[IMAGE] "From the Footplate" - SteamRanger's Enthusiast Website    

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back

Look Back



     A Look Back at Enthusiast News from our website in 2013

                   To look at other years click on the dates above

  • Most welcome sleepers delivered

    In mid September Track Manager Ray Green was elated to received a truckload of 300 new A-grade Jarrah Sleepers from West Australia. Our photo shows them being unloaded at Strathalbyn. They will be used to upgrde the track between Strathalbyn and Goolwa Depot.

    They were donated to SHR by Dean Harvey (right), an inaugural ARHS member who joined us in 1951, and filled the roles of President and Operations Manager for many decades in the latter 1990s.

    With his renowned commitment, Dean insisted that they be the best quality sleepers available.

  • Valuable Heritage Grants received from Victor Council

    Grants totalling $8000 have been negotiated with the Victor Harbor Council to renovate the Victor turntable (painting, timber flooring replacement and upgrading of the electrical systems) and to upgrade the VH Barracks. These grants are most appreciated and our infrastructure volunteers are already tackling some of the work. Bill Lewis and Anne and Bill Simpson provided much of the effort.

  • Track Work in Progress

    Re-sleepering has been carried out between Strathalbyn and Goolwa Depot 13 sleepers were replaced in the areas where rails were loose. Between Goolwa Depot and Goolwa Station, 114 were replaced and 3 curves re-gauged. 61 were replaced between the Hindmarsh River bridge and Grantley Avenue Victor Harbor. 3 curves were re-gauged in that section.

    Station Environs
    Coral Street Railway Crossing has been repaired by Victor Harbor Council. SteamRanger paid half the cost. A new fence has been erected around the Turntable at Victor Harbor. This was was a training course for the North East Development Corporation. At the same time they also repaired the platform. The only costs to SteamRanger were the materials 25 empty drums were donated by Detmold . A big thanks to Ben Greeneklee for organising the donation of the drums.

    New Track for Track Equipment at Goolwa Depot
    Road 6 in Goolwa Depot has been started. The switches and some rail are in place. We are using the second hand switch timbers and the steel sleepers that were donated by DPTI Track volunteers have been up to Wallaroo twice in start dismantling the switches, 4 of which are now ready 10 be transported to Goolwa Depot.

    Wayne Bricknell, Richard Cook and Steve Stratford hard at work track laying

    Mt Barker and Strath Teams
    The Mount Barker Team have been busy removing fallen trees after the last big storm. They are just starting to get on top of it now with vegetation cleared in a number of areas. They have also started oiling rail joints. The Stralhalbyn Gang have been keeping the track clear of trees between Strathalbyn and Goolwa Depot. It is a credit to them they are keeping the yard and station area clear of rubbish. They also have been spraying the yard.

    The Regulator has had its motor replaced and we are waiting on Phil Neville to finish putting it together. The Gemco, the compressor, the switch tamper and the tractor tamper are all uperating normally. 4 Hydraulic Rail Jacks were purchased to replace the old ones that do not comply with QH&S regulations.

    And Steamranger now has a new Twin Cab Nissan Ute (above) which will be used to cart volunteers and equipment to work sites. Some new volunteers do not have a drivers license so the ute will come in handy.

    We did have a lot of rain at Finniss this month but fortunately no damage was done to our track this time. Lorraine Pomery of Port Elliot has received the Individual Minister's Award for Hertiage Heroes, in honor of her work to record and preserve her town's history and heritage. She has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the history and heritage of Port Elliot and has had a close association with SteamRanger since we took over responsibility for running trains through "her" Pt Elliot station.

    On Tuesday, May 21, she was awarded the Individual Minister's Award for Heritage Heroes and said it was the "shock of her life". The Heritage Heroes awards recognise groups and individuals for their outstanding contribution to conserving South Australian heritage.

    Mrs Pomery has lived in Port Elliot for the majority of her 87 years and her family history in the region dates back to the 19th Century.

