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This directory contains tourist railways from within Australia. For other countries, see under the appropriate country.
The Lithgow Zig Zig is a relic from the great expansion era of NSW Railways, driven by Thomas (?) Whitton, an early civil engineer of the NSW railways. It was built to get down the Blue Mountains escarpment on the western side, to allow access to the fertile western plains of NSW.
The Bellarine Peninsula Railway is based upon a dismantled branch line from Geelong to Queenscliff. The old line used 5'3" gauge, but the tourist line, which runs between Queenscliff (home base) and Drysdale, uses the 3'6" gauge.
This is one of the closest preserved railways to where I live, but I'm ashamed to say, I have not visited them. Craig Walton wrote to me to invite me to a festival weekend, but unfortunately, I was out of town at the time! But Craig took a few excellent pictures of the occasion, and I've put some of them up on this page. Hopefully, I might be able to add a few of my own soon.
Puffing Billy (not his real name) must be the most well known steam railway in Australia. Distinguished by being the first railway preservation effort in Australia, the railway has grown from humble volunteer beginnings in the late 1950s to become a fully operational and professional railway system. Although it still relies heavily upon volunteer labour, there is a dedicated professional staff of about 30 full time employees who oversee the daily running (except Christmas Day), including trains that now run all the way to the recently (Oct 1998) restored terminus at Gembrook.
The Belgrave to Gembrook line is the sole (original) survivor of a number of narrow-gauge (762mm or 2ft6in) built by the Victorian Railways from the 1890s as "pioneering" branch lines. The narrow gauge lines were Wangaratta to Whitfield (1899), Upper Ferntree Gully (UFTG) to Gembrook (1900), Colac to Beech Forest/Crowes (1902/1911), and Moe to Walhalla (1910). The latter line has been relaid from Thompson River to Walhalla, and the line was opened by the Victorian Premier Steve Bracks in March 2002. Trains operate every Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and all of January. The website is at Walhalla Goldfields Railway .
The lines were all closed in the 1950s, except Colac to Crowes, which hung on until 1962. The UFTG-Gembrook line was closed in 1952 by a landslide at Selby, and for a while, some excursion trains were run between UFTG and Belgrave until that section was closed for gauge broadening and electrification in 1958.
A group of enthusiasts worked hard to reopen the line, and in 1962, permission was obtained to run from Belgrave to Menzies Creek, rerouting around the landslide with the aid of some sharp curves and army assistance. Since then, the line has been gradually reopened to Emerald (1971?), Lakeside (1978?) and recently, Gembrook (1998).
During a period while I was a volunteer at the Emerald Carshops, I occasionally took my camera along to capture some steam action going past. Many of these photos come from around Emerald, but there are a few others.
Bill Russell has a series of pages on the Victorian Government Narrow Gauge Railways that gives additional information on Puffing Billy and related railways systems in Victoria.
The Victorian Goldfields Railway has restored the old Castlemaine-Maldon VR line, and is currently running trains over the Maldon half of the line to a siding at Muckleford. They are working hard to run trains all the way into Castlemaine, but are being held up by protracted negotiations with the relevant authorities.
I first met the Pichi Richi Railway well before I started taking railway photos in earnest. Indeed, I might almost say that the Pichi Richi Railway started all this! It was when I first started going out with my not-yet-wife, and we did a camping trip up to the Flinders Ranges with a bunch of friends. We camped near the Saltia Bridge, in the creek bed (very much a no-no, for those of you who know their camping rules!), and explored the adjacent railway line. Its derelict status made an impression on me, to the extent that I started researching the current status of railways in Australia, and made contact with the Australian Railways Historical Society, and ... well, the rest is another story, but when I saw through those connections that a fledgling Pichi Richi Railway Society was being formed to restore that line, I joined up.
At Easter 2003, my wife and I made a return journey to the Flinders - some 35 years after that camping trip, and 30 years after joining the society - and travelled on the PRR. We spent a day with the railway, seeing the brand new W22 in service, and caught W933 leaving Quorn a few days later. We must make a point of returning sooner than 35 years ...
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