This paper explores an episode of Colonial Enterprise from two points of view, separated by enormous distances and changing expectations. Queensland, a new Colony in the 1860s was enthusiastic about building railways to bring the potential of the territory’s vast hinterland into the Global economy. Two railways were initiated and Sir Charles Fox, who had built the Crystal Palace was appointed as consulting engineer with the hapless Abraham Coates Fitzgibbon as resident engineer in Australia.
Seen from the Centre of Empire, the viewpoint will be taken from contemporary professional journals published in London. Then, from the far-flung periphery of Queensland, a quite different perspective is revealed from Parliamentary reports, newspapers and a miraculously surviving set of drawings, prepared in London for the erection of Toowooba station.
These different pictures of the same projects have been magnified by confused preconceptions, rapidly changing events, opportunism and two very different contexts linked by tenuous threads of communication and outlook. The projects were coloured by these divergent opinions and expectations, which, together with an unpredictable economic situation, resulted in Toowoomba's first station never being built. Two other terminal stations were imported and erected, making this series of structures probably the largest group of prefabricated buildings to be sent to Australia during the nineteenth century as part of a single venture.