This month Boolboonda Railway Tunnel marks 140 years since its official opening on 12 November 1883.
The State Heritage listed structure has become a popular tourist attraction and remains a marvel as the longest, and one of the earliest examples of, unsupported railway tunnel in Queensland.
Featuring 192 metres of rock and a large colony of bent-wing bats, the tunnel remains just as unique today as it was when it was built in the early 1800s.
The Queensland Heritage Register features the following information which tells the story of the Boolboonda Tunnel’s 140 history:
Boolboonda Tunnel was built over two years by Queensland Government Railways as part of the Bundaberg – Mount Perry railway line, constructed to service the Mount Perry copper mines.
The state-owned rail line was built to support mining activities in the area with the work costings submitted by O'Rourke and McSharry valued at £112 502.
“Work on the approaches to the tunnel had commenced by the end of 1881, progressing steadily throughout 1882,” the State Government’s heritage website said.
“The Boolboonda Railway Tunnel was driven through the hard granite of the range, and as noted by the Acting Chief Engineer ‘this tunnel will not require to be lined being excavated through hard granite and that thus a saving of £5 000 will be effected'.
“This was the first time in the colony where it had not been necessary to line a tunnel, due to the nature of the rock it was driven through.
“The hard granite rock also meant the tunnel did not require additional support, and it is the longest unsupported (railway) tunnel constructed in Queensland.
“Mechanical means, including boilers and air compressors for drills were used to advance the drilling of the two tunnel headings.”
The section of line to Boolboonda opened on 12 November 1883.
“The line to Mount Perry was officially opened to rail traffic on 19 May 1884,” the Queensland Heritage Register states.
“It included the tunnel and a succession of curves of 100 and 120 metre radius.
“The tunnel when completed measured 584 feet in length (192 metres).
“The unlined tunnel and the Splitters Creek trestle bridge at Sharon were the two major engineering works undertaken on the Mount Perry line.”
The section of rail line ceased operating in the 1960s and Boolboonda Tunnel has since become home to a colony of Bent-wing bats and is an attraction for tourists still able to pass through the tunnel.
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