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     A Look Back at Enthusiast News from our website in 2010

                   To look at other years click on the dates above

[IMAGE] SHR obtains two more RedHen railcars and another 500 class DE loco

Mechanical Services Manager, Craig Dunstan, confirmed in early October the addition of an additional 500 class DE loco to our fleet, to become a sister to loco 507 (pictured here at Goolwa station).

After a successful application for the loco to be gifted to SteamRanger, freight operator ARG have kindly agreed to gift DE527 to us. The loco is currently in WA on standard gauge and will be transferred to Adelaide sometime in the coming weeks at no cost to SteamRanger and be stabled at Islington in the immediate future. It will then be the responsibility of SteamRanger to freight the loco to Strathalbyn or Goolwa Depot where it can be off loaded. Currently we have a spare set of 500 class bogies on broad gauge that require some work before they can be used. From what we are told 527 has not been run for about a year but was in good running order the last time it ran. Apparently the loco is mostly complete however not all details are known at this stage.

SHR President Ben Greeneklee previously announced that the Society had purchased two RedHen railcars and spare parts from now defunct SA heritage railway operators.

  • Car 424 from the Limestone Coast group in the South East will be used as an operational car. It is currently at Mt Gambier and after delivery to Mt Barker it will require a significant effort to ensure its operational reliability and meet rail safety accreditation.

  • Car 435 from Yorke Peninsula Rail will be loaned to the operators of the Station Master's Art Gallery at Strathalbyn station in order to provide them with additional space for display and classes. SHR will salvage usable mechanical parts before the carriage is placed in the siding behind the platform adjacent to the Gallery rooms. The gallery will be responsible for upkeep and insurance costs.

We don't have a recent photo of our new acquisitions, but here's Peter Michalak's photo
of their sister Car 412 at Goolwa on Good Friday with a Cockle Train consist

      New Marketing Website on the airwaves

Some time ago we announced that we had appointed Peter Michalak as a new webmaster to create a "new look" marketing website aimed at our potential passengers and which will complement this site, our "enthusiast" website, which will remain on line under the guidance of Bob Green, but directed towards a different audience.

This enthusiast site will in future be reached by clicking on Enthusiast Pages on the left of the marketing site's home page or simply by going directly to www.steamranger.org.au/enthusiast.

Well, Peter has been beavering away for several months and has now put it up "live" on the internet. We think he has done an excellent job in projecting a new image to the public.

The new site is accessed as at present, by just typing "www.steamranger.org.au". Here's a snapshot of part of Peter's front page.

Bob Johnston

Older members will be saddened to hear of the recent passing away at the age of 92 years of
Bob Johnston, long serving SA Railways employee and supporter of SteamRanger.

During his long railway career, Bob, father of SHR mechanical services volunteer Ian, served as an SAR StationMaster at a range of stations, particularly in country areas, and retired in the early 1980s as SM in the Dry Creek area at the time the ARHS was building its first depot in that area.

Once we took over regular train operations on the Victor Harbor branch, Bob enthusiastically volunteered as an SM at Victor Harbor and played a major part in training our early team of volunteers in railway procedures.

In his retirement Bob and his late wife Iris were welcomed as regular visitors to our south coast stations.

A number of senior SHR volunteers attended Bob's funeral. Our condolances to his family.

Ross Houston - another of SteamRanger's early members passes away

Members and colleagues will be saddened to hear of the passing of another of SHR's very earliest volunteers, Ross Houston, on the 4th September, ironically just as he was leaving Elizabeth Oval after seeing his beloved Bulldogs confirmed as SANFL minor premiers.

Ross, shown here standing proudly in uniform in front of a marketing display at Victor station with his wife Doreen, was one of the team who joined us at our old Dry Creek Depot in the 1980s. Both Ross and Doreen were inaugural recipients of our Gold Certificate of Appreciation for services to SHR in 2003.

A Victorian, coming from a family with rail connections, Ross worked his way up through the telecommunications and electronic engineering trades both in Australia and the UK, where he met Doreen. Always prepared to speak his mind when needed and with a ready wit, Ross enthusiastically worked in a range of SHR areas, especially after his early retirement as a technical planner with the Department of Defence at Salisbury - with catering, track work, on trains and as a stationmaster, ticket seller and train guard.

