Vintage car from the transport collection


Discover how Queenslanders have moved through our landscapes with the aid of wheels and wings when you explore Queensland Museum’s Transport collection.


Our Transport collections reveal the social history of transport, the development of the public transport systems and advances in technology Queenslander’s have used to move around the state, make a living and explore the world.

The horse-drawn vehicle collection comprises horse and bullock powered transport indicative of vehicles commonly used in Queensland in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

The railway collection traces the history, operations and culture of Queensland Rail, with an emphasis on the Ipswich Railway Workshops. It contains large technology objects, including locomotives and rolling stock, as well a variety of smaller objects representing different railway functions. It captures the introduction of new technologies and changing roles of railways.

The aviation collection highlights the significance of aviation and the efforts of individual aviators in Queensland history. The collection contains eight complete aircraft, a range of parts and equipment, uniforms and clothing, the personal effects from numerous aviators and the Thomas Macleod Queensland Aviation archival collection.

The motor vehicle collection contains a selection of cars, motorcycles, trucks, and tractors revealing stories of industry, innovation and the roles these played in social life.

There is also a range of Queensland-made bicycles and some watercraft involved in significant achievements.


Collection highlights

  • The Bolton collection of horse-drawn vehicles, featuring a Cobb & Co mail coach built in Charleville.
  • ‘Pompey’, the oldest steam locomotive in the collection, a B13 ½ Class 0-6-0 steam locomotive used for shunting duties at the Ipswich Railway Workshops.
  • A Hunslet tank locomotive used on the Western Front during the First World War and later imported to Queensland to haul sugar cane.
  • A Panhard railmotor used for public transport between Croydon and Normanton in the 1920s.
  • The Thiess tractor collection contains the first tractors of the Thiess Bros company and a D4 diesel Caterpillar with the original Le Tourneau blade used to create the Heifer Creek cutting.
  • Bert Hinkler’s AVRO Baby and AVRO Avian aircraft.
  • A Flying Flea, built in Ipswich by brothers George and Norm Roberts, long-serving Qantas employees.
  • Wristwatch worn by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith, later taken into space by Australian astronaut, Andy Thomas.
  • Auburn sedan, used as a taxi by Reel Cabs, one of Brisbane’s early motorised taxi companies that was established by returned servicemen from the First World War.
  • ‘Acrohc Australis’, the smallest sailboat to complete a circumnavigation around the world, achieved by Serge Testa, in 1987.

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Research overview

History of the Ipswich Railway Workshops
Queensland Museum Rail Workshops, located in the Heritage-listed North Ipswich Railway Workshops complex, maintains relationships with many past workers and continues to research and record the contributions and activities of workers at the Ipswich Railway Workshops. A strong part of the workers’ identity at the workshops was related to social aspects of the sites and these recreational activities contributed to the largely intangible heritage and social significance of the site.

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ARC Linkage Project ‘Heritage of the Air’
This project aims to generate new understandings of how aviation has transformed Australian society over the last hundred years, and how the technology of global mobility has shaped people, cultures and communities. The project will make an important contribution to culture and society by enabling community access to neglected and at-risk sources of aviation heritage and engage the public’s fascination with aviation through new interpretations of its extraordinary social and cultural impact.

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The Spencer Project
Queensland Museum and the Historic Motor Cycle Club of Queensland are working together to restore an assortment of parts from the collection and recreate a Spencer motorcycle, recognised as the first wholly Australian-made motorcycle. David Spencer was a railway engineer who made 10 to 12 motorcycles between 1905 and 1910. The museum’s parts come from different motorcycles and appear to have been retained by David Spencer as spares for servicing other motorcycles in the course of his business after he stopped producing his own. These parts are of national significance by association, yet difficult to interpret as individual items without being reconstituted within the context of their original purpose. The recreated Spencer motorcycle will look like a new machine David Spencer would have wheeled out of his workshop before the First World War. The project shines a spotlight on a nationally significant object, created by a community engagement project involving individuals with specialised knowledge and skills.


  • Memoirs of the Queensland Museum –  Culture 11 – 'Queensland Remembers 1914-1918', edited by Geraldine Mate, 2020.
  • One American Too Many: Boss Badger and the Brisbane Trams, David Burke, 2012.
  • Memoirs of the Queensland Museum Culture 5 – 'Behind the tine fence: a history of the Ipswich Railway Workshops', edited by Veronica Macno, Geraldine Mate and David Mewes, 2011.
  • Chasing the Sunshine: the story of Queensland’s Sunshine Express, David Burke, 2009.
  • Cobb & Co Museum: Australia’s finest collection of horse-drawn vehicles, Queensland Museum, 1992.
  • Cobb & Co: coaching in Queensland, Deborah Tranter, 1990.
  • Lytton Flight Log, Edward Wixted, 1989.
  • Bundaberg’s other ‘Avro Baby’ pilot, Dr Geoffrey Young, Edward Wixted, 1986.

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Did you know you don't have to come to the museum to see our collection?

Over 5,000 items of our Cultures & Histories collection are now accessible online for free. All you need is your device and a little bit of inspiration to explore Queensland’s cultural and natural heritage.

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