Redlynch Railway Station included a station building with garden area, a men's toilet, and a loading bank. The core of the station building existed by 1890, although it originally had a curved roof.[46] The building may date from the opening of the first section of the Cairns Railway in 1887, as in August 1888 plans were afoot to erect station buildings at Kamerunga 'similar to those at Redlynch'.[47] The Kamerunga Railway Station building also had a curved roof and was later moved to Kuranda when the second section was opened in 1891. The steel pipe framing under the current verandah at Redlynch was once used to hang pot plants.

An 1899 plan of the Redlynch Railway Station building included a store (2.4m), waiting shed (3m) and an office (3m). Around this time the office was extended another 2.4m to the southwest, with a ladies room (3.7m) added at the southwest end of the building. There was a partition for a toilet in the latter, which seems to have survived when the ladies room was converted into a goods area circa 1954. At this time the store at the northeast end of the building became the new ladies room, and a separate men’s room was constructed northeast of the station building.

The wall between the office and the former ladies room has since been removed, and the roof is now gabled rather than curved. A World War II photo of the building shows weatherboard cladding at the northeast end. A goods shed present in a 1954 site plan, northeast of the shelter shed, is no longer extant. In this plan a timber stage was located west of the shelter shed at the end of a siding, on the site of the present car park. A station master's cottage was located within the turning triangle to the southwest of the shelter shed, but this has been replaced by modern buildings for a Queensland Rail (QR) maintenance gang.[48] Redlynch Railway Station was also known to have an impressive garden display, receiving a runner up award in 1939 for the northern division of the Queensland Railway Station Garden Awards.[49] The garden with concrete retaining wall located west of the passenger station building is likely the remains of the 1939 garden bed.

A log-faced loading bank is shown being constructed at in December 1943, (annotated on a 1927 site plan) in the position of the current concrete-faced loading bank, located northeast of the station building. This loading bank may have been related to the military’s use of Redlynch Railway Station, which was close to two wartime facilities. From late 1943 a US Army hospital (taken over by the Australian Army in early 1944) was located off Shaw’s Road at Jungara, south of Redlynch. In addition, the 16th Australian Personnel Staging Camp was established less than 1km northwest of Redlynch Railway Station, off Harley Street, with an entrance from Kamerunga Road. By mid-1943 this staging camp, which rationed and supplied solders transiting through Cairns on their way to the front lines, as well as troops on their way to the Atherton Tablelands, was visited by thousands of allied soldiers.[50]

Stoney Creek Railway Station

At Stoney Creek Railway Station, a gatehouse was erected in 1909. By 1911 the complex included an open shelter shed with an enclosed office, plus a ladies' room with a curved roof to the east.[51] By 1936 the complex consisted of the shelter shed; ladies' room; a water tank for steam trains, supplied from Stoney Creek Falls and a sand shed (west end of station); plus two fettler's camping quarters and a trolley and tool shed (either side of track, east end of station). Only the shelter shed, the water tank and the sand shed survive. The latter was once used to refill sandboxes on trains, which enabled dry sand to be dropped onto the tracks to assist traction. In the 1980s a telephone line and its poles were removed. The siding is used by QR maintenance gangs to wait for tourist trains to pass, and the shelter shed is used when it is raining. Exotic plantings in the station's gardens have been replaced by native species, in keeping with the National Park, although mature mango trees of heritage significance have been retained.

For many years, Stoney Creek was notable for its gardens of coloured tropical foliage. This site was always expected to have tourism value - during construction, a piano was laboriously brought up the range to the Stoney Creek Hotel. The owner optimistically expected that future tourists would stay at his hotel to view the falls.[52] The Kuranda Scenic Railway (running from Cairns to Kuranda) no longer stops at this station.

