Train buffs take note. The Savannahlander is one of tropical North Queensland’s unusual rail journeys.
It runs from Cairns to Forsayth overnighting in Almaden. It traces an important railway system that was developed by John Moffat as part of his vast mining empire in the late 1800s. By 1910, the Cairns to Chillagoe line was connected to the Etheridge gold fields so the private rail link from Forsayth-Almaden became an important rail junction. Imagine the treasure trove of riches uncovered in this mineral-rich land during those times.
Gold at Etheridge and Hodgkinson, copper at Mt Garnet and Mt Molloy, tin at Irvinebank and Stannary Hills, tin and silver at Emuford, silver and wolfram at Petford and coal at Mt Mulligan fuelling the Chillagoe smelter.
Australia truly was – and is – the lucky country. With these riches beneath the ground, it was sitting at the end of the rainbow. Almaden is a small community with some homes following the rail link. While some travellers head to Chillagoe’s limestone cave tours by bus, others take the time to overnight at Almaden.
A slower pace does bring its own rewards. The Railway Hotel is a classic outback hotel, well maintained and presented. There’s simple but comfortable accommodation, meals and takeaways and Nan is renowned for her pies. What more could you ask – every Aussie’s wish.
Walk to the back of the hotel to see Nan’s other passion – gardening. There is a micro tropical environment with lush palms, epiphytes and lawns. Locals refer to the community as Cow Town as cattle often camp along the streets in unfenced areas.