One of our favourite kid-friendly trips on the Sunshine Coast is to take a trip on the Mary Valley Rattler. We chat to Marylouise Cartwright, Guest Experience Attendant, to find out more about this much-loved slice of history.
What is your role on the Mary Valley Rattler?
I am a Guest Experience Attendant on the train. My job is to help you find a seat, keep you safe and tell you interesting facts about the trip.
How did you get involved in volunteering on the Mary Valley Rattler?
I live close by and drive past the station every day. I had quite a few ancestors work at the Rattler station and seeing the beautiful station come back to life prompted me to offer my time and be part of its new history.
Why do you give up your time to volunteer on the route?
Volunteering at the Mary Valley Rattler is one of the best things that I have ever done for myself. I am learning new skills all the time and I really enjoy it. Spending time with the other members of the team and the excited passengers is rewarding and fun. It is not work at all!
Do you have a favourite train?
Ooooh, yes! Hogwarts Express… but since I haven’t been able to get a ticket on that one, I would have to say the Brown Bomber (The Rattler Steam Train and Heritage Carriages). It is big, noisy and powerful.
What is your favourite thing about working on the Mary Valley Rattler?
I love watching the families relax and enjoy their time on the train. Sitting, talking, pointing out the windows and just having a unique experience.
What is the story behind the route?
The tracks were laid for the Mary Valley Rattler at a time before the farmers of the Valley had trucks. Everything that needed to go to town had to be taken in carts drawn by horses or bullocks. That was very slow and would take two or three days. Once the train line was built it took only two or three hours, which was much, much faster.
While most of the original track has been replaced over the years, the line originally dates from 1914.
What do you find kids love most about riding the train?
Is it the loud noises of the giant beast? Hissing and whistling. Is it looking out of the old windows and seeing things they have never seen before? Is it the smell of the steam and soot sneaking into each and every carriage? Is it getting up onto the engine and seeing the big fire in the trains belly? I guess it is different for everyone!
Any tips for making it a super-special day out for families?
If travelling in a large group, be sure to arrive early and let the staff know so they can try to seat you all together.
Be prepared to see many different farm animals and wild animals too. Other than that, just be ready for an adventure. No two trips are the same.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
Even though it is not Hogwarts Express, there is something quite magical about the Mary Valley Rattler. This train is exciting and yet relaxing. Old and yet very new to some. It is a Museum that literally takes everyone on a journey. I love it!