As it Was – Mt Surprise

What a difference eighteen years makes! Mt Surprise, as it was back in 1991/2 compared to some views over the last couple of years. But before we get to the photos, perhaps a little of it’s history would be appropirate?

After the arrival of the Railway from Almaden, Mount Surprise developed as an important cattle trucking and telegraph centre for the western section of the Tablelands. The town’s importance was reduced as railway traffic from the mining and cattle industries declined in the 1930s. Reconditioning of the railway in 1951 and construction of the Gulf Development Road in the 1960s revitalised Mount Surprise as a livestock trucking centre and, more recently, a tourist stop. The Mount Surprise Hotel was one of two erected opposite the railway station about 1910 when Mount Surprise was established as a cattle trucking siding on the new Etheridge Railway.

The station was once the main livestock trucking yard for the district that supplied beef to the Etheridge and Chillagoe mining settlements. Even after many of the mines closed, it remained an important trucking centre. On completion of the Gulf Beef Road in the 1960s Mount Surprise became the railhead for the Etheridge pastoral district, but the railway faced increasing competition from road trains. The railway station complex still contains facilities from the Chillagoe Company era, such as the tank installed to supply water for steam engines, retained as a water supply for station staff. A railmotor shed and a small museum have been constructed on the site in support of the tourist operation provided by the Savannahlander.

Mt Surprise 1991

Mt Surprise 1991

The Station in 1992

The Station in 1992

Two trains at Mt Suprise in 2007

Two trains at Mt Suprise in 2007

Railmotor at Mt Surprise 2007

Railmotor at Mt Surprise 2007

Approach to Mount Suprise from Almaden - 1991

Approach to Mount Suprise from Almaden - 1991

Approach to Mt Surprise from Almaden - 2008

Approach to Mt Surprise from Almaden - 2008

Mt Surprise, early 90's

Mt Surprise, early 90's

Mt Surprise 2006

Mt Surprise 2006