Travelling Australia - Journal 2011
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26-31 July 2011 - Mount Surprise, Savannahlander Train
After an early lunch on 28 July (at the park bakery) we boarded a bus to take us to the Mount Surprise railway station where we climbed aboard the Savannahlander rail motor to Einasleigh. This two-unit train ran on the narrow-gauge line laid years ago to carry ore from Einasleigh to Chillagoe in an attempt to keep the refinery there in business.

The train makes its way through mostly open woodland. Initially the ground is covered in basalt boulders left from when Undara exploded but at Junction Creek we were shown the Lava Wall which is the edge of that basalt flow. Therafter there was a lot of granite visible, especially in the creeks, but that came from a much early volcanic episode.
Vegetation Open woodland vegetation alongside the track between Mt Surprise and Einasleigh

After stopping in the middle of the bridge over Junction Creek so passengers could have a good look and take photographs the rail motor then, surprisingly, began slowly going backwards; the driver explained there was a long, steep hill ahead and he needed to get a run at it. So he did.
Savannahlander at Einasleigh Savannahlander stopped near Einasleigh pub to let passengers disembark.

At Einasleigh the group from Bedrock was met by a 20-seater bus to return to Mount Surprise while the Savannnahlander continued on to Forsyth and the end of the line. The bus was waiting outside the pub which was an inconvenient distance from the railway platform so the rail-motor stopped across the much closer road intersection and passengers climbed down the ladder-steps to the ground. Traffic on the road (two caravans) waited until the rail-motor moved on; there was another crossing available for them if they chose to use it. Definitely a service oriented rail-motor crew. The driver kept up an entertaining, and informative, commentary during the trip explaining how the train is managed, the country we were passing through, and some of the history of this specialised narrow-gauge railway track.

Einasleigh is at the junction of the Etheridge and Copperfield Rivers; near the pub the Copperfield runs through Copperfield Gorge which we had a look at and took some photographs before boarding the bus and heading off along the 74 kilometre 'short-cut' back to Mount Surprise on a good-weather road requiring a high-clearance vehicle.
Travelling Australia - Savannahlander train - page 2
We stopped for a cup of tea on the bank of the Etheridge River then proceeded carefully since the river was high and the road approaches to the bridge were under water. The remainder of the forty kilometres to the Gulf Developmental Road was uneventful although we crossed many creeks flowing across the road in valleys.

Copperfield Gorge
Copperfield Gorge at Einasleigh

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