Change since construction

Since construction of the second section, the weather and geology have continued to impact on the line. There were landslides during 1894, 1896, 1904, 1909 and 1910, but the biggest disruption occurred in the summer of 1910-11. Slips in December 1910 resulted in a tramway being built to bypass Tunnel 10, which was blocked on the Kuranda side, and the line was closed for 10 weeks. There were more slips and washouts in late March 1911, with interruptions to traffic until the end of April 1911.

In 1939 18m of the Cairns end of Tunnel 14 required reinforcing, and the thinner concrete formwork is visible. There were also serious disruptions in March-April 1954 due to a landslide. The continued threat of rock falls and slips have meant that rock anchors have been deployed on boulders above the Stoney Creek Falls, and large barrier fences have been erected in places above the line.

The original rails were replaced in the 1990s, from 60 lbs (27.2kg) per yard (0.9m) weight, to 41kg per metre. One in every four sleepers are now steel, with a one in two ratio on curves with a radius under 120m. Some cuttings were also widened in the 1980s and 1990s. Most cuttings are in earth or rock, but some have concrete lining or stone pitching in parts. Some timber bridge components, such as the piles or headstocks of trestles, have been replaced by steel, or whole trestles have been replaced by concrete piers. There are a large number of small open concrete drains passing under the line. Early cast concrete pipes and culverts (not reinforced) along the line will be replaced with reinforced concrete pipes if the originals collapse.


The Cairns Railway, Section from Redlynch to Crooked Creek Bridge is an approximately 23km long rail corridor commencing at Redlynch Railway Station (near Cairns) and following a circuitous route northwest to Crooked Creek Bridge (near Mareeba) in far north Queensland. In 2020 the line is operational, primarily as a scenic, passenger travel train.

Redlynch Railway Station

Redlynch Railway Station (11.6km from Cairns Railway Station) is located northwest of the Cairns CBD at the intersection of Kamerunga Road and Redlynch Intake Road. The main station building (c1887) stands adjacent to Kamerunga Road, elevated from street level on steel poles to the level of the rail platform, which runs along the building’s northwest side. The building is a small, rectangular timber-framed and chamferboard-clad structure with a corrugated metal sheet-clad gable roof, which extends on the platform side to form a verandah supported by timber brackets, supplemented by later steel pipe frames. The building retains original or early timber-framed doors and windows, including casement and double-hung windows, board-lined doors, and large folding doors, as well as fixed ventilation panels of timber louvres. Some early window and door hardware has been retained as well as early acid etched glass.

The building layout comprises a goods room at the southwest end, an office and a passenger waiting area at the centre, and a ladies’ toilet at the northeast end. The goods room includes a small store room with shelves. The partition between the goods room and the office has been removed. The office space retains some original or early timber counters, and a stable door and ticket window through to the waiting room. The waiting room has a large, glazed double folding door onto the platform and retains timber bench seating fixed to the perimeter of the room. The ladies’ toilet, accessed from the platform, accommodates one basin area and stall with glazed timber door. The interior side of the external walls is not lined and internal partitions are timber-framed and single-skin. The floors are lined with timber boards as are the ceilings in the goods room and office – the waiting room and ladies’ toilet do not have a ceiling.

To the southwest of the station building is the remains of gardens with concrete retaining walls to Kamerunga Road.

Just northeast of the passenger station building is a freestanding men's toilet block. Standing on a concrete slab elevated on low concrete stumps, it is a small, timber-framed building clad with chamferboard and has a skillion roof clad with corrugated metal sheets. Projecting from the platform side is a corrugated metal sheet-clad entrance porch, shielding the entrance, and there is a glass louvre window on the opposite (southeast) elevation.

Northeast of the station building on the other (north) side of the rail line is an earth loading bank with concrete retaining wall.

To the southwest of the station building, past the railway crossing, a short branch of railway track survives at the beginning of the former western arm of the turning triangle.

Redlynch Railway Station to Stoney Creek Railway Station

From Redlynch Railway Station, the railway line heads south to Horseshoe Bend, before heading north along the eastern side of the Lamb Range and turning west into Barron Gorge and then to Stoney Creek Railway Station, approximately 11km along the line.

