Sydney based railfans are often spoilt for heritage tours to ride on and/or photograph. So much so that the humble Cockatoo Run, as operated by 3801ltd, is often overlooked by enthusiasts. This is a real shame, as the journey covers some very scenic countryside, complete with excellently maintained carriages and a friendly crew.
With this in mind, a small group of fellow railfans and myself embarked on riding the Cockatoo Run, having seen it when trackside, but some of us never having been for a ride! The price from Sydney is a very reasonable $87, buying a return trip to Robertson or Moss Vale via Wollongong, behind one of 3801ltd’s heritage diesel locomotives.
Once leaving Sydney, the scenery is great, and of course, travelling along with fully open windows is a novelty in todays public transport world of airconditioning and quiet, modern trains. Travelling down through Coalcliff and Stanwell Park, as the line skirts the coast, with Port Kembla an impressive background. Out to sea, countless coal and freight ships await their turn to enter the harbour as the train bumps and rattles along.
Upon departing Wollongong, the train climbs along one of the most scenic stretches of railway that NSW has to offer, scaling the Unanderra to Moss Vale line, offering excellent views of The Illawarra, right up until the stop at Summit Tank lookout. A brief photo stop is offered for those wishing to walk over to the Summit Tank lookout, to view the entire Wollongong and Illawarra.
Passengers can alight at Robertson for lunch at it’s many fine eateries, or opt to travel right through to Moss Vale for lunch there. Although the scenery between Robertson and Moss Vale is not as spectacular as that between Unanderra and Robertson, it does have it’s own rustic, rural charm, with cattle and sheep giving the train a passing glance, and not a sign of city life to be seen. There is a level of appeal to rocketing along the line at speed, especially after the long, slow climb up the mountain.
As always, 3801ltd volunteers are always on hand, looking after those in their carriage , pointing out things of interest, or just up for a chat about anything (be it railway related or not).
All in all, if one is looking for a great day out on a heritage train, without the typical type of passenger that heritage trips normally attract, look no further than 3801ltd and the Cockatoo Run.
For more information, visit the 3801ltd Website (link opens in a new window/tab) for tour dates, as well as other interesting tours that 3801ltd have to offer.
Special thanks must go to Stuart and Simon, both volunteers of 3801ltd, for their assistance in booking my recent group outing aboard the train. Additional thanks to Stuart for organising a cab ride for our group, having never been inside the cab of a 49 Class, it was quite an experience, and one I will struggle to beat in the coming years!