Travelling with kids is always an adventure whether it is a long haul trip overseas or just a short stroll from home. With a third day added to our weekend thanks to the Queen’s Birthday holiday we decided to take advantage of our Sunday and head south of Sydney for the day.
Many years ago I spent a few months in Buxton, NSW and remembered a little train museum that ran steam train rides on the weekend. With not much planning (you will note from my post “When Spontaneity Strikes: An Impromptu Trip To the Gold Coast” that I am not always one to put dates in my calendar) we decided to fly by the seat of our pants and drive in the general direct that my memory thought the museum was located. Oh my – we were blessed with a thrilling day as a consequence.
Train Works Thirlmere – www.trainworks.com.au is around 90km southwest of Sydney. It was established back in 1975 and has become home to a plethora of rolling stock items (over 100) and a mass of significant rail heritage items. Since 2008 major renovations and contraction have occurred on the site. I found it completely unrecognisable. The roundhouse was opened in 2009 and provides a workshop for the maintenance, restoration and ongoing management of the Government’s heritage rolling stock. The museum is a trainspotters wonderland. It has been designed with inspiration drawn from a grand platform layout and will intrigue both you and your children every few steps. It is incredible.
Each Sunday the site offers steam train rides from Thirlmere to Buxton and back again. They run about 4-5 times a day providing lots of opportunity to sit back in a heritage wooden carriage and enjoy the chop chop chugga chugga movement of the train. We were worried that we would not get window seats, but there were plenty to find. What a day!
The Mail Carriage was fascinating giving us an opportunity to see how mail was dispatched between towns not so long ago. Of course the kidlets had lots of questions about this: how did they know which box to put the mail? What did they use the stamps for? Did they sort as the train was moving? Maybe an excursion to a heritage post office needs to find its way on to our bucket list?
The train gallery is like no other we have visited previously. We lost count of the number of engines and carriages we were able to touch and explore. They were magnificent and a beauty to behold. The carriages were quite interesting to walk on. The examples in the museum include the carriages that were purpose built for Queen Elisabeth II tour. We also explored sleepers, dining carts and even a teaching carriage.
Train Works is open 7 days a week and costs $87.00 for a museum/train ride combo. Please note that the trains don’t run every day, so check before hand.