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With all the miniature train rides in Melbourne you could fill up more than a month of Sundays. Miniature trains are about one-sixth of their full size equivalents and usually run on 17.5cm –gauge track – so you simply throw a leg over and clamber aboard.
Children idolise these tiny trains which travel at 8-10km an hour;
although this can seem pretty fast when you are whizzing along so close to the ground.
Kids also love the obligatory screams in the tunnels, waving to friends and leaning into the bends. Parents ride the trains on the pretence of keeping their children company, but many a grandparent will compete with them for the privilege.
Such happy families are indebted to the bands of dedicated train enthusiasts, sometimes fondly known as locos. A locomotive can take between eighteen months to seven years to build not to mention the polishing, detailing and maintenance that goes on afterwards.
The people who run these ventures are not there to play dress-ups despite their peaked caps and stiff uniforms which transform them into drivers, guards and stationmasters.
For many, the reward is the technical side; the mechanics, electronics and engineering feats involved in building engines, signal boxes, bridges and tunnels.
Most of the miniature railways are also club based. So if you are a budding model engineer with an interest in railways, then you might want to contact the clubs about contributing some time.
But for kids its all about the thrill of the ride and the shrills in
The two best-known miniature railways have dedicated
articles on Weekendnotes. The famous Diamond Valley Railway in Eltham has run for over fifty years and the Box Hill Miniature Railway, which includes a loving replica of the original Box Hill Station from c.1910.
This article is to alert readers to some of the lesser known, great
little train rides around Melbourne. Such as:
1. Altona Miniature Railway
Altona Railway features diesel and steam engines over a 1.2 km
track. Rides are usually in boxcars rather than carriages. There is a tunnel made from shipping containers. The journey looked out across the full size railway next door, where engine drivers toot to their miniature cousins from their full size locomotives.
When: 3rd Sunday of every month 11am to 4pm
Where: Blenheim Road, Altona North,
2. Mooroolbark Miniature Railway
Even though it is only a small concern the Mooroolbark Miniature
Railway can handle 800 rides a day and is set amidst pleasant lawns and gardens. They also usually hold a sausage sizzle and
refreshments are available on Public Run Days.
When: 4th Sunday of the month (except December) 11am TO 4pm.
Where: Kiloran Reserve, Hawthory Road, Mooroolbark
Cost: Rides are $2.50. Children 3 and under are free when accompanied by an adult
3. Springvale Live Steamers
Springvale Live Steamers is a group of model engineering
hobbyists. They have steam, electric and petrol/diesel engines largely owner built and most based on original full-size designs. They can operate four locomotives simultaneously. It is a bit of fun having so many trains whizz around at once.
Where: Alex Nelson Reserve, Harold Rd, Springvale South
When: 3rd Sunday of the month, 1-4pm
Cost: Around $2 to $3
4. Bulla Hill Railway
It takes around 15 minutes to travel along this 1400 metres scenic
track, past cuttings and small bridges with the startling full-size Mt Macedon for a backdrop. There is also a great children's playground just outside the gates. The complex is out near the airport, so as well as riding on the steam and diesel locomotives, transport enthusiasts can engage in some plane spotting as well.
When: 1st and 3rd Sundays of the month from 12 noon till 4pm
Where: 15 Green Street Bulla, about 8 km past Tullamarine Airport
Cost: Rides $3
5. Campbelltown Miniature Passenger Railway
This charming little railway is privately owned and named after train and gardening buffs Colin and Nancy Campbell. They have planted over 6000 trees around the circuits. Take the Boulder Mountain Express for some great scenery.
When: Open every Sunday, as well as Wednesdays during the school holidays and on
public holidays.11am until 5pm
Where: 434 Belgrave-Hallam Road, Narre Warren North
Cost: Boulder Mountain ride costs $4.50 per person. Cavalier Ride
costs $6.00 per person. Children under the age of three are free.
6. Steam Locomotive Society of Victoria
The Steam Locomotive Society of Victoria at Moorabbin is a model engineering society, where the focus is the on the building of miniature live steam and electric locomotives and rolling stock.
When: 1st Sunday of every month (except January) 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm.
Where: Southern end of G.R. Bricker Reserve on Rowans Road
Moorabbin.128 Rowans Road
Cost: Rides $2 each, and parents of children aged five and under can ride free to supervise their children
Make sure not to wear open toed sandal or bare feet. For
safety reasons some miniature railways may refuse rides to people who do not have their feet properly attired.
Sundays are famously the days that all these miniature railways
operate. But check websites carefully as some only operate on Sundays each month, and we don't want any future little engineers, in tears.
For further information on websites and contact details of the various clubs, click here.
How about an article on the miniature railway at Portarlington. It has been there since 1999 and still going strong. The only miniature railway on the Bellarine. They have a webpage atwww.miniaturerailway.com.au