A large group of long standing SHR volunteers attended Ross' funeral where a number of family members gave an insight into his life and interests. We were left with a picture of a man who was prepared to tackle almost any practical task with initiative, enthusiasm and skill. For example SHR's promotional signs which we place in the street each running day were designed, manufactured and donated by Ross and we will remember him each day that we run trains. Previous ARHS President, Malcolm Thompson, spoke briefly on Ross' contributions to the Society.

Our thoughts are with Doreen and his family.

October Holiday Cockle Train Services

Daily Holiday Cockle trains over 15 days in late September and early October were operated predominantly with DE507, Brill Railcar 60 and single or two-coupled RedHen railcars depending upon anticipated passenger loadings and crew availability. DE507 headed consists were used on busy days with up to three wooden "Centenary" passenger cars. A number of prebooked groups on various days resulted in encouraging passenger numbers.

On Sunday October 3rd the 12.15pm Goolwa to Victor service combined with the Southern Encounter from Mt Barker to form a six car consist - three wooden cars at the front followed by three steel cars from Mt Barker at the rear. This was the longest consist operated between Goolwa and Victor for several months, with many Southern Encounter passengers rebooking from September services affected by the derailment reported above. Kevin Marzahn was a member of the loco crew on the day and has provided this photo.

The following day, the Monday of a long weekend , was also a busy day with the Strathlink service from Victor and Goolwa to Strathlabyn being operated by Brill 60 and featuring an extended stopover at Strath to allow passengers to visit the local show.

      Friends of "Oscar W" establish display on Goolwa Wharf

The historic paddleboat Oscar W is a major tourist attraction operating from Goolwa Wharf only metres from our Goolwa station.

Part of the historic wharf shed, where the Oscar is moored, has, with Council support, been transformed by the Friends of the PS Oscar W into the Goolwa Riverboat Centre: The Home of the PS Oscar "W".

The photos below capture the official opening by the Mayor of Alexandrina Council during the 102nd birthday weekend in early October 2010 and views of the displays in the shed, captured by SHR loco crewman Kevin Marzahn.

Entry is free with plenty of things to see for the visitors. It also contains a booking office for the Oscar and hopefully will be open in the near future 7 days per week from 10am to 3pm.


At last so much of the hard work that has been put in by all involved over the past 3 1/2 years is now starting to take shape. With the recent introduction of a full time fitter back into the MB workshop, complemented by contributions of dedicated volunteers, Rx207 has moved ahead in leaps and bounds with work concentrating on the loco 5 to 6 days each week.

The tender wheels have been reunited with the bogie frames after complete rebuilding of the tender axles box bearings, bogie painting has been completed and bogies placed back under the tender

Craig Dunstan and Andrew Gramp have provided some photos showing commendable progress on both the pony truck and the tender bogies



  • Mt Barker based Track Gang     Robert Haebich's team commenced their annual burning off of the accumulated foliage heaps that exist between Mt. Barker & Strathalbyn. They have made good progress so far and have passed Philcox Hill heading for Strathalbyn. They also made their first run to Strathalbyn in a long time to prune back some trees that were bypassed by an earlier tree pruning train. As a side entertainment they counted a mob of 21 kangarooos just past Philcox Hill and on the same day saw their first Koala near Bugle Ranges

  • Middleton Bridge     Restoration work was performed at the Middleton Bridge during the April school holidays. One outstanding task has been the re-pointing of the stone abutments. The original pointing had been scoured away over many years.

  • Culvert rebuilding at Mt Barker     With a major development next to the railway line near Hurling Drive in Mt Barker there has been a need to install a new enlarged culvert under the line to take the storm water run-off from this housing development. Contractors were engaged to perform the track demolition and reconstruction.

  • Major Resleepering     Renewal of 700 sleepers and has seen our volunteers working four days a week in the Goolwa to MIdleton section. In the first week of June, ballast was dropped and our ballast regulator was put to good use pulling in the shoulders along the track to allow subsequent tamping.

  • Crossings     A new pedestrian crossing has been built at Dutton Rd in Mt Barker. In this instance the opportunity was found to replace all sleepers under the crossing with concrete to ensure longevity and minimise maintenance. The level crossings at Native Ave and Bonython Rd in the Mt Barker to Bugle Ranges section have been asphalted under funding obtained by the District Council of Mt Barker Black Spot programme.

  • Signals     Work is continuing to install crossing signals at Hurling Drive, Mt Barker. The required electrical equipment cabinmet has been received from the supplier and cabling is about to be installed. All site conduits and concrete bases have been installed. Routine maintenance continues on all our level crossings, shared between Transfield Services and SHR's signal group via an interface agreement. Extra maintenance and upgrades are usually performed by SHR with a major focus of recent times being the refurbishment of gongs. The first four of these have now been installed at crossings in Strathalbyn.

