Pialba Station in 1912.
Pialba Station in 1912.

Hervey Bay's old railway line is now the mobility corridor

THE mobility corridor that moves through the heart of Hervey Bay provides a great access way for pedestrians, bicycles and mobility scooters.

It is important for town planning that we have such pathways for non-vehicular traffic to ensure that our communities are accessible and that alternative means of transport are encouraged.

The origins of the pathway go back to an altogether different type of transport.

It is the land upon which the Hervey Bay railway once ran.

Torquay Station.

Rail travel, particularly long distance, certainly has something of a nostalgic and idyllic rhythm to it.

As I write this I am watching, transfixed, an SBS show which is essentially a continuous presentation of the views from the Ghan as it makes its way from Adelaide to Darwin.

It certainly would create a different feel to the city if we were to regularly see trains rolling through again.

Within Hervey Bay, there were stations of different sizes at Nikenbah, Urraween, Kawungan, Pialba, Scarness, Torquay and Urangan.

The arrival of rail to Hervey Bay increased its popularity as a seaside destination, brought goods from further afield and assisted local farmers in getting their products to the market.

It really was the instigator of the growth that would come and go in spurts over the next century.

Walking along the quiet corridor where this line ran, backing on to many backyards, it takes a bit of imagination to think of large trains rumbling along it.

The first tourists arrived on the Pialba Station platform in 1896.

Nikenbah Station.

In the decades to come many thousands more would arrive and find their way to the foreshore and local accommodation houses.

One of the first things they would have seen was the very well-kept gardens at the station.

In 1913 a branch line was opened from Pialba through to Urangan, allowing passengers and goods to be taken to Scarness, Torquay and Urangan.

A few years later, in 1917, the final goal of the branch line was achieved with rail access to a deep-water port through the construction of the Urangan Pier.

Sadly, passenger trains ceased operations on August 7, 1972.

However the line remained open for goods trains until it was officially closed on June 30, 1993 when the last train to run over the lines departed the Pialba Station at 10am.

Walking along the rail corridor now, reminders of its rail heritage are there.

Some obvious like old station buildings, others less so, like the landscape and artefacts and machinery relating to the functioning of the line.

While it has been almost a quarter of a century since the last train pulled out of the station, its legacy usefully lives on through the mobility corridor.