Over the weekend of 18/19 of July 2009, The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum ran a weekend of Vintage Train rides, between Thirlmere and Picton, and between Thirlmere and Buxton. Motive power for the Picton trains was provided by 4803 (Sydney end) and 3642 (country end). Veteran steam locomotive 2705 provided the motive power for the run down the line to Buxton and back, hauling the rarely seen Pullman carriage set.
Interestingly, one of the morning shuttle runs from Thirlmere to Picton was timed to arrive at Picton station shortly after the morning Endeavour service to Moss Vale had departed. This allowed passengers from Sydney to get to Thirlmere without worrying about dealing with private bus services or long walks through the back streets of Tahmoor. The final shuttle from Thirlmere to Picton also connected with an afternoon up and down service, to allow passengers to travel home again.
A number of different tickets were offered on the day, the best value ticket being the $30 all day ticket, which included rides on both of the heritage trains as well as entry into the museum, which was of particular interest given the work being done behind the display hall on the new roundhouse – which was looking far from incomplete. Certainly this upgrade will make the Thirlmere Heritage Centre a force to be reckoned with in regards to preservation.
In addition to the passenger steam shuttles, on both days steam locomotive 3526 “The Nanny” was on hand to shunt back and forth in Thirlmere yard with a short rake of restored freight wagons, complete with LHG on the rear. The 35 ran backwards and forwards on a short section of the yard to provide not only photographers and videographers, but also visiting families and enthusiasts a chance to witness a rare recreation of what was once a regular occurrence all over the state – the steam hauled goods train. The NSWRTM even went as far as putting on a branch line display of goods train haulage, with 3526 running down to Couridjah and return, specifically to be seen.
As well as providing for people wanting to ride on the trains, there was a chance for visitors to photograph 2705 running along the loop line, with a vintage double decker Sydney bus being on hand from the Vintage Bus Museum at Tempe, offering rides up and down the line to allow visitors a chance to capture the action from the side of the tracks. This was an excellent incentive for people to pay for a ticket to ride, as it meant that they didn’t have to go home without a “record shot” of the train moving along the line, rather than just the normal “start and end” shots from each end of the trip.
In this authors opinion, it was a most enjoyable day, and hopefully a success to the museum and it’s hard working volunteers.
For photos from the day, please click here to see photos from July, 2009.