These photos show Steve Stratford repointing the Middleton bridge; Ray Green, Steve, Bill Lewis, Dylan Badenoch at work under the critical eye of Phil Neville; and our tamper hard at work in the Goolwa to Middleton section

      Trains back on the rails after unfortunate derailment

ABC News on Saturday evening August 28th alerted volunteers that a SteamRanger charter train incident had stranded wedding guests      Read it HERE

The report continued "A tourist train carrying wedding guests has derailed in the Adelaide Hills, leaving about 100 passengers stranded. Guests say the wedding party hired the SteamRanger train on a round trip from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn for the wedding ceremony. Passenger Jonathon Wright says no-one was injured when the train derailed in a paddock about 60 kilometres from its destination. "The wheels of the carriage have broken the sleepers," he said. "There's been rain and it's made the rails unstable and it's meant that one of the carriages has come off and caused it damage and left us at a standstill."

A complimentary letter from the father of the groom was subsequently received by SHR and, with his approval, can be downloaded HERE

Arrangements were made to collect the guests by bringing a RedHen railcar from Mt Barker to take them to their intended destination. The "lucky couple" were interviewed on Sonja Feldhoff's drive programme on ABC radio on the following Monday and described how they really appreciated being able to travel in the historic wooden panelled carriages, were well looked after by SHR volunteers and with the amply food and champers on board were able to continue to celebrate on-board until the RedHen arrived. They encouraged listeners to contribute donations to SHR to help get the service back on the track.

The carriages involved have now been removed back to our depot and inspected by our rail consultants and the track damage has been repaired. Pasengers on our Southern Encounter and Highlander services in early September were not operated whilst the infrastructure and rolling stock were fully inspected. All services recommenced from Sunday 19th September, with some passengers from cancelled trains choosing to transfer to later trains and other accepting a full fare refund.

A Press Release and Open Letter to Members, Staff, Volunteers and supporters has been issued by the ARHS President, Ben Greeneklee, and can be read HERE

[IMAGE] Welcome to our new Human Resources Manager - John Benford

We announced late last year that Andrew McDonough had called it a day as our Human Resources Manager. Many thanks Andrew for your contributions over many years. Andrew will be replaced by South Coast resident and new SHR volunteer John Benford .

John comes from a longstanding railway family in the UK. His father, grandfather and great grandfather all worked for the Great Western Railway out of Paddington Station. Being born on an estate set up for GWR workers, he comments that steam and railways are very much in his blood!

He recalls that his greatest railway thrill was in the early 70s when he was aiming to travel from Paddington to Reading. His neighbour was the driver so he joined him up-front on a Warship class diesel - "We nearly had strife close to Reading when traction was lost due to autumn leaves on the main line, but we got through".     Recently, visiting the NRM at York he recalls looking outside into the yard and seeing a very "flash" steam loco being fired up. Only next day did he learn that it was the first steam loco built in UK since heaven knows when.

John sounds like exactly the team member we need. In the immediate future, while he "learns the ropes" John will be assisted by Andrew in the areas of Rail Safety medicals and First Aid.

[IMAGE] And another new Team Member - Peter Michalak

Over recent years a succession of Marketing Managers have used various resources to manage our "Marketing" internet website, with a number of alternative designs being trialled.

These pages are squarely targetted at the general public who might be our potential train travellers and provide details on services, fares and timetables. They complement the "enthusiast" pages that you are now reading, which are compiled by Bob Green .

We have now been fortunate to be able to recruit IT specialist and enthusiastic railway photographer and railway modeller Peter Michalak to create and maintain an exciting "new look" design for the marketing pages. This should be up and running very soon.

Peter has a range of railway photos on his "flickr" pages on the internet and looks after various other web resources.

Use your browser BACK button to return to this page.

[IMAGE] Easter and April School Holiday Running

The Cockle Train was run daily from 1st to 18th April to cover Easter and the immediately following school holiday period. The normal three train service was expanded to add a late afternoon railcar trip with Brill 60 at Easter. The bulk of the work was done with DE507 hauling three or four passenger cars and Brill 60 railcar, due to the unavailability of any of our steam locos at the moment. Main line diesel electric loco 958 was featured at weekends and on some Wednesdays.