    "My grandfather John Trigg was born in Port Elliot in 1861, and his family came here in 1853," she said. Mrs Pomery has been instrumental in recording Port Elliot's history and heritage through her authorship of books and photography.

    She joined the National Trust in about 1981, and has served as chair of the Port Elliot branch of the Trust for many years. In 1991 she became a member of then Port Elliot and Goolwa (now Alexandrina) Council's Heritage Advisory Committee. When the council resolved to protect the local heritage of the towns of Port Elliot, Goolwa and Middleton, Mrs Pomery took on the task of providing historical background research for potential local heritage places.

    Mrs Pomery said she feels very humbled to receive the award, but didn't set out for recognition. "Everything I have done, I have enjoyed," she said. "I have my own personal love for Port Elliot and have wanted to learn about early family in the town."

    Report and photo courtesy of Victor Harbor "Times"

    October School Holiday Services

    Daily Cockle Trains ran from Sunday 29th September to Sunday 13th October - three return trips a day between Goolwa and Victor. Most trains ran with steam loco "621" and three or four historic wooden passenger cars on each train.

    After running three Cockle Trains on Saturday October 5th, "621" made a quick early evening dash back to Mt Barker to operate the "Southern Encounter" to Victor and back on Sunday 6th October and then ran light engine back to Victor on the Monday morning to resume its Cockle Train duties. busy work for the loco crews!

    Passenger loads were usually encouraging with up to the equivalent of 560 one way adult passengers on some of the best days, particularly at weekends and on days when the weather favoured us.

    Ron Stewien - one of ARHS (SA) key leaders in its first 50 years passes away.

    Ron joined the ARHS (SA Division) at its first meeting in 1951 as a mere 19 year old, travelled with his family on a wide range of excursions across the State and for the next 50 years made incalculable engineering and organisational contributions to the Society and the consequent creation of the SteamRanger Heritage Railway.

    He joined the SAR at Islington Workshops whilst living only a stone's throw from the steam operated Semaphore line and gained an engineering cadetship in 1952 and graduated as a Civil Engineer in 1955. Later career moves included work on the south east gauge widening project, as an Assistant Superintendant at Peterborough, and as SAR Permanent Way Engineer before transferring to the STA when it took over the metropolitan railway network. He retired in 1989 and then worked as a consulting engineer until 2006. In latter years Ron was awarded the highly sought status of a Fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia.

    Ron authored or co-authored six ARHS books (including valuable insights into the 500, 600, 700 and 620 class locos) and in 1965 embarked upon a project to edit a 10 volume history of the SAR. At the time of his death three volumes had been completed and initiatives are being pursued to complete the task.

    Hundreds of colleagues and friends attended Ron's funeral on 21 August 2013. Both the National Railway Museum and the Institution of Engineers have published acknowledgements of Ron's career and can be viewed by clicking HERE

    [IMAGE] SteamRanger Volunteer recognised in 2013 Volunteers Week

    SHR Volunteer Don Snow (left)was the recipient of the recently announced 2013 Southern Fleurieu Volunteers Week award and we congratulate him.

    Don's award recognised 40 years as a Justice of the Peace in several locations before moving to Victor Harbor in 2004. He joined SHR as a volunteer in 2005 and currently contributes as a Station Master and Ticket Officer, as well as overseeing promotional activities in the Victor area.

    He represents SHR on a local Bashams Beach/Horeshoe Bay Council advisory committee, and in his third term as the tourist attractions / operators representative on the Council tourism committee. He also volunteers at local community radio station 90.1 FM.


    A train made of chocolate has set a new Guiness World Record. Displayed at Brussels South station it is 34m long and weighs 1250kg. It took the Maltese artist 700 hours to construct.
    Look here: www.zuzafun.com/the-longest-chocolate-train

    Wan't to keep in with the Greens?
    Well; go to Railton, the "topiary town" in Northern Tasmania!
    Front garden flora converted into all sorts of things

    Instructions on how to run a tourist railway?
    (Contributed by an enthusiast to an interstate railfan publication)
    "Weekly Notices should state - Before a passenger train departs from an originating station, the guard should confer with the engineman and exchange names. If for any reason there is a change of staff during the trip the guard and driver should ensure they have a clear understanding who is driver and who is the guard ("No Bert, I've got the flags so you must be the driver"!)

