Deaths and Disasters: Bogantungan, QC Railway Line

Traveling along the Capricorn Highway today, blink and you might miss Bogantungan. Nestled at the foothills of the Drummond range, it was once a bustling hub of activity and an essential part of the Queensland Central (QC) Railway line. It also gained a name for itself in history.

The history of Bogantungan Railway Station begins in the late 19th century, when the expansion of railway networks was crucial for connecting remote areas of Queensland and supporting the burgeoning agricultural and mining industries.

It once boasted 28 hotels, many churches and businesses, and sporting venues including a racecourse.

Bogantungan Railway Station opening

The railway station was officially opened in September 1, 1881. The passenger train left Bogantungan at 7am and arrived in Rockhampton at 7:40pm as expected.1

It served a vital link between the eastern and western parts of Queensland and not only facilitated the transport of goods but also became a lifeline for the residents of Bogantungan and surrounding areas, providing them access to services, markets, and opportunities beyond their immediate locality.

Stories of crashes, deaths and injury

The worst of these stories took place in 1960.

Image 1
An aerial picture says it all: The Midlander at the Medway Creek crash site, 1960. Source: Queensland State Archives. Public domain.

On February 26, 1960, Medway Creek in the Fitzroy Basin near Bogantungan was the site of one of Queensland’s worst train disasters. The Medway Creek bridge collapsed when the train had only partly crossed over it. Several carriages fell into the creek. The accident caused the death of four passengers and three crew members, with 43 people injured.2

1939 – Bridge fire

Bogantungan was a scene of another incident with the rail bridge on fire and the engine falling through it on August 21, 1939. The crew were able to jump clear, however, meaning their was no loss of life on this occasion.3 

1926 – Railway Guard falls 5 meters to creek bed

The train, entering from the west, pulled into the Bogantungan Railway Station to take water at 2 o’clock in the morning of September 14, 1926. The station had a large water tank, built 10 years earlier to supply the train engines. George Spencer had to leave his guard van to communicate with the driver at the front. Not realising he was on a bridge, with no footing beneath his feet he fell five meters into the dry and stony creek bed below. George had been stationed at Emerald at the time and had only just been promoted from shunter to guard, three months earlier. 

After he was taken to the closest doctor at Emerald 100 km east, George was trained to Rockhampton and met by an ambulance to take him to a private hospital. He was badly bruised with his left leg fractured beneath the knee., It was a “miraculous escape” wrote the news reporters.

Introduction of footboards

George was left with a permanent limp but his accident in 1926 had a historic consequence with the government being pressured into introducing footboards and safety measures on railway bridges, near railway stations in Queensland.

  1. Morning Bulletin, 2 Sep 1881, p 2
  2. Bogantungan,
  3. The Central Highlands, Engine Through Bridge At Bogantungan, August 1939

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