It wasn't that long ago that you could find them in the metropolitan area regularly - people would follow the steam train network from Adelaide through the suburbs as recently as 1995, taking photos of them as they thundered and whistled to destinations such as Blackwood. The Blackwood Station still has reminders of steam locos from those days gone by - find out more in this article.
Nowadays steam engines are isolated from the main standard gauge rail network, operating only from SteamRanger's broad gauge heritage railway at Mount Barker station, south of Adelaide. (You can find out more about stations around Mt Barker here).
On the weekend of May 25-26 SteamRanger will be holding its FREE annual Steam Festival at Mount Barker, giving everyone the chance to get up close and admire these magnificent engines and even take a trip on a steam train railway.
Duke of Edinburgh @ Watsons Gap Bridge (Image Peter Michalak)
Steam engine no 621The Duke of Edinburgh, built in 1936 will be making the 50 minute return trip to Bugle Ranges three times on Saturday and four times on Sunday, pulling a train of wooden passenger cars.
Diesel Loco 958 with Loco 621 at Strathalbyn (Image Peter Michalak)
On the return journey diesel loco 958 (built for the South Australian Railways in 1965) will pull the carriages back as there is no space for the steam engine to turn. This will be an excellent opportunity to see parts of the Adelaide Hills in a very special way. Rides will cost $15 for adults and $10 for children (4-16).
A Section Car Ride Will Cost $2 (Image Peter Michalak)
If a steam train is too loud for you, then take a shorter ride in a Section Car to Cameron Road and back for only $2 per person.
After you have ridden the train there will be plenty of other things to entertain you and the kids - free bouncy castles, model train displays, art displays, and a BBQ with drinks on sale to feed the hungry crowds.
A special highlight will be the opportunity to take a guided tour (gold coin donation optional) inside the SteamRanger workshops where there is a large fleet of locomotives and carriages of all types.
The proceeds from the Steam Festival will help SteamRanger fund urgently needed repairs and restoration work for their locos - without this income you will no longer see steam trains in SA, so tell your friends and encourage them to come too!
Don't miss this wonderful chance to re-live a part of South Australia's railway history - the kids will be thrilled at the Festival of Steam, and so will you!
See The Duke of Edinburgh, steam engine 621 in action in the video below.
The author was offered tickets by SteamRanger after completing this review.
The steam train to Pt. Pirie in the late forties and early fifties, stopped at Bowmans for a cup of tea and a meat pie.
Some of my fondest railway memories as a child were those delicious pies!
Cheers Dave, Brendan McGuire