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THE FIRST TRAIN TO CHINCHILLA

Updated: Jul 11, 2023

As reported 12th January 1878, in the Dalby Herald


I have been delving into old newspaper reports, and thought I should share this one


Notes by a Traveller

OPENING OF THE LINE TO CHINCHILLA

Having seen by a proclamation that the opening of the new line from Cooranga to Charley's Creek was to take place on the 3rd instant, I availed myself of the pleasure of being an eyewitness to the proceedings. I arrived at the new township on the above date, having completed a journey of 35 miles. It was about noon on that day when I first sighted the embryo city of Chinchilla. The first object to meet my gaze was Bateman's Hotel, situated at the old bridge on the Dawson road. This temple of Baccus seems more designed for use than ornament, and like it's worthy host presents a rough but weatherproof appearance --- I liquored up and started for the main township in a hurry. For fear of disappointment I cantered my nag hock deep over a mile of burning sand, but on reaching the station found that I had many hours to spare, as the train was not to arrive till 5 minutes past nine that night, nor depart till 35 minutes past the same hour.

I occupied my curiosity in the interim in inspecting the township and meditating on it's future and have, after mature consideration, arrived at the conclusion that, on the whole the most temporary and ordinary style of architecture imaginable was adopted in its erection. Some of the pubs are composed of saplings and galvanised iron, while others display the traces of adze and saw, but this is to a very small extent indeed. The ever useful calico makes a leading place in its formation. The heat of the place was unbearable, and nothwithstanding this, my hostess thanked her Providence for the day being so cool. There is no school, but had there been one there would be no scarcity of pupils, as the place seems crowded with youngsters. The Minister for Education must to a certain extent be responsible for this state of affairs, as he could easily remedy the evil by the construction of a few movable buildings, which could be shifted from camp to camp, for the benefit of the poor navvies' families; in fact, the latter have little to be thankful for in this colony, where, notwithstanding the bloated orations of the pseud philanthropists in the House, so important a subject is neglected. There has been no rain in this place for 11 months, and consequently grass is a thing of the past. One good waterhole which supplied the most of the town has been drained off for the use of the engines, and loud and coarse are the epithets poured by the residents on the heads of the Works Department in consequence.

The train arrived at the appointed time, but not one of the Ministry or men of note accompanied it. No demonstration was made and --- save for the presence of his Royal Highness the King of Chinchilla, who, with the national emblems [his italics] on his breast, occupied the platform --- there was nothing to cause any attraction. The train started back for Dalby about 10pm, and as all was chaos on the journey, nothing can be reported of the trip. Dalby was reached at 1 o'clock in the morning, and after a ride over coarse and grating rails you may depend that your humble servant enjoyed the small hours of the morning in the arms of Morpheus. Dalby is too well known to yourself to require any comment from me, so I will conclude my experience of the opening of a railway in Queensland.


I just love the llanguage. But I wonder -- who was the King of Chinchilla in 1878?

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