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     A Look Back at Enthusiast News from our website in 2006

                   To look at other years click on the dates above

[IMAGE] Volunteers joining and leaving us

An important part of HR Manager Andrew McDonough's duties is coordinating the ongoing training and skill certification of all our qualified volunteers. This involves periodic health assessments, first aid training and maintenance of safeworking qualificaions. Quite a list of volunteers are in the throws of health assessments and renewing their Senior First Aid certificates.

On the safeworking front a number of long serving guards and station masters have retired in recent times and it is with great pleasure that we can now introduce ever smiling Goolwa volunteer Ray Green (left) as a fully qualified Cockle Train guard. Congratulations Ray! Incidently Ray is almost a full time SteamRanger worker at present, contributing in a major way to the track rehabilitation project right through the week.

And just to show that Managers do more than push paper we can report that Andrew McD himself is now a fully qualified Mt Barker to Victor guard. Congratulations Andrew!

And there are a number of newer volunteers who are about to commence basic safeworking training under the watchful eye of Brian Busch. These include people working in traffic, loco and infrastructure areas. We wish all the best to Bill Bebbington, Alan Potter, Steve Stratford, Andrew Dale and Marshall Flanagan.

On the less happy side, it is with great regret that we have to confirm the untimely passing on of two well known volunteers, both quite unexpectedly.

Ted Sawyer was admitted to hospital just a couple of months ago for treatment of a bowel cancer and unfortunately passed away on the 17th October. Ted was a long standing SteamRanger volunteer, most recently as a Guard, Station Master and willing hand in numerous areas, always ready to crack a joke and contribute his knowledge of railway operations to social gatherings.

He leaves his wife, Bev, also a key SteamRanger volunteer, our hardworking roster officer and one of the "voices of SteamRanger" on our 1300 telephone line.

We have passed on members' condolances to Bev and her family.
Our photographer caught Ted in his SM role at the 2005 'Steam Up" at Mt Barker.

Another volunteer. perhaps less well known to SteamRanger people was Anne Boucher who passed away suddenly on the 11th August. Both Anne and her husband Sid have been volunteers in on-train and station shop roles for many years.

Sid recently retired as President of the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide where he and Anne were more regular faces, particularly at open days and special events where she was colloqially known as the "Thomas Badge Lady" as a result of she and Sid (NRM photo left) producing thousands of children's button badges over the years.

Anne will be missed by both NRM and SteamRanger and our condolances go to her family.

[IMAGE] Busy day on the South Coast on November 19th

Sunday 19th November was planned to be a very busy day on the south coast when no less than three locos and railcars were scheduled be operate Cockle Train, Southern Encounter, and special Strathalbyn Races trains

          The day should have gone something like this

  • 8.00am  -   RedHen railcar RC428 heads off from Goolwa Depot to Victor, collects passengers from Victor heading to the Strathalbyn races and returns to Goolwa Depot.
  • 9.30am  -   Passengers from Victor join the SE carriages waiting on the main line and head off to Strathalbyn behind loco DE507 dropping passengers at the racecourse platform en route

  • 11.00   -   Southern Encounter passengers join their southbound train at Strathalbyn, which heads off to Goolwa Depot with race-bound passengers from the north being dropped at the racecourse.
  • 12.15pm  -   Steam Loco Rx207 takes over train loco duties at Goolwa Depot. DE507 stables at the Depot unless needed to doublehead to Victor.
  • 12.30pm   -   Rx207 with its SE passengers arrives at Goolwa Station to pick up Cockle Train passengers heading to Victor and then runs two return Cockle Train services

  • 4.00pm   -   Northbound SE passengers join the combined Cockle Train / Southern Encounter consist at Victor
  • 4.50pm   -   DE507 replaces Rx207 at Goolwa Depot and the train proceeds on to Strathalbyn, picking up any northbound race passengers at the racecourse.

  • 6.00pm   -   DE507 departs Strathalbyn, picking up home going race passengers en route to Goolwa Depot where passengers for Victor Harbor transfer to RC428, arriving there around 8.00pm
  • 8.00pm  -   Empty railcar RC428 heads home to Goolwa Depot. arriving around 8.30pm

But the gods were certainly not smiling on us!

