Ghost Train

From 1920 to 1955 there used to be a railway line between Ferny Grove and Dayboro. It ran via Camp Mountain, Samford, west of present day Lake Samsonvale and north to a terminus at Dayboro.

This line was the scene of Queensland’s worst rail disaster in 1947, where 16 people were killed and 38 were injured. Even today it ranks as Australia’s second worst rail tragedy after Granville.

There’s not much of a trace of the old line left today except for a short rail-trail between Ferny Grove and Samford, and a Tunnel (affectionately called “The Bat Cave”) which is now used by Queensland University to research bats.

I’ve included the map here, and a link to the KML file here because I intend to visit some of the places on the map over the next few weeks to see if I can find any clues. Also, the map / kml might come in handy for anyone else interested in exploring the area.

I’ve included some scanned copies of old maps I used to plot the route of the line. Many thanks to local historian, Leith Barter, for helping me locate the old maps and providing copies.
1955 Military Map - Part 11955 Military Map - Part 21930s Cadastral Map

41 Replies to “Ghost Train”

  1. Hope you have a great time exploring the railway line Neil. Share some pictures of half submerged railway lines. I am sure people would find them interesting 🙂

    1. Hi Arjun 🙂

      The actual railway lines were pulled up. All that’s left now is the flat ground. The problem is that this area is rarely accessed. So it has become overgrown. Around the lake we get a lot of Lantana which is a thick prickly noxious weed. I’ve found most of my expeditions around the lake inevitably end up in thickets of lantana.

      This picture (which I think you’ve seen) is the only one I managed to get which shows the trail slowly disappearing under the water.

      I’ll try harder next time and see if I can get a better photo for you.


      1. Hi Neil, just came across your site when tracing the path of the Dayboro line past Ferny Grove after reading about the Camp Mountain train disaster.
        I noticed where Mt Samon Rd crosses North Pine River the train line is marked as just east of the roadbridge, and it appears there is a pair of timber stumps just above the water surface that could well be evidence of the former line’s crossing there (just north of the Dayboro Water Treatment Plant).
        Food for thought? Disagree/Agree?
        Thankyou so much for publishing a map that wasn’t a jpg or other non-vector image, it was fantastic to be able to zoom in and out as needed while I compared with google maps current satellite view, particularly around the Yugar tunnel area.

        1. G’day David
          Yes – you picked it well. The stumps you saw were remnants of the railway line & bridge.
          If you go to McCulloch Road, just south of that spot, it’s quite easy to see where the old railway line crossed the road. You can see history of old earthworks either side.
          Although we weren’t really supposed to, we’ve ridden our bikes along some of the old railway line at Kobble Creek near Golds Scrub Lane. That’s worth a look if you haven’t done it yet.

  2. Hey great site! As I child my family used to visit a Great Uncle’s property (Doug Petersen) on Peteresen Rd in Samford.

    I remember at the bottom of his property there used to be lots of old wooden railway sleepers lying around and a wooden cattle loading station for loading cows onto trains. By that time though (the 1980s) it was all quite run down and abandoned, with no railway line in sight. I remember visiting a few years later and much of it being covered in thorny weed (may have been lantana). He passed away many years ago, but had family also living very close by. I believe that at least part of the land may have been sold and divided now, and from the looks of things on recent Google street view, those remnants of a cattle loading station have been cleared up.

    Thanks for all this fascinating information and good work on the blog!

    I noticed that there’s a Peterson Park nearby and that made me remember something. The council erected a misspelt street sign that said PetersOn instead of PetersEn. After complaining, it was changed. The council may have made the same mistake with the park name.

  3. G’day Mikk

    I think what was your Great Uncle’s property might now be on the Samford Railtrail. It’s a public-access recreational trail which follows the route of the old railway line into Samford. If you zoom in on the map on the post above, you should be able to see where it crossed Petersen Road.

    With regards to Peterson Park, have you tried talking to the local Councillor for the Samford area (Bob Millar). He might be able to shed some light on the spelling of the park name. If it is named after your family, who knows – you may even be able to get the name of the park changed 🙂


  4. Mikk

    I am the grandson of Mr Petersen, would love to catch up and share stories…. brian at samford . net

    The cattle yards you talk of were built by my father in the 1960’s for loading cattle onto a truck not for loading onto trains. The road still runs through from Mclean road Nth to Petersen road, we do ask anyone going through to please close the gates to stop cattle from escaping…


  5. Pingback: Dayboro « Musings
  6. Hi
    Last Sunday I was driving back from Samford. I heard the distinct sound of a train and whistle and thought there was something wrong with my car. My friend pointed over to the bush and said that is a Ghost Train and that is where the train crashed in 1947. The noise stopped when we passed that area. I have been going out to Samford for years and have never heard that sound before. Do you know anything about this and have other people heard this sound.

