The Bally Hooley steam trains made their final run under steam today going from the Port Douglas Yacht Club to their new and final home at Bally Hooley Marina Station, Crystalbrook Marina.
The two engines, Nelson and Speedy, as well as their respective carriages have been gloriously restored and will live permanently at the station where diners can marvel at their illustrious history.
After eight months of planning and meticulous restoration, and hundreds of thousands of dollars invested, the day arrived to share the restored trains with the greater community.
The festivities were attended by former train drivers, the Mossman Sugar Mill former manager, the local artisans who designed and implemented the restoration, dignitaries and members of the community.
The Bally Hooley train restoration project has been funded by the John Morris family with the train carriages undergoing a transformation to become dining carriages at their Port Douglas restaurant, Choo Choo’s at the Marina.
“We can now see them stay here forever and what a special place for them to stay forever,” John Morris said.
Douglas Shire Mayor Michael Kerr thanked the Morris family for their hard work and contribution to the community while also acknowledging that it was a sad day for some.
“I think everyone will admit it’s a bittersweet day, we’re losing one iconic tourism asset but we’re gaining another one with this monument,” Mayor Kerr said.
Mayor Kerr also expressed regret that council couldn’t take on the project themselves.
“Council looked at it as well but unfortunately we couldn’t fit it in to our due diligence process to be able to do it but this is the next best thing,” he said.
Back in their day, the Nelson and Speedy steam engines transported passengers and cargo from the sugarcane mills and represent a colourful saga of Far North Queensland’s history.
Now repurposed for their next tour of duty, the Bally Hooley trains will become a significant part of a thriving community reflecting on its history as it moves proactively to the future.