Ferny Grove Rail Trail
Brisbane's Ferny Grove Rail Trail*, a 1.8km bush track which connects the Samford Valley foothills to Ferny Grove, may be short and lack romantic trimmings such as old stations and railway bridges, but of all the country's rail trails, it distinguishes itself with an infamous and tragic history.
Overall this is a great stretch of wide double-sided track for children to have a bit of a bush ride or adults interested in the area's history to take an easy stroll (3.5km return).
On Labour Day 1947 a group of 230 employees of the Department of Customs and Trade set off from Central Station on a specially chartered service to a picnic at Samford. Minutes after leaving Ferny Grove Station, the last stop, the train gathered too much speed and hurtled out of control to its tragic fate in the valley below.* The resultant loss of 16 lives (some children) and 38 injured, made it - the Camp Mountain Rail Disaster - Australia's worst train accident to date at the time. In the aftermath of the the disaster, Samford Station was closed and the train lines were ripped up, leaving the abandoned rail trail, which today has been paved into a walking and cycling path.
To follow the trail, park at the end of Lanita Ct, Ferny Grove, where the paved trail starts, or, if cycling, you can start from Ferny Grove Station and follow the road until you reach the trail.
The preserved and well-marked trail sets off from the dead end of Lanita Ct and slowly winds its way up the hill (take the path to the left) and is fairly exposed most of the way. There are few features left of the rail line other than embankments and a plaque acknowledging the disaster and the path ends at a gate which is the return point.
Keen walkers and cyclists can continue via McLean Rd up to Samford Rd. Cross Samford Rd into Cash Avenue, which is where the Samford Station once stood and where another short stretch of embankment is preserved. Either stop in the village for a refreshment or continue across Samford Rd for a continuation of the rail line for about 2km before it enters the second and last of the rail trails – this a 1km affair from Curlew Rd through to Currawong Rd where it ends at a blocked tunnel, aka the 'Bat Cave', which is used by UQ to study the bat colony residents.
*Today, a cairn by the roadside on McLean Rd (once part of the rail line) marks the spot of the accident, where, just before 10am on that fateful morning, the first 2 carriages telescoped into the engine and were pulped by the force.
Good to know - Rail trails are the ghost train corridors left behind after railway lines are long since abandoned and tracks pulled up, are scattered throughout the country, their embankments, bridges and tunnels the only reminder of the a past golden era of rail.
Today, they are sought after by cyclists and hikers who follow their well-marked route through bush and countryside. The biggest rail trail in SEQ is the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, which passes through country towns west of Ipswich and can be cycled over several days. Read about the historic Esk Railway Station here.
Ferny Grove Rail Trail