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The Kangaroo

The Kangaroo

Over time, the tramway was serviced by at least two vehicles of some repute, if not notoriety. The ‘Kangaroo’, a curious little wagon running on rails and worked by four Kanaka prisoners in a manner similar to a railway hand-pump car. The Kanakas, like automated men, propelled it along the tracks by bending vigorously backwards and forward at the driving bar, so that the car spun at breakneck speed along the lines leading to the stockade.

In 1901, one visitor described his horrifying trip down the hill and out along the causeway as follows:

As the speed of the Kangaroo increased, the reason for the curious name given to the vehicle became manifest, for the Kangaroo has in truth an alarming hop.

But mercifully, everything has an end and we arrived at last at the jetty, breathless—and thankful!

In 1912, a Church of England chaplain fell victim to the Kangaroo’s hop. On 21 May of that year, the Senior Warder was accompanying Reverend C.E.Burgess on the Kangaroo to the jetty where a motor boat would return him to Wynnum. The car leapt from the tracks at a set of points, throwing the warder to one side and the chaplain to the other, cutting the chaplain’s head and breaking his thumb.

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