From The Archives: Lahey’s Canungra Tramway Tunnel

From The Archives: Lahey’s Canungra Tramway Tunnel

Tunnel Through Darlington Range, Tamborine District

In 1901, workers began to cut a ninety-one-metre tunnel through the sandstone of the Darlington Range. First used in 1903, it is now known as the Lahey’s Canungra Tramway Tunnel. It was part of a privately-constructed tramway route owned by the Lahey family, who controlled a large timber operation and used it to haul logs between their leases in the Coomera Valley and their mill in Canungra.

In 1884, David Lahey began work on Canungra’s first sawmill. He and four of his siblings soon obtained parcels of timber-rich land, totalling approximately 3000 acres. During the late-nineteenth century, they acquired an office in Brisbane, established further mills at Beaudesert and Widgee, and increased their lease-holdings to 16,000 acres. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Laheys’ Canungra mill was the dominant force in the town’s economy. The expanding scope of their operation required them to use inefficient and expensive bullock-trains to haul timber across increasingly large distances. A private tramway, using a geared Climax steam locomotive which could operate on the steep track, offered a possible solution. It initially proved a success, being substantially extended during the early-twentieth century. The Climax locomotive was joined by three Shay patent geared steam locomotives as the haulage task grew.

In 1920, the War Service Homes Commission purchased Laheys’ operation, effective 1st January 1921, and closed the mill shortly afterwards. The Lahey family in the guise of Brisbane Timbers Ltd repurchased the tramway in 1924 and continued to use it intermittently to supply their mill at Corinda. In 1933, it closed for good and the track was dismantled. During the Second World War, the Kokoda Barracks at Canungra used the tunnel to store ammunition. At the beginning of the twenty-first century, it gained a new lease on life, opening to the public in 2001 and obtaining heritage listing in 2005.

See:

  1. Centre for the Government of Queensland. “Canungra.” Queensland Places (https://queenslandplaces.com.au/canungra).
  2. Susan Prior. “The Laheys’ Legacy.” Secret Brisbane (https://www.secretbrisbane.com.au/home/2017/1/lahey-legacy).
  3. Queensland Government. “Lahey’s Canungra Tramway Tunnel.” Queensland Government: Queensland Heritage Register (https://apps.des.qld.gov.au/heritage-register/detail/?id=602529).

Queensland Museum. “Industrial Light Rail in Queensland.” Queensland Museum (https://www.qm.qld.gov.au/Find+out+about/Histories+of+Queensland/Transport+Road+and+rail/Industrial+rail+in+Queensland#.XOYrHMgza70).

 

From the Archives: Goat Carts

From the Archives: Goat Carts

Goats played an important role in the early history of Queensland. Arriving in Australia on the First Fleet, goats spread across the country with European settlement. Serving as a handy source of meat, milk, and transportation, they thrived in the harsh Australian landscape and were often financially viable for those who could not afford cattle. In Townsville, goats were so ubiquitous by the mid to late-nineteenth century that they were a well-known nuisance, with the council making attempts to control the population.

Gulf of Carpentaria District – Goat Racing in Croydon, 1912

At the beginning of the twentieth century, goat racing (either with a cart or bareback) was a popular pastime, appearing at school sports days, shows, and celebrations. Goat carts (generally large enough to seat one or two children) were also part of everyday life, being used for leisure and to help children perform chores or paid work such as hauling firewood.

During the 1920s, professional races were held regularly in Brisbane, Rockhampton, and Townsville. Rockhampton’s races could attract thousands of spectators. In 1927, a goat race along Quay Street was planned to celebrate a visit by the opera singer Dame Nellie Melba, although it was cancelled by the police due to its effect on the traffic. During the same year, a selection of Rockhampton goats and the boys who raced them appeared in the silent film Kid Stakes.

Goat racing was also very popular in western Queensland, serving as a fixture of sports days and celebrations in Barcaldine, where goat ownership was nearly universal. While the popularity of goat-racing peaked in the 1920s, it was occurring in Barcaldine into at least the 1970s. By the beginning of the twenty-first century, goat-racing had disappeared from the area. Recently, goat racing has been enjoying a minor revival. In 2008, it was revived in Barcaldine, with the lawyer and former goat-racer John de Groot funding a goat race with a $1000 prize. The town now hosts annual goat races and is, according to the president of the Barcaldine Goat Racing Committee, ‘the goat racing capital of Australia’.

 

Note children with goats in foreground. One goat harnessed.

 

See:

  1. John Brady. “The Kid Stakes.” National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (https://www.nfsa.gov.au/latest/kid-stakes).
  2. Kathleen Calderwood. “Goat Races Prove to be a Crowd Pleaser in Central Queensland.” ABC News, 10th June 2014 (https://www.abc.net.au/news/rural/2014-06-09/qch-goat-races/5509852).
  3. Trisha Fielding. “Goats in Townsville.” North Queensland History, 24th May 2014 (https://northqueenslandhistory.blogspot.com/2014/05/goats-were-once-common-everyday-sight.html).
  4. “‘Goat Capital’ Gets Real Boost.” The Queensland Times, 13th July 2012.
  5. Moya Sharp. “Billy Goat Racing: An Excellent Sport.” Outback Family History, 17th April 2016 (https://www.outbackfamilyhistoryblog.com/2016/04/17/billy-goat-racing-excellent-sport/).
  6. Alison Walsh. “Goat Racing Back on Track.” The Courier Mail, 14th September 2013 (https://www.couriermail.com.au/news/queensland/qweekend-goat-racing-back-on-track/news-story/fa1d9cb97efe2285765464155d8376f4).