On this length there are 16 bridges, 13 tunnels, and other features. In order they are (measured from Cairns Railway Station) (bridge numbering is derived for the purposes of this description and should not be confused with the historical numbering of the bridges, which changed over time):

  • 12.06km – Timber Bridge 1: deck type: timber girders on timber trestles
  • 13.05km – Timber Bridge 2: timber: concrete piers
  • 13.82km – Site of Jungara Station
  • 14.77km – Timber Bridge 3: timber trestles
  • Horseshoe Bend: 5 chain curve with large earth embankment
  • 15.31km – Timber Bridge 4: timber trestles
  • 16.55km – Timber Bridge 5: timber trestles
  • 16.95km – Timber Bridge 6: single span timber girder bridge between concrete abutments
  • 17.12km – Tunnel 1: 66m long, straight, all tunnels of the section are concrete-lined [53]
  • 18.42km – Tunnel 2: 76m long, straight with a left curve at uphill end
  • 19.11km – Tunnel 3: 109m long, left curve then straight
  • 19.31km – Steel Bridge 1: deck type, steel lattice girder with timber trestles on approach spans, wrought iron piers. [54]
  • 19.39km – Tunnel 4: 93m long, straight
  • 19.64km – Tunnel 5: 92 m long, left curve
  • 19.91km – Tunnel 6: 111m long, straight
  • 20.06km – Tunnel 7: 50m long, left curve
  • Timber Bridge 7: timber trestle
  • 20.25km – Tunnel 8: 103m long, left curve
  • High embankment
  • 20.53km – Tunnel 9: 179m long, straight then left curve
  • 20.72km – Steel Bridge 2: steel lattice girder with timber trestles on approaches and two concrete piers
  • Timber Bridge 8: timber trestle, one concrete pier
  • Timber Bridge 9: timber trestle
  • 21.06km – Tunnel 10, 119m long, straight then left curve
  • 21.30km – Tunnel 11, 83m long, left curve
  • 21.58km – Steel Bridge 3: very small single span steel over concrete drain
  • 21.60km – Steel Bridge 4: very small single span steel over concrete drain
  • Kelly’s Leap: early open concrete drain
  • 21.76km – Timber Bridge 10: timber trestle
  • 21.92km – Timber Bridge 11: timber trestle
  • 22.04km – Tunnel 12: 81m long, right curve then straight
  • 22.18km – Timber Bridge 12: timber trestle
  • 22.47km – Tunnel 13: 88m long, straight then left curve 

Stoney Creek Railway Station

Soon after Tunnel 13 is Stoney Creek Railway Station (22.53km from Cairns Railway Station), standing in a cutting within the Stoney Creek Gorge forest. It comprises a siding branch running off and parallel to the main line, re-joining it at the west end of the station. A shelter shed stands between the siding and the main line. The shed has an earth floor and a hipped roof, and is enclosed on its southern side with a part-height single-skin, timber-framed chamferboard wall with an unglazed window. An office enclosure is at the south east corner of the shed made of timber-framed single-skin walls of chamferboards. Walls and posts are mounted on low-height concrete walls. The office has unglazed window frames on its south and west sides, a pivoting timber window on its east side, and a timber door on its north side.

South of the siding, at either end of the station, are large stone-pitched open drains. At the west end of the station, uphill of where the siding re-joins the main line, is a water tower, with a sand shed to its west. The two-tier cast iron square water tank stands on timber supports, with its disconnected jib lying underneath. The skillion-roofed sand shed is clad in corrugated metal sheets, has two doors at the front, and stands on concrete base walls.

Stoney Creek Railway Station to Kuranda Railway Station (approximately 10.7km)

From Stoney Creek Railway Station, the railway line heads across Stoney Creek, through the remainder of Stoney Creek Gorge, before heading north along the eastern side of the Lamb Range to Kuranda Railway Station, approximately 10.7km along the line.

