Queensland is a vast state and as late 1960 the railways provided the only all-weather route to many towns. Scattered along the railway lines between the major towns were many small communities that relied almost entirely on the railway for all their transport requirements … even the transport of injured people to the nearest hospital.

That’s an existence that many of us would find it hard to comprehend for we have all-weather roads and ambulances to rush us to hospital if we’re injured. But before those all-weather roads and fast ambulance services all they had were the railways … and the railway ambulances.

The drivers "cab" of one Queensland railway ambulance
The driver’s “cab” of one Queensland Railway ambulance

It’s possible that no two ambulances were the same and this one was built by Norman Parker in the early 1940s. It’s powered by a V Twin J.A.P.otore cycle engine and gearbox. It originally served the Dimbulah and Mt. Mulligan mining districts before being transfered to Gayndah in 1960.

It was presented to the Gayndah Historical Society in 1981 by the Gayndah Q.A.T.B. and it was restored by the Society in 1986 with the help of a Queensland Museum Grant. The rail ambulance is presently on display at the Gayndah Museum along with many other historical vehicles.

The driver's cab of theGaydah rail ambulance
The interior of the driver’s “cab” – definitely spartan by today’s standards

Interior of the Gayndah rail ambulance
The interior of the Gayndah rail ambulance

The 2 cylinder motor cycle engine that powers the rail ambulance
The 2 cylinder motor cycle engine that powers the rail ambulance

Unfortunately space at the Museum is rather limited the the area where the rail ambulance is displayed is quite cramped and it’s hard to get some decent photos of the front of the vehicle.

Museum staff tell me that the engine is still in working order and they could take it out, put it on the tracks and it run as well as the day it came to Gayndah.

Here’s a link for some better photos and some history of this interesting vehicle.