State’s worst rail disaster

The 1925 Traveston Creek rail disaster was the worst rail tragedy Queenslanders had seen.

By Gympie Family History Society

Talked about for many years after it occurred, the Traveston Creek Rail Disaster of 9 June 1925 had a profound effect on the citizens of Gympie.

The following information is taken from newspaper reports of the tragic accident just after it occurred.



The mail train which left Brisbane last night for Rockhampton met with disaster at 2 o’clock Tuesday morning, when the engine left the rails while negotiating the bridge over Traveston Creek.

It was followed by several carriages.

One carriage toppled over and fell into the creek below.

Nine passengers were killed and between 30 and 40 injured.

A relief train with a doctor and ambulances has been rushed to the scene.

So far, the particulars are meagre.

The list of injured is:

— KILLED. Raphael Rosier, believed to reside in Adelaide; Philip Reid, electrical worker, of Sydney; Mr. Rout, of Rockhampton; Mrs Mellhamizzer, travelling to Bundaberg; Jack Gardiner, identified by mother, who is injured in hospital.

INJURED. Miss Ethel Page, Fred Glover; Miss Mary Williams (of Sydney) Douglas Bloomfield; Everard Prizeman, Mrs Bert Coombs (of Port Kembla, N.S.W.) Frank Poster (of Sydney), Gertrude Foster (of Sydney), Fred Kedron (of Sydney), Joseph Tawrell (of Sydney), Jack Dear, (of Boggabri), Walter Powell, Robert Edwards (of Camperdown, N.S.W.), Tom Dempsey, J. Davy; C. E. Baxter, Mrs. McLean, Mrs. Tom Moor, Mavis Gold, George Artlett, Miss Ivy Gardiner, Mrs. Kathleen Ryding, Hughie Graham, Mr. Maxwell, Mrs. Mills and infant (of Balmain, Sydney), Mr. and Mrs. Barry, (of Darlinghurst. Sydney), Fred Zommerle , A. Conrad (of Sydney), Jack Stephens (of Waverley, Sydney), William De Wheeldon, of Webb, G, Smith, H Worthington.

A late message says that included in the killed is Mrs. Dear, of Boggabri, N.S.W. *Later corrected to Mrs Dean.

Probably the fact that the train was drawn by two engines, which did not leave the rails, saved the other carriages from diving over the bridge.

A second-class carriage was badly smashed in the creek, and pieces of wood, steel and glass pierced the bodies of many passengers.

It was pitch dark at the time, which made the task of rescue very difficult.

The accident is the worst in the history of the Queensland railways.

The train which met with the disaster consisted of two engines, three first class sleepers, one second-class sleeper, two first class carriages, two second class carriages, a composite carriage, a goods wagon, a brake van, and a travelling post-office.

There were no casualties among first-class passengers, the portion of the train wrecked consisting of second-class carriages.

Particulars of the accident, received from Gympie, indicate that three second-class carriages were derailed.

It is thought that one of them, became derailed just before reaching the bridge, and that after tearing over the sleepers it struck a post, with the result that the couplings of the third carriage from the guard’s van broke.

Another coupling, that on the last of the three carriages which connected with the guard’s van, also broke, and the result was that three carriages toppled over, one falling on to level ground, and the other two over the bridge, about 30ft (9m), into the riverbed.

Mrs. Jackson, sister of Mr. Hugh Keys, of Bundaberg, who was also a passenger by the train, described one very pathetic incident.

She said it was very sad to see a little girl left alone, with her father killed and her mother injured.

The child was taken charge of at the railway refreshment rooms, Gympie.


In one case a lady passenger, was killed in a lavatory, and rescue workers, had to cut a passage to remove the body.

This was in an overturned coach on the embankment.

The chief injury and loss of life occurred in the composite coach, which was pulled from the bridge by the luggage van.

Both coach and van were smashed practically to matchwood, and the scene in the darkness must have been terrible.

Much damage was done to the bridge transoms and sleepers; but the break gang worked vigorously and had the line clear by the afternoon.

The disaster was rendered the more terrible by the scenes of suffering that were witnessed in the fitful light of lamps.

The permanent way showed clear signs of the tram’s erratic career.

For one and half miles along the route the sleepers were cut and splintered, and it is wonderful that a disaster did not happen sooner.

At the ninety-six miles bridge, however, the journey came to an end.

The luggage wagon at last plunged from the bridge to the ground 30 feet below, dragging with it the preceding composite coach consisting of first and second-class compartments.

The guard had a wonderful escape.

The coupling between the luggage van and his van breaking, the guard’s van remained on the bridge.

The coupling between the composite coach; and the one immediately ahead held fast and this coach was dragged off the rails and flung on the side of the embankment.

One lady passenger was, brought out from a carriage with a baby still clasped in her arms.

Both were dead.

It was a difficult task to shift the wreckage to release these two; for heavy beams had to be removed.

It was remarkable that anyone in the car which was nearest the luggage van, escaped.

Pieces of the carriage were lying about in all directions.

Another dreadful sight was a mother holding her dead child in her arms, with her head badly bleeding.


Those who answered the first cries of the injured came upon an appalling sight.

Carriages were on their heads, with the wheels in the air, and to rescue the injured beneath the debris, lifting jacks had to be used.

All the time the rescuers feared that the wreckage would catch fire, but this was averted.

On arrival of the Gympie breakdown train at the scene of the accident, the ambulance men had to chop the injured out of the debris.

This continued until all were liberated, and the front part of the wrecked train was sent back to Gympie with the injured and other passengers.

Medical men who rushed to the scene of the disaster with breakdown trains performed splendid service in alleviating sufferers, particularly those suffering from minor injuries.


Mrs. Sarah Dean (nee Druce), who was killed in the railway accident, was a resident of Boggabri (NSW) up to six months ago.

She was married in Brisbane on Monday and her husband was badly injured.

Those who died on the 9th June 1925:

1. Mr Philip Richard Reid —buried Gympie

2. Mrs Sarah Dean {nee Druce} – buried Gympie

3. Mr Benjamin William Hill—buried Gympie

4. Mr Raphael Rosier—buried Gympie

5. Mr Victor Herbert Shadwell—buried Boonah

6. Jack Wilson Gardener—buried Warwick

7. Mr James Edward Lumley Rout — buried Rockhampton

8. Mrs McDhagger — buried Bundaberg

9. Joan Edith Robertson — buried Winton

Mr. Davidson visited the whole of the patients in the hospital at Gympie.

The exact casualties he said, were nine killed (seven adults and two children) and 26 injured.

These 26 were all now in hospital, others who were less seriously hurt were able to proceed on their way.

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