The Mapleton Tramway - John Knowles (BOOK)
The Mapleton Tramway was a two feet gauge light railway which in 5.5 miles or 9 km to the west of Nambour, climbed two ranges with steep gradients and very sharp curves.
Nambour is 65 miles or 105 kms north of Brisbane in Queensland. Any traveller by road from the coast to the towns on the Blackall Range in the 2000s will observe that this is the most difficult of all the ascents of the Blackall Range.
Aspects of the history of the line are puzzling to an observer 90 or 100 years later. Even accepting the notions that Dulong would be a good source of sugar cane for the mill, that some form of tramway would be essential if that were to come about, and that the company directors owned lands in the area west of the mill, what was done appears now to have been extravagant and foolhardy. The first puzzling aspect is the determination to reach Dulong with a tramway operated by adhesion despite the very difficult intervening topography, when a flying fox or funicular could have made the climb much more cheaply, without risking so much capital, at least until sugar growing had proved itself in the area. Government departments, responsible for overseeing the repayment of government loans to the company, did not impose any real discipline on these decisions.
This is doubly puzzling when it is considered that the range section was pushed ahead when the Moreton Mill was controlled by the government and not landowner directors. Then. after all the pressure to reach Dulong, the line to there, the 1.2 miles section south of Kureelpa, was closed after about a decade. Third, it is surprising that the Shire was willing to risk public money on the extension to Mapleton with no forecasts of its ability to repay the loans.
In this text, the line is referred to as a tramway, which was its legal status, and the collection of vehicles which ran on it as a tram. On lines with wider gauges, and/or heavier technology, the collection of vehicles would have been termed a train.
92 Pages, B&W + Colour cover