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Kuranda Railway Cairn Print Page Print this page

Kuranda Railway Cairn
Kuranda Railway Cairn

Photographs supplied by Peter F Williams / Ian Bevege

Plaqued pyramidal cairn commemorates the centenary of the completion of the railway from Cairns (Redlynch) to Kuranda. A second plaque unveiled in 2005 recognises the construction of the railway as a National Engineering Landmark .

The Cairns-Kuranda Railway was constructed between 1882 and 1891 and even today is considered an engineering feat of tremendous magnitude. Hundreds of men were employed to build the 15 hand-made tunnels and 37 bridges that stand as a monument to the pioneers of tropical North Queensland who lost their lives while working on the railway.

The construction was a technical feat of its time due to its benching in old slide planes of decomposed rock, much of it at the natural angle of repose reaching to the bed of the river hundreds of metres below. The line provided the most important catalyst for the development of Cairns and the permanent settlement of the Atherton and Evelyn Tablelands.

Cairns Kuranda railway is of unique historic, technical, aesthetic and cultural significance to the nation. Built at the end of the 19th century it illustrates the use of railways as a development tool for the nation. It played its part in making Australia, for a time, the world's leading producer of gold and tin. The contractor, John Robb, was a man with a national reputation. His subsequent bankruptcy illustrates the catastrophic results of the depression of the nineties.

As an engineering feat, it is the only example in Australia of a narrow gauge railway constructed in an otherwise inaccessible gorge through rainforest and under tropical weather conditions. It was constructed at a time when the region was deemed too harsh an environment for Europeans to work in.

Location

Address:Coondoo Street, Kuranda Railway Station , Kuranda, 4881
State:QLD
Area:AUS
GPS Coordinates:Lat: -16.818678
Long: 145.639117
Note: GPS Coordinates are approximate.
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Details

Monument Type:Monument
Monument Theme:Technology
Sub-Theme:Industry

Dedication

Actual Monument Dedication Date:Saturday 15th June, 1991
Front Inscription

                          DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT
                                    QUEENSLAND RAILWAYS

This Plaque Is To Commemorate The Centenary Of The Construction Of The Rail Line From Redlynch To Kuranda Which Was Opened To Goods Traffic On The 15th June, 1891. Work On The Line Commenced In May 1886. The Construction Of The Line Was Divided Into Three Separate Contracts And Using Fortitude Dynamite, Buckets And Hands, The Project Was Completed In 5 Years. At The Height Of Construction 1500 Workmen Were Employed On The Project.

                                           Unveiled By
                                          
                                         The Hon. D.J.HAMILL M.L.A 
                                 Minister For Transport And Minister Assisting
                            The Premier On Economic And Trade Development
                                                 On 15th June 1991
                             D.G.Stevenson Esq.                      V.J.O'Rourke Esq.
                               Director-General                            Chief Executive
                             Department Of Transport              Queensland Railways

Left Side Inscription

(plaque 1)
NATIONAL ENGINEERING
            The
Institute of Engineers,
         Australia
      LANDMARK

  (Plaque 2 )

                                KURANDA RANGE RAILWAY

Queensland Government Railways Chief Engineers, Willoughby Hannam and Thomas Annett designed and supervised this railway; John Robb, the contractor, and his European migrant workforce built the line, bridges and tunnels between 1886 and 1891. The railway climbs 323m in 21.7km through the rainforest of the World Heritage Wet Tropics, across the very steep, loose sides of Barron Gorge and over some extraordinary curved iron truss bridges. It was built to develop the large mineral and agricultural area of Far North Queensland. During World War 2 it also serviced huge military camps and hospitals.
                                  The Institution Of Engineers Australia
                                            Queensland Rail 2005

Source: MA
Monument details supplied by Monument Australia - www.monumentaustralia.org.au
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