      Infrastructure Activities during April, May and June 2013

      During April/May all the switches were cleaned out in the Goolwa Depot, Goolwa Station and Victor Harbor Station. A sleeper was bolted to the track at Goolwa goods siding and opposite the horse drawn tram barn at Victor Harbor to stop any trains going too far. Re-sleepering has been carried out between Middleton and Victor Harbor, the Goolwa Triangle has also been re-sleepered and tamped.

      The Switch Tamper was moved from Finniss to Goolwa Depot and on the way tamping was carried out from Black Swamp to Victor Harbor. It was then returned to Goolwa Depot. Some re-sleepering was carried out in the Goolwa Yard Limit area. There were 4 fish plates replaced and new bolts fitted at the Goolwa end of the Coral Street Gates at Victor Harbor. New bolts were fitted in the fish plates at the station end of the rail gates.

      During May we had 2 vandalism incidents. Star Droppers were placed across the rail line which activated the Flashing Lights at Hutchinson Street Rail Crossing. At Strathalbyn the pillar box at the rail bridge was tipped over the embankment and rolled down towards the river and smashed on the bike track.

      During the month we had another donation from DPTI which was a mixture of Switch Timbers and Sleepers including Steel and Double Lipped Sleeper Plates.

      Our team leader for the Mount Barker Track Gang suffered a heart attack while he was holidaying in Queensland. As soon as he gets a clearance from the doctor he will be back driving the Section Cars.

      The Strathalbyn team has trimmed the vegetation between Strathalbyn and Goolwa Depot and continues to oil rail joints.

      Upgrade of Dutton Road crossing Mt Barker

      The first road crossing heading southwards from Mt Barker is at Dutton Road.

      In mid January SHR closed the line at this point to allow contractors to rebuild this crossing.

      SteamRanger's involvement was to remove the rail line to allow Contractor insertion of new concrete sleepers and subsequent reinstatement of the track.

      Train Movements - January to June 2013

      Wooden Boat Festival

      Over the weekend of the 24th and 25th February, SHR took part in the Wooden Boat Festival at Goolwa, where we were part of the overall team that makes this event so iconic. This year the guest of honour was Griff Rhys Jones, from the BBC's "Three Men In A Boat" series. He had a one-way trip to Victor on the Cockle Train, and was impressed both with our organisation and the scenery.

      Cockle Trains were run on both both Saturday and Sunday hauled by 621 with a late railcar in the mix. Alexandrina Council hired a carriage on the first train on Sunday for their guests.

      Alan Potter caught Griff with ARHS President Barrie Hawes.


      Easter Cockle Trains

      Cockle Trains were run over an extended period around Easter; each day from Wednesday 27th MArch to Wednesday 3rd April - quite a challenge for our operations and mechanical services volunteers.

      Good loadings were achieved during the period with the exception of some days outide the actual weekend days. Easter weekend had 621 back at the helm with railcars later in the day and for the four days a return slightly above that of 2012 - a good result considering that the Rundle Mall shops were open this year, dragging more and more people away.

      Passenger surveys were conducted over Easter which will enable us to optimally target our limited promotional budget.

      April School Holidays Cockle Trains

      No sooner had our volunteers recovered from Easter than we commenced 15 days of daily school holiday running.

      Loco 621 was planned to haul the train each day, and with the exception of a couple of days when it was sidelined to enable minor mechanical issues to be looked at, performed well, with four or five centenary carriages in the consist.

      Ticket sales approached $5000 on several days with over 2000 equivalent return adult tickets sold over the fortnight, comparable with 2012.