A special feature was the presence of our "Easter Bunny" on some trips on Easter Sunday. Although some days were well patronised passenger numbers overall were some 20% down on 2009 which reflected overall visitor numbers in the area to some extent.

A special Cockle Train trip was organised during the holidays for a tourism group of 62 from the Fleurieu for B&B operators and staff and volunteers from the Victor HArbor Tourist INformation Centre. Main Line diesel 958 headed the train which was filmed by a Japanese film crew.

This intensive running programme puts a heavy load on the small band of volunteers available at this time of the year and we sincerely thank them for breaking into their holiday plans to keep SHR running.

This very atmospheric photo of Brill 60 crossing the Alexandra Bridge on the outskirts of Victor Harbor towards the end of the holiday period was sent to us by Michael Stokes. Thanks Michael!

  • Fleurieu RailFest

    And on May 29th and 30th SteamRanger worked with various South Coast and other heritage groups to stage a Rail Festival at both our south coast stations during the statewide History Week. The detailed planning of our contribution was handled by south coast volunteers John Benford, Don Snow and Philip Neville, captured here with a sponsor's representative and Tourism Centre operator on Victor station

    There was a history display at Pt Elliot, at Goolwa visitors were able to view heritage vehicles, military vehicles, a traction engine, and a 25-pounder military field gun, and at Victor there were bands, buskers, barbershop quartets and arts and crafts. SHR trains featuring DE958, Brill60 and RedHen railcars operated between Victor, Goolwa, and Currency Creek on both days

    Unfortunately as Peter Michalak's photo of 958 heading across the plains with some impressive rainclouds as a backdrop shows, the weather was very much against us with a total of 23mm of rain falling over the two days and temperatures hovering around 15degsC.

    Only around 300 passengers in total travelled on the 12 scheduled return services between Goolwa and Victor with main line diesel DE958 and Brill railcar 60 and the 8 return trips from Goolwa to Currency Creek and return with a RedHen consist over the two days.

    Buffet car 602 was set up at Victor Harbor and SHR souvenirs were on sale at both stations with fairly minimal trading.


    [IMAGE] Autumn Marketing Activities

    Three major events were held in the autumn of 2010 to help promote our services and tell the general public that we are still "in business" even though our steam locos are still not available.

    • From Thursday 15th April to Sunday 18th we cooperated with other heritage rail operators to again stage the "State of Steam" promotion in Rundle Mall The display featured this "Bagnall" steam loco from Cobgogla and there was a free competition to win top class tickets to Darwin on the "Ghan" and lots of other promotional prizes.


      The above photo shows a general view of the displays under the Gawler Place - Rundle Mall canopy, with the SHR stand at the rear to the left of the loco. Staffing the display for three days required a roster of volunteers, neatly dressed in SHR uniforms and we were able to draw on a number of more senior people including Malcolm Thompson (left) and Bruce McLean (right)

    • Bluestone Jazz Trains - Saturday 22nd and Sunday 23rd May

      SteamRanger ran special Jazz Trains during the Mount Barker JAZZfest between the Mt Barker Railway Station and the picturesque Bugle Ranges. The one hour Railcar trip aboard the Bluestone Jazz Train will departed on both days at 1.00pm & 3.00pm with an extra morning trip at 11.00am on the Sunday. The service was operated with a typical suburban three car "RedHen" consist.

      Tickets were just $10 and children under five travelled free. The talented and popular Peter Hooper Trio provided jazz entertainment on the train. The Sunday train replaced the scheduled Bugle Ranger service on that day.

      Even though the weather, particularly on the Sunday, was very cold with drizzly rain the trains were well patronised with up to 150 passengers on some trains.

      [IMAGE] Certificates of Appreciation presented to 25 longserving volunteers

      At each Annual General Meeting of the AHRS (SA Division), SteamRanger's parent body certificates are presented to volunteers that have contributed to SHR over a sustained period or have contributed to a major Committee or project.

      On the 29th April 2010 President Ben Greeneklee presented gold certificates marking 16 years of service to Peter Barry, Trevor Clift, Wes Johnson, Jim Markey, Peter Wood and Graeme Strudwick (pictured) for their contributions to operations, mechanical services and infrastructure.