Unfortunately Sunday 19th was declared a total fireban day late the previous afternoon
and as a consequence Rx207 could not operate and all trains listed for it
had to be operated with DE507 throughout.

[IMAGE] SteamUp 2006 a success

The traditional introduction to our steam services from Mt Barker was scheduled for Saturday 20th and Sunday 21st May. In the past this weekend has coincided with the Adelaide Cup long weekend, now transferred to earlier in the year, so we were interested to see how many attendees roll up.

SteamRanger's "SteamUp" was part of the Mount Barker Jazz and Heritage Festival, promoted as "Three days of Jazz, Wine, Heritage and Steamtrains" Jazz bands played on the mainstage at the heritage Auchendarroch venue and at other venues around the town on each day.

On the Saturday and Sunday SteamRanger operated steam trains to Mt Barker Junction for just $7.50 per passenger. With no run-around facilities at the Junction, the trains had steam loco Rx207 at one end of the heritage centenary car consist and DE507 at the other. Jazz groups played onboard each train.
(Photo right : Tom Marschall)

Around the station there was entertainment for children, food stalls, a display of vintage engines and machinery, and a sales outlet for SteamRanger souvenirs and memorabilia.

Our depot was open for inspection and attracted a steady stream of interested visitors.

- and lots of old friends came to join us. Retired SAR loco inspector Bill Hassam was snapped swapping stories with SteamRanger enginemen Peter Brown and Benton Job.

As expected, the day provided an excellent opportunity for enthusiasts to photograph our trains
Tom Marschall and Peter Michalak have sent us a selection some of which we have added to our photo album here.

[IMAGE] 2006 Winter Running Period has some new initiatives

The Marketing Committee has introduced exciting initiatives to "beef up" our 2006 program from Mt Barker, which traditionally has not moved into full gear now that the summer fireban season has ended.

The first Southern Encounter to Victor Harbor for the year ran on the 18th June with a full set of Centenary cars needed to cater for the number of passengers.

This year the service has a number of new features; a "holdup" by a group of "bushrangers" en-route to Strathalbyn and special vouchers given to all travellers entitling them to discounts on meals and atractions at Victor Harbor.

Unfortunately the full service has had to be re-arranged due to the July derailment but will continue to be part of a program to provide a real "experience" for our passengers.

Murder Mystery Trips
Using railcars from Mt Barker passengers help discover who is the villian! The outing includes a high quality country cooked off-train meal, with the twists and turns of deciding who-is-who guided by actors from a professional theatre group. An excellent outing for groups!

In June there were 94 passengers participating in a "gangster" type murder. Railcars 412 and 428 were used with passengers having a predinner drink at Mt Barker station and then travelling to Gemmels where the train was held up. Then back to Mt Barker for dinner.

Trains depart Mt Barker at 6.30pm., returning around 11.00pm and run once a month on a Saturday evening. The same theatre group are now also being used to stage a "Fawlty Towers" package in conjunction with the Sunday Highlander services.

[IMAGE] Mt Barker Station to host a Winery Cellar Door outlet.

SteamRanger and local wine company Gilberts Siding Vintners have joined forces to incorporate a cellar door outlet in the heritage listed Mt Barker station building.

John Gilbert told the local "Courier" newspaper that he hoped the venture would generate a "tourist hub" and boost SteamRanger's profile. He suggested that complementary cultural events could be staged, for instance film screenings or music, wine and dinner dance events. Seating and tables have been installed in the old ticket office area and on the platform and open fireplaces have been re-activated to keep patrons warm and by warding off Mt Barker's winter chills.

The cellar door will be officially opened very soon and will initially operate at weekends with food being provided from local offsite caterers. The outlet area will also be used to sell train tickets with the eventual intention being to run regular railcars to Mt Barker Junction station , which may also be restored in time.

[IMAGE] A Significant Achievement

The major overhaul program on baggage car 83 has been completed. Fred Valstar and Daryl Simon and many volunteers have worked on car 83 doggedly for many months to finalise a substantial refurbishment in record time.

