The Mary Ann steam train makes its way through Queens park.
The Mary Ann steam train makes its way through Queens park. Alistair Brightman

Help preserve our past

MOST people on the Fraser Coast will have seen, if not ridden, one of our most popular tourist attractions, the steam train the "Mary Ann".

However, you will not know of the enormous effort and financial resources required to maintain and run the train.

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That's when the Maryborough City Whistle Stop Inc organisation comes into the picture.

The organisation started in the late 1990s to coincide with the construction of the replica of the Mary Ann steam train by the Maryborough Engineering firm, Olds Engineering.

President Warren McPherson, the enthusiastic and knowledgeable president, said his quest is to preserve the Fraser Coasts Railway history and find a permanent home for the organisation, its trains and the museum.

"Its hard work trying to ensure that everything we have is preserved for future generations to enjoy and it's the work of the volunteers that truly keep this place alive and running," Warren said.

The original Mary Ann was commissioned in 1873 and was the first steam engine built at John Walker and Co's Union Foundry for the early timber merchants William Pettigrew and William Sims.

Both men had daughters called Mary Ann and so it was decided that this joint venture should have the name bestowed on the engine.

The Mary Ann was designed to haul the large Kauri Pine logs from the Cooloola Forests to Tin Can Bay. Nowadays it takes tourists and locals through Maryborough's beautiful Queens Park.

The organisations focus is moving towards the next big project, the restoration of locomotive number 299.

It was built in 1897 by Walkers Limited and was their first completed steam locomotive.

"Its going to take a lot of effort to get this big engine moving again and that's why it's important we get the whole community behind the project," Warren said.

"You don't have to have any knowledge of steam engines but rather a love of history to become involved."

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Preserving our local history takes passion and commitment, something the local community has plenty of.

If you are interested in joining or becoming a volunteer with Whistle Stop, contact Warren on 41210444.