Just loco about our cane trains

Port Douglas & Mossman Gazette - - NEWS - Shane Ni­chols

PORT Dou­glas has achieved some­thing very rare for a small com­mu­nity – it’s now a four train town.

On Tues­day John Mor­ris added an­other loco, the No4 “Nel­son” (aka “Mul­grave Ram­bler”), to his Port Dou­glas Steam Train Co’s col­lec­tion of cane trains that ser­vice the Bally Hoo­ley rail­way run­ning from the Reef Marina to St Crispins.

The 1933 Fowler-built loco, from the builder’s yards in Leeds, UK, will be a mostly static ex­hibit at St Crispins, “so that ev­ery­one who vis­its can get a good look at a steam train,” said owner John Mor­ris. It will also be used for spe­cial events.

The 15-ton­ner and its 6 tonne ten­der were bought off Mul­grave Sugar Mill’s own­ers, MSF. The train served as the Mul­grave Ram­bler in a tourism ven­ture for a time, but when it was first op­er­ated at Mul­grave it was in fact No 4 “Nel­son” – the name it still bears proudly in brass serif type on the side of the en­gine plate.

John Mor­ris can’t help him­self when it comes to cane trains. Their con­nec­tion to the sugar in­dus­try, so vi­tal to the de­vel­op­ment of the Dou­glas district, is some­thing he val­ues im­mensely. “I want to pre­serve that con­nec­tion through these four lo­cos,” Mr Mor­ris said.

He said he was very grate­ful to Steam Train Co CEO Alan John­stone for his key role in ac­quir­ing the new loco, and to MSF for parting with their train.

It was loaded onto a trans­porter in Cairns and un­loaded at St Crispins in a painstak­ing op­er­a­tion by Kelly’s Cranes of Moss­man.

It’s not the only ad­di­tion to Choo Choo’s Cafe and rail­way sta­tion at St Crispins this week, as the venue’s de­vel­op­ment con­tin­ues. The pon­toon bridge across the small in­let is now near com­ple­tion, con­nect­ing the walk­way to the Mi­rage Coun­try Club golf course.

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