Recommissioning of the car was a feature of SteamUp with a short speech being made by president Ben Greeneklee before services for the day began on the Saturday. He reiterated that the refurbishment was a credit to all involved. The car has now been transferred to Goolwa to replace car 82 on regular Cockle Train services. To allow bicycles to be carried, some seats have been temporarily removed, interim protective panelling installed to protect the interior woodwork and racks installed for six bikes.

Car 82 has returned to Mt Barker and stripping of panelling is already well advanced in preparation for a substantial rebuilding.

[IMAGE]Steam Train in Rundle Mall!

In early April SteamRanger joined with other heritage railway societies to stage a promotional display in Rundle Mall in the busiest part of Adelaide's CBD.

Volunteers from Pichi Richi Railway , the National Railway Museum and SteamRanger manned the display for three days from Thursday 6th April.

A key attention getter was NRM's narrow gauge loco Peronne (pictured) which was in light steam, allowing passers by to, in the words of NRM's General Manager Des Egan, "enjoy the sights and sounds of live steam" The timing fitted in well with the impending school holiday running of the Cockle Train, SteamRanger's Depot Open days on the 20th and 21st of May and the commencement of steam running from Mt Barker to the south coast in early June.

The promotion opening was hosted by media identity Keith Conlon with guest of honour the Tourism Minister, Hon. Jane Lomax Smith (pictured), who spoke in glowing terms of the role of the heritage railway groups. The public were invited to participate in a draw for two return tickets to Perth on the Indian Pacific.

[IMAGE] Another Sad Loss

Dean Smith

May's successful and enjoyable volunteers train was unfortunately followed by a tragic accident. Long time (now retired) volunteer, Dean Smith, died on his way home from Mt Barker after being a happy passenger on the train.

Dean started as a volunteer at Dry Creek in about the mid 1980s after retiring from DSTO. He was as a regular volunteer as you could get - come rain or shine and was one of those volunteers who was not fussy what he did, as long as he considered he was making a contribution.

And that he did over almost 20 years and his support at our depots has been sincerely appreciated. The distance of Mount Barker from his home with the associated drive through traffic, was the main reason he retired about two years ago. However he did like to keep in touch and visited Mt Barker every few months.

All volunteers will endorse our sincere condolences to his family.

[IMAGE] Volunteers qualify in SafeWorking Duties

As our pool of longserving volunteers reduces, it has become increasingly important that others are trained to take over their roles, particularly as loco crew and qualified traffic officers such as guards and stationmasters.

It is with some pleasure that we can announce that Ted Mason (left) recently qualified as a Cockle Train guard and that Don Snow and Ray Green are now fully qualified StationMasters.

Congratulations guys!

[IMAGE] Certificates of Appreciation awarded to long serving Volunteers

SteamRanger has a programme to recognise service by volunteers. The awards are in three categories; Gold, Silver and basic. A full list can be found at the end of our "Whos who" page.

At the April general meeting a gold award was presented to Infrastructure Services Manager, Troy Barker (right). Before being appointed to this position in 2005, Troy was a member of ARHS Council and Signals and Communications Manager.

Recipients of Silver Certificates for contributions to train operations were Andrew Barkell, Andrew Dale and Jim McCann

Readers may recall that members of the Greeneklee family have been working over a lengthy period to restore wooden goods brakevan GB4420. In recognition, Kate, Marta and Peter were presented with basic certificates.

Others to receive basic certificates were Anthony Colquhoun, Jim Fowles and Paul Quin for their track work, Sally Hawes (shops and souvenirs), and Ted Mason and Val Green (operations)

Final recipients were trainee loco enginemen John Gordon (R) and Craig Dunstan (L), captured (above) last year at Mt Barker studying hard for their fireman's qualifications.

Congratulations everyone!

[IMAGE] New Loco for SteamRanger?

Observant train watchers on Saturday June 17th would have noticed that SteamRanger now apparently has a new Rx loco "Rx50"

Not True! Rx50 is actually Rx207 in disguise and was chartered by a well known local rail enthusiast to celebrate his 50th birthday. The chartered train consisted of our classic tavern car 602 and a steel sitting car ran to Strathalbyn and return in the early evening.

Operation of chartered trains is an important part of our activities and lots of variations are possible. Click here to contact our Charter Coordinator to discuss your ideas.

[IMAGE] Infrastructure Manager loses historic gates!

