13 Jan The Gladstone-Townsville Passenger and Mail Service
The Auckland Point wharf was considered a white elephant, as it was remote from the rest of the town. The establishment of the meatworks in 1896 did nothing for this jetty as they had built their own wharf at Parson’s Point. A rail line was built from the railway station to the approach to the Auckland Point Wharf in 1890.
In 1898, the government entered into a contract with Friends, as agents for the Australian United Steamship Navigation (AUSN) Co, to convey both passengers and a fast mail service to the ports north of Rockhampton, ie Mackay, Bowen and Townsville. On 7th October 1898, the SS Barcoo, of 1505 tons, handled the inaugural service.
The mail train left Brisbane on Friday evening and connected with the Barcoo at Gladstone on Saturday morning. This vessel left for the north at 2pm arriving at Bowen on Sunday afternoon and Townsville at 4am on Monday morning. Prior to the construction of the loop line onto the jetty, the train was required to stop at the approach before the jetty. Small boys would earn money by carrying the passengers’ luggage to and from the waiting trains. Bill Golding (Jnr) was a lad at the time and was one of these youngsters to earn sixpence a time and because the bags were extremely heavy, he felt that the money was well earned.
Photo: people alighting from the ship to the train on Auckland Point Wharf. Photo from Bev (Pitt) Emerson.