South Coast Line steam era Southport Tweed Heads

  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Currumbin Creek former QR railway bridge is being repaired. Council website notes the following; work will be done to conserve the 113-year-old ex-railway bridge at Currumbin which is now a dedicated pedestrian bridge. This does mean the bridge will be closed from April to July 2016. The heritage of the existing structure will be retained and environmental considerations are identified as high priority.
Gold Coast Council websites on the job
Its open folks and we have just walked on it!!!!!!  The rail bridge over Currumbin Creek on the 1903 opened Tweed Heads Coolangatta line has been rebuilt and open to the public as a walkway and bike way!!! Pictures when I get organized. The biggest surprise was seeing a bridge plan etched onto a sign formed out of one of the spare 27 ft Carnegie USA manufactured Rolled Steel Joists (RSJ), in particular this plan plus a very extensive text on QR engineer and eventually deputy QR commissioner William Pagan, mainly based on his obituary. The sign highlighted that his signature was on the bridge plan on the same sign.    His Obituary URL

EDIT; The official Thursday 20 October 2016 reopening by the local politicians made it onto the local Channel 7.
EDIT; local newspaper account of reopening

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  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Orthophoto maps (1970s mostly) of the rail route Tweed Heads to Nerang and Ormeau, are available for download from the QLD Government website. Some show indications of the former rail route. An orthophoto map displays traditional map contours over an aerial photograph base. The following are 10,000 series and the URL gives the location indication and date in the file name eg Tweed, with the adjoining ones noted on each map itself. This list follows the route northwards. Some have the route indicated as closed railway. Some file sizes are up to about 27MB. I stopped at Ormeau as the route north of Goldmine Rd to Beenleigh is approx the present day electric train route. If you want northwards, the spreadsheets from the state-wide webpage will list the URLs in column G. The state-wide URL is

The 1969 topographical maps, downloadable from my Google Drive site, might help locate the lines which is marked on them as dismantled railway. Southport covers Ormeau / Nerang
Burleigh covers Tugun /Nerang

Orthophoto map URLs;
West Burleigh
Coomera (top right corner)
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Source Railpage post with URL to download free historical aerial images from QLD Government

Some samples of what is available and they extend into northern NSW. Just follow the clues on the thread I indicated and download the images you desire for free from the QLD government
1961 Southport with triangle

1955 Southport

1955 Southport West

1955 Ernest Junction

1930 aerial image of Currumbin Creek
1930 Bilinga

EDIT; Tweed Coolangatta Kirra areas
1956 Tweed Coolangatta Kirra aerial image from QLD Government

1961 Tweed Coolangatta Kirra aerial from QLD Government

1961 Tweed Coolangatta Kirra from QLD Government
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
One for the closed railway enthusiasts who visit the Gold Coast for holidays; Rail cuttings can be seen west of the Gold Coast Country Club’s golf car park south of the present day Helensvale electric train station. Cutting 64 is located UTM 56J 533392 6910151. The present day electric rail is west of these rail archaeological remnants in this area.


Cutting  64 was at the top of a 1:50 grade heading south, was 8 chains /160 metres long with a maximum depth of 9.3 feet from which 2297 cu yard of earth was removed. Cutting 64 is 34 chains / 685 meters north of the steam era Coombabah Creek rail crossing. South of Cutting 64 is a 6 chain / 120 metre embankment with a max height of 4.5 feet on level track. South of that embankment is the 7 chain 140 metre cutting number 65 with a maximum depth of 7.8 feet on a descending grade of 1/50. Further south of that cutting is a 13 chain / 260 metre low embankment of level grade leading to the Coombabah Creek bridge.
Helensvale station southern end bridge with tram construction and QR line 6JAN2017. Left of image was steam train era railway bank 104 then flood opening then bank 105 / 106 leading to cutting 64. Cokley picture

Helensvale station southern disused bridge. QR on right and tram construction on left. Foreground was steam train era cutting 64 located 43 miles 35 chains from South Brisbane 27°55'59.49"S 153°20'21.88"E. Cokley picture.

