Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Rockhampton: Central Queensland's Railway Hotspot

Rockhampton Railway Station is 600 km north of Brisbane and is the junction for the Central Western Line to Longreach. Truth be told, the line extends further west to connect with the Great Northern Line in the town of Winton, but Longreach is the terminus for the Spirit of the Outback train that originates in Brisbane. At 8.05pm on a Sunday night, it also became a 45 minute stop while taking a final ride aboard The Sunlander between Brisbane and Cairns. So what does a train enthusiast do with 45 minutes to kill at Rockhampton Railway Station? What else, but get off the train and take photos of the train and station building.

The Sunlander at Rockhampton Railway Station, Queensland, 2014.

Rockhampton would have to be the biggest railway station north of Brisbane. There are 5 platforms in total and the city sees a passing parade of both freight and passenger trains, including the Rockhampton Tilt Trains, the Spirit of the Outback, the Spirit of Queensland and up until the end of 2014, The Sunlander. The station platforms sit alongside a huge yard and railway workshops that still boast a heritage listed, full-size working roundhouse.

2.35 am on a Tuesday morning, two 2470 class QR locomotives sit at the head of the southbound Sunlander while a Tilt Train rests on platform 4, 2014.

There are a lot of coal trains that arrive from the Blackwater Coal System to the west of Rockhampton. Fortunately they join the mainline just to the south at a place called Rocklands for the run south to the coal loaders at the Port of Gladstone. That's because north of Rockhampton Railway Station, the line becomes single track as it runs smack, bang down the middle of Denison Street for almost two kilometres!

Sitting in the foyer of Rockhampton Railway Station is this great little railmotor, RM16. The interactive display tells you some of Rockhampton's fascinating railway history, 2014.

There's a lot of railway history waiting to be unearthed around Rockhampton; such as the former Mount Morgan Rack Railway, the history behind Rockhampton's forgotten steam trams, the former Emu Park, Yeppoon and Broadmount lines, but I had a train to catch, and a book to write. From Brisbane to Cairns and back in less than 72 hours on The Sunlander.

Whether you're travelling from Brisbane to Rockhampton, or all the way to Cairns, my Number 1 Bestselling window seat guide will turn your train trip into a railway adventure of your own. Simply download Train Tripping Coastal Queensland onto your tablet, iPhone or iPad before boarding the train, and you will be treated to a funny yet informative self-guided railway adventure.

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