On this length there are 22 bridges, two tunnels, and other features. In order they are (measured from Cairns Railway Station):

  • 22.92km – Steel Bridge 5: steel lattice girder with wrought iron piers on concrete bases
  • 23.15km – Steel Bridge 6: Stoney Creek Bridge, 88.4m long, curved track, seven spans of steel lattice girders supported by wrought iron trestles on concrete footings, uphill approach of timber trestles on concrete pier
  • line proceeds northeast along north side of Stoney Creek Gorge
  • 23.39km – Timber Bridge 13: timber trestle
  • 23.78km – Timber Bridge 14: timber trestle
  • 23.89km – Timber Bridge 15: single span timber
  • 24.54km – Steel Bridge 7: single span steel
  • 24.69km – Tunnel 14: 85m long, left curve
  • Glacier Rock looms north of the line at this point, line then passes the site of The Springs Station before cutting alongside The Red Bluff and entering the Barron Gorge
  • 25.49km – Steel Bridge 8: single span steel
  • modern footbridge over the line, Douglas Track (not of state-level cultural heritage significance)
  • 25.7km – Timber Bridge 16: timber trestle
  • 25.95km – Timber Bridge 17: timber trestle
  • 26.27km – Timber Bridge 18: timber trestle
  • 26.55km (at its middle) – Tunnel 15: 430m, left curve, straight, right curve, straight, left curve
  • 26.98km – Timber Bridge 19: timber trestle
  • 27.55km – Timber Bridge 20: timber with concrete pier
  • 27.72km – Steel Bridge 9 (historically called Bridge 42): small steel deck-type using fishbelly plate girders supported mid span by concrete pier
  • 27.86km – Steel Bridge 10: single span steel
  • 28.22km – Timber Bridge 21: single span timber
  • 28.53km – Timber Bridge 22: single span timber
  • 28.7km – Steel Bridge 11: Surprise Creek Bridge, 72.54m long, steel lattice girders set on tall concrete piers at the head of a waterfall, approach spans are pin jointed
  • 29.16km – Timber Bridge 23: timber trestle
  • 29.23km – Steel Bridge 12: Christmas Creek Bridge, 39.6m long, steel lattice girders with wrought iron trestles
  • line continues north past Forwards Lookout and then passes Robb's Monument, a stone monolith east of the track
  • 29.93km – Timber Bridge 24: timber trestle
  • 30.18km – Steel Bridge 13: Mervyn Creek Bridge, steel girders on concrete piers
  • 30.65km – Barron Falls Railway Station, modern platform, shelter shed, lookout over Barron Falls, footbridge over line at the south end of the station – shelter shed has a similar timber roof frame to the shelter at Stoney Creek Railway Station, although it uses steel posts
  • line continues along the west bank of the Barron River past the site of Hydro Station
  • 32.54km – Steel Bridge 14: Jumrum Creek Bridge, timber trestles at each end, central span of steel broad flanged beams between concrete piers
  • line continues along west bank of the Barron River to Kuranda Railway Station

Kuranda Railway Station

Kuranda Railway Station (33.23km from Cairns Railway Station) is located on the northeast edge of the town of Kuranda and is the northernmost operating station in Queensland.

The station area is roughly rectangular and stretches northwest to southeast against the curving edge of the Barron River. Built on a raised island platform with rail lines passing either side, the station comprises a number of detached buildings, the largest being the passenger station building.

The passenger station building stands centrally on the island platform and is a modest one storey rectangular building in a Federation-era style. Its walls are concrete to window sill height with horizontal precast concrete planks above, slotted into a concrete frame. It has a hipped-gable roof with hipped-gable dormers and metal Boyle's ridge ventilators, and on either long side it has an upswept, cantilevering awning over the platform, supported on steel lattice trusses. The roof is clad with non-original ribbed metal sheets, replacing the original tiles.

