Only in OZ #7 – The Ambulance Train, Blackall,

Last Updated on May 13, 2020 by Red Nomad OZ

Ambulance Train in Blackall Museum, Queensland
Ambulance Train in Blackall Museum, Queensland

Medical emergency, but too far from the nearest doctor or hospital?  Never fear!  Help is at hand from the Blackall Ambulance Train!!

Or possibly could have been if your emergency had been a) last century; b) in Queensland’s central west and c) within cooee of the train line to or from the town of Blackall in the Queensland Outback. Sadly, the ambulance train is no longer operational, but you can still see it as it’s now housed at the Blackall railway museum.

Signal and Sunlight, Blackall Railway Museum, Queensland
Signal and Sunlight, Blackall Railway Museum, Queensland

This unique part of Blackall’s history – a railcar equipped with medical supplies – provided medical aid and assistance to isolated locals in the region when help would not otherwise have been available.

While clearly limited to areas accessible by rail (!), the train was often used to attend emergencies when the area was flooded and roads were blocked.  How?  The railway track embankment was often above the high water mark!  In an emergency, the victim was able to be taken to an area accessible by the train, or train staff could have been transported to where the victim was.

Given the lack of other medical facilities in the region, the ambulance train provided a valuable service to outlying properties when they couldn’t get help in disasters or emergencies.

Despite its retirement, the ambulance train is therefore another fine example of Outback innovation and ingenuity in action!

And you don’t even have to be a train buff to appreciate it!!

Happy travels!!

PS  And the other photo?  Other than showing the view from the Ambulance Train, it serves no real purpose other than my deep satisfaction in taking a photo like this with my trusty 20-year-old non-digital point-and-click FILM camera!!  Oh … and also that I really like it!!  See you next time!!

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  1. Hello from the Blackall Visitor Information Centre!

    Blackall VIC is currently located here and will eventually have an equipped museum, and if we are lucky to also get the railway items up and running

  2. @Andrew – Bummer! What’s with this wilful destruction of historical items? Now the prison tram is also a great idea!! In fact, the thought of it trundling through the streets laden with miscreants provides a disturbing mental image!!

  3. I suppose the Sydney one(s) was burnt, along with most of the trams at Randwick workshops. There was prison tram too, which ran from the Darlinghurst Court House to Long Bay Gaol. It is preserved at the Sydney Tram Museum.

  4. Hi Cheryl! Any quirky regional oddities are more than welcome here! And who knows, may even be photographed/featured on this site!!! Let us know if you can implement the defunct train line plan – that would be amazing!

  5. What a great idea! I live remotely and we have a retired ambo who has started a group locally that has a defibrilator that can save you whilst you wait the 45 or so minutes for an ambulance. This could work on our defunct train line me thinks. Am very impressed with what your non-digital camera achieves! Will have to watch for you coming this way – I’m a lot of things and I’m sure some would call me a “quirky regional oddity”!

  6. @Kath – yep, ‘unique’ overrides ‘OMIGOD not another train thing …’ any day!
    @Mary – welcome back! And welcome back to my blog!! And yes, back then if you had a heart attack in a remote area, you were probably done for with or without the ambulance train! Thanx for your visit!!

  7. Actually, it was a great idea – if your medical emergency wasn’t a heart attack:-). This was really interesting and I love to collect anecdotes like this one. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings…Mary

  8. You had me at this line: “And you don’t even have to be a train buff to appreciate it” – ’tis a rare achievement indeed, to find out something interesting about trains, so I take my hat off to you!

  9. @Andrew – Ambulance trams? What happened to them?
    @Toni – thanx, but is that good??!!
    @LV – yes, I realised the blue photo fitted in with blue Monday after I visited your site!

  10. I enjoyed the history of the rail ambulance. I have never heard of that. I am like you, I enjoy my digital point and shoot. Never leave home without it. See what pretty blues you found with yours.

  11. Yes, I haven’t heard of it either, although Sydney and I think Melbourne too had ambulance trams. I think Sydney’s was used to transport injured soldiers from ships at the docks to hospitals. Good find.

  12. @Jayne – not sure if it’s unique to Australia, but believe it’s unique IN Australia! Happy to be proven wrong (well … not THAT happy, but at least accepting!)if anyone out there knows more!

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