Thursday, June 28 was just another cold, miserable winters day for Sydneysiders – until it was turned upside down and topsy-turvy when the Cadbury Joyville Express steamed into platforms at Central, Redfern and Sydenham stations. As soon as the train had stopped, the doors of the carriages were flung open and out marched the Joyville workers, keen to spread joy (in the form of Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate) around to everyone. Within minutes of the trains arrival, the whistle was sounded and the train was off again, steaming off into the distance, leaving only the smell of coal smoke and the taste of chocolate as proof it was ever there to begin with.
My involvement with the Joyville Express began the day before, when I awoke to find an unusual purple bag sitting on my door stop. Further investigation revealed more questions than it answered, as within the bag was a box tied with purple ribbon marked “Joyville”. Opening the box revealed a chocolate ticket to ride on the Joyville Express – the (delicious) ticket read “Joy is approaching. The Joyville train is coming to deliver joy to hundreds of unsuspecting Sydney travellers. You are one of the lucky few who have been invited to be part of this mysterious and secret event. Thank you for agreeing to help us spread the joy! This is your official yummy edible invitation from Joyville. We look forward to seeing you on Thursday June 28. Psst, please keep the details a secret, we don’t want to ruin the surprise”.
Well! Didn’t I feel just like a certain child in a certain movie who had just won a golden ticket? Of course, it was all very mysterious (especially when said ticket magically disappeared, almost as if someone ate it…)
Thankfully, the Joyville team sent me an e-mail (I checked, it was not made out of chocolate) with some specific instructions as to where the Joyville train would appear, although I had to keep the details top secret to avoid spoiling the surprise for Sydney!
The next morning, I arrived into Sydney for my first glimpse of the Joyville train, which was shortly before it departed Central for the first trip of the day – I wandered up platform one at Central Station just in time to catch a very loud departure! Waiting for the train to return to Central, I ventured up to the Queen Victoria Building for a giant breakfast of bacon, eggs, sausage, mushroom, tomato and toast – figuring that if I was going to spend the rest of the day around chocolate, I’d need to prepare myself!
I returned to Central in time to see the return of the Joyville train, and watch the locomotive run around to the front of the carriages. The platform was crowded with passengers drawn by the sight and sound of steam, mingling with film crews and the Joyville workers, who were kept busy handing out delicious chocolate to anyone with a free hand! In the background, a three-piece band could be heard playing – when the musicians were not being drowned out by the whistling of the Joyville engine.
I showed my ticket, and before I knew it I was whisked aboard this mysterious train for the ride of a lifetime! With a lot of whistling, the Joyville express departed Central, bound for the next stop – Redfern. As soon as we stopped at the station, the Joyville workers descended from the train to spread joy to unsuspecting passengers. One passenger even jumped up and started dancing to the music of the band! While we were on the platform at Redfern, a train pulled in to the platform alongside us, giving the alighting passengers the shock of their lives! University students heading for the nearby campus had their grey winter day turned upside down when confronted with enough chocolate to make the prospect of sitting through another lecture the last thing in their minds! The snorting locomotive brought joy to a group of primary school children alighting from the train for an excursion, no doubt giving their teachers a brief moment of piece. All too soon though, the whistle was sounded, the doors were closed, and we were off again, next stop Sydenham!
As the train pulled into Sydenham Station, passengers on all six platforms stopped what they were doing and gaped in amazement. The Joyville workers once again made their way through the crowd, spreading joy and chocolate alike. Passengers on other platforms quickly moved over the footbridge to be part of the action – as suddenly as we had arrived, we were off again, leaving the assembled crowd to wonder – had really happened, or was it just a wonderful dream?
All too soon it seemed we were steaming back into Central, and the journey was over. Back onto the platform, the Joyville workers were once again in action, dancing and weaving their way through the crowd. The band was playing again, and everyone was smiling. Eventually, it was once again time for the train to depart Central. With a friendly final whistle, the Joyville express steamed out of Central, and off into the distance.
The chocolate might not last long, but the memories will last a lifetime!
Special thanks to Tessa and Tony from Royce for their generous and friendly hospitality, and thanks to Michael from Railpage Australia for giving me this once in a lifetime opportunity.