Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex | Environment, land and water | Queensland Government

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Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex

  • 601242
  • Woodlawn Street, Wallangarra


State Heritage
Register status
Date entered
28 March 2003
Transport—rail: Railway station
3.12 Developing secondary and tertiary industries: Catering for tourists
5.3 Moving goods, people and information: Using rail
5.8 Moving goods, people and information: Postal services
7.6 Maintaining order: Defending the country
Construction periods
1887–1890, Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex (1887 - 1890s circa)
1887–1890, Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex - Railway Station (1887 - 1890s circa)
1887–1890, Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex - Station Master's Residence (1887 - 1890)
Historical period
1870s–1890s Late 19th century


Woodlawn Street, Wallangarra
Southern Downs Regional Council
-28.92165754, 151.93339794


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

Wallangarra railway station, associated trackwork in the railway yard and ancillary railway buildings situated at Wallangarra on the border of Queensland and New South Wales are important in demonstrating the pattern of transportation and communications in Queensland's history. In particular it demonstrates the pre-eminence of rail transport in the nineteenth and early twentieth century in Australia. The station building and yardwork was the response to the meeting between two separate colonial railway systems at a border using separate railway gauges. They demonstrate the inter-colonial rivalry with regard to railway gauges, which continued from the end of the nineteenth century, until major rail standardisation between the systems began in the 1960's.

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

It is a rare complex of its type, being especially comparable nationally with Serviceton on the Victoria/South Australian border (1888) in terms of its construction date, large size and redundancy. It compares also with other late Victorian border stations at Albury and Wodonga.

The station building and Station Masters residence are uncommon in Queensland as being constructed of masonry which demonstrates the NSWGR influence.

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

The station building and yardwork was the response to the meeting between two separate colonial railway systems at a border using separate railway gauges. They demonstrate the inter-colonial rivalry with regard to railway gauges, which continued from the end of the nineteenth century, until major rail standardisation between the systems began in the 1960's.


The Southern Line was extended from Stanthorpe to Wallangarra on 4 February 1887 almost a year prior to the completion of the NSWGR line from Tenterfield to Wallangarra on 16 January 1888, thereby opening an inter-colonial link between Brisbane and Sydney. Temporary buildings were first erected with the permanent buildings being erected from 1887 to 1890.

The first section of the Southern and Western Railway had opened between Ipswich and Bigges Camp (Grandchester) on 31 July 1865. The railway was constructed to link the pastoral areas of the Darling Downs, with the head of navigation on the Bremer River at Ipswich. The Southern and Western Railway was progressively extended to reach Toowoomba in April 1867, following completion of the Main Range section of the railway. Further westward extension of the line completed the Ipswich-Dalby line in 1868.

A line serving the southern part of the Darling Downs to Warwick, to be built in two sections was approved by Parliament in 1865. However major financial difficulties for the colony saw that the line was not completed to Hendon until 1869 and through to Warwick until 187. An indirect route from Ipswich was chosen branching off the western line near Gowrie, and running south via Westbrook, to save on construction costs.

The discovery of tin south of Warwick at Stannum Creek, and around present day Stanthorpe, in 1871 encourages a rush of miners to the area. The first agitation for an extension came from miners and people on the tin fields wanting closer communication with Brisbane and its port. A large amount of goods was also transported over the inter-colonial border and shipped from Northern New South Wales, whilst ore was also treated at a special smelter built in Brisbane. It was hoped that railway communication with Brisbane would secure this traffic for Queensland.

A trial survey was run out from Warwick to Stanthorpe in 1873, however the difficulties that would be experienced in construction of such a line through the Granite Belt, and its attendant cost forestalled further action. Two more surveys were completed in 1876 and 1877, and importantly these surveys continued beyond Stanthorpe through to Queensland/New South Wales border. Construction from Warwick to Stanthorpe was approved in August 1877. The section from Warwick-Stanthorpe was divided into two sections and work commenced in 1878 being completed in 1881.

