The Bally Hooley Train

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The Bally Hooley has long been an icon of Port Douglas, but sadly, the Bally Hooley, a remnant of the old sugar cane network, has been retired in Port Douglas. The Bally Hooley engines and some of the carriages can still be seen, but most of the rail track has been removed. You can still see some evidence if the tracks and trains today and in this post we’ll walk you through what’s left of the Bally Hooley, and some other historic trains and train lines in the area.

Bally Hooley restaurant
What’s left of the Bally Hooley today, at Choo Choos on the marina.

The Bally Hooley was a collection of historic diesel and steam locomotives that ran between the stations at the Crystalbrook Superyacht Marina in Port Douglas and St Crispin’s, at the other end of Port Douglas. Both the marina station, and St Crispin’s station still stand, but both are restaurants today. The marina restaurant is Choo Choos, the St Crispin’s restaurant is St Crispin’s Cafe and Events. Between these two stations, the train would stop near Oaks Resort and the Sheraton Country Club.

At one time the Bally Hooley stopped to pick up backpackers at the back of Dougies Backpacker Resort for the Sunday “champagne train”. We took this train back in the day.

balley hooley train
Bally Hooley carriages at St Crispin’s turnaround point.

These smaller stations have crumbled away to almost nothing today.

Later the little steam train became a fun recreational ride for families and small children. It was probably so popular because toddlers and babies could ride for free.

The Bally Hooley stopped running completely during the lockdown years and today this train ride is just a memory

These trains were used for hauling sugar cane from the Port Douglas fields to the Mossman Mill and to the Port Douglas Sugar Wharf, on narrow gauge tracks (2ft, 610mm). The tracks were laid over a century ago.

Housing estates now stand where Port Douglas had cane fields and the sugar industry in the area is under threat. The Mossman Mill was recently granted a reprieve, it’s going to stay open, for a while at least.

Cane trains still run on lines into Mossman in cane cutting season, but Port Douglas is no longer part of the rail network.

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Alyson Long

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