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Bell Line (the) (BOOK)

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Bell Line (the) (BOOK)

The railway from Dalby to Bell was the first branch line in the district and it was part of a plan to extend rail transport and to open up Crown lands. Rail transport had come to Queensland in 1865 with the completion of the line from Ipswich to Biggs Camp, and on April 20, 1868 the line had reached Dalby. With the completion of this line the Central Burnett landholders from as far north as Eidsvold found it convenient to have their station requirements railed to Dalby and delivered from there to their properties. Their wool was also sent out through Dalby.

Joshua Thomas Bell, of Jimbour, MLA for Dalby and Minister of Lands from 1903, had a well-defined plan for the settlement of the unoccupied land in the Dalby district and he supported the Closer Settlement Act of 1906 which was to bring more settlers from the south and from overseas. He saw Dalby as the hub of a network of branch railways serving the area and opening up the country. His father, Sir Joshua Peter Bell, who had previously managed the property and had brought about many improvements, had frequently travelled to Dalby by special train after meetings of the Legislative Council in Brisbane.

From 1866 onwards, portions of squatting leaseholds such as Jimbour had been made available for selection and, from 1871, when Angus McPhee had taken up portion 242, parish of Maida Hill, settlers had moved into the Cattle Creek and nearby areas. Consequently, by the end of the century, there were several established farms in the Bell area, with produce to be marketed.

From 1895 the Railway Guarantee Act had empowered and compelled a Local Authority to levy a separate Railway Rate in the area benefited by a railway line. Thus the residents would make good any losses incurred by the Commissioner. Some reports suggest that the farmers of the Bell area were willing to pay, as they felt sure the line would not show a loss, but would bring to them advantages already enjoyed by Warra and Chinchilla farmers in enabling them to send cream by rail to the Dalby Butter Factory opened in 1906 by Mr J Clarke. Other reports suggest that "the line was built, not to suit the farmers, but to open up certain Crown lands."

There were differences of opinion regarding the route to be taken too. Some advocated Bowenville to Maida Hill, some plans were for Dalby to Rocky Point which was a spot some six miles south-west of Bell, but official papers eventually designated it "the Dalby to Cattle Creek" line.

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