A memorial stone indicates the site where the then Commonwealth Attorney-General Mr. J.G. Latham K.C, in 1926, turned the first sod to begin construction of the rail link to Brisbane. It is significant because it was the first time same gauge railway was laid interstate. It also included a major engineering feat, which involved building the railway line over the McPherson Range on the Queensland border. This was achieved by a series of tunnels forming a ‘Spiral Loop’, also known as ‘The Border Loop’. (There is a viewing platform with amenities on the Lions Road, approx 47klms from Kyogle). Upon completion it was possible to travel an unbroken journey from Brisbane to Adelaide. The construction was under taken at the height of the depression, employing 1500 men.
These days train buffs, can watch (if lucky to be there when a train is on the line- one can phone Countrylink on132232 or Casino Railway station on 0266634910 to check on train times) as trains come up one valley, pass through the mountain twice to cross the original track thereby gaining 20 metres in height.
The story goes; Neville Bonner was the first person to travel from Queensland to NSW through the main tunnel. As a small child he would take lunch to his stepfather who worked on the line. When workers ‘broke through’ the NSW/QLD tunnel Neville was passed through the hole.
On the 27th September 1930 when the First Through Train from Sydney to Brisbane rolled out of Kyogle, 4GR a Brisbane radio station decided to give that Saturday afternoon’s horse racing broadcast to a rival station so they could broadcast the arrival of the train into South Brisbane. Not very significant you might say, but if you look a little harder at the times, Australia was in the midst of the Great Depression. Times were tough, people needed relief from day to day pressures, sporting heroes provided much of this relief and one in particular was considered the People’s Champion, Phar Lap. Honest and courageous Phar Lap always gave the punter a fair run for their money. This particular Saturday’s racing program would have been significant because Phar Lap was on his way to win his first Melbourne Cup on the first Tuesday in November a little over a month away. Controversy surrounded the champion on this Saturday as to whether he would run in the Caulfield Cup. The punters wagered on the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup double for Phar Lap but speculation was rife that his trainer would scratch him at the last minute leaving a very angry public out of pocket. History shows, that’s what he did, at his next start the champion was booed for the only time in his career, aimed at Talford the trainer.