Pettigrew’s Cooloola Tramway Complex

On 30 October 1873 the colony’s first private railway, operated by Pettigrew and Sim to haul kauri pine timber from the scrubs of the Cooloola sandmass, was officially opened. The ‘Kaloolah’ railway line had a length of about 9 miles (14 km).

The idea for a tramway began for William Pettigrew who was an interested timberman in 1865. He knew that getting timber out of the scrub in this area was difficult.  Bullock teams were proving not feasible due to the sandy terrain and lack good of feed. Pettigrew and Sim began surveying the tramway from Cooloola Creek inland to where they knew good stands of Dundathu pine stood in October 1872. Pettigrew arrived in Tin Can Bay inlet in 1873 with a purpose Maryborough.  It was the first steam locomotive to be built in Queensland.  Three weeks after the official opening of the tramway in July 1873, William Sim was killed while unloading a load of timber. His two sons took over the business and ran it successfully. October 1875 saw the extension of the line inland from Camp Milo to the Eurodon Scrub. A new locomotive named the Dundathu was delivered to the Tin Can Bay inlet in 1876. The Mary Ann was returned to Maryborough for much need repairs. Pettigrew began surveying in 1877 the extension coast wards to Poverty Point when it was found that the terminus on the eastern bank of Cooloola Creek was inadequate. In 1878 the tramway was completed to its inland terminus at Pot Hole the lowest point in the Broutha Scrub. 1884 saw the closure of the tramline. Fires in the scrub have destroyed much of the wooden tramline over the years.

William Pettigrew
William Pettigrew

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