REMEMBERING: Myra Stanton’s father, Desmond Patrick Cahill, was on the Midlander.
REMEMBERING: Myra Stanton’s father, Desmond Patrick Cahill, was on the Midlander.

Emerald commemorates Medway Creek rail disaster

TALES of loss and sacrifice filled the Emerald Library today for the 60th anniversary of the Medway Creek rail disaster.

About 2.30am on a flooded February 26, 1960, the Midlander passenger train derailed and three passenger cars dived seven metres into the Medway Creek when an unstable bridge fell from under them.

Seven people were killed, and 43 were injured.

Les Brown, who at the time was a train driver on the same route, said it was the “saddest, saddest episode of my life.

“An awful, awful disaster that we had to witness. We’ll never forget it.

“A terrible thing.”

LOOKING BACK Les Brown drove the train before the Midlander on the same route.
LOOKING BACK Les Brown drove the train before the Midlander on the same route.

An exhibition of memorabilia, including photos, newspaper clippings, and family testimonies surrounded guest speakers who remembered the incident.

Myra Stanton read a poem, The Midlander at Medway, by her father, Desmond Patrick Cahill, who was on the train.

“Dad was working as a porter at the railway station in Rockhampton in 1954 when the Midlander made her maiden voyage out west,” she said.

“Little did he know that he was to take part in the history that unfolded at Medway Creek almost six years into the future.”

Yvonne McQuillan, Kerellen Comiskey, Ros Carr, Alan Bennett, Venetta Hoch, Mark Jaques and Don Jaques. Mr Bennett’s grandfather Sam Dean was the Midlander’s driver, and the Jaques’ father Kerrov Jaques was the guard of the train.
Yvonne McQuillan, Kerellen Comiskey, Ros Carr, Alan Bennett, Venetta Hoch, Mark Jaques and Don Jaques. Mr Bennett’s grandfather Sam Dean was the Midlander’s driver, and the Jaques’ father Kerrov Jaques was the guard of the train.

Councillor Gail Nixon said: “This tragedy will stay in the hearts and minds of people for years.

“To all those who lost loved ones, we are present with you all.”

Central Highlands Regional Council local history officer Ann Vaughan said people were eager to share their experiences.

“We’ve been gathering people’s stories since about December.

“They were all very excited that we were putting something together. Those that have been in contact with us are very grateful that we put it together.

“It’s the biggest train disaster that’s ever happened in this part of the world.”

The exhibition will be open until March 28.

Many with relatives involved in the incident spoke at the commemoration.
Many with relatives involved in the incident spoke at the commemoration.

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