      Mt Barker Steam Festival

      On Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th May we opened our Mt Barker Depot to the public and operated steam hauled trains to Bugle Ranges and return with steam loco 621. Since there are no crossing or turning facilities at the now abandoned Bugle Ranges station site diesel loco 958 was attached at the northern end of the consist to haul each train back to Mt Barker.

      Nine five car trains in all were operated over the two days with seven fully loaded with enthusiastic passengers - some 2000 passengers in all!

      In the station there was a model train display, train model & hobby items for sale in the main ticket office. Barrie Hawes and Anne Simpson were busy selling SHR souvenirs and books on the platform verandah and and drinks and homemade cakes and snacks organised by Tania Kunze and her local volunteers were on sale from the station windows.

      In the grounds between the depot & the station there were engines displayed by various groups, a BBQ by Rotary, section car rides towards Mt Barker Junction from between the tracks and a jumping castle for the kids.


      In the depot area were historical story boards prepared by Tania Kunze and Peter Michalak, a walk through consist (including Buffet Car "Bowmans" with the saloon serving tea & coffee) and the main workshop area open to visitors.

      Click HERE to see the display boards

      On the Thursday prior to the event SHR hosted a private tour of Steamranger to tourism operators/delegates and local Tourist Information office volunteers as part of a tourism conference organised by the Mt Barker council, who provided very appreciated funding and facilities

      And the whole thing would not have been possible without the dedicated support of our volunteers.


      We caught mechanical services crew members Craig Dunstan & Peter Charlson, ticket sellers Sarah Michalek and Bev Sawyer, and souvenir seller and SHR President Barrie Hawes at their duties.

      "Hoot Jazz Festival' at Mt Barker - 8th, 9th and 10th June

      Special trains were arranged using a three car RedHen consist with Jazz Band on Board running from Mt Barker station southwards to Bugle Ranges

      Featured bans were the Atlantic Street Band - a traditional New Orleans style brass band - on the Saturday and Sunday and the Ready Set Jazz combo - banjo, saxaphone and clarinet - on the Monday.

      Tickets sold well, with the station carpark choc-a-block with cars and lots of customers for homemade cakes and other goodies prepared and sold by SteamRanger under the enthusiastic leadership of SHR Executive Assistant Tania.

      Life Membership Award to Trevor Blight

      At the January 2013 Executive meeting it was agreed that long serving volunteer Trevor Blight be awarded life membership of the Society.

      Trevor has been an active volunteer for some 45 years and has carried out most of the tasks that do not involve coal or hot water! He has been a Tour Organiser, Roster Officer, Train Manager, Guard, Station Master, Booking Officer, member of the Catering ..... the list goes on.

      At the moment, as a member of the SHR Operations Committee he is managing our advertising operations, and is carrying them out in his usual efficient manner.

      Congratulations to Trevor, and thanks to Gill, who has aided and abetted him over the years.

      Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival - A hot weekend!

      The biannual Goolwa Wooden Boat Festival was held around the Goolwa wharf, adjacent to SHR's station on the 23rd and 24th February.

      Visitors were able to get up close and personal with wooden river vessels, from elegant yachts to sleek classic speedboats. International guest GRIFF RHYS JONES officially opened the Festival on the Saturday, participated in the Rough and Ready Boat Building competition, participated in sailing races and screened `Three Men in a Boat` at Signal Point.

      To assist in bringing the crowds to Goolwa, SteamRanger provided four return Cockle Train journeys between Goolwa and Victor Harbor on both days using steam loco "621"
      (3 trains a day) and Brill railcar 60 (one return trip)

      With the temperature on site reaching 36 degrees on both days, which would normally have resulted in regular Cockle trains being cancelled, the volunteer crews with enginemen Brenton Job and Craig Dunstan pushed on with five car steam consists and very encouraging passenger loads were achieved.

      Lots of special maritime focussed displays were set up around the wharf and SHR's marketing team lead by Tania Kunze contributed with a railway display in the Goolwa station waiting room, the highlight being two gigantic steam loco driving wheels.

      These photos of the general wharf area and 621 with its heritage consist powering across from Victor
      were contributed by Peter Michalak.