Visitors to Victor Harbor station earlier in the year may have noticed that one of our historic road crossing gates at Coral Street was no longer in place. Had our new Infrastructure Manager misplaced it?

No, in fact it is good news! Thanks to the efforts of the Coral Street Railway Gates Preservation Group coordinated by well know rail enthusiast Lester McInerney, the eastern gate was being refurbished by Graham Potter of "Country Gates" at Myponga at no charge.

The gates are the last surviving hand operated gates in the state and have been a landmark in Victor Harbor since 1880. In 1998 they were dedicated to the late Rex Tilbrook who as President of the SAVRAIL group was a major player in the retention of the line as a heritage railway when it was threatened with closure and lifting in the 1970s and 80s.

The newly constructed gate has now been installed at Victor and represents just another aspect of our conservation of South Australia's railway heritage,

[IMAGE]And SteamRanger gains some more heritage carriages

Visitors to the historic wharf area near the lighthouse at Port Adelaide would have noticed two DWF type goods wagons converted to toilets, one former suburban center loader and one wooden bodied Red Hen Rail Car Baggage on a remnant of track alongside the main remaining goods shed - none in a state that could be described as "preserved heritage".

The local council has offered these to SteamRanger as a gift provided we removed them from the site, and we have confirmed our interest in the two passenger cars.

The baggage has potential for restoration and would enable us to add to our five existing cars to set up two (power car - baggage - power car) sets, whilst the center-loader could be rebuilt as an open plan observation carriage as is featured on a number of other tourist railways. Unfortunately some time ago we had to ban the very popular activity of riding on the open end deck of centenary cars due to safety concerns. To have a safe, yet open, observation carriage would enable us to restore this popular attraction.

Following discussion with council in regard to the likely $16,000 transport costs, we can now announce that they have agreed to fund the moving of the carriages, subject to us seeking a grant from the SA Government towards assisting the project to offset their grant.


Following finalisation of arrangements with the Council, the cars were transferred to Mt Barker on the 4th April. Our track "guru" Terry Garbett oversaw the loading and unloading, and Ian Johnston and team at Mt Barker had a set of bogies ready for one of the carriages to go on to. (One was sitting on a standard guage bogie set at Pt Adelaide.)

ARHS President Ben Greeneklee publically thanked the Council of Port Adelaide and Enfield who donated and paid for the transportation of the carriages to Mt Barker. Their generosity and foresight to assist SteamRanger to preserve these carriages is most welcome and is to be applauded.

[IMAGE] Board of Management Changes

It is with pleasure that we can announce that Mr Andrew McDonough has accepted an invitation to fill the long vacant position of Manager, Human Resources, initially on a acting basis.

Andrew is a qualified Guard and Station Master and until late 2003 held the position of Marketing Manager before reluctantly standing down due to external business commitments.

The Manager Human Resources is responsible for overseeing training, assessment and record keeping in regard to OHS&W, First Aid and Safe Working across the organisation, including those activities managed in detail by other managers. The manager is also responsible for oversight of recruitment and induction of volunteers and for volunteer and staff welfare and sucession planning.

Another change has resulted from our long serving Operations and Safety Manager, Brian Busch (left), requesting 12 months Leave of Absence. Many would know that Brian has a very time consuming position in the rail industry which involves extensive interstate travel.

In Brian's absence his duties will be split between Troy Barker (safety aspects) and our train controllers, Trevor Blight and Peter Blake, (operations aspects)

A consequence of these changes has been an insightful article in the most recent members newsletter in which president Ben Greeneklee discusses successioin planning issues and the need to involve more young volunteers.

[IMAGE] Summer Holiday Cockle Trains busy but less popular than in 2005

With steam loco Rx207 positioned at Goolwa Depot, volunteers ran our traditional three-return-trip-a-day schedule through late December and most of January, extended for the first two weeks with a late afternoon non-steam service using Brill RC60 or RedHen 412 on alternate days.

The service got off to a bad start with two total fireban days in the first week when the temperature was so high that even our diesel locos and railcars were also sidelined. Further hot weather affected running in late January.