Parliament approved plans for extension of the line southwards from Stanthorpe to the Queensland-New South Wales border in 1884 via Ballandean. New South Wales had proposed that the Queensland main line be extended beyond the border to Tenterfield (a distance of 20 kilometres). This suggestion had originally met with support from the Brisbane business community, as well as the New South Wales government. However the Queensland Parliament chose to create the break of gauge location at the colonial border. The transhipping station and yards would lead to the creation of two townships on the border, Jennings on the New South Wales side and Wallangarra on the Queensland side. The border township of Wallangarra had been described in 1885 as being of 'quite a pretentious appearance consisting of butchers, bakers, blacksmiths and with an aerated water factory.'

The New South Wales government had agreed with great reluctance to the extension of the line to the Queensland border. The contract for extension of the railway to the border 25 miles 19 chains - (42 kilometres) was let to the railway contractors George Bashford and Company in 1885 for £ 140,885.8.2, completion date being June 1887. The New South Wales government initially rejected the plans proposed by Queensland for Wallangarra station costing £ 28,000 as being too expensive. The decision was taken by the Commissioner for Railways on 18 November 1886 for a smaller station to be constructed wholly on the Queensland side of the border at a cost of £ 6 000.

Temporary station buildings were constructed until the completion of the permanent station platform in 1886. On 14 February 1887 the railway line was opened to the border, subject to a final decision on the break of gauge point. The platform and station yard layout was designed to incorporate the eventual extension of the New South Wales standard gauge lines to the border. A contract for the building of a station master's residence, goods shed, and removal of the carriage and engine sheds from Stanthorpe to Wallangarra was let in 1887 to George Bashford and Company. The contract was let for £ 2509. On 26 February 1887 the contract for the passenger station was let to George Bashford and Co. for £ 1741.

Previously the Stanthorpe Border Post had described Wallangarra as having a very fine platform but the buildings were 'ludicrously inadequate', as being temporary constructions, consisting of a shed 'as large as two boxes'. In February of 1887 a meeting had been held in Wallangarra to support the retention of the break of gauge point at the border, and not at Tenterfield as was being proposed. The Queensland/New South Wales border forms part of the fenceline for the Station Masters property. The station master's residence was unusual for a Queensland station residence was constructed in brick. A Post Office was opened in the station in March 1887.

The station was built on an island platform, with station awnings on both sides. The Queensland side awnings (western platform) being to Queensland design patterns and that on the standard gauge side (eastern platform) being built after New South Wales pattern. The New South Wales government completed its railway line to the border station in January 1888. The New South Wales awnings were not constructed until 1890. Both colonies had name boards in their usual style, the Queensland one having a hyphenated nameboard (Wallan-Garra), whilst New South Wales substituted with Wallangarra. The original station building occupies the present southern section, and consisted of office, lobby, store and closets. The booking office also served as the customs office and general waiting room as well as the Station Master's office. In 1892 drawings were prepared by Henrik Hansen for a new bar, dining room, Refreshment Room female staff (girls) bedrooms and kitchen.

By 1884 the train travelling between Brisbane and Stanthorpe had been referred to as a 'Mail' train running with a Travelling Post Office. The opening of the inter-colonial line saw the introduction of a regular train service between Sydney and Brisbane, the 'Sydney Mail'. 26 Up (Sydney Mail) and 37 Down (Brisbane Mail) were the premier service of the era. The timetable was improved in 1894 and remained unchanged until 1908, when a more powerful locomotive C16 class was introduced. In 1923 a new and heavier Sydney Mail train was constructed consisting of nine carriages including a parlour car based on observation platform at the rear of the train, to be hauled at what was the time the most powerful locomotives on a narrow gauge in Australia.