      And to see the action on the water
      here's a clip from ABC News

      click HERE

      wait briefly while the file loads,

      and then click on the to start the video clip
      After watching the video click on the key at the
      top left of your screen to return to this page

      A few initial challenges with our busy Xmas and January school holiday services.!

        Daily Cockle Train services commenced on Wednesday December 19th using Brill 60 and RedHen railcars and operated through to Sunday the 23rd. Although it was not expected that big crowds of holiday makers would be settled in to the Victor - Goolwa area before Xmas Day schools were beginning to close and a number of school groups joined the services as a break-up activity - a valuable source of income for SHR!

      • Post Xmas trains commenced at a low key with Brill railcar 60 running three trains on Boxing Day whilst the Mechanical Services team readied steam loco 621 for its first steam outing on the following day.

      • But it was not to be true! Unfortunately one of the superheater elements (steam piping) in her boiler "failed" during the loco lightup the previous evening and the fire had to be extinguished and diesel 958 called into service to run the first train of the day with our second steam loco Rx207 being lit up to take over duty later in the day.

      • Returning 621 to service proved to be a more extended task than was foreseen as the element repairs were subsequntly followed by problems with the steam regulator and then a fireban on Wednesday January 2nd, followed by two days with the Victor Harbor temperature exceeding 35 degrees sidelining all steam operations. The loco finally returned to service mid day on Saturday January 5th with the intention of running daily until Sunday 13th.
        More details on our 621 "troubles" can be found on our Mechanical Services page HERE

      • DE 958 operated trains on days when the temperature was over 35C and Brill railcar 60 or a RedHen set was used as planned on the additional mid morning and late afternoon trains scheduled until Sunday 6th.

      • But all was not bad news! Due to excellent promotion on the south coast the planned shuttle trip from Goolwa to Victor to take revellers to the Warland Reserve fireworks turned out to be two return trips! It was originally planned to run a train using Redhen cars 412 and 824 from Goolwa to Victor at 8.30pm and return the passengers from Victor at 12.30am. Due to excellent bookings an earlier "second division" was run from Goolwa at 7.30pm with a second return trip leaving Victor at around 1.30am. Was a long day for our volunteers (and the passengers!)

      • However, mechanical problems beset us again on Thursday the 17th when a very wet spot was found in the RH corner of the inner firebox of Rx207. Cleaning and drying the spot soon revealed a 1/2” long horizontal crack in the boiler plate. Unfortunately such cracks automatically fail the loco so decisions have to be made with the Boiler Inspector as to whether the crack can be effectively temporarily fixed.

      • With all these problems it was encouraging to find, when all the dollars and cents were added up, that the 2012/3 holiday period attracted roughly the same number of passengers as last year. Thanks to all the passengers and most importantly, the many hardworking SHR volunteers, some of whom worked on up to 15 shifts at stations and on trains.

        And these photos from Peter Michalak show a cross section of the locos and rolling stock used,
        and the excellent weather on most days at Victor Harbor

      Track at Finniss Damaged by significant fire on Friday January 4th

      An out-of-control bushfire became established in 40degree plus temperatures on Friday January 4th, raging towards Finniss between Goolwa and Strathalbyn and crossing SteamRanger's rail line near our Gilberts siding. Reporter Tim Morris' photo from Channel 7's helicopter, looking northwards, shows our line heading north the left of the photo with Gilberts siding at the road crossing at top left.

      The Country Fire Service (CFS) had been battling the blaze on the ground and from the air since early on Friday afternoon, with water bombers and an air crane assisting the 40 firefighters battling the blaze on the ground. The fire was succesfully brought under control and the line has been subsequently inspected by SHR track workers who have indicated some thousands of dollars will be required to replace around 650 sleepers.

      Some further press and SHR photos are posted on our Infrastructure webpage HERE.

      Unfortunately the fire resulted in cancellation of the StrathLink trains on the 13th January and the 26th January, but had no effect on south coast Cockle Trains.

