the Lockyer Valley, is an historic railway and timber town.
Grandchester is in fact home to the first narrow gauge mainline railway
in the world. The first track opened to traffic on 31st July 1865 from
Ipswich and terminated at this small town. The charming original
railway station, formerly known as Bigge's Camp, still exists. Built in
1866, is is the oldest station in Queensland.
Location: Grandchester is 76 km from Brisbane, 34 km from Ipswich.
Victoria Tunnel is the oldest and longest railway
tunnel in the state, built when the state was a separate colony. The
tunnel is one of two built through the Little Liverpool Range on a
section of narrow gauge railway from Grandchester to Gatton. The
railway opened in June 1866. The tunnel has restricted clearances,
which limits the size of rolling stock on the Queensland Railways
network. One of two tunnels on Little Liverpool Range line, it was the
longest single bore tunnel in Australia (537 m) until Sandy Hollow -
Ulan in NSW opened in 1917. The tunnel was hamed in honour of Queen
Grandchester Sawmill: the town is the home of one
of the last known surviving steam-powered flat-belt sawmills in
Australia. The engine powering it was manufactured in 1908, and the
mill has been in operation from 1945. It was destroyed by a fire,
sometime in the early hours of 6 May 2007. Work on the long process of
restoring the mill to its former glory started almost immediately in
the days following the fire. The mill is operating once again with work
still continuing on the restoration.
Grandchester Hotel is a rather dubious addition to the
attractions of this tiny township is the Grandchester Hotel (on the
road leading down to the Railway Station) which may reasonably lay
claim to being one of the most unattractive hotels in Australia. It is
a characterless fibro building which looks more like a house than a
Grandchester Then & Now Brochure >>
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The Grandchester area was first explored by Allan Cunningham who
came through the area in May 1829. Cunningham's party camped beside
what is now known as the Railway Lagoon while searching for the
Brisbane River. Originally known as Bigges Camp, after the pioneering
pastoralist Frederick Bigges, it was little more than a watering hole
for transients until the arrival of the railway from Ipswich in 1865.
This short section of railway line was the first railway built in
Queensland and Governor Bowen, who thought the name Bigges Camp sounded
like Big Scamp, suggested the railway terminus deserved something
better. He changed "Big" to Grand, and used the Latin word for camp -
"Chester" - for the second half of the name, and thus changed the
siding's name without really changing anything. That Grantchester is
the name of a village outside of Cambridge in England is coincidental.