Murgon Men’s Shed members pose outside the two former railway carriages that were recently shifted next to the old Murgon Railway Station in Macalister Street; the group plan to restore them to create a feature railhead for the South Burnett Rail Trail

October 25, 2016

A six-month effort to relocate two former railway carriages to Murgon paid off recently for the Murgon Men’s Shed.

The 50-strong group, which uses the former Murgon Railway Station building as its headquarters, will use the carriages to expand the site into a feature railhead for the South Burnett Rail Trail.

In July 2014 when former Deputy Premier Jeff Seeney announced $2 million in funding for the project, the group began scouting around for old railway carriages they could shift to Murgon.

“As it turned out, finding the carriages was the easy part,” Men’s Shed spokesman Glen Vonhoff said.

“A collector at Gracemere called Darren Standfast had bought an old steel carriage because he didn’t want to see it turned into scrap, and when he heard what we wanted to do he donated it to us.

“And we were able to purchase a wooden 1918 passenger carriage at auction in Rockhampton for $200.”

But if acquiring the carriages was a simple exercise, moving them back to Murgon turned out to be a nightmare.

“After we’d secured the carriages we began to look at what it would cost to truck them to Murgon,” Glen said.

“When we got a quote for $11,000 we almost fell off our chairs.”

It turned out the carriages would need to be lifted on and off the trucks by specialised cranes, and the cranes were very expensive to hire.

However, Men’s Shed members persisted in looking at other solutions, and after six months they found a carrier who had a special tilt-tray truck that could load and unload the two carriages without the need of a crane.

This reduced the cost of transport to $6050, a sum the Men’s Shed fortunately had in their kitty, and they gave the go-ahead shortly afterwards.

The two carriages now sit outside the former Murgon Railway Station on a small 70-metre section of the original railway track that has been preserved.

Men’s Shed members will begin the long task of restoring them shortly.

Glen said the group was applying for a grant to cover the cost of materials involved in the restoration project, but members will be donating their own time and skills free of charge.

The group are hopeful they can have the job finished by the time the Rail Trail is officially opened in March.

“We have a few original seats from the passenger carriage that we also hope to restore, and we’d like to put railway memorabilia in both carriages when they’re finished to add extra interest,” he said.

Glen agreed both carriages will need a lot of work, but is confident the group have the ability to turn in a first-rate job.

“Our members have been restoring historic wooden wagons and we’ve done four or five of them now.

“So I’m sure we can restore both these carriages, and I hope everyone comes to see them when they’re finished.”

[Photos: Murgon Men’s Shed and southburnett.com.au]

The first carriage, a wooden 1918 passenger car, came from Rockhampton …
…and was followed next day by the steel freight carriage, which was transported from Gracemere
The two carriages now sit outside the Murgon Men’s Shed awaiting full restoration

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