The building accommodates a semi-enclosed booking lobby at the northwest end, station master's office, waiting shed open to the platforms, ladies toilets, passage between platforms, and at the southeastern end a gift shop and cafe, with an attached kitchen in a lean-to extension.

The building has timber-framed doors with glazed fanlights, double-hung windows, and arched battened timber valances around the entrances into the booking lobby, waiting shed, and passage. Interior finishes are generally unpainted concrete floors and walls, and timber board-lined ceilings with latticed ventilation grilles. The ticket windows in the booking lobby have decorative steel grilles and between them hangs a timber World War I Roll of Honour commemorating Kuranda School Past Pupils. The building is enhanced by potted palms, ferns, and hanging baskets of tropical rainforest plants.

Subsidiary structures stand on the island platform to the southeast of the passenger station building, including a signal cabin and a utilities block. Both are also constructed using a precast concrete system and have non-original ribbed metal sheet-clad roofs.

The signal cabin is a small rectangular one-roomed building with a Dutch-gable roof. It has timber-framed casement windows in a continuous ribbon on three elevations and the remaining elevation (northwest) has only a centrally positioned timber panelled door. The interior has a timber floor elevated above platform level and a timber board-lined ceiling. It contains a McKenzie and Holland 37-lever mechanical signal frame. Elements of the interlocked signalling system include the signal frame and its mechanism, plus all linkages, points, points indicators and signal towers located around the station yard.

The utilities block is a small rectangular building with a Dutch-gable roof. It accommodates a men’s toilet, former lamp room (accessible toilet), and two store rooms. It has timber-framed double hung windows. A small hip roof projection shelters the entrance to the men's toilet.

Also standing on the platform is a series of large garden beds at both ends of the platform.

The platform contains structures that are not of state-level cultural heritage significance including: a 2005 stone cairn memorial to the building of the Kuranda Range Railway; a modern shade structure with a Dutch-gable roof; and a pedestrian overbridge and luggage lift (modern replacements of originals).

Beyond the platform are other features of the place. An old steel telephone pole stands near the overbridge, on the town (west) side of the line. Also on the town side stands the former station master's residence. This is a timber-famed building clad in chamferboards with an enclosed front and side verandah and a hipped roof clad with corrugated metal sheets. Standing further northwest is a railway turntable.

Standing southeast on the town side of the line is a goods shed with a gabled roof. It stands on timber stumps, and its walls and roof are clad with corrugated metal sheets. Adjacent to it is a loading platform of timber supported on steel poles. Further to the southeast, east of the line, stands a three-bay trolley shed (pre-1982) with a skillion roof and walls and roof clad with corrugated metal sheets. A two-lever ground frame with attached signals and points stands nearby.

Four semaphore signal towers, which include kerosene lanterns with coloured lenses, also stand in the southeast area, including one near the goods shed and a three arm tower near the trolley shed. A further signal tower stands outside the passenger station building and two further semaphore towers stand to the northeast of the passenger station building, including a second three arm tower.

The station grounds contains features and structures that are not of state-level cultural heritage significance including: an old steel carriage used for storage; and a modern driver's quarters (opposite the goods shed).

Kuranda Railway Station to Crooked Creek Bridge (approximately 1.5km)

On leaving Kuranda Railway Station the line follows the curving Barron River northwest for a short distance to Crooked Creek Bridge, which crosses Crooked Creek, a small tributary.

  • 34.75km – Steel Bridge 15: Crooked Creek Bridge, deck-type steel plate girders, supported on a concrete pier with later steel piers near the abutments

Features Not of State-Level Cultural Heritage Significance

Features of the place not of state-level cultural heritage significance at stations and along the line include:

  • modern QR buildings and sheds
  • bitumen access points to rails for vehicles
  • modern fencing
  • weather stations
  • helipads
  • fire fighting water tanks
  • solar powered telecommunication units
  • rock fall barriers (large stones in mesh cages and large steel-ring fences)
  • rock anchors in high outcrops above Stoney Creek Bridge
  • modern footbridges over the line
  • modern elements at Barron Falls Railway Station


[1] Hudson, A. 2003. Tracks of Triumph: A tribute to the pioneers who built the famous Kuranda Scenic Railway, p. 9. Also 'Telegraphic Despatches', Rockhampton Bulletin 4 October 1876, p.2.

