HistoryExplore Boolboonda Tunnel history for Heritage Festival

Explore Boolboonda Tunnel history for Heritage Festival

Boolboonda Tunnel
The heritage-listed Boolboonda Tunnel is Queensland's longest unsupported tunnel and was constructed in the early 1800s.

Featuring 192 metres of rock and a large colony of bent wing bats, the heritage-listed Boolboonda Tunnel remains just as unique today as it was when it was built in the early 1800s.

As part of the two-month long Heritage Festival, we take a dive into the history of the tunnel, what it was used for and how it is utilised today.

A rocky start to Boolboonda Tunnel construction

Boolboonda Tunnel is situated near the goldmining town of Mount Perry, just a 60 minute drive from Bundaberg, and is the longest unsupported man-made tunnel in Queensland.

It was originally built as part of the railway line from North Bundaberg to Mount Perry with the aim to open up mineral and agricultural resources of the area.

According to former Gin Gin station master Alan Cheshire, the construction challenged engineers at every turn.

“The tunnel had to go through a hill,” he said.

“It was very hard, in fact, geologically there is a granite dyke that runs through the ranges and that was stone that they had to go through to make Boolboonda Tunnel.

“You have to remember in those days there was no such thing as gelignite.”

Boolboonda Tunnel heritage
Solid rock posed a great challenge for engineers during the construction of the Boolboonda Tunnel.

To overcome the solid rock the crew came up with a plan to use block powder explosives and steel bars.

“The contractor that was doing the Boolboonda Tunnel started from the Gin Gin side of the tunnel and he ran into the rock very fast,” Alan said.

“So the government decided to get another engineer out there.

“He went over the other side…and they met in the middle.”

The two year project to construct the tunnel was well worth the effort and serviced the Mount Perry Copper mines for nearly 80 years.

With a decline in traffic, the line was deviated in 1960 and the rail tracks removed in 1961.

The tunnel is now open to cars, pedestrians and sightseers and makes a cosy home for a colony of little bent wing bats.

Boolboonda Tunnel
The tunnel is now open to cars and pedestrians and sightseers and makes a cosy home for a colony of little bent wing bats.

Boolboonda Tunnel Heritage Festival feature

A virtual display of the Bundaberg Region's unique heritage buildings and historic places will be showcased during the Australian Heritage Festival, until 31 May.

Curiosity is the theme of the local, online event which explores the stories behind some of the region's most interesting buildings and spaces.

The Australian Heritage Festival is the country's largest community-driven heritage event, held from 1 April to 31 May.

Discover more, and watch the Boolboonda Tunnel heritage festival video here.