Monday, 30 April 2012

Hunter Valley Steamfest 2012

As you may or may not know, on Saturday and Sunday, I went to the Hunter Valley Steamfest in Maitland, NSW, Australia. The steam event is always held in the month of April and is filled with things devoted to steam in the area that has a long and rich history with the coaling industry.

The event started back since the last coal operating steam haulage freight service on the 'South Maitland Railway' ceased in 1983 by one of the SMR10 class tank engines. In response this special event began its life in 1986 to celebrate the life of steam. Over the years there are many different engines such as 3801, 3526, 3830, 3642 and even the world famous 'Flying Scotsman' made an appearance during its Australian journey in 1988-1989.

This year, 3642, 3526 and 3265 were once again the visitors of this event. the 36 and 35 are owned by the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum, Thirlmere, NSW and 3265 is owned by the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney, which is stored at Thirlmere. 3801 and 3830 were visitors too, but 3801 is now under a major overhaul and waiting for a new boiler from Germany. While 3830 is having a boiler refit.

3642 (RTM) is ready for departure for Newcastle

I've booked tickets with my dad and we bought four tickets for two trains. We begin with Saturday. We left home at 7:30 am as the first train we're riding on leaves Maitland at 10:10 am to Paterson. After a three hour drive on the highway from the city of Sydney, we arrive at Maitland and the activity was building up and 3642 pulls into the station with its empty carriages ready for its first train for the event. While 3265 and 3526 await for their trip to Branxton. As we depart we have a nice trip to and fro. 

After the first trip, I started to film and take pictures of the steam locomotives and other passing trains. The Hunter Valley area is busy with passengers and freight as most coal trains go to Queensland as their are diesels from QR. Then later on outside of civilisation of Maitland, we went to the 'Richmond Vale Railway Museum' in Kurri Kurri, which was part of the former South Maitland Railway line. The locomotive that was running was shunting tank engine 'Marjorie' to Pelaw. A lovely little tank engine that was built by Clyde Engineering in Sydney in 1938 and looks a bit like Percy, in the eyes of a small child. 

'Majorie' heading for Pelaw Main

Later that day we went back to Maitland at High Street station to see 3265 and 3526 heading back from Newcastle with a CityRail Hunter car alongside for passengers to observe the two steam engines. Saturday was great fun and made me tired. So my dad and I went to our hotel we were staying at and spent the night around the area and getting ready for Sunday. 

3642 getting ready for the 'Barrington Bullet'

The next day, the sun was shining and as we left our hotel, we went down to Maitland to take part of a train journey that we go on every year. 'The Great Train Race'. This train usually concludes the festivities but since 2010, it was moved to morning and has been like this for two years now. I think because of freight and passenger traffic as back in 2009, we took part in it with 3830 and the Hunter Car as we were dreadfully delayed. But in 2012, we first saw 3642 getting ready for its train that it will take the whole day to Dungog and will be providing shuttle trips for the locals. 

Meanwhile, we hopped on board 3526 as it will take its passengers to Newcastle. While 3265 takes its share of passengers to Broadmeadow ready for shunting. We got the best view of the 32 class engine. 

3526 at Newcastle ready for 'The Great Train Race'.

While we head for Maitland, the Tiger Moth bi-plane, which also took part of the race from the 'Newcastle Aero Club', won the race. But the 35 class engine came second place and the whole race really reminded me of 'Percy and Harold' from 'Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends'. Afterwards I filmed 3265 leaving for Branxton and 3526 once again heading for Newcastle and heading into Newcastle, we left for Sydney. 

3265 thundering by during 'The Great Train Race'

I usually go to the Hunter Valley for this event. But I do go their for some other events, depends if I like to go. Last year I went to Broadmeadow for the 'Our Town Model Show' and next month on May 20th, I'll be heading for Newcastle again on the RTM's train 'Newcastle Flyer' a famous express train that ran from Sydney - Newcastle non-stop. The train was commonly hauled by the NSWGR 38 and 36 class locomotives. 

RailAroundNSW Will be presenting 
a special edition video of this event in June 2012. 

'The Great Train Race' is now uploaded on YouTube on
NWR1991. The Saturday event from my iPhone will be uploaded soon. 

Thanks to the Hunter Valley Steamfest for a wonderful event and I'll be looking forward to it in 2013, hopefully 3801 will be back in steam in time. But time takes time ;)