Ravenshoe Steam Railway

Experience the Nostalgia of Steam Train Travel

Ravenshoe Steam Railway

Experience the Nostalgia of Steam Train Travel

Ravenshoe Steam Railway

In our railway yard sits the mighty steam locomotive,” Capella” and her carriages. She is the only operational steam locomotive of her kind (D17 class) in the world at present.

Currently she is not running due to track repairs which we have now been granted Accreditation to complete and we are working very hard towards this goal.

The carriages are a trip down memory lane for those of us who remember the days…

A little history.......Capella

Ravenshoe Steam Railway

Ravenshoe Steam Railway (formally known as Ravrail) evolved from the company called RAILCO, which grew out of the closure of the railway line between Ravenshoe and Atherton due to the declaration of World Heritage Listing of the Wet Tropics in 1988.

RAILCO was formed when the chairman of the local Traders Association now called the Chamber of Commerce, realised that the town was to lose a valuable resource.

RAILCO was then formed as a company in 1988 by a group of steam enthusiasts, to preserve the historic railway line. Mr Roger Perry-Keene was the first President, and a loco still standing in Atherton is named after him.

RAILCO eventually found a D17 class steam loco residing in Amaroo Park at Capella in Central Queensland. The Peak Downs Shire donated the 56-ton 1925 D17 4-6-4 loco on the proviso that it be named ‘CAPELLA”, and it was brought by road 500 miles North on an oil rig transporter.

The long trip caused a lot of interest as it slowly inched its way over the inland route to Ravenshoe. She arrived in Ravenshoe on Friday 10 November 1989 to great crowds and rejoicing. (Photo)

The first restoration was under the control of Walter Dixon, a talented self-taught steam engineer, who worked day and night and had it running after only 3 months.  He was aided by Roger Perry-Keene, our first chairman and retired structural engineer, and other enthusiasts.

The Earl Family, the developers of Millstream Estate obtained five antique 1930’s carriages, and at that time the train was named the Millstream Express. The first public steaming was on 7 May 1990.

The first official journey of the train was for the Torimba Festival celebrations on 20th October 1990.. It ran from Ravenshoe to Tumoulin over high wooden trestle bridges along the Millstream River until 2014 when safety issues and new regulations prohibited the train from running.

A brief exemption to this prohibition was the celebration of the Centenary of the Ravenshoe Railway station on December 11, 2016, when the train was moved alongside the station for the big day.

Capella is currently maintained in good working order and is eagerly awaiting to roll her wheels again. She will be 100 years old in 2025

Ravenshoe Steam Railway

The history of...The Line.

Construction of this line had commenced in Cairns in May 1886 ultimately to service the mining town of Herberton.

By June 1891, the line was opened to Kuranda. “The Herberton Railway” reached Mareeba in August 1893 and rested there for 10 years. The next stage to Atherton was commenced in 1903 and reached there in August of that year.

The extension from Atherton commenced in 1908 and reached Herberton in October 1910. The line was extended to Tumoulin in 1911 and eventually to Ravenshoe in 1916.

During World War II (from 1942 to 1945) the railway line into Ravenshoe was used to transport troops to recuperate in the area as it was cooler and also to convey troops from their desert training areas to jungle training regions closer to New Guinea.

At the end of the War, timber for the House of Common and specifically the Speaker’s Chair was transported from Ravenshoe on the railway line down to Cairns for shipment to London.

Timber continued to be transported to Cairns and a passenger service taking 5 hours to reach Cairns was later established. In 1988 QR closed railway branch lines and the World Heritage Listing of the Forest closed the local timber industry.