    1. I know this thread is quite old but thought I would chime in anyway seeing as I can’t find anything else on the subject.

      Diane, I was coming back from Dayboro yesterday and heard the same distinct train sound along that stretch of road. At first I totally dismissed it as road noise until my partner pointed it out to me, he asked if i could hear the train sound as well. he says he’s heard a number of times coming through there and told me the same old story in regards to the crash at the site nearby.

      Just wondering if you ended up finding out more about it? I’m still unsure whether to believe him or not! Haha.


  7. The Samsonvale Station platform is STILL there. I read somewhere that it is gone. Nope, just hidden by weeds. It is right on the bank (when the dam is full). Not much to see, just on old platform on stilts, but nevertheless, still there.

    Also, whilst I was out exploring the area for remnants, I managed to find the old location where the tracks crossed the South Pine River. It wasn’t too hard to find, although it was hard to get down to the creek bank. Down there you will find that the original timber bridge piers have been cut off just above the water level and are in fairly good condition considering they’ve been there about 90 years.

    Also found a few other remnants of bridge piers in the North Pine River and in private farmland near the river. Again, nothing too interesting – just old stumps of wood, but again, they are still there.

  8. Hi there
    Love your blog and everyone’s contribution!

    Most haunting as you walk along the track – want to do an investigation if anyone is interested!? (Paranormal investigation)

  9. I’ think I’ve traced the route from Ferny Grove to Dayboro but can’t work out the route around Kobble Creek. Anyone know?

    1. John
      Have a look at this map:
      Don’t take my yellow line too literally – it’s inaccurate in spots.
      Specifically, check out the property boundaries either side of Mount Samson Road. You’ll see that they’re oddly shaped, and move in and out. Sections snake off for a few hundred metres at an angle to the road. This should give you a clue where the railway line ran.
      If you walk or cycle north from Kobble Creek along Mount Samson Road you can see a gravel track which follows the road on the left. I think this is the old line.

  10. Thanks Neil. That old line has been a bit of an interest of mine for years now. I thought the grade away from the creek would be to steep so every time I passed over Kobble Creek I kept looking west as the Kobble Creek road looked a bit like an old embankment.

  11. Hi Neil
    I’ve been enjoying many of your posts, as I like hunting around for local history and the places that once were. I moved back into this area after about 30+ years away, so I’m looking forward to getting out and about more to see what I can find. The rail line is on my to do list, so when I do, I’ll have photos up on my blog. Thanks again for a very interesting and informative blog.
    Brad (Griff)

    1. G’day Griff
      Thanks for your kind words. Please let me know when you’ve uploaded some photos and I’ll link back to it.
      Do you ride a bike?

    1. Hi Andy
      Keep a look out for this weeks post (out Wednesday afternoon) about this section of the railway. No, that is an old road bridge. The railway line was about 150m further west of this bridge. We actually walked across the bridge and got some great pics 🙂

  12. Hi Kylie. Next Monday 10am Samford Museum is a remberance day to acknowledge crash. 1st May 2017. They rang me and said other people have heard the sound of the crash. I am going to the museum as a 93yr woman survivor of the crash is talking. Come along and we can compare notes.
    Cheers Dianne

  13. Hi, I have recently purchased a chunk of land that the train line passed through, the bush area opposite the Dayboro Shed Antiques. I have not yet explored the whole block, but I think I found the cutting where the line ran.
    I intend to explore the whole block over time and follow the route as it crosses my land.
    I’m interested to hear from anyone who has any information that might relate to that section.
    If you are interested in crossing my land to explore the track, please contact me first. Thanks.

    1. G’day Chris
      Congratulations on your land purchase – especially considering its historical connections.
      I think the railway line followed the general vicinity of where Donivy Lane and McCullogh Road is today.
      I’m not sure it went south of that, and would be really keen at some stage to look at the cutting you refer to.

      1. Thanks Neil. The red line in your map tracks our western boundary line pretty closely. Our southern boundary is Postmans Track.
        From what I can tell so far and based on your map, there is about 700 to 800m of it on our land.
        Having said that, the survey map shows the cancellation of Samsonvale Rd on our block too, so maybe that’s what the cutting is from.

