Monday, 24 November 2014

Ingham: North Queensland's Sweet Spot

Ingham is 1,437 km north of Brisbane and is home to Australia's largest sugar mill, the giant Victoria Mill that is located a few k's to the east of town. The railway line first reached Ingham from Townsville to the south in 1919, and being a scheduled stop for the Spirit of Queensland train, along with the passing procession of cane trains making their way to the Victoria Mill, makes Ingham Railway Station a sweet spot for watching trains in North Queensland.

Ingham Railway Station signal box, 2014.

I passed through Ingham in August 2014 while making the journey to and from Cairns on The Sunlander, shortly before the train was due to be retired. On the northbound trip, an announcement was made that the train would be waiting at Ingham Station for a few minutes if anyone should wish to stretch their legs. That was all the incentive I needed to step onto the platform armed with my camera. Just to the south of the platform there is a 90 degree crossing with a sugar cane railway that serves the nearby Victoria Mill, and behind the platform fencing there is a neat little interlocking tower that is still used to facilitate train movements across the North Coast Line. I can just picture myself sitting beneath a nearby shady tree at the height of the sugar crushing season. Armed with my camera and an esky full of cold-ones while waiting to photograph a meet between a tiny cane train and a double-headed freight rolling through town on the North Coast mainline. For train watching enthusiasts, the crossing at Ingham would have to be as sweet as they come.

The tail end of The Sunlander sits at Ingham Railway Station. The cane tramway crossing is just beyond the baggage car while downtown Ingham can be seen in the background. 2014

Although Ingham Railway Station itself is nothing spectacular, (the station has an awning that appears larger than the building itself), it is located right in the heart of town. As the train slows to make a stop at this North Queensland sugar town, you are treated to a window view of life in the north, including the sight of the 1925 Station Hotel that stands in front of the level crossing. On my return trip south, I knew just where to look to shoot this picture of the crossing lights and hotel from my window seat.

Ingham's Station Hotel (built in 1925) can be seen from the eastern windows as the train departs south from the Ingham Station. 2014.

While I only spent a grand total of 3 minutes in Ingham, I did manage to unearth a lot of interesting information about this town of 4,605 people. For instance, did you know that the first person to establish a sugar plantation in Ingham was later eaten by a tribe of cannibals? Well, its all in my book Train Tripping Coastal Queensland, a window seat guide to appreciating one of the world's greatest rail journeys, from Brisbane to Cairns.

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