The Mungar Junction to Monto Branch is a 267 kilometre railway in Queensland, Australia. Progressively opened in eleven stages between 1889 and 1928 the line branched from the North Coast line at Mungar Junction a short distance west of Maryborough and followed a westerly route towards Biggenden and Gayndah before turning north via Mundubbera and Eidsvold to Monto.
The first section from Mungar Junction to Brooweena was opened on 29 July 1889 and sidings were established at Pilerwa, Yerra, Thinoomba, Hunter’s Hut and Aramara. Originally called Teebar and later known as Clifton and then Woocoo, Brooweena acquired that name in 1890. Brooweena has always relied heavily on the local sawmill and the railway provided ready transport of timber.
Opened on 1 March 1891 the second stage brought the line a short distance to Boompa and, on 13 April 1891, via Lakeside to the larger settlement of Biggenden. The fourth stage saw the line opened a short distance west of Biggenden to Degilbo (then known as Woowoonga) on 1 April 1893. A very busy railhead thrived and goods were reconsigned by wagon to the likes of Gayndah, Mundubbera and Eidsvold.
The next two stages were opened to Wetheron on 21 December 1905 and to Gayndah on 16 December 1907. The line passed through small sidings at Muan, Chowey, Didcot, Gooroolba and Byrnestown en route to Wetheron and at Mount Lawless, Dappil and Ideraway en route to Gayndah. Gayndah apparently takes its name from the local Aboriginal word for “thunder” and is at the heart of a large citrus growing area. It is Queensland’s oldest provincial town and was once favoured to be the state capital.
Some six years passed before the seventh stage to Boomerang was opened on 1 November 1913 passing through Banapan, Dirnbir, Mount Debatable and Humphrey. The next stage saw the opening of the line to Philpott Creek and Mundubbera on 3 February 1914. Freight transport increased as two sawmills consigned timber east and frequent shipments of cattle and pigs occurred.
The balance of the line to Monto was opened in three stages – to Ceratodus on 26 April 1924, to Mulgildie on 20 June 1927 and finally to Monto on 15 September 1928. Stops were established at Lacon, Riverleigh, O’Bil Bil, Malmoe, Grosvenor and Eidsvold en route to Ceratodus as part of stage nine. Ceratodus takes its name from the lungfish (neoceratodus forsteri) an air-breathing fish which inhabits the nearby Burnett River. The Archer brothers settled the Eidsvold region in 1848. Although of Scottish origin, they later moved to Norway. Eidsvold is named after a small Norwegian town where that country’s constitution was signed. Sidings were built at Jirette, Cynthia, Abercorn, Anyarro, Kapaldo and Selene when stage ten to Mulgildie (spelt “Mulgeldie” until 1945 ) was completed. The eleventh and final stage saw the line terminate via Three Moon at Monto.
The journey from Brisbane to Monto by mixed train took some fourteen hours, and three times a week a sleeping car connected with the mail train at Mungar, taking twenty-one hours.