Wreck of the Thallon Mail

I was a railway worker
Attached to the "relief,"
At the time the Brisbane-Thallon Mail
On the Main Range came to grief.

I was booked to go to Nobby
On that Sunday "Thallon Mail"
To relieve a man the following day:
I must be there without fail.

1 was standing, on the platform
At Toowoomba, in the rain,
With my camping gear assembled
Waiting for the Thallon train.

When word came through "A" Cabin
That the train was then "on line,"
Which meant the train had left Spring Bluff
On time, and running fine.

And as the people waited
On the platform drenched with rain,
The clock ticked by an hour,
But no arrival of the train.

We grew restless as the hours passed,
And after a long wait,
A call came through from Rangeview
Saying "This is the driver's mate.

Our engine's lying on its side
In mud up to the funnel.
We ran into a landslide
Outside the Manhole Tunnel."

The station master said to me,
"Nobby's out, that's fairly plain,
So you'd better sign on duty
And go on the breakdown train.

It seems the whole main line is blocked,
If what I'm told is true.
We don't know the position yet,
But there'll be work for you to do.

Now, as this is a passenger train
There can't be any doubt,
Our consideration first must be
To get the injured out."

Gangs and crews then were called out
To work the rescue train,
And poor old Doctor Woodhill too,
Came in the pouring rain.

And after several weary hours,
Which seemed undue delay,
We climbed aboard the rescue train
And it was on its way.

We stopped at Rangeview station
To pick up the fireman chap,
Who piloted the rescue train
To the scene of the mishap.

We stopped outside the "Manhole,"
The weather dark and damp.
I took Doc through the tunnel
With the aid of a van lamp.

Emerging at the other end
We saw in the dim light,
At the mouth of the next tunnel
The wreckage of that night.

The loco buried in the mud,
The tender off the track,
The first coach through the second one,
Where it had been forced back.

And as we stood and viewed the scene.
That none were dead we hoped,
Then we scrambled through the rubble
To those coaches telescoped.

And trapped within those coaches,
Which were branded "Second Class,"
Were two fellows and a woman
'Mid the splintered wood and glass.

The first man that we noticed
As we looked in through the door,
Was trapped beneath a broken seat
With his head pinned to the floor.

The second man was tightly jammed
As far as I could see,
Between two seats. His leg was broken
Just above the knee.

The woman had a mangled foot,
A plank wedged on her thighs;
Severe internal injuries
From which she later dies.

The Doc and 1 crawled through the coach
And in the confined space,
He needled the three injured
While I held his syringe case.

The driver of the "Thallon Mail"
Had suffered minor burns,
While the guard had slight concussion
Which later caused dizzy turns.

And all the other passengers
Showed some degree of stress—
Well. being in a wreck at night,
That's natural, I guess.

The rescue gang were working hard
To get the injured out,
And whilst this work was going on
I heard a piercing shout.

It came from Ganger Chicken,
Who was holding up a wall
Of the splintered broken carriage
So that it wouldn't fall.

Someone had placed a carbide lamp,
Not intending any harm,
In a possie where the naked light
Was scorching Chicken's arm.

Jack Chicken went off duty,
And much later it was learned
He, too, had doctor's treatment
On the arm that had been burned.

The passengers and injured
Were all taken up to town
The rescue gang were soaking wet
And still the rain came down.

For days and days the rescue gang
Worked in the pouring rain,
To clear away that landslide
So that trains could run again.


FCW (Bill) Larkin

Bill Larkin's account of his experience after a landslide in the 1930s brought downs tons of rock and earth between No. 5. 7 and 8 Tunnels on the Main Range.

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