DD17 No.1047

Stored at the Zig Zag Railway


This old scanned photo (circa 1981) shows No.1047 simmering at Top Points while awaiting its next departure for Bottom Points.

This was the view that greeted Zig Zag Railway visitors in that period as they arrived by car to Top Points.

The loco would coast bunker-first down the Middle Road’s 1:42 gradient, and then reverse around its train at Bottom Points.

The return journey up the 1:42 gradient was therefore done chimney-first, and crews would open up the regulator to give the exhaust some bark.

(The Zig Zag Railway was later extended along Top Road to Mt Sinai and then on to Clarence.

A small siding – seen at left & since removed – was in place at Top Points, hosting an ex-SAR 4-wheel louvre van used as a secure storage.)



Ipswich Railway Workshops



Builder’s Number & Year

206 of 1951



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



The DD17 class locomotives were the final development of Queensland Railways (QR) steam power for Brisbane suburban workings; this successful design benefitted from the early lessons from the 6D16 class 4-6-2T locos (later converted to 4-6-4T) and experience with the later D17 class 4-6-4T locos. The 4-6-4T configuration was popular for suburban passenger traffic around the world, key features being a symmetrical wheel arrangement that was equally suited to forward or reverse travel at speed, good adhesion from the mass of water tanks over the driving wheels, and good visibility in both directions. The DD17’s were modern locomotives, featuring extensive use of welded components, superheated boilers, electric lighting, mechanical lubricators and roller bearings on all axles. Twelve DD17 class locomotives were built at Ipswich Railway Workshops, the first six (949 - 954) in 1948-49 and the final six (1046 – 1051) between 1950 and 1952. The class featured an attractive blue livery, a stark contrast to the black livery worn by the earlier D17 and 6D16 class locomotives. I believe the class were known as ‘Blue Babies’ by railwaymen and Brisbane residents.

No.1047 entered service in June 1951 and was condemned in October 1968 after a working life of only 17 years. Fortunately No.1047 together with sisters No.1046 and 1049 were saved from the Ipswich Workshops scrap line by the Zig Zag Railway Preservation Society Co-Operative Ltd. for use on their formative heritage railway based on the Great Zig Zag Railway at Lithgow, NSW. (Presumably these three DD17’s were judged to be the best candidates among the steam locos on the Ipswich scrap line at that time; records show they were the last three DD17’s to be condemned, together with their modern design and suitability for operation in either direction as required by the Zig Zag reversals. Other candidates on the Ipswich scrap line at the time included several PB15 class 4-6-0 locos.) The three DD17’s were delivered to the Zig Zag Railway’s newly created Bottom Points depot on 16 March 1975 via standard-gauge flatcars; interestingly, a temporary slew was created on the adjacent Great Western Railway main line to allow the locos (and some NSWGR passenger stock) to be reversed into the depot, which is in an otherwise inaccessible location.

No.1047 was initially stored at the Zig Zag Railway’s Bottom Points depot from 1975 while sister No.1046 was restored to service for opening of the Zig Zag as a tourist railway on 18 October 1975. While I can’t recall the restoration date for No.1047, photos show it had been returned to service by 1979. A high point in No.1047’s preservation career came on 29 October 1988 when it hauled the opening train for the Zig Zag Railway’s extension from the Chifley Road through the Mt Sinai cutting and Clarence Tunnel to Clarence Station. In Zig Zag Railway service, No.1047 always wore the handsome unlined blue livery authentic to that worn in Brisbane suburban service.

No.1047 was withdrawn from Zig Zag Railway service by 1998 and placed in storage at the rear of the Bottom Points workshops building. I believe No.1047 is fairly worn and would therefore require a comprehensive overhaul, including full documentation to modern standards, if it were ever to operate again. It is interesting to reflect that the three DD17 locomotives at the Zig Zag Railway have now been there for around 45 years, following a working life with QR of less than 20 years!

Alas the Zig Zag Railway has not been operational since 2011 due to accreditation issues, compounded by bushfire damage and a significant embankment slip near Clarence. While reopening work is ongoing, No.1047 remains stored behind the Bottom Points workshop; fortunately it seems to have escaped the bushfire damage that has repeatedly struck the railway.

Further information regarding DD17 No.1047 and the Zig Zag Railway can be found on their web site.

I would greatly appreciate the contribution of colour photos showing No.1047 (& No.1046) operating on the Zig Zag Railway in the 1970’s and 1980’s to add to this page. Colour photos of DD17’s at work on Brisbane suburban services are also welcome.

DD17 No.1047 running around its train of ex-South Australian Railways end-platform cars at Bottom Points in 1981.

(In the 1980’s a fleet of ex-Queensland Railways slam-door suburban stock was purchased, following retirement from revenue duties in Brisbane.)

Bottom Points has been significantly upgraded since then; in 1981 it was just a dusty turn-back siding (much as it was from 1869 to 1910 abandonment).

To improve visitor amenity, a platform, station building and garden beds have been added in Zig Zag Railway stewardship, with similar enhancements at Top Points.

No.1047 stored awaiting overhaul at the rear of Bottom Points workshops, circa 1998.

The Middle Road of the Zig Zag is above the cab roof, while No.1047 is standing on approximately the elevation of the Bottom Road.



Armstrong, J. 'Locomotives in the Tropics - Volume 2

(Queensland Railways 1910 – 1958 and beyond)’,

published by the ARHS Queensland Division, 1994.


Cargill, A & O’Neill, S. ‘The Lithgow Zig Zag Railway’
published by The Zig Zag Trust and
The Zig Zag Railway Co-Op Ltd, 1976 (3rd Edition)

Page updated: 11 April 2020

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