The ANZAC Bulletin issued in February 1918 breathlessly reports that the annual railway picnic at Ballarat boasted an attendance of 8,000 people. The South West Rail and Heritage Centre's Old-Fashioned Railway Picnic on Sunday, October 22, 2017 between 10:00am and 2:00pm, may not be quite as popular, but everyone is welcome to indulge in a great family oriented day out.
In days gone by, these picnics were a well anticipated annual day out for the whole family, and you are invited to recreate the happy atmosphere as enjoyed by our forebears.
The traditional tug of war, featuring the Boyanup Foundation Blacksmiths. Photo from South West Rail and Heritage Centre Collection.
Put on your walking boots and enjoy the fabulous 'Picnic Basket Trail', which involves families following a train of picnic baskets throughout the site, each with an activity based around the various groups that make up the site and historical aspects of the Shire of Capel. Participate in a fun and educational experience (details revealed on arrival).
Participate in recreating the fun of yesteryear
Railway Picnic train to Geraldton with picnickers leaning out of the carriage window. Photograph courtesy of the Rail Heritage WA Archives.
This event is based on the old annual railway picnics, often involving a trip on a train to a sporting ground, another town, or beach. Sports were integral, including foot races for boys, girls, young ladies, married ladies, old buffers race, and railway handicaps (presumably for those who worked on the railways). In addition, the old favourites such as sack races, three legged races, wheelbarrow races, bicycle races and more unusual, throwing the ball at the wicket, stepping races, musical chairs, threading the needle, quoits, guessing peas in a bottle, waltzing and the traditional tug of war. Social events were often included, such as a special luncheon (a great excuse for speech making), musical entertainment, and children treated to ice creams and lollies.
Railway Picnic: A group of well-dressed fellows posing in front of the G Class loco at Spencer's Brook in 1897. The locomotive is decorated in honour of the railway picnic. Photograph courtesy of the Rail Heritage WA Archives.
The blacksmiths, vintage machinery, model railway and Men's Shed will all be in operation as usual, and not to be missed.
The Picnic Van awaits
Enjoy light refreshments served in the 'Picnic Van', a converted guard's van. Toasted sandwiches, cakes, ice creams, cold drinks, tea and coffee will be available, plus the popular sausage sizzle, or bring your own picnic lunch.
Fun for the kids
The children will love a ride on the 'parent powered' merry-go-round, made from recycled materials, the ideal way to work off that picnic lunch.
At your convenience
Toilet facilities are available, including a toilet suitable for people with a disability. There is plenty of parking, just follow the signs to find your convenient parking spot.
The South West Rail and Heritage Centre is located in Turner Street Boyanup, an accessible day trip from Perth, and well worth the experience, is open from 10:00am to 2:00pm. For more information, please contact Norm Chapple on firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0459 712 552. You may also find this website and their Facebook page helpful.
Photos are from the SWRHC collection unless otherwise noted. Artwork by John F.