Queensland’s heritage Mary Valley Rattler steam train has parted ways with the Gympie Regional Council, with parties from both organisations signing divestment paperwork.
The Rattler Railway Company (RRC), operators of the Rattler – the region’s premier tourist experience – will continue operations free of Council oversight.
Gympie region Mayor Glen Hartwig said the move was “mutually beneficial,” and has been welcomed unanimously by the RRC Board.
“The Rattler is now free of the confines of Gympie Council, and free to take charge of its own future,” he said.
“This deal takes the burden off the ratepayer while giving this vital tourism attraction autonomy. It’s a win-win.
“As a not-for-profit business, the Rattler can source its own funding which stands to be more lucrative than any continued support Council can offer.
RRC chairman Ian McNicol said recent years had been very challenging for the operation of the Mary Valley Rattler, and Gympie Regional Council’s support had been vital in ensuring it had been able to withstand the pressures of floods, pandemic and other external factors to continue operations.
“The agreement provides certainty not just for our employees and volunteers, but also for the tourism community in wider Gympie. With the Gympie bypass coming into operation next year, we will need to proactively entice travellers to divert from the highway and come into Gympie – and the Mary Valley Rattler will be instrumental in supporting businesses in the city and across the Mary Valley,” he said.
“Our goal is to take a leadership role in driving tourism to Gympie, and we look forward to continuing working with Council, the State Government, the Regional Tourism Organisation and local tourism operators to ensure Gympie retains a strong place on Queensland’s tourism map.”
Mary Valley Rattler general manager, Linda Barry, said the new agreement came at a time of very positive indicators for the heritage train attraction.
“We have rebuilt our customer base to over 2500 passengers per month, which is ahead of pre-COVIDlevels,” she said.
“We have introduced new services, reviewed and upgraded existing services, and achieved high levels of customer satisfaction, so we are certainly on the right track for a sustainable future.
“The passion shown for the Rattler by our incredible volunteers, staff and across the Gympie community makes the agreement with Gympie Regional Council a truly historic one.”