#7 At the Station

I’m joining Becky in her February Square Photo Challenge over at The Life of B. The rules of the challenge are simple: most photos must be square and fit the theme word Odd, referencing one of these definitions: different to what is usual or expected, or strange; a number of items, with one left over as a remainder when divided by two; happening or occurring infrequently and irregularly, or occasionally; separated from a usual pair or set and therefore out of place or mismatched. Look for #SquareOdds.

While we didn’t travel as much as usual in 2021, we were fortunate to enjoy several holidays in our home state of Queensland and one short trip over the border in New South Wales. Join me this month in a retrospective look at the very odd year of 2021. 

Wallangarra QLD, February 2021

At first glance the railway station at Wallangarra, with its 19th century architecture and its red and cream paintwork, looks like any other country train station in Australia.

A closer inspection reveals some unconventional characteristics which make this station unique. While it’s not unusual for a station to have a platform on either side, at Wallangarra they have different roof styles.

The reason for this peculiar design goes back to the days before Federation, when there were six separate British colonies. Each was self-governed, with its own laws and taxes. Each had its own railway gauge and even the postage stamps were different.

Located on the Queensland/New South Wales border, the station at Wallangarra catered for trains from both colonies. Plaques on the platform tell the story.

When the building was constructed, the standard design for Queensland train station platforms was a curved bull nose roof while in New South Wales all the platforms had skillion roofs. The border between the two colonies bisected the platform so Wallangarra Railway Station was given one of each.

On the New South Wales side the wider gauge track heads south towards Tenterfield,

while the narrow gauge on the Queensland side marks the start of the journey to Brisbane.

A  national standard gauge track was introduced in the 1920s and a new railway line linking Kyogle in New South Wales to Brisbane in Queensland was built. While the Wallangarra line was no longer needed for interstate travel, the station was a vital transport link in the defence of Australia during World War Two.

The railway to Wallangarra continued to be used for freight services until the New South Wales line closed in 1988 and the Queensland line closed in 2007.

Today the heritage listed station houses a small museum and a café in the Railway Refreshment Rooms, with tables on both platforms. A traditional morning tea of fruit scones with jam and cream is too good to resist. The only question is, where will we eat it – in Queensland or in New South Wales?

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