Jim Vane - Troop train to Townsville

Running time
3 min 21 sec
Department of Veterans' Affairs


The train ended up in Townsville. It took us over a week to get there. We went to Sydney and up to Rocklea and Brisbane and spent a night or two there. Of course, we had to change trains, a different size track, you know, on the interstate there.

We went up there and we got up to North Queensland and it was raining and raining and raining, and we got to a place called Home Hill, and the train couldn't go any further because of flood. In Home Hill there was a little butcher shop and a hotel. The hotel was like a big house, and they put shutters up there, and you stood on the footpath and brought something out that was how the hotel was, and a blacksmith shop and a couple of houses like that.

Of course, you imagine a troop train pulling up with hundreds of us Army chaps and everything on it and nothing to buy. The baker's shop was bought out in a snap, and we were there for two days. The first day, unfortunate of course, but somehow, they brought up food done up in a paper bag... some sandwiches and an apple or something like that; and that's how they got our meal up to us at Home Hill, in the flood, up in North Queensland.

All those things are experience to a small-town boy like me. Just sit in the carriage where your seat was, and that was it. Yeah. In the city, one had centre aisle there and a lavatory down at the bottom, and that was it. That compartment like that ... four people sat each side as you went down the...I never seen a fight, there on the train, but we had a few arguments and we were put on there, we didn't have much to read.

The newspaper went round until it got very ragged, I tell you. We didn't have anything we could do. That was just it, where we were in traveling. I'm talking about me, I didn't know where I was going. They didn't tell you where you were going. They were, "Okay, well this group, you're going up there by train. You'll be a met up there, in a certain place.

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