A writer sharing travels, experiences, a love of festivals & events. Life is a journey and I hope to inspire others. Visit my blog at https://www.travelwithirenke.blogspot.com
Published June 21st 2019
History on wheels
Glory in the days of steam on a train ride this winter with some special events the whole family can enjoy. You won't be going down the wrong track when waiting at the following platforms where history on wheels meets with jovial enthusiasm.
Gosford Steam Weekend
From Gosford Station to the Hawkesbury River and back, taking in the Brisbane Waters and the historic Hawkesbury River Bridge, you'll delight in a ride on one of Australia's most powerful steam trains with the Beyer-Garratt 6029 engine.
The innovative design of the locomotive allowed it to traverse tight curves, while spreading the boiler weight across two engine units. However, dieselisation followed by maintenance issues, saw the government withdrawing it and others like it from rail duty.
A restoration, completed in 2014, had the locomotive receiving authorisation for mainline use. Today, the locomotive is owned by a private syndicate who operate it on a 'storage and use' agreement with Transport Heritage NSW.
The NSW Rail Museum, a division of Transport Heritage NSW, hosts this event and other similar events throughout the year. The stunning views along the way on this 1hr trip are paired with a buffet car serving tea, coffee and light snacks. A choice of times are available – 10.05am, 11.15am, 12.30pm and 2.05pm – over the course of the weekend of 29 June with tickets at $30 per adult, $25 for concession and $20 per child (aged 2-16yrs). Children under 2 are admitted free but must sit on an adult's lap during the ride.
Christmas in July @ Illawarra Light Railway Museum
This fun event, down in a bushland setting near Wollongong, celebrates the festive season of Christmas with train rides and Santa's Karaoke sing along.
Enjoy steam train rides on the 'Kiama', miniature rides on the 'Strathalbyn' and stroll through the historical museum. Barbecue food, tea, coffee and soft drinks can be purchased onsite or you can bring a picnic and let the young ones work off their energy in the children's play area.
This jolly time is taking place on 14 July, from 10am-3pm. Entry with unlimited rides comes at $15 per adult and $10 per child/concession. A family ticket for 5 people is $75. An entry only option with no rides is $5. Payment is on the day at the gate at 48A Tongarra Rd, Albion Park.
Day Out with Thomas
Thirlmere is the location for this unique day out at the NSW Rail Museum (10 Barbour Rd). Housing Australia's largest collection of rail exhibits, the museum brings an action-packed weekend (27-28 July) of family fun when Thomas & Friends return.
The Fat Controller will be roaming around and overseeing all the exciting activities on offer, that includes meeting the steam team of Thomas, Henry and Donald; climbing into the driver's cabs; tooting the whistles; riding Toby the railmotor from Sodor Station up to the Roundhouse; taking a steam train ride to Buxton and back (45mins); unlimited mini train rides; unlimited jumping castle fun; face painting; and the Imagination Station, where children can play Thomas games and enter the colouring competition.
All inclusive tickets are $40 per adult ($35 Concession) and $30 per child (2-16yrs). The museum is open 9am-5pm and the steam train rides depart Thirlmere station at 9.30am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.15pm, 2.15pm and 3.15pm.
Plenty of food and drink options are available from a variety of stall holders. Self-serve BBQ facilities are also onsite and are on a first come, first serve basis.
Valley Heights Rail Museum
Located in the lower Blue Mountains, this rail museum operates open days throughout the year with winter dates on 23 June, 14 & 28 July, and 11 & 25 August. You can explore the 105 year old roundhouse, climb aboard the locomotives and learn about the early Blue Mountains railway with a 7minute video inside a historic stainless steel carriage. Delight in the model railway exhibits too, including a working model of Valley Heights in the 1950's.
Unlimited steam tram rides are included with museum admission of $15 per adult (seniors & concession $13) and $11 per school student. Children 4yrs and under are free. Hours of opening are 10am-4pm with last rides at 3.30pm. Tickets are available at the door.
A cafe serves up light refreshments for purchase or you can bring your own picnic lunch.
Find this museum at 17 Tusculum Rd, Valley Heights.
Richmond Vale Railway Museum
A museum preserving both the railway and mining heritage of the Hunter Valley, Richmond Vale provides unlimited full-sized train rides, miniature train rides, a child-accessible signalling activity, and historic films in the mining museum, in addition to historical displays.
Picnic tables, a canteen and a souvenir shop are at hand in this attractive setting just a few kilometres south of Kurri Kurri (15mins from Cessnock).
Open the first 3 Sundays of each month & every Sunday during school holidays, admission (including rides) is $16 per adult (concession at $11) and $7.50 per child (5-15yrs), with under 5's free. Gates open at 9.30am, with tickets available upon entry. Trains run from 10am with the return trip taking 20minutes.
There is ample parking onsite at the location (262 Leggetts Drv, Richmond Vale), as well as toilets and parent's rooms, plus disabled access.
All of the above events are within an easy 2hrs from Sydney and are just the ticket to keep parents from de-railing, especially during the July school holidays.