Our base at Cooloola Cove gave us ample opportunities to visit other places of interest around the sunshine coast. Maryborough got a very brief mention in the last blog but it is worthy of a more detailed narrative as it has an interesting history. However our first city visit was to a place called Gympie, and is the town from which the Gympie region takes its name.
The name Gympie derives from the language of the Kabi tribe of indigenous Australians whose land this historically was. Their word gimpi-gimpi meant stinging tree which referred to a common local tree with large round leaves which had similar properties to stinging nettles. The town was originally named Nashville after James Nash, who discovered gold in the area in 1867 and prompted a local gold rush. The name was changed in 1868.
Why come to Gympie? Its history is wrapped up in Nash’s Gold rush and the Mining Museum reflects that. At the time of Nash’s discovery, Queensland was in a serious economic depression and the discovery of gold in and around Gympie was what saved the state from bankruptcy. There is a memorial fountain to James Nash in Allford Park in Gympie.
The Gympie Gold Mining and Historical Museum houses memorabilia from the early gold mining era, as well as displays showcasing military, rural, transport, communications, and steam development in Australia. We spent a riveting two hours in the museum. It had over 30 period outbuildings, each with a different theme, based on Gympie’s history and progress.
Clockwise from top left: Part of the site of the Gympie Mining Museum; An exhibit showing early mine rescue kit; Lyn and the Gympie Mine Fire Truck; Military Harley Davidson.
Clockwise from top left: Lyn goes back to school; Poster in the school about “Good Manners” (could do with that now!!); Military Museum; Prospectors shack; Inside the prison cell; Outside the school house.
Clockwise from top left: you know ou are getting old when you can remember using exhibits in a museum! – Early mobile phones used on the Aussie network in 1987; Me and a compressor pump; Mine winding gear; Steam driven Static pumping engine.
Gympie lies on the Mary River and the Mary Valley through which it flows has a stunning landscape of rolling green pastures and beautiful forests. The countryside is spectacular with an abundance of curves, gradients, and bridges. Steep slopes portray a patchwork of many crops. However, this river is prone to flooding and has done so around 9 times in the last 130 years, the last time being in 2013. Flood water in the 1999 flood reached 21.9m, the town was inundated and the area was declared a natural disaster.
Us in Allford Park Gympie. The memorial fountain for James Nash is behind us.
The other big feature in Gympie is the wonderfully named “Mary Valley Rattler”, a heritage railway staffed by volunteers which runs from the town, down through the Mary Valley to Dagun and Amamoor. It only restarted operations in October 2018 after having been closed down for safety reasons since 2012. It operates from the historic old station and the main buildings have been preserved to give an authentic late 19th century feel. The rolling stock is old too. The steam engine, a fully restored C17 class locomotive has its origins in the early 1920’s and the carriages, which are also fully restored are also to that era . However they do have some concessions to modern life via a PA system to enable the guard to brief passengers on what is going on. At the end of the line at Amamoor passengers disembark for s short while and are able to watch the loco being swung on a turntable to be re-positioned at the other end of the train for the return journey.
Clockwise from top left: The Mary Valley Rattler engine on the turntable at Amamoor; Ready to depart; View out of the window; Ralph, the Amamoor Station Master’s dog; Lyn waits to board the train.
We took a ride on the railway. It is limited to 25kmph for safety reasons and it certainly lived up to its name. It did rattle, it did roll a bit, and the run down to Amamoor did seem to take an age, especially in a non-air-conditioned carriage, however it gave us some lovely views of the Mary Valley and the scenes down to its destination.
One city down, one to go. To be fair Gympie is recognised by all outside of the place as a town, but our next destination is definitely a city. Part two of a Tale of Two Cities follows shortly!