Cr David Pahlke and Cr Bruce Casos with
Steamfest Members Jake Gilliam and Willie Bromage
THE birthplace of Queensland Rail will be the setting for a special historic commemoration in late July. The Grandchester Steamfest 2015 will be held on July 26 at the Grandchester Recreation Reserve in School Rd. The Grandchester Steamfest 2015 is a free community event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first train that ran on July 31, 1865 from Ipswich to Grandchester (previously called Bigge’s Camp). This event has been celebrated every five years since 1965 and showcases an important event in the history of the Ipswich region.
“This year’s event is especially significant as it is the sesquicentennial celebration of 150 years.
This quaint village earned its special place in Queensland history when, in 1865, the first section of railway built in the Colony was completed between Ipswich and Grandchester then known as Bigge’s Camp. The railway eventually linked the rich Darling Downs to Brisbane and, as it expanded, settlers soon followed. Townships sprang up around the new stations all along the track as railway workers, farmers and shopkeepers and their families settled throughout the region. Much of Grandchester’s railway heritage is preserved for today’s visitors to enjoy. Its charming railway station building is the oldest surviving example in Queensland and its square water tank is a reminder of the days when thirsty steam engines were frequent callers.
Past Grandchester Steamfest celebrations had drawn vast crowds and this year the event was expected to exceed 10,000 visitors. “Queensland Rail and the National Trust of Queensland will have static displays and an open house at the Grandchester Station and a temporary bridge across Western Creek will connect the two locations of this event. “They will also hold a re-enactment of the 1865 opening of the railway line at the Grandchester Railway Station.” “Queensland Rail plans to run three steam trains to Grandchester on the day of the event and will transport dignitaries to the festival by steam train from Ipswich using an A10 locomotive which was the train which made the original journey on July 31, 1865. Further information on the public steam trains running to Grandchester is available from
Division 10 Councillor David Pahlke said The Grandchester Community Steamfest committee would also hold a free community event at the Grandchester Recreation Reserve featuring static and working displays of vintage machinery, steam engines and traction engines. “Also included will be sheep shearing, wool spinning, wheel writing, blacksmithing, children’s activities and rides, vintage and veteran vehicle displays, food and information stalls,” Cr Pahlke said. “These have proved popular during past events with the last being held in 2010 attracting more than 7000 visitors.”
Cr Pahlke said council was proud to support the Grandchester Community Steamfest Committee with a $10,000 grant from the Rural Community Support Program. The program is a joint initiative between the Ipswich City Council and the Department of Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services. “We are pleased to be able to support the organising committee in this way as they have been putting a great deal of effort into plans for this special day. “I encourage everyone, especially out those train enthusiasts out there, to come to Grandchester and celebrate the birth of Queensland Rail. “This will be a historic occasion highlighting the importance of Grandchester in the history of the state’s railway network.” The Grandchester Steamfest 2015 will run from 9am to 4pm with free entry.
For more information visit www.steamfest.org.au