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BROOKLANA ... Coffs Hinterland

It blows me away still that after nearly 30 years of exploring on the Coffs Coast that there’s still ‘stuff’ out there to be found. Generally when we go for an explore up in the hinterland past Ulong we head towards Nymbodia and cross the stunning Bobo River. Its a low level bridge just wide enough for one car and if you look upstream you’ll see the amazing Brooklana Siding bridge.

This beautiful and stunning steel trestle bridge has survived many years of weathering and use when old steam trains used to run along the Glenreagh - Dorrigo rail line. A nice spot to stop, stretch the legs and admire the bridge, rail line and a few other relics.

But the other day a good mate ( Tommo from Coffs Coast 4x4 Bush Adventures ) wanted to show me one of his new finds. Located within a stones throw to the bridge is an ageing steam boiler. Now what gets me is that we go this spot constantly to explore and never seen such a magnificent piece of machinery. The area is extremely thick with privet and other trees and is very hard to see. Some 50 feet away is an array of steel wheels, cranks and other paraphernalia used the there was a sawmill here. Not on any maps or documented is that there is a little loop - service line here where timber was processed then loaded for the run down the mountain for export.

It was the Brooklana Timber Company that was the main player out here for many years and throughout this area there were several narrow gauge timber rail tracks where horses pulled the carriages to the main lines for loading plus they were used to drag logs from the forest to the sawmill. Brooklana ‘station’ had a short wooden platform and was used to load and unload passengers plus goods. Its still possible to find the old Brooklana sign made of thick concrete ( I’ve heard rumours it was made in the USA ), line switching levers and a few other relics. Good to see these things have lasted 51 years without being damaged.

What gets me is just how the old timers got these juggernauts in place with such precision and generally without damage, and that’s after communication was sent back to a manufacturer with an order, then there was the logistics getting the machinery to these remote locations. While we are finding more and more relics in the bush these days, finding the right information is like putting a puzzle together due to a lot of mis-interpretation, no records and realistically a lot of the workers and families of the time have passed away.

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