Overall, trains have been reasonably well patronised, although not as busy as in 2004/5. Around 500 one-way passenger journeys were provided on better days. Each day of running has required about 12 people to front up on the south coast and we musn't forget our train controllers hiding away at the end of a phone line, our after-hours track inspection trolley riders, and the lady with the job no-one wants - Roster officer Bev Sawyer! We thank them all.

On the 9th January, Bob Green's camera caught the train pulling into Goolwa with engineman Brenton Job at the regulator.

[IMAGE] Commonwealth Games Baton travels on SteamRanger's Cockle Train

As part of its journey to Melbourne for the Commonwealth Games the Queens Baton is being carried by runners through all Australian States in February and March. The Baton arrived in Victor Harbor from Adelaide in the late afternoon on Sunday February 12th and headed on to Hahndorf on the following day.

An extensive entertainment program was staged on Sunday 12th at Victor commencing at noon in Warland Reserve. A number of choirs, bands and a bush poet entertained the crowds and in the evening the entertainment featured the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra. Full details here.

On Monday February 13th the baton was carried by runners to Pt Elliot where it joined a four car Cockle Train headed by steam loco Rx207 which departed at 9.30am to carry the baton on to Goolwa. Passengers on the train included local civic leaders and school children from Fleurieu region schools. From Goolwa it was carried to Hindmarsh Island and then through various towns to an evening function at Hahndorf.

Photos of the baton's progress are included on the   Games website   including an excellent shot of Rx207 driver Ian Johnston holding the baton. We hope he gave it back!

[IMAGE] SteamRanger's Duck nobbled!

During the track closure the Marketing Committee were busy organising our entry in the annual Strathalbyn Rotary club duck race on Sunday November 6th.

Committee members and their families took a very humble and rather dishevelled duck supplied by the organisers and spent hours and hours turning it into a racing thoroughbred. A new keel was laid onto the duck using "Plaster of Paris" and Balsa wood and a sailing rig was devised that would provide ernhanced directional stability. Countless hours of rigorous testing eventually proved SteamRanger had a winning formula!

There was quite a good collection of entrants (left), but the actual race started off rather disappointingly with our entry ending up on its side due to the weight of wet sails.

As the race progressed, the SteamRanger duck soldiered on and advanced to third place, but, as it rounded the bend under the Strathalbyn foot bridge the wind machine used to push the ducks along strayed of course and at the finish the SHR duck was left languishing in the reeds.

Oh well, there's always next year!

[IMAGE] Farewell to old Friends - 907 and 909 find a new home

When setting up the SteamRanger Heritage Railway, the ARHS intended to preserve in operational condition a range of locomotives representative of those used on the line over the previous 50 or so years. The 900 class DEs proved to have too heavy an axle loading for a line built to branch line standards and their use was soon discontinued to reduce track maintenance.

After being stored at Strathalbyn and Mt Barker Depot for many years locos 907 and 909 were sold some years ago to the Australian Locomotive and Railway Carriage Company at Tailem Bend who recently arranged to transfer their acquisitions from Strathalbyn by road. ALARC was formed in 1999 and is owned by well known ex Victorian Railways and West Coast career Railwaymen Bruce Roberts and Bob Butrims along with South Australian businessman Steven Moritz who is also well known in railway circles in South Australia.

The locos and bogies were separately loaded onto huge low loaders at Strath on August 5th and 6th. Due to restrictions on bridges at Callington and elsewhere en route to Tailem Bend , the loaders had to first go to Langhorne Creek then take Kangaroo Rd, a dirt road to Monarto, to join the freeway. Things came unstuck when the prime mover hauling the loader could not maintain traction on at least two steep hills on Kangaroo Rd necessitating attachment of a locally procured grader to the front of the prime mover.

The purchasers are a rollingstock provider specialising in the hire of Power vans, Crew cars and Passenger Carriages for use on the Standard gauge systems and intend to standardise the bogies on 909 and make the loco operational again. As 909 will not be compatible with any other main line locos around, it might then be offered to anyone who wants it as a shunt loco. A function of the company in the past has been the operation of passenger trains for the Tourist Industry and it is possible that 909 will be used to haul special passenger trains both in SA and Victoria.

Ian Johnston and Bob Sexton have contributed photos of the loading of 907 and its bogies at Strathalbyn (above)and departure of the load eastwards.

For more background information on the 900s you can click [IMAGE]