Index                                         Back                                         Next


Mapping the tramway route

Over the years, a small number of maps purporting to show the tram route have appeared. Most have been reasonably accurate in parts, but numerous errors have been noted, even in official maps. A map dated 1902 is quite imaginary in its depiction of the Image Flat Branch, and the line's terminus in the Kureelpa area is plainly wrong. Possibly that part of the route was a proposal only and not surveyed, as the end of rails had not yet reached that point. The 1915 map shows the line extended to Mapleton, and is quite precise in that section. The Kureelpa error has been partially corrected by hand, but the Image Flat area is still very inexact.  

The most accurate map up until the present has been a 1942 military map showing contour lines, which helps us to determine gradients. Though it is fairly accurate in the Image Flat line ending at the southern end of Perry Road, it does not show any spur lines and branches that had already been lifted, such as the North Kureelpa Branch,. 

With these facts in mind, the writer chose to map the route himself. The four vital components in this exercise were:

w        the 1940 aerial photographs of the district which clearly show the tramline as it then existed,

w        modern cadastral maps of the area showing all new streets and estates, 

w        current satellite images of the area, showing present-day fences, roads, houses and trees, and estates, 

w        the existence in the present day of much of the formation and earthworks, which could be studied on site and compared with the aerial photographs and maps.

To produce the accompanying maps, the writer has chosen to use aerial photographs taken in 1940, 1958, 1991 and 1998. The 1940 photographs are of very high quality, and show the entire tramway as it existed at that time. Individual sheds along the line are plainly seen, and cuttings and embankments are thrown into relief by the low winter sun. It is even possible to see a train on the Burnside section. 

The whole area had been virtually stripped of trees by the pioneering farmers, and this also helps to reveal the earthworks. The formation of the old branch running south from Kureelpa Hall past Thrush's Road at Dulong (removed before 1915) is still clearly visible.  

The 1958 photographs are nearly as clear, but more roads have been built. Regrowth of trees is apparent as most of the cane farms were changing over to dairying. The tramway formation is still plain to see in many places, even though it had been removed for thirteen years. The aerial photographs from 1991 and 1998 show portions of the tram route, though there are many more trees, roads and new housing developments visible.

All the aerial photographs were enlarged by 210%, and were reproduced to the same scale. A  modern cadastral map of the district was reproduced on sheets of clear transparency film to an identical scale. The photograph and map of Mapleton township were enlarged by 400% to give higher accuracy. 

The map of the route shown here was produced by overlaying the cadastral transparencies on top of the enlarged 1940 photographs, keying the two in exact registration, and then marking on the transparencies with a pen the exact position of the route as shown on the photograph underneath. 

The central parts of the photographs were used if possible, as they give a more vertical view. Natural features were used to assist in registering the overlays, but it was found that the cadastral maps were not particularly accurate in the marking of creeks. Some major errors were observed in the marking of recent land subdivisions. Where lack of key registration points made accurate alignment of the transparent overlays open to error, the 1958 photographs were used to provide additional information.

The 1991 photographs were used to confirm the accuracy of the route in the Kureelpa, Shamley Heath, Willandra Heights and Spring Pastures Estate areas, where the formation passes through numerous housing blocks and small acreage allotments. Some of the formation has been lost due to building construction, for example near Drought Master Court, but most of it is still visible. 

Some old homes such as Captain Jewett's house and stables and the curve where the tram derailed in 1934 are still in existence. The 1998 aerial photographs of Mapleton were used to accurately chart the route through the new streets and allotments in the town.  

Due to perspective variations in the photographs due to steep slopes, parallax errors towards the edges of photographs, and mistakes in the cadastral maps, particular care was required in production of the route map. Before the final draft of the task was attempted, all accessible parts of the route were visited to confirm its accuracy, and numerous photographs taken for the historical record. Many of these photographs are reproduced here.

The writer would like to thank Mr Trevor Robinson of Palmwoods who has assisted in this work. In particular, Trevor has been instrumental in ferreting out information concerning the various branches off the main line. Much of the data mapped here has been acquired through his diligence and tenacity. A prolonged drought in 2004 resulted in greatly reduced vegetation in the Highworth Range section. This revealed the remains of six bridges which had been previously inaccessible and for the most part forgotten until Trevor hunted them down.. Though these items were measured, charted and photographed with care, the onset of summer rains in late 2004 meant that most of these items are hard to get to once more, and some have disappeared completely under new growth of lantana.

The mapping and surveying department of the Maroochy Shire Council has generously made available current satellite pictures which enable accurate measurements to be made on the ground. Thanks are due to Lawrie, Narelle, and Sally for their kind assistance. 

Special thanks are due to Don Craig and Noel Gaylard for taking the time to take us personally around their properties, which between them cover the whole Image Flat branch and its spurs, and most of the main line's climb up the Highworth Range. Much previously unrecorded information was revealed during these visits. Thanks also to Richard and Betty Dykes of Kureelpa, who allowed us to visit their property, which includes a well-preserved part of the Christie's Bank section. Grateful thanks are due to Mr Graham Briggs, for showing us tramway earthworks on the Perwillowen Branch. Numerous other residents have also generously allowed us to visit their properties, and offered information which all adds to the Mapleton Tramway story. 

The maps reproduced here are cadastral maps from the Department of Natural Resources and Mines of the Queensland State Government. These are Copyright The State of Queensland (Department of Natural Resources and Mines), 2005.  The Department of Natural Resources and Mines gives no warranty in relation to the data (including accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability) and accepts no liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for any loss, damage or costs (including consequential damage) relating to any use of the data.

To these maps have been added updated data (streets and housing allotments) by the Mapping Department of the Maroochy Shire Council. These additional data are Copyright Maroochy Shire Council, 2005. The Maroochy Shire Council gives no warranty in relation to the data (including accuracy, reliability, completeness or suitability) and accepts no liability (including without limitation, liability in negligence) for any loss, damage or costs (including consequential damage) relating to any use of the data.

The writer has superimposed on these maps a dotted line showing the route of the tramway and its branches, and highlighted this line in yellow to assist identification. The route as marked has an accuracy of better than five metres either side of the track centre line. This dotted line is Copyright John R. Henley, Nambour, 2005.

User Licence No. USR:2005/979 has been given by officers of the Department of Natural Resources and Mines, and the Maroochy Shire Council, permitting use of the maps on this web site, provided that they are uneditable PDF (Portable Document Format) files. Adobe Reader or Adobe Acrobat Reader will be required to view them, and is available here.

The maps may be found in the next section:  'Finding the Mapleton Tramline today'.


Index                            Back                            Top                            Next