Our day on the Valley Rattler was a Father's Day gift for my Love. I must confess to being a bit half-hearted about the idea, but nevertheless booked it hoping that it might be a bit of fun.
I am writing this review to announce that this truly is a fabulous day out; more impressive and wonderfully entertaining than I could have imagined. Of course, it must be said that it was helped greatly by the fact that the weather that day was absolutely perfect - one of those gorgeous spring days in Queensland.
From the moment we arrived, we were greeted by smiling, cheery people, who, as it turned out, were all volunteers, who obviously love devoting their time and labours to ensuring the Rattler travellers have a fantastic experience. Everybody - the gent who guided us into our car park, the young lady at the ticket counter, the steam engine driver who was more than pleased and proud to show off the gleaming, shining steam engine and allowed us to climb aboard for a much closer inspection of the workings of this fine old machine, take photos and listen to him tell a story or three – eagerly welcomed us into the charm of this old world. Of course, on the old-fashioned and beautifully maintained platform, there was the obligatory lady and gent in period costume, selling raffle tickets for a one metre tall Porcelain Doll, also in period costume. Naturally we bought several tickets for the cause, but secretly hoped like crazy that we wouldn't win.....! Would you believe, we were one off the winning ticket....Whew! That was close!!! It’s sad to say, but if we had won, Miss Dolly would have by-passed the pool room and gone straight to e-bay.......
Being a special occasion (well come to think of it, I would have anyway, regardless of the occasion....!), I had purchased tickets for us to be in the licensed Club Car where there are 10 round tables for two. The decision to book this (and pay the extra $10 each) turned out to be a great decision. One thing we thought unusual was that the only wine served in the Club Car on board the Valley Rattler that day, was out of a cask. We wondered why the local wineries do not take advantage of what surely must be a captive audience. The hard working lady behind the bar was Mel, and then there was Ron who regaled us with anecdotes and snippets of history of the area.
So off we chugged, on a nostalgic trip of a bygone era. The smell of the steam engine and the settling soot brought back fabulous memories for those of us old enough to remember.
Along the way, the Valley Rattler stopped at the small towns of Amamoor and Kandanga, where the local folk had morning tea and crafts for sale. Lunch was at the small picturesque town of Imbil. Although not necessary, we were glad that we had pre-booked a table on the verandah of the Railway Hotel - one of those great Aussie small town institutions. Lunch was a delicious buffet of good and very tasty food. The two of us enjoyed a bottle of wine with our lunch and paid the grand total of $38 for the entire meal! The view from the verandah takes in the rail line and a part of the small town of Imbil. The hotel is old – it is not pristine. Yet it oozes character and beckoned us to linger longer. We loved it.
On the trip back to Gympie, our final stop was at Dagun where we were able to sample local wines and cheeses and purchase locally grown fruit and vegetables. Now the last leg of the journey and the hard working engine had to work even harder to get us up the steep incline, which it did magnificently.
A day trip on the Valley Rattler is more than a bit of fun. It is a delightful experience; a perfect example of history preserved. Congratulations and thank you to all the volunteers who make it so wonderfully enjoyable.
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