[2] 'The Herberton Railway', Brisbane Courier, 13 September 1884, p.3.

[3] Kerr, J.D. July 1993. Queensland Rail Heritage Report, Final Report July 1993, Part 2 Section 4.9-Index, Pages 4-153 to 9-2. p.4-293

[4] Brisbane Courier, 18 November 1885.

[5] Maconachie, G. 'Blood on the Rails: the Cairns-Kuranda Railway Construction and the Queensland Employers' Liability Act', Labour History, Number 73, November 1997. p.82; also see Hudson, p.28.

[6] Broughton, AD. 1991. A pictorial history of the construction of the Cairns Range Railway, 1886-1891. Historical Society of Cairns, p.5.

[7] Hudson, p.61.

[8] Department of Natural Resources, Mines and Energy (DNRME) survey plans N157407 (1889) and C153276 (1889).

[9] Broughton, p.5.

[10] 'Cairns-Herberton Railway', Cairns Post 12 December 1888, p.2.

[11] ‘Ernest Junction Railway Tunnel’, QHR 650228. Other examples of the early use of concrete lining in tunnels, other than those on the Cairns to Kuranda line, are the Dalarcha Railway Tunnel [QHR 601522] (1890); the Yimbin Railway Tunnel [QHR 602637] (1910); and the Muntapa Tunnel [QHR 602594] (1913).

[12] Webber, B. 1997. Railway Tunnels in Queensland. Australian Railway Historical Society, Brisbane, p.6.

[13] Personal Communication, Wayne Harisson, QR.

[14] Hudson, p.109

[15] 'Cairns-Herberton Railway', Cairns Post, 12 December 1888, pp 2-3.

[16] Kerr, Final Report July 1993, Part 2, p.4-295

[17] Ward, A and Milner, P. April 1997. Queensland Railway Heritage Places Study: Stage 2, Volume 8. Queensland Department of Environment and Queensland Rail, p.86.

[18] Much to the relief of journalists present, who were thus able to concentrate on drinking rather then writing. 'With the Governor in the North', The Queenslander, 7 June 1890, pp.1074-1075.

[19] Kerr, J. 1990. Triumph of the Narrow Gauge: a history of Queensland Railways. Boolarong, Brisbane, p.53.

[20] Hudson, p.31.

[21] Hudson, p.75 (regarding causes of death). Hudson counted 26 accidental deaths, including one snakebite victim.

[22] Maconachie, p.77.

[23] 'The Strike on the Second Section', Cairns Post, 6 September 1890, p.2

[24] Hudson, p.81.

[25] Collinson, JW. 1954. 'Building the Cairns Range Railway', Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland, Volume 5 issue 3. p.1074.

[26] Hudson, p.93.

[27] 'Better Late than Never', Cairns Post 17 June 1891, p.2.

[28] 'The late Mr Willoughby Hannam', Cairns Post 8 March 1893, p.2.

[29] Kerr, Final Report July 1993, Part 2, p.4-293.

[30] Kerr, Triumph of the Narrow Gauge, p.53.

[31] Kerr, Triumph of the Narrow Gauge, pp.121-122.

[32] Ward and Milner, p.106.

[33] 'Etheridge Railway', QHR 601637.

[34] Gunton, C. July 1993. Kuranda Railway Station Conservation Plan. Queensland Railways. pp.4, 7.

[35] 'By the Way', Cairns Post 1 September 1914, p.4.

[36] 'Improvements at Ascot Railway Station', Brisbane Courier, 21 February 1914, p.4.

[37] 'Signals, Crane and Subway, Charters Towers Railway Station', QHR 602627.

[38] Personal Communication, Wayne Harisson, QR.

