Freelance writer, mum of two who loves living in sunny Perth.
Published September 8th 2013
All aboard for some train fun
Train Activities for Kids in Perth
There's something about trains that has my little boy fascinated. I'd previously not seen the attraction myself and saw them as a means of transport to work and a source of frustration when they're not running on time. However, now as a mum of two boys, I'm seeing trains in a whole new light. I now see that trains make awesome noises, go pretty fast, and some of them (Thomas the Tank engine to name but one) go on some pretty cool adventures. With this in mind, I've also discovered that Perth plays home to a huge array of train related activities. So if you have a little boy (or girl) with a particular interest in all things that go 'choo-choo', I hope you enjoy this compilation of activities that we've come to know, and I'll admit love, here in sunny Perth.
Thomas, now a family favourite.
There's nothing better for the train loving kid than to actually go on a train. Here are some top choices for train riding experiences.
Hotham Valley Railway This heritage railway makes for a fantastic day trip away from Perth. Based in Dwellingup, plan your trip around either a ride on the Steam Ranger or the Forest Train. Let the Steam Ranger take you back in time and indulge your little one in all the sights and sounds of a real steam locomotive as you go travelling through the beautiful countryside surrounding Dwellingup. This experience runs on a Sunday from May through to October. For the rest of the year when fire restrictions do not permit the steam train to travel, don't despair, enjoy the Forest Train, a diesel engine, where the train ride includes a running commentary on the history of WA's railway history. For more information on running times, fares and routes please see here.
Based within the picturesque Whiteman Park, this railway is operated by volunteers and runs short trips on weekends, Wednesdays and Thursdays. This is a cheap activity for families with adult fares only costing $8. For the real train fanatic child, you can even have your birthday party hosted here in the party carriage. Also of note is the Ashley and Friends day held here twice a year where all the trains don faces akin to the trains on Thomas the Tank Engine. This is a very popular event typically held in May and September each year.
Ashley and Friends at Bennett Brook Railway
Transperth Don't discount the enjoyment a child might get going on the average train trip. What might seem completely ordinary to us can bring real entertainment to the little folk. Indeed when my toddler comes with me on the train he honestly believes he's on one of the trains in Chuggington such is the wonder of a child's imagination. This is a cheap entertainment source too, with a family day ticket at weekends allowing 7 persons to travel on one ticket (this includes two adult fares), all for a price of $11.60. It's also worth noting that under 5's travel free every day.
Playgrounds with a Train Theme Perth hosts some absolutely spectacular playgrounds, and honing in on the fact that so many kids love trains, a select few have been designed with this in mind.
Neal Hawkins Park: Based in Perth's northern suburb of Joondalup, this park is a haven for train loving toddlers. Height appropriate play apparatus includes the brightly coloured train and carriages that will have your toddler sliding from the engine, and climbing in the carriages. There's picnic areas aplenty, in addition to some other play equipment for the older kids.
Stirling Civic Gardens: Based within walking distance from the Stirling Train Station, on Cedric Street, this playground is designed like a train with play equipment for all ages. Even the picnic shelters include subtle train decorations. This colourful park is a popular spot for Summer birthday parties and BBQ's.
M.J. Morgan Reserve, Glen Forrest: This favoured park is just perfect for steam train loving kids. The small playground is based around a giant stream train that kids can clamber on and slide off. Based in the vicinity of the Perth Hills, this playground and picnic spot makes a perfect place for kids to let off some steam (pardon the pun) on a day trip.
Railway Reserves Heritage Trail: Not strictly a playground, although there is a fabulous playground adjacent at the Mundaring Sculpture Park. This trail retraces the 59 kilometres of the old Eastern Railway that once linked Fremantle to York in the late 1880's. Despite not being a playground, this trail has made it into the list due to the fabulous signal box that train loving kids would definitely enjoy. This is a perfect place for a picnic, where kids can enjoy playing with the historic signals, letting their imagination run free.
Castledare Miniature Railway This is a great value treat for train loving folk young and old. The cost for adults is $6 with kids from two years of aged priced at a reasonable $3. Under 2's are free. The main attraction is a ride on the miniature railway itself and queues get longer as your morning progresses. However, kids are readily entertained by the general atmosphere around them in addition to watching the miniature steam trains rally past. Staff are helpful and friendly and happy to answer questions about the trains. To find out more visit the website here. Please note that you are not allowed to board the train unless you are wearing enclosed shoes. Arrive early to avoid queues. The Castledare Miniature Railway has two station locations. The Niana Station at Castledare Place Wilson operates a steam and diesel service on the 1st Sunday of each month from 11am till 3pm. The Wilson Park station, Kent St, Wilson operates a diesel service every 3rd Sunday of each month from 10am until 2pm.
Mini trains make massive fun. Image courtesy of NDMES
I heard about this place through word of mouth as it is definitely a lesser known gem in Perth. Based in Balcatta and only running on the last Sunday of each month (excluding December), this activity is operated by the Northern District Model Engineering Society (NDMES). This is another wallet friendly family activity, where the whole family can ride for $30 a family (6 people) or $8 each. There are a few trains to choose from and all train passengers must wear enclosed shoes. You can ride as many trains as you choose between 10am-2pm. It's a fairly limited range of drinks and snacks, so come prepared and make a day of it with your picnic supplies.
Step back in time and learn about the history of our railway. Image courtesy of Railway Heritage WA
Railway Heritage Museum, Bassendean Visitors to this museum will enjoy stepping back in time and viewing the only collection of its kind in Western Australia that aims to tell the story of all the railways across this state. One of the most popular attractions, and one definitely a hit with the kids is 'Katie', a steam engine placed in service in 1881 when the Fremantle to Guildford line was constructed. However the museum captures railway history right through to the more modern diesel locomotives. Kids will also enjoy the large outdoor play area when they have finished viewing all the splendid engines on show.
Do you know of any other train themed fun for the family? Here at Weekend Notes we'd love to share other hidden gems with our readers, so do let us know.