      Silver certificates signifying 8 years service were awarded to Craig Dunstan, John Gordon, Kate Greeneklee, Ted Mason and Pam Sullivan and four year certificates to Dylan Badenoch, Jarrod Barker, Mike Bruer, Angas Fox, Peter Harvey, Rosemary Kelly, Shirley Keynes, Keith King, Peter Lambert, Ron Norrell, Neville Pauly, Alan Potter, Sue Slade, and Steve Stratford.

      We sincerely thank all the recipients and hope to see them around for many more years!

          to see the full list of recipients since the award scheme was initiated in 2004.

      [IMAGE] Rx 224

      Essential as a strategic backup for our other steam locos, Rx224 has not been forgotten and rebuilding is beginning to advance lead by enthusiastic volunteer David Groves.

      A donation of laser cutting services from Williams Laser Cutting and Fabrication and space in the main workshop area at Plympton Steel has been provided to construct the tenders to supplement our own workshop resources. Click on the company names above to visit their websites.

      The plates, designed on a computer and then cut by one, fit together like a glove. The finish of the cuts are first class. David's design is loosely based on the new A1 tender design, recently commissioned in the UK (note their tender is speed rated at 90mph so should not be any problems with ours). The one piece longitudinal plates are slotted half way down from the top and the cross sections are slotted half way up from the bottom and the whole lot slots together like a card house except somewhat heavier. Stitch welding will then hold the structure together.

      Tender construction is continuing at an extremely pleasing pace with input from experienced volunteer Peter Brown and additional assistance from some of Dave's work colleagues. The giant meccano set design permits assembly with ease, apart from the weight.

      The base, internal structure of baffles, both sides and rear corners are all in place. Four qualified welders are currently performing the large task of completely welding the entire base plate to the side plates to form a water tight seal and both side plates to the internal baffle structure. All sides, front and back plates are now in place along with the coal shoot plate and coal drift plate. The top coal plate and water filler top plate has been installed after the completion of internal welding.

      These photos provided by the mech services team illustrate the sequential build up of the tender


      New storage compartments in the tender front bulk head either side of the coal chute
      will replace existing shelves in crew space.

      On other fronts, the four new driving wheel axle box horn blocks are being machined by Dinki Di engineering and hopefully are not too far from completion. It is planned to send all driving and pony wheels for machining in conjunction with machining of 207's wheels.

      Latest Update

      224's Tender Rebuild reached a significant milestone on Saturday 30th May!

      The completed tender built at the premises and with the generous provision of facilities of Plympton Steel was delivered by them to Mt Barker Depot - all 7 tonnes of it! . The tender has taken some 150 hours to assemble which has been a tremendous effort by volunteers.

      The structural design of the tender was carried out by David Groves with the aim of maintaining its heritage appearance. Influenced by earlier concepts from Bob Sexton, Ian Johnston and Ron Williams, David took the overall project lead and devoted many hours to the finally implemented design with assistance from a friend who helped him plan out the design details using modern CAD techniques.

      When all the metal cutting was completed the resulting hardware components dropped exactly into place and fitted like a glove, aided by valuable assistance from Peter Brown. The materials for the tank were funded by a donation from Mitsubishi arranged some time ago by Dave. Work now commences to build a similar tender for Rx207.

      Mechanical Services Manager, Craig Dunstan has provided a bit of an insight as to how the arrival of the tender all happened

      • Everything went to plan and with very little fuss thanks to the kindness of Plympton Steel for providing the freighting and Fleurieu Cranes for the lifting . Oddly enough when David Groves redesigned the structure aided by a friend on C.A.D. using the material weights provided during supply, the weight was estimated at 5,600kgs. Much to the surprise of the crane driver during loading, the crane struggled to lift the tender and required some gentle assistance by a fork lift. At that stage the crane company was contacted and asked to provide a larger crane for the off loading. Upon off loading the tender weighed in at 7,000kgs on the knocker. Needless to say the photo's tell the story that the second crane made light work of it and in no time at all had it on the flat car, sharing some space with Rx207's tyres.

      • It was great to see Bob Sexton up and about on the road to recovery and able to come along and view the tender tank. Thanks to Bob, Ian Johnston and Ron Williams from past years discussions, proposing a bolt tank for Rx224. With this concept David managed to metamorphosise the design into the structure it has finally become with construction assisted by Peter Brown.

      • We look forward to the arrival of its sister tank in the not too distant future.
      And here a few of Craig's photos of the delivery


      Updated 30th May 2009


      Regular volunteers may be aware that our long serving carpenter, carriage builder and inspector Fred Valstar has decided to call it a day. In recent years Fred has had a number of health worries and has reluctantly decided to retire from SHR and pursue personal interests.

