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Community & Business

9 June, 2022

Antique machine rolls on

AN antique road roller which is still in working condition will now have pride of place at the Herberton Historic Railway Museum after Tablelands Regional Council agreed to loan the organisation the machine for display.


The vintage A.H. McDonald roller, known as “Old Reliable”, will be taken from the depot where it is currently housed and given to the museum for display.
The vintage A.H. McDonald roller, known as “Old Reliable”, will be taken from the depot where it is currently housed and given to the museum for display.

Deputy Mayor Kevin Cardew put forward the proposal at council’s May meeting, asking for support for the roller to be moved from a council depot to the museum for everyone’s benefit. 

“This will mean this antique piece of machinery, which is still in working condition, can be taken out of a corner of a shed at a council depot and will be a good addition to the museum,” he said. 

The vintage A.H. McDonald roller, also known as “Old Reliable”, is a diesel-powered roller manufactured between 1945 and 1952. 

It was purchased second hand in 1954 by the former Atherton Shire Council and used throughout the shire. 

It also featured in the Maize Festival Queen procession in Main Street, Atherton for many years, until it was deemed unsafe for that use. 

The roller was used for footpath compaction until 2006, at which time it became difficult to start and was lovingly refurbished by the TRC Tolga workshop staff.

Its last job was the compaction of a small area in the Tolga depot in preparation of sealing behind the depot shed in 2008.

The roller was subsequently decommissioned in 2008 and remained stored in the Tolga depot until today. 

The roller is still in working condition – believed to be one of only two in Australia that still work. 

Cr Cardew said the machine would be provided to the Atherton Herberton Historic Railway Inc. under a loan arrangement to ensure that if anything ever happened to the organisation, the roller would remain the property of council and it could be returned.

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