[39] Hallam, Greg. 'The Kuranda Scenic Railway: an Historical Overview', QR heritage, p.5

[40] 'The Cairns Herberton Railway' Cairns Post 28 September 1887, p.3.

[41] Hallam, p.4.

[42] In November 1942 General Blamey had ordered a survey of the Atherton Tableland with the intention of developing facilities for a combined rehabilitation and training area for Australian troops recently returned from the Middle East. This included camp accommodation for up to eight brigade groups, a 1200 and 600 bed hospital, a convalescent depot, a staging camp at Redlynch near Cairns, a field bakery and field butchery, railway sidings, facilities for sewerage and refrigeration as well as an advanced ordnance depot, advanced supply depot, and provision for roads and electricity (Pearce, H. 2009, ‘WWII – NQ: A cultural heritage overview of significance places in the defence of north Queensland during WWII’, Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, p.54).

[43] Hallam, p.6.

[44] EPA 2001. Heritage Trails of the Tropical North. Queensland Environmental Protection Agency, Brisbane, p.93.

[45] Hudson, p.141.

[46] Hudson, p. 40. Photo of Redlynch Railway Station building in 1890.

[47] 'Divisional Board', Cairns Post 29 August 1888, p.2.

[48]. Queensland Railways (1954) ‘Redlynch Station, proposed septic installation, preliminary layout plan’, Drawing K6076 (barcode 16381563). It appears that the station’s shelter shed may have originally been located in the vicinity of the later timber stage, as survey plans from when the Kamerunga branch line was active show a station building in this location: east of the branch line up Kamerunga Road and opposite a hotel on the west side of the road (DNRME Survey Plans, N157407, 1889 (hotel just west of branch line to Kamerunga) and C153284, 1890 (station building shown northeast of hotel)).

[49] ‘Railway Station Garden Awards’, The Telegraph, 16 November 1939, p.13.

[50] On occasions there were between 50,000 and 100,000 troops quartered on the Atherton-Evelyn Tablelands with an average constant of approximately 40,000 troops (Bottoms, T. 2009 ‘Defending the North: Frontline Cairns (1940-1946) – an historical overview’, eTropic Volume 8,  (accessed 20 May 2020); Queensland Rail (1927) ‘Queensland Railways Cairns Line, Redlynch Station plan #D/10/216016’; ‘Jungara United States Army Station Hospital’, Queensland WWII Historic Places, (accessed 20 May 2020); ‘Redlynch Staging Camp’, Queensland WWII Historic Places’,  (accessed 20 May 2020)). It has been claimed there was a spur line from Redlynch Station to the staging camp (‘Redlynch’ Queensland Places, (accessed 20 May 2020)), but there is no sign of  such a line or its terminus in WWII plans of the staging camp (National Archives of Australia item 3279845, Redlynch Staging Camp 1943, and NAA item 3279847, Redlynch staging camp 1944-5); and no formation is visible between Redlynch Station and the staging camp in a 1952 aerial photograph (DNRME ADA0546121, 1 August 1952). A photograph of soldiers, taken in 1945 at Redlynch Station, refers to them waiting to be taken to the staging camp – which was less than a 1km walk by road – by motor transport (Australian War Memorial image, 086363).

[51] Ward and Milner, p.76.

[52] Buchanan Architects, 'Cairns to Kuranda, Section 2, Individual places', in Volume 1, Far North Queensland Lines. Report for QR, 2002, p.12.

[53] Tunnel lengths as given by QR staff during site visit, 20 April 2011. These vary slightly from the figures for each tunnel's length given in Webber's Railway Tunnels in Queensland.

[54] For more detailed descriptions of the section's steel bridges, see Ward and Milner, Queensland Railway Heritage Places Study: Stage 2, Volume 8.

Image gallery


Location of Cairns Railway, Section from Redlynch to Crooked Creek Bridge within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last reviewed
1 July 2022
Last updated
20 January 2016
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