      SHR management and volunteers sincerely thank Fred for his efforts over a considerable period dating back to our time at Dry Creek Depot - 17 years in all!.

      Our heritage fleet of carriages, especially the wooden bodied ones, owe their ‘new lives' to his skill and diligence. Due to Fred's expertise and commitment we are confident that these carriages will now operate on our trains well into the future. We wish Fred a long and healthy retirement and will find it very difficult to replace him.

      Ian Johnston and Bob Green who both worked with Fred from the 1990's recall below some of the highlights of Fred's work with us, and have found some photos of Fred at work in a range of areas.

      "Fred came to SteamRanger May 1992 at the then Dry Creek depot as there was a pressing need to undertake major rebuilding work on car 61. This project ended up virtually a total rebuild except for the outer roof with almost all other timber components and outer cladding being replaced with new materials. Additionally at that time SteamRanger was implementing a program to strengthen Centenary Cars by including steel box frames in the end walls plus steel beams and plate steel in the underframes. Fred's expertise was a major contribution to this large task, the scale of which was a first for SteamRanger. Now some 14 years later, car 61 is still in very good condition being our most presentable car.

      When SteamRanger moved to Mt Barker in 1996, Fred set up his carriage shop in one large corner of the new depot and a number of carriages including 60, 66 and 71 went into that corner then came out some months later after major repair work. Additionally car 70 underwent a rebuild although not quite on the same scale as car 61, but even then the following photo or car70 under restoration shows the extent of the rebuilding Fred tackled.

      At the time of Fred's retirement in January 2010, Cockle Train baggage car 82 was in the final stages of a similar rebuild and like all his carriage work, it is an excellent example of Fred's talents and expertise in carpentry and associated work.

      In between the major rebuild and repair tasks, Fred kept a watchful eye on all operational carriages which included exterior repainting of carriages, the mandatory accreditation car body inspections and day to day routine maintenance work. This would include anything from general repairs, fixing stuck windows and doors to recoating external roofs as well as installing wooden insulation batts on our steam locos.

      Fred took two years away from SteamRanger during 2000 to 2002 to pursue similar fields of work in house renovations. However even though he did not like travelling to Mt Barker from the city, his desire to continue his work on heritage carriages, including working with a good bunch of volunteers, was a win for SteamRanger. Fred enjoyed working with many long time carriage volunteers including Pat McMahon, Rex Hoppo, Brian Carter, Bob Green, Trevor Sasche and Keith King and he has expressed his appreciation to all volunteers for their friendship and assistance. In recalling his work with Fred on various Buffet car designs Bob particularly highighted Fred's willingness to always consult with volunteers with an open mind, leading to a mutually agreeable design or solution which met both SHR's operational needs and Fred's desire to end up with a high professional standard of carriage building and cabinet making. Win-win solutions!

      Fred was one of those chaps who was very approachable and willing to assist on any task, even if it meant disrupting his work at the time. This was odds on to happen on a Monday morning after a trip when reported minor carriage problems had to be attended to. Fred's thoroughness in his work ensured that all carriages were as safe and presentable as could be and once any part of a carriage became suspect, he had no hesitation of taking it out of traffic until the necessary repairs had been satisfactorily completed.

      Our Farewell

      Fred's departure was recognised with a sausage sizzle at Mt Barker on the 16th March, well attended by depot workers and other SHR volunteers that Fred had worked with. As is our custom, he was presented with a couple of mementos to recognise his work with us.

      Some of the assembled group

      A presentation from Fred's Mt Barker co-workers from Trevor Sachse

      Previous Loco Manager Ian Johnston hands over a memento from SteamRanger

      All of us who had any association with Fred wish him all the very best for a long and healthy retirement.
      No doubt this will include many card games with his partner Dawn and their friends.

      [IMAGE] Glimpses into our heritage now downloadable from this website

      Go to our archives page and see how you can find out more about the activities of the ARHS (SA Division) over the last 50 years and the history of our preserved branchline over the last century. The archives page can be found from a link on our main enthusiast home page.

      You can download the full text of 100 or so carefully chosen articles from our enthusiast newsletters and magazines from over the years and in the future you will be able to also access links to a wide range of historic images of the VH line held by the State Library of SA and look at some of the tour brochures of our train tours over the last 40 years.