The bridge to nowhere is the second bridge south of the 1996 Helensvale (electric) station and was level with the Gold Coast Country Club’s golf car park. The golf club is now a housing estate.  

1960 aerial of line between the Gold Coast highway bridge south to Coombabah Creek. Present day Helensvale station 300 metres south east of that highway bridge. Road to Nerang west of rail line. Aerial image free download from QLD government (DNRM)

More free aerial images from QLD government
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Following on from my previous post, the question of a modern rail system, either normal QR or tramway, reusing a long closed steam train era alignment, is often asked on various rail forums and the media seems to also like the question. In reality the new formation would be very much wider and only uses a very minute portion of the old alignment and in a very much rebuilt manner! Thus in reality the old steam era QR alignment plays no substantial part in the new Southport tram’s earthworks.

Best to show this with a before (2015) and after (2017) image from Helensvale. The 2015 picture, URL below, was of QR steam train era cutting 64 looking south through the cutting **before** it was demolished for the tram construction. I took last week’s tram route construction picture while standing on the eastern (left) bank of that same cutting in the 2015 image and the newer 2017 image was looking across the now demolished old cutting site.

In the 2017 image the site of the former rail cutting only extended across the picture about as far as the multiple red flags on the rope in the extreme immediate foreground of the 2017 image so all the rest of the earthworks in that image past that flag line towards the QR line is for the new tram alignment. Google Earth’s measuring tool shows those bare earthworks are approx 120 feet from the present day electric train area across to where I took the 2017 image so eight times the old 15 foot steam era formation width!!!

Thus in reality the old steam era QR alignment plays no substantial part in the new Southport tram’s earthworks.

Images from the public access Gold Coast Country Club’s golf car park south of the present day Helensvale electric train station. The golf club is now a housing estate but the car park is still open. Access to the Coombabah Creek steam train era QR bridge area is difficult with the new tram works.
2015 Helensvale view…/0ByB-ppGeDyvwUTA1TzFYMm5lNmM/view

2017 Helensvale view…/0ByB-ppGeDyvwSUdQbUhCUzgxRDQ/view
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
It is possible to us the historical aerial images (QLD Government sourced URL noted in an earlier post) to investigate changes in the line with the following example from around Beenleigh as an example.

Beenleigh original 40 foot turntable, removed c1971, at its site northern side on a 1960 image near the station compared to 1985 image with the later installed turntable on the southern side out west over the creek.  

1960 site  

1985 site

Enjoy the few extra historical items on that 1960 Beenleigh image in particular eg near the river is the distillery branch line. As with most aerial images, actual date of the aircraft flight is printed on the data strip.  

As many astute Railpage members would have long suspected, there is also an aerial photo set from 1956 labelled as Eight Mile Plains Boyd Bay Bridge and a 1959 set labelled Pacific Highway Mudgeeraba with the frames labelled ‘Pacific Highway Inland Route Mudgeeraba Terranora Creek”. These includes the Cobaki Piggabeen areas west of Coolangatta airport including where the Pacific Motorway airport bypass was eventually built half century later. These point to the fact that QLD governments on both side (1956 was ALP) had long considered big budget highway options through the back of the southern South Coast through into NSW on a route that avoided the transport choke points of the narrow streets of Coolangatta and Tweed Heads as well as route that allowed through road traffic to bypass the other tourist areas.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Blue and Red Buses Pty Ltd gained the Brisbane South Coast road transport licence in 1950 running in opposition to the rail service. This is their ‘luxury service’ advertisement in the TAA brochure. The major airlines such as TAA only had one class fares in 1950 and many airline passengers were business types due to the cost which reflected things such as the speed advantage over rail or road.

Southbound rail timetable for comparison

The bus company’s transport licence

From the airline brochure ‘TAA Presents Brisbane’ (1950)
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
As I have written previously, in 2016 the Gold Coast City Council restored the 1903 opened former Currumbin Railway bridge. More on this can be found earlier in this thread.

