SteamRanger Heritage Railway – 7th December 2012
SteamRanger Heritage Railway operate between Mount Barker and Victor Harbor, although not very often in one go. They operate a very regular service all year round and being owners of an operational Goodwin/Alco DL500, 900 Class, 958, we had a very good reason to make contact with the railway to see if would be operating when we were in the country.
The long and short of the 12 months of contact prior to our trip was that we’d plan to visit the railway twice, once on Wednesday 5th December when they agreed to use their English Electric, 500 Class, 507, on their regular “Cockle Service” between Goolwa & Victor Harbor and again on Friday 7th December when they’d be running a “Twilight Special” from Mount Barker to Strathalbyn and return with Alco 958.
Unfortunately EE #507 developed a problem with its injectors just after we’d arrived into the country and had to be taken out of service and moved to Mount Barker for repairs so that put pay to the Wednesday visit. In hindsight it actually got us something else out of the Friday visit.
Friday 7th December 2012
Upon arrival at Mount Barker we were greeted by the guy I’d been in contact with for the past 12 months. Alco 958 was on shed, coupled to two coaches for the “Twilight Special” that evening and next to it were English Electric “350” #350, coupled to EE 500 Class #507. In conversation during the week the guys had agreed to give us a run on the EE’s in station limits, just so we could get them in, and that’s exactly what happened. A few round trips from the shed to the end of the platform including some positioning for photographs, swapping over cabs half way through.
After our jaunt we were shown round the site, where there are plenty of steam locos stored pending possible work, or not as the costs may dictate, along with another DL500 #963, this being under cover, windows plated over and never likely to work again. Strangely 963 had worked the last “Overland” from Melbourne to Adelaide before the broad gauge was changed over to standard gauge. It had been dumped inside a tunnel, out of the way, where it was unfortunately vandalised before SteamRanger took it on and effectively saved it from scrap.
Steam Locos present were:
F Class – F251 stored
520 Class – 520 stored
RX Class – 224 undergoing extensive overhaul
620 Class – 621 operational
RX Class – 207 operational
1830 came round very quickly that evening and at twilight our “Twilight Special” departed with 958 and load 2. the train was usually load 3 but due to low bookings with the train running on a Friday vice the usual Saturday they’d reduced the load. Still the driver knew exactly what we’d come for and didn’t disappoint with the power handle. We were given front coach seats in both directions, with the outward run being the first time I managed to clap eyes on some kangaroos.
At Strathalbyn the trains passengers head off to a local haunt for a Christmas evening meal, which was very Chistmassy and even had crackers and hats. I have to say it was very strange trying to get into the Christmas spirit with there being nothing but glorious sunshine on most days.
The run back down the hill into Mount Barker was nothing like the way up but was nice and relaxing after a few beers and a large meal. A thoroughly enjoyable way to spend an evening, Alco, beer & food!