Poem: Upon the Gowrie Plain

A Railway Tragedy:

Upon the Gowrie Plain


Upon the Dalby railway line the damage had been great,

Long strips of ballast washed away – all in a dangerous state.

And though the traffic had been stopped an engine had to run

For gangs of laborers to repair the havoc which was done.

At duty’s call, four gallant men, without a murmur went;

Into the dark they steamed away, ‘mid blast and blinding rain –

God help that noble crew tonight upon the Gowrie Plain.

‘Twas black as pitch, in either ditch foamed down a raging flood,

And what firm ballast was before, was now but yielding mud.

Yet still the engine kept the rails, until they reached to where

A dangerous gully crossed the line, and death was lurking there.

No beacon light appeared in sight to bid the doomed ones wait,

No friendly signal could they see to warn them of their fate.

Oh God! To think one little lamp had saved the woes and pain

Which those four heroes felt that night upon the Gowrie Plain.

To help his mates he then commenced, but only one was found;

The other two were gone from view, and Dellar thought them drowned.

The one remained – Gerhardt his name of German lineage, he

Was stuck so tight beneath the wreck ‘Bob’ could not get him free.

The only plan to rescue him, was straight to hurry back

To Gowrie Junction, whence they’d come upon their wretched track,

And send assistance, for he saw that with all his might and main,

He could not get him out himself, upon the Gowrie Plain.

Three weary miles he had to trudge upon that cruel march,

Around him was the howling storm, above the heavenly arch,

His mind was firm in duty’s path, his courage strong and pure,

Or else he never had been fit such tortures to endure,

And when we think upon the pain poor Dellar had to feel –

For his head was bruised, and both his legs were skinned from hip to heel,

We must admire the manly pluck with which he on did strain

To bring assistance to his mates across the Gowrie Plain.

Grave of Johann Gerhardt, engine driver, tragically killed in the Gowrie plain train derailwayment recountered above which took place in 1876. last resting place in Toowoomba

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