Following the 2016 restoration, the Gold Coast City Council (Heritage Team) placed four interpretive signs with two at each end of the bridge. All four have very interesting detailed historical information. The signs are supported by Rolled Steel Joists (RSJs) from the original bridge. The smaller reddish RSJs are cross bearers from the Earl of Dudley UK steelworks and the larger 27 foot longitudinal RSJs are from the Carnegie Steel Works of Pittsburgh USA.

The original bridge had 21 spans, each with three sets of girders for both the cross and longitudinal sets and the rebuilt bridge has concrete load bearing girders with the originals as cosmetics on the outside of the concrete ones. That means they only needed two thirds of the originals, remembering some of the original RSJs were very corroded, especially the upstream ones on the northern end.

Southside sign using Earl of Dudley RSJs

Southside sign using Carnegie RSJ

Northside sign using Earl of Dudley RSJs

Northside sign using Carnegie RSJ

The original bridge plan shown on the southside Carnegie sign

Local newspaper account of bridge reopening

Gold Coast City Council website on the bridge restoration
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Hawthorne existed from 1889 to 1891 at a site 21 miles 55 chains from South Brisbane. That is 1831 metres past Bethania on the old alignment which would place Hawthorne between the present day Eden’s Landing station and the Logan River.  Hawthorne was one of three stations on that line that closed 1 May 1891. The other two were Yatala and Coombabah as per QLD Government Gazette 1891Vol52 P.205.

This map with it marked next after Bethania was found at State Archives Runcorn

Indicated on a 1977 map  

It gets a mention in this Trove  

This topic was asked on another thread so I'll give a more complete response here.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Tweed Heads and Southport lines' 1917 track profiles which also show track gang areas, courtesy QLD State Archives (QSA) at Runcorn and I included the QSA data slip in my photo. The locations named on each are only a guide to the areas covered. These are part of a series on the lines from South Brisbane when it was a terminus. Others will eventually appear in threads on their own lines; Tweed Heads / Southport, Cleveland, Canungra, Beaudesert, Gabba and wharf line, Belmont Tramway and the Yeerongpilly / Corinda line.
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
The station yard plans for most stations Ernest Junction to Tweed Heads. Cheers Peter Cokley
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
The following proposed Nerang QLD Murwillumbah NSW railway routes, with July 1900 in the surveyor's handwriting, is available as a 5mb JPEG from my Google Drive site. All the proposed routes would have required a rail bridge over the Tweed River. In that proposed time period were two Tweed River road bridges with very high cost lifting span equipped sections; the 1901 Murwillumbah road bridge and the 1936 Barney's Point highway bridge over the Tweed River at Chinderah. The 1936 highway bridge had liftings spans as the Tweed River trade in the 1930s was still sufficient to force the inclusion of a lifting span, therefore the same river trade would have also forced a similarly expensive lifting span on any rail bridge built in that era. A rail bridge with lifting span was possible as shown with the Grafton rail lifting span which also showed 1930s river trade was sufficient to force a lifting span at Grafton as well.

The distances on the 1900 plan are a bit odd as the 141 miles shown for Murwillumbah is interesting as Stokers Siding, 6 miles south of Murwillumbah, was 141 miles 42 chains by rail from Grafton as per the 1918 NSWR Northern local appendix. The Casino Grafton line opened 1905 and the map is dated 1900, although the initial Grafton - Casino surveys would have probably been done by 1900.

Another proposed but not built rail route was along the north side of the Tweed river south from Tweed Heads. The proposed Chinderah station site, slightly upstream of the 1936 Barney's Point Bridge, is marked with my usual blue arrow on this cadastral from The Tweed Heads Historical Society. The route for this particular proposal is marked on Hairyleg’s work.

The 1900 plan
Chinderah cadastral with proposed but not built railway station site
  petan Chief Commissioner

Location: Enjoying dinner onboard the QR
Beenleigh building plan (eastern portion) 1968.  Rail level was 15 inch above formation level and platform was shown on the plan as 2ft 3 inch (27 inch) above rail level so platform 42 inches above formation

Rail above formation height data from the permanent way plan at

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