      Due to the dedicated efforts of Ray Green and his track team restoration work has subsequently progressed admirably with sources of sleepers and track fittings being identified and delivered to the site. These photos from Ray show Bradley Wilhelm, Steve Stratford, Peter Bird and Peter Nunn tackling the damaged sleepers and delivery of new sleepers donated by DPTI and baseplates.


      And some very appreciated news!

      Scott and Niina Rickards hired 958 and two carriages from Goolwa to Finniss and return in June 2012 for their guests to attend their wedding at Finniss which turned out to be a cracking affair.

      During the summer Cockle Trains they visited Victor station and asked about how we were getting on with so many sleepers burnt near Gilberts from the January fires. Our loco team told that we were struggling to purchase sufficient sleepers to effect sufficient repairs. Within a few days a donation of $500 arrived in the mail to be put specifically towards the Gilberts track repairs. A fantastic most appreciated gesture!

      Latest news is that the track was restord to a safe, if not fully restored state, on Thursday 7th Jan to allow transfer of selected "imprisoned" rolling stock DE958, RC428, Rx207, DE350 and cars 66 and 71 back to Mt Barker Depot.

      Alexandrina Council Awards to SteamRanger

      SteamRanger has been presented with two awards
      recognising its efforts in returning steam locomotives
      to the preserved south coast line.

      certificate recognises our volunteers,
      sponsors and tradespeople

      is a commendation for the recent upgrading
      of locos and railcars.

      Copies of both certicates have been put on public display at Goolwa station.

      2012 Awards of Appreciation Announced

      Another traditional activity took place at the November General Meeting , when President Barrie Hawes announced awarding of Appreciation Certificates to eleven longserving volunteers. Awards are made in three categories reflecting length of service (4, 8 and 16 years or special service to SHR).

      Gold Awards were made to Craig Dunstan (our Mechanical Services Manager), Elaine Wood (operations) and Bob Sexton (Mechanical Services) (below)


      Silver Awards went to Trevor Sachse, Laurie Durbidge, Oliver Lukins, Damien Brown, Bruce Roper and Ray Greeen, whilst John Kelly and Rodney Stone received Certicates of Appreciation.

      More information on our awards scheme, including a full list of recipients is found on our "Whos who" page HERE .

      • Monday Environment Group

        Robert Haebich reports that in recent months the team has continued their burning off program and so far have managed to remove all their heaps from the top of the Ranges down to Strathalbyn.

        A small wheel problem with Troupie 323 caused the team to rearrange their program slightly to allow for only one troopie which for several weeks meant they had to run through to Strath for turning. This had a side benefit as they then spent some time down near Strath clearing foliage etc.

        Fallen pine tree foliage was cleared from Mt. Barker Yard and transported it to near Fidler Lane where it was all burnt off. The fire ban season commenced on December 1st so they will have to resume their tree & foliage pruning program as well as continue reclaiming all the sleepers alongside the track.

      • Proposed Goolwa Turntable

        For the past 18 months Alexandrina Council staff in conjunction with SHR have explored the opportunity of installing a railway turntable and viewing platform west of the existing Goolwa railway platform

        The construction of a 26 metre diameter, electric turntable will allow turning of all the SHR loco fleet, including the massive, 200 tonne ‘500’ class ‘Sir Malcolm Barclay-Harvey’ and its tender. Based on the popularity of the Victor Harbor turntable it is anticipated that the construction of an additional turntable at Goolwa will be a significant drawcard for tourists and railway enthusiasts.

        The implementation of a turntable at Goolwa will also replace the need for trains to travel out to the Goolwa Steamranger Depot to uncouple and turn around before returning to the Goolwa platform. This will avoid the lull in activity around the station ‘between trains’ thereby retaining visitors to the area and encouraging them to visit the many other attractions within the wharf precinct.

        The Council has now issued a planning Fact Sheet detailing what might be done and this can be read HERE

        Latest News: Unfortunately further action to proceed with this work has now been deferred indefinatly

        Keep a watch on these pages for further news