      [IMAGE] Station Posters explain lack of Steam

      To better explain the situation to our passengers at Goolwa and Victor we have produced the two illustrated posters below giving some insight into the situation. These are prominently displayed at both stations. If you would like to view these posters full screen size or download them just click on the preview images below. Use your browser BACK button to return to this page.


      [IMAGE] Another one of SteamRanger's pioneers passes away

      Long time SteamRanger volunteer Jack Forbes passed away on Monday 24th May. His funeral service was attended by a number of SteamRanger volunteers.

      Jack joined the SteamRanger team in the early 1980's when the Society commenced regular services to Victor Harbor. Working with other stalwarts such as Rod and Ruth Drew and Jack Curry he was a key member of the carriage cleaning team once the ARHS took over responsibility for a significant fleet of carriages based at our new Dry Creek Depot. On train, Jack worked as a carriage attendant and always looked dapper in his uniform and rode many a mile on SteamRanger tours around the State.

      When volunteers took responsibility for Safeworking roles such as guards and station masters on the Victor line Jack quickly put up his hand to qualify as a Station Master and was a member of the very first group to spend many cold nights at Dry Creek being tutored by experienced railway instructors. The historic photo below shows Jack, second from the right in the front row, with our first group of graduates. He obviously did well in this training since when Prince Charles and Lady Diana travelled from Victor to Goolwa with us in 1988 he was appointed as Assistant Station Master at Goolwa. We are sure he appreciated the honour!

      Current ARHS President Ben Greeneklee describes Jack as "One of natures gentlemen ... softly spoken. ... always a welcoming smile ...especially to a young enthusiastic lad such as myself ... never forgotten".

      Vale Jack.

      And just for the record the other "originals" in the photo are (front row, L to R) Vic Kollosche, Dean Harvey, SAR instructor Keith Kraft, Brenton Job, Ian Johnston, Brian Busch,
      Jack and Trevor Blight.
      And at the back; Bob Green, Graham Crack, Peter Hoye, John Smythe,
      Ralph Lee, Peter Soar and Andrew Gramp.

      [IMAGE] Infrastructure

      • Victor Harbor Water Column

        The Victor Harbor loco yard contained for many years quite a number of items directly related to the operation of steam locomotives including a loco shed, pit, coal stage, water column and tower. These items were progressively demolished from the early 1960s.

        An opportunity has recently been found to 're-interpret' the old yard by reinstalling a non operative "American" style SAR 8" column water column to match one was upgraded in 1926 as part of the SAR Commissioner W.A. Webb's improvement works for big power locomotives. e reinstallation.

      • New Track Maintenance Plant We have secured a number of track maintenance plant items from TransAdelaide. This has included two tie cranes, two sleeper inserter/extractors and one rotary ballast scarifier. These machines were donated by the Department of Transport, Energy and Infrastructure and we thank their officers for facilitating this very kind gesture. A tie crane has been a plant item that SHR has wanted to acquire for many years, so it is very pleasing to now have one in our stock. These machines will require some minor work to make them useable, however once ready these items will enable an increased work production on the larger track projects.

      • Permanent Way

        With the recent acquisition of a tamper, major strengthening work is underway in the 118.9km to Middleton Station section. This involves the renewal of around 570 sleepers. When this work is complete, the track will be tamped with our Torsion Beam Tamper and the ballast regulated. Currently the group (pictured below) has inserted 175 sleepers.

      [IMAGE]Improving our community image at Mt Barker Depot

      The youngest member of our Loco Team is 17 year old Oliver Lukins (Ollie for short) who has been attending Mt Barker depot regularly since March 2004 - currently at 3 1/2 days per week. Since starting he has always been very keen to learn as much as possible about how locomotives work and the servicing and maintenance of them - so much so that he takes as many notes and books as he can lay his hands on, plus some loco parts, to study at home. Although not yet old enough for any Safeworking duties, he did attend the last Safeworking Course to start his training program early and have a better understanding of train operations. Because of his enthusiasm and commitment, Ollie has regularly travelled on locomotives in support of his overall training. This sort of attitude would be more of an exception with the current generation of kids.

      Even more exceptional is that Ollie asked if he could try and improve the outward appearance of the Mt Barker depot by planting suitable plants along the Dutton Rd fence line. One of our older volunteers in Trevor Sachse, a keen home gardener, was eager to support Ollie in this work and together they were successful in having 30 native plants donated by the Mt Barker Council. About another 30 additional plants have been supplied by Ollie and Trevor so that there is now a continuous line of plants from the main gate to the Dutton Rd level crossing. All they have to do now is grow a bit!