  14. My Great Uncle drove the first train on the Dayboro line. I have seen a picture of that day at my Mother’s cousins ‘ house
    but sadly they have both died now and I have no idea where their children live or even if the photo still exists. My Grandfather
    was also an engine driver and 2 of his brothers, as was my husband’s Grandfather. He drove the train which carried the Duke
    and Duchess of York in 1927 ( later King George VI and the Queen Mother )

  15. Hi Neil,
    Thank you for putting together such a great site! We’ve lived in Samford for about 12 years now and I’m fascinated by its history so it’s wonderful that you’ve been doing all of this research and fantastic to hear everyone’s stories. Have you been out to the lake lately since the water has dropped so much? I’d be interested to hear if you can see much of the old station platform at the moment. I might head out there myself soon. Thanks for the maps and the information!
    Best regards,

    1. G’day Alex
      Thanks for your kind words
      I’m really glad you enjoyed my stories.
      In answer to your question, yes! The dam was very low in 2017, so we went exploring on our bikes. I managed to get some fun photos.
      You can read about it here:
      I agree – now would be a good time to have another look.
      If you need more info about where to go, please get in touch – I’m always happy to help.

  16. Have been interested in all your posts – I grew up on a farm in 1951 about 1Km on the Samford side of Mt Samson State School. Dad sold up, returning to Brisbane. However in 1954 he bought another dairy farm about 200M from Kobble Creek railway station – the line traversed our property all the way to Postman’s Track (our boundary). I remember going to Brisbane via the rail motor to see the Queen on her visit to Australia where we were required to wave flags as she passed by the Brisbane Women’s Hospital. When the railway service was discontinued this provided work for many local farmers who supplemented their incomes by being part of crew pulling up the lines/sleepers and even one large bridge (across Kobble Creek – on our property). We left the area mid 1960s and have only been back once for a drive through

    1. G’day Robert
      Thanks for the fascinating story.
      I think we’ve ridden our bikes over Kobble Creek near where the railway bridge crossed.
      You’re fortunate to have had such an interesting childhood.

  17. Hi years ago myself and friends sat there at 1am in the morning .we where there for hours .there was fog and we heard distant train noises then saw a dull glow headed towards us then diappeared havent gone back .needless to say we werent beleaved i know what we heard and saw.

  18. Hi Neil and all following. We have just purchased land in Strong Road, Dayboro. Although this land is in Moreton Bay region the land was sold by Brisbane City council. Our neighbour said that our 3882 sqm piece of land was originally acquired for the railway. After selling off all the land in the corridor our block was missed. Only when our neighbour, who purchased their adjoining property in Nov 20 queried the ownership to see if they could buy, did Brisbane Council realise they actually owned it.
    Last weekend when we went back to the block I explored a little more, especially now knowing the railway passed close by. In what is a culvert that would only fill in flood or extreme rains is the remains of a bridge. Mostly just wooden stumps now about 2.5 , maybe 3 metres tall. I believe this in our neighbours property.
    Our block is Lot 5 (not No 5) Strong Road. It appears the railway followed close to what would be our western boundary.
    Thanks for the ten years of updates. I have always been interested in railways and history. Very happy to have some virtually in my back yard. I am looking forward to exploring a bit more.

    1. Hey all reopening an old thread in a hope to keep the discoveries open and also looking for some help. We recently purchased vacant land on Mt samson road near winn Rd. Reading this has certainly sparked some interest and might explain some weir noises we have heard. Early last year we were camping on the block and were woken up early in the morning by a horrible noise sounded like metal grinding. We’d all had a lot to drink but 3 of the 6 of us all woke up at the same time. Giving me goose pumps now reading this story of the train crash and wondering if maybe it was related.
      I’m trying to find the location of the original samsonvale provincial school as I have been told it may be on our block somewhere and the foundations of 2 sandstone posts from the front gate are somewhere as well. Would love to hear if anyone knows of where it was before it was relocated down near the translation across the road from the current state school. We also have a very large Moreton Bay fig tree which would be nearly 40 to 50m across the canopy and maybe also points to something of significance here for it to be still standing and the only fig tree on a large block where all surrounding area is cleared farmland.

      1. G’day Matt

        Congratulations on your purchase.

        A few of us rode through that area a while ago when the dam levels were really low. Photos here:
        I can’t tell you where the provincial school used to be, but the photos in the above article (and map) might give you a better idea of the lay of the land.

        Also, there are some old maps from the 1920’s that might help you find the location of the school. You can down load them here:
        Map 1
        Map 2
        Map 3

        Hope this helps.


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