Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Tully: trains tougher than nails

Tully sure is one tough little railway station in Queensland's north. Situated 1,565 km north of Brisbane, Tully's railway station was one of many buildings in town damaged by Tropical Cyclone Yasi in 2011. A popular stop for backpackers and whitewater rafting adventurers on the train journey to Cairns, the station building was still showing the scars from Cyclone Yasi when I passed through on The Sunlander in August 2014.

Tully Railway Station as seen from the road. The station building has a new roof while the windows are still boarded up and the adjoining former Station Master's house looks worn out. 2014

With The Sunlander making a generous 10 minute stop on my journey south to Brisbane, there was enough time for me to step from the train and take some photos of Tully's station building. Despite a new roof and fresh coat of paint to the side of the building that faces the train, Tully Railway Station is still showing the scars from Yasi three years after the cyclone tore through town. When Cyclone Yasi made landfall at nearby Mission Beach, it packed wind speeds of up to 290 kph. When it passed inland through Tully a short while later, it still punched out wind speeds of more than 200 kph. It also punched out all the windows of Tully Railway Station. The station building can be thankful however that it is still standing. Other homes in town were completely destroyed, and the local banana industry was completely flattened. More than 3 years later, the railway station windows are still boarded up and the station looks as though it is still waiting for the green light to restore its tired and battered look.

Water damage to the rear of Tully Railway Station is still visible 3 years after Cyclone Yasi passed through town in 2011.

Once the conductor blew his whistle, it was time to hurry back to the platform and board the train. At half past ten in the morning, there was still plenty more of Queensland's coast to be seen from the window of my train on the journey south. Perhaps next time I pass through Tully the station will be restored back to its original condition once more. Then again, with cyclones a regular part of life in the tropics, the locals will be praying that the next big one will steer well clear of town.

Tully Railway Station's windows are all boarded up as The Sunlander prepares to depart, August 2014.

Tully Railway Station must have been built as tough as nails however. After all, it has occupied the site on the edge of town since 1924. With the nearby sugar mill still sending plumes of sickly-sweet steam into the air during sugar crushing season, trains are going to be calling at this town of 2,500 residents for a good while yet.

To fully appreciate the 1,681 km train journey from Brisbane to Cairns, simply download my Number One Bestselling book Train Tripping Coastal Queensland onto your iPad, tablet or smartphone before boarding the train. My window seat guide will provide you with enough humour and information to turn your train trip into a real railway adventure of your own. Oh, and by the way. Does the cover photo on my book look familiar? That's because its a close up of the train stopped at Tully Railway Station. That sure was one great railway adventure!

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