      Each planting involved using a large diameter post hole digger to remove at least 300 mm in depth of the predominantly clay soil and replace this with top quality loam. Plants vary from low shrubs to agapanthus and ground covers. All have been planted and are being watered regularly by Ollie. It is a credit to Ollie for his initiative and many thanks go to him and to Trevor for his assistance and for passing on his "Greenfingers" knowledge to Ollie

      [IMAGE] Christmas and New Year Cockle Train Running

      SHR commenced its intensive holiday running of the Cockle Train in mid December, and in spite of having seven non running days due to very hot weather, some days over 40degC , passenger numbers have held up fairly well, income being some $13,000 down on last year when we lost only one day due to hot weather. In the four busy days between Xmas and New Years day we carried around 350 round trip passengers per day and in the following weeks the equivalent figure was around 200 round trip passengers a day.

      The bulk of the work was done with DE507 hauling three or four passenger cars, due to the unavailability of any of our steam locos and also DE958. (see details further dowwn this page). Brill railcar 60 and our RedHen railcars assisted by running more lightly loaded services and towards the end of the day.

      Special features of the running were three days pre-Xmas when we ran daily with "Santa" onboard, running of an extra middle of the day roundtrip with a railcar from the 27th Dec to the 2nd Jan, and a late afternoon railcar roundtrip from the 27th Dec to the 9th Jan.

      In addition we ran a traditional 4 hour round trip between Victor and Strathalbyn on Sunday 3rd Jan, with Brill 60 running all but the first Victor to Goolwa sector.

      This intensive running programme puts a heavy load on the small band of volunteers available at this time of the year and we sincerely thank them for breaking into their holiday plans to keep SHR running.

      These photos, taken by enthusiastic rail photographer Peter Michalak on January 3rd,
      show DE507 running the regular Cockle Train, Brill 60 at Currency Creek on its journey to Strathalbyn, and at the end of the day attached unpowered to the rear of the CT consist heading back from Victor to Goolwa Depot.

      [IMAGE] Water levels fall and then rise again at Goolwa

      Readers may be aware of the serious fall in the water level in the lower Murray River system, particularly in the Lower Lakes area near the river mouth where the river level had fallen by several metres, making much of the river impossible to navigate and in danger of becoming very salty and severely affecting conservation, agriculture and local businesses, including tourism.

      In early Spring the State Goverment attempted to limit the immediate effects around Goolwa by constructing a barrage across the channel at Clayton, upstream of Goolwa, to isolate Lake Alexandrina from the lower River. Three large pumps were installed on the barrage to pump water from the lake into the area between the barrage and the locks across the river near the river mouth. This was opposed by many local concerned residents affected by the offsetting drop in lake level and increased salinity there. With the assistance of good spring flows in the Currency Creek and Finniss River which feed into this area, the move has however had the effect of raising the river level back to nearly normal levels at Goolwa Wharf.

      Before pumping commenced, visitors and passengers visiting our Goolwa station had been entertained by what one cynic suggested was an alternative attempt to find an alternative source of underground water as pictured below!.

      Not true! The dredging work on the riverbank opposite the station next to "Hector's jetty" was an Alexandrina Council initiative, whilst the water level was low, to construct a new public boat mooring facility, with 9000 cubic metres of dirt is being removed so that the mooring area will match the depth of the Goolwa channel. And it was just finished before rain and pumping raised the water level back again.

      And here's the result!

      When fully completed, the mooring facility will consist of floating pontoons allowing small recreational boats access to the Goolwa Wharf Precinct. There will be space for between 20 and 30 boats to be tied up. The cost of the first stage of the facility is $140,000 and Council Chief Executive, John Coombe, is quoted in the Victor Times as saying that "The development of this area will add value to functions and events held at the Goolwa Wharf including the Wooden Boat and Music Festival"

      And to complete the full story, our photo looking upstream towards the Hindmarsh Island bridge shows that by early December the river in this area was back up to near normal level, allowing excursion boats to operate again from Goolwa Wharf and the pumping at the Clayton Barrage was ceased. The photo shows the local volunteer restored and operated heritage paddlesteamer "Oscar W" which operates cruises in association with our trains.

      The long term future of the lower Murray is unclear and highly dependent on upstream water conservation initiatives. It is expected that the river level at Goolwa will gradually drop again over summer unless significant rain occurs.