In 1921 the Federal Royal Commission into Standard Gauge had recommended that the mainland states and the Commonwealth commit themselves to providing a uniform railway network linking the capital cities of Australia with common gauge. As part of the standardisation of the disparate gauges, a new link between Sydney and Brisbane via Kyogle was identified as being a central element. Queensland in 1924 passed the South Brisbane Kyogle Grafton Act committing itself to the construction of a new standard gauge railway from South Brisbane to the border with New South Wales. New South Wales for its inclusion in the agreement between the Commonwealth and Queensland demanded a bridge over the Clarence River at Grafton and the upgrading of the Kyogle branch. The Commonwealth Government provided half the funding for the project. The interstate standard gauge railway line between Kyogle and South Brisbane opened in 1930. The importance of the Toowoomba-Wallangarra southern line diminished, as the new link via northern New South Wales and the Richmond Gap into Queensland did not involve a change of trains at a border station.

During the time of the Second World War the strategic importance of Wallangarra was vital in providing an inland transhipment and staging point during the defence of Australia. Large numbers of workers were employed to tranship goods in the New South Wales section of the yard. The extensive yard and station complex at this time consisted of the station building, closets and horse dock at the southern end of the station platform (the border dock). Refreshment Room staff and ambulance quarters were situated at the north end of the platform. On the western (OGR) side was a goods office, casual crew quarters with dining room, frame tent and library. To the north-east an engine shed was situated, reserve coal dump, locomotive coal stage, tool room, ASM's residence (1919), ganger's residence (1919) and trucking yards. On the east side (NSWGR platform) was the Station Master's residence (1887), 25 ton weighbridge, lamp room, waitresses quarters and the footwarmer furnace. Quarters were also provided for laundresses. Most of these ancillary buildings are now removed.

The last Sydney Mail (26 Up) ran on 29 January 1972, and the Brisbane-Wallangarra service was withdrawn as of 1 February 1972. The Wallangarra Refreshment Rooms closed to the public on 5 August 1973. The Refreshment Rooms were demolished in 1975. With the cessation of passenger services on the Queensland side of the border, the line reverted to a goods only basis. With the continuing decline of Wallangarra the decision was taken in 1984 to abolish one of the two positions of Assistant Station Master. The line between Tenterfield and Wallangarra on the New South Wales side of the border was closed to traffic in 1989. The line northwards of Guyra in New South Wales, and then Armidale was progressively mothballed by the State Rail Authority. In March 1994 the Assistant Station Master's and Ganger Residences at Wallangarra were sold. The Station Master's residence was sold in 1994-5, and the Station Officer withdrawn in 1995. The Southern line south of Warwick was threatened with closure in 1993-4, but the link was retained due to community protest, and a twice weekly goods service was still operated. In recent times trains have only been run on an as required basis, and all station staff withdrawn leaving Wallangarra as an unattended station.


The station building consists of a long double sided single storey hip roofed brick station with cast iron verandahs after the style of an NSWGR building of the period with the exception of the Brisbane platform which has a cast iron curved shade similar to South Brisbane and Emerald stations. A small-stock slaughtering yard consisting of high-walled brick for the Refreshment Rooms adjoined the station building. The New South Wales side awning was built in 1890, and is sheeted with flat raked iron. Brackets and columns were cast by the Toowoomba Foundry. The elevations now overpainted, have pilasters at regular intervals with archways marking the location of the original lobby. Internally space was provided for offices and a large kitchen, dining room, bar and bedrooms for Refreshment Rooms staff.

The offices are located to the south of the present ticket lobby with refreshment rooms and post office now vacated to the north where there is also an enclosed yard (slaughtering yard). The refreshment room fittings have been removed. The station platform features a two road horse dock platform at its southern end. The Queensland/New South Wales border diagonally crosses the platform approximately 2 metres to the north of the horse dock platform.

The Station Master's house faces the Sydney platform and is constructed of brick adopting QGR forms and details. It is an asymmetrical villa, being constructed in a L shape with faceted bay in the projecting wing, posted verandah (reconstructed), stuccoed quoins and decorative brackets to the gable ends, and prominent chimneys.

To the west of the station are two buildings identified by Ward in his survey as being the Locomotive Inspector's quarters and running men (crew) quarters.

Image gallery


Location of Wallangarra Railway Station and Complex within Queensland
Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated
20 January 2016
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