If you can spare an hour or two this Carnival of Flowers, the Downs Steam Tourist Railway & Museum is a fun outing for the whole family. An old fashioned planting of flowers in the award winning gardens guide the visitor into the museum. It was planted by prisoners from the Westbrook Prison.
It's best to begin your excursion at The Shed. The American-designed shed came to Australia from Bethlehem Steel in Pittsburgh and was assembled at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre. Later it was stored at the Toowoomba quarry then re-assembled by Westbrook prisoners who sheeted it. Wagner's generously donated some concrete for The Shed's foundation and the station platform.
Inside The Shed find one of the first diesel engines in Queensland, c.1956. In 100% working order, on event days it makes short shunts within the yard. A steam engine built in Toowoomba in 1914 is the last of its kind: Loco 106, the Pride of Toowoomba is also known as The Drayton Belle.
The Gatsby Flyer is under construction in the 1930s style and is to be fitted out with art deco and a café. The carriage came from Tasmania where it had been burnt-out by arsonists. The Gatsby Flyer is unique and is the most popular display with men in The Shed. The team of dedicated volunteer tradesman are searching high and low for an engineer with skills in English Wheel sheet metalwork to help finish the front of the carriage. Renovation is nearly completed after two and a half years of ingenious reconstruction.
Al fresco dining available when the dining car is full.
There are many carriages to travel through on the 'Drayton Station' platform or Great Divide Scenic Railway. The Drayton Diner was an old Melbourne tram, the inside containing memorabilia, engine components, photos, tram routes and rail-related magazines. An old Brisbane carriage took me back to my days of catching the train to work in Brisbane over twenty years ago. Darling Downs Finest Dining Car seats 35 including al fresco from the overflow, on the platform.
The Dav Goods carriage or The Memory Coach is a brake van which will delight your reminiscence of silverware and crockery, lanterns, photos, uniforms, a wall phone and train ticket holder (where tickets for specific locations were stored). The pressed metal ceiling is in excellent condition. The carriage was built in 1925 and cost £2496. It ran on the coastline and from Brisbane to Wallangarra. The museum's collection includes an Anzac carriage and a Range Railway carriage.
Not the Lalique decorative glass art or vanities as on the Orient Express, but attractive nonetheless, in an old Sunlander carriage.
The Dream Time Journey Coach features Aboriginal art entitled The Journey of a Day. Four compartments are devoted to dawn, morning, day and evening. There are spiritual meanings within the artwork such as halos (for wisdom), a sprouting coconut (new life) and angel fish. The artist Damon Calance is from Mt Isa and his work is copyrighted, so no photos please. The artwork took only nineteen weeks to complete. The Aboriginals helped workers find water during the building of the Range line, thus this carriage is in commemoration.
Not the place to 'chug' your drink, the Queensland Rail Wine Bar & Lounge.
The Queensland Rail Wine Bar & Lounge plus carriages are from the Sunlander and Westlander trains. The lounge and wine bar sports an 1890s baby grand piano from Austria. The lounge car and sleepers are to be part of overnight trips to Stanthorpe and the region. There are five sleepers ready for travel which have facilities and air conditioning, plus passenger carriages. Staff sleepers have three cramped bunks to a room. There are two Club Cars with lounges and bars. Overnight accommodation is intended for two nights stay. The line will be opened once the train has passed the necessary safety tests.
The platform was formerly the Yuleba Station of 1920 and was re-erected on site by inmates from Westbrook prison.
If the kids are working up a 'head of steam' buy them a toy train or get yourself a Casey Jones style engine driver's hat from the gift shop. Historic paintings as placemats or posters including the American Explorer train blocked by a snowdrift and American Railway Scene, model trains and other souvenirs for sale.
Operated by the Darling Downs Historical Railway Society and staffed wholly by volunteers, the museum hosts breakfast on Mothers' and Fathers' Days and on Australia Days there are celebrations including flag raising, live music and Aussie 'tucker'.
Most financing comes from functions held at the museum. Phone Gwen on 0402 158 456 or Peter on 0409 477 954 if you can help out or wish to make a booking. See also, Facebook for further information, especially for the Carnival of Flowers.
This sound like a great place already but the works still to be done are rather exciting. My husband and I were in the area last year but missed out on touring around Toowoomba as we were on our way to Warwick.