The Mary Valley Heritage Railway conducted steam train trips and tours from Gympie through the Mary Valley in the Gympie Region, Queensland, Australia. It was one of the region's biggest tourist attractions and was managed by a not-for-profit organisation consisting a few paid workers and many volunteers. It has been described as Australia's third biggest heritage railway. It was shut down for safety reasons in 2012; in 2016 the Gympie Regional Council is providing $4M to make it operational again as it is a major tourist attraction for the area.
Some of the line crossings have a five km/h speed limit with the top speed limited to 25 km/h. In 2011, concerns were raised about the safety of the line. Government inspectors found no significant safety issues.
In 2010, the Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation conducted a review of the operations of the railway. It found the railway was operating at a significant economic loss and was dependent on grant income.
During major floods when roads in the area are closed the railway is used as a shuttle service.
Unfortunately after two very serious derailments during August and September 2012, the limitations and state of the railway company's finances became known. It was shut down indefinitely by Transport & Main Road, as it was declared unsafe to convey passengers. Following flood damage in 2013, the railway disbanded. In June 2016, the Gympie Regional Council allocated $250,000 for operational start-up costs and $3.8 million for capital funds to restart the Rattler.
"Ride The Rattler" scenic tours were operated by The Mary Valley Heritage Railway (MVHR) every Saturday, Sunday and Wednesday from the historic Gympie Railway Station. This historic 40 km journey commences at Gympie, and after crossing the Mary River, negotiates an abundance of curves, gradients and bridges to pass through the small country villages of Dagun, Amamoor and Kandanga to Imbil.
The steam train, a fully restored C17 class locomotive from the early 1920s, departs Gympie station at 10 am. The Gympie Station itself dates back to pre-1880. As the train travels south, it passes through the southern end of the city of Gympie.
After crossing the Mary River, the railway line enters the Mary Valley. The line wanders away from the river to negotiate the valleys of some of its main tributaries, including the Yabba, Kandanga and Amamoor Creeks. In this area there are a number of curves, gradients and bridges as you head towards the station of Kandanga.
The country village of Kandanga was established in 1910 to service patrons travelling on the proposed Mary Valley line which became operational as far as Kandanga in 1914. The original Kandanga railway station, now restored to its former glory, contains an interesting pictorial record of the history of the Mary Valley line.
Travelling through to Imbil, the line traverses an interesting gorge section through mainly timbered country, before reaching a short tunnel that pierces a ridge of coastal ranges. The track then descends quickly to the line's largest town, Imbil. The Imbil Railway Bridge over Yabba Creek was constructed between 1911 and 1915.
The Mary Valley Heritage Railway has a number of heritage-listed sites, including:Kandanga; Amamoor; Melawondi Stations; Mary Valley Branch Railway: Mary Valley Railway Cream Sheds
Over Yabba Creek: Imbil Railway Bridge