Over the course of three days recently, I managed to record two very different push-pull workings. One, a heritage steam locomotive and diesel pairing on a tour of the Sydney metropolitan area, the other, a test of some of the most modern horsepower in the state! Both trains had one thing in common, they covered some pretty hilly terrain!
5917 was recently restored by a dedicated group of hard-working folks at the Lachlan Valley Railway depot at Cowra. Running it’s first trail under it’s own steam in August 2007, the privately owned locomotive has been run on various tours in 2008 (in tandem with the LVR’s own 3237).
Earlier this month, 5917 snuck into Sydney, and is currently residing in the Large Erecting Shed, at Eveleigh (Redfern). The home of 3830, and once home to 3801, Eveleigh is the base of operations for 3801ltd. 5917 is on lease to 3801ltd, and is to be used on four Cockatoo Run trains before the end of the year (obviously subject to weather conditions).
According to the 3801ltd Website, 5917 is scheduled to run on Sunday the 30th of November, Sunday the 7th of December, Thursday the 11th of December and Sunday the 14th of December (pending a total fire ban being in place). This is an excellent chance to combine the great trip up The Illawarra Escarpment with a day out behind a steam locomotive that has not been seen in Sydney since it’s most recent restoration to running condition!
With the end of the lease of 3801, The Cockatoo Run has been without steam power for some time now. First 3830, and now 5917 – steam returns to 3801ltd and The Cockatoo Run, and it’s a very exciting time for everyone involved! I know the author will be doing his best to get out and ride behind the loco, and perhaps even chase the train as well. Of course, running a steam locomotive is not cheap, so if those of you out there DO elect to chase the train, it wouldn’t hurt to make a donation to 3801ltd to help cover the costs of the running of the train, for without donations, there would be no steam to photograph!
Photos from this article are from Lachlan Valley Railways June Long Weekend shuttles between Harden and Cootamundra.
Please note that, despite the recent flood of 3801ltd articles, the author is not directly affiliated with 3801ltd, and does not presume to speak for the organisation at any time.
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!
The Cockatoo Run (and more recently, The Illawarra Tree Top Flyer Train) is a heritage train run by 3801ltd most Sundays, and even Wednesday/Thursday during the week. The train runs from Sydney Terminal, down the Illawarra line to Unanderra before turning to go up the mountain to Robertson and on to Moss Vale. Normally regarded as a spectacular journey up the mountain, in recent years the train has been soley hauled by 3801ltd’s fleet of diesel locomotives (most often being lead by 4918, although 4501, 4833 and 4473 have also made appearances over the various days of operation).
In special celebration of the “Springtime in Roberston” fair on Sunday October 5, 3801ltd and The Powerhouse Museum (PHM) have arranged for The Cockatoo Run to be hauled by The PHM’s own C38 Class locomotive, 3830. With 3801 still under repair at The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum (NSWRTM, Thirlmere), this is a unique opportunity to travel behind a 38 Class locomotive on a tour. Certainly an opportunity not to be missed!
As well as enjoying an excellent day out behind a magnificent locomotive, passengers are also treated to the excellent hospitality of 3801ltd staff, who do everything in their power to make every tour enjoyable, and to make sure the passengers are having a great day out. Visit the on-board buffet for anything from a snack to a light lunch, as well as visiting the on train souvenir shop to pick up a special reminder of your day out.
In addition to the thrill of the steam hauled ride up the mountain, upon arrival at Robertson, passengers have plenty of time to enjoy the sights and sounds of both The Robertson Spring Festival, there is also the heritage listed railway station, as well as nearby displays at the Fettler’s Shed Gallery and the Miniature Art Gallery.
To find out more about 3830 on The Cockatoo Run, visit the 3801ltd Website (located in the sidebar), and specifically the Cockatoo Run Website (links open in a new window/tab):
As a final note, those wishing to chase this unique event to get photos of the train, I would encourage you to make a donation to 3801ltd to help cover the costs associated with this tour – I’m sure many folks out there involved in preservation will understand when I say that a lot of work has been done by 3801ltd to get this tour going, and to provide an enjoyable day out for all involved (be they onboard, or trackside).