• Michelle Meehan

Passionate Volunteers Celebrate Hunter's Rich Rail History


Are you looking for a day-trip destination with plenty of space for social distancing? Then head out to Richmond Vale Railway Museum, where education and entertainment combine for a fun day out for the whole family.

un entirely by a band of passionate volunteers who have worked to preserve and celebrate the Hunter’s rich railway and mining heritage and the legacy of the J. & A. Brown Company for more than four decades; the site offers a mix of historical artefacts, miniature train rides, outdoor mining and rail exhibits, as well as a souvenir shop and canteen.

The biggest drawcard, of course, is the chance to take a ride behind its restored steam or diesel locomotives.

Richmond Vale Railway Museum secretary Tracey Hamilton said the facility, which is located on the site of the old Richmond Main colliery at Richmond Vale, around 4km south of Kurri Kurri, was an intergenerational activity that can be enjoyed by all.

“Grandparents bring their grandchildren out to show them what it was like to ride a train when they were young. It generates a lot of conversations between the different age groups and gets the kids away from their electronics for a while,” she said.

“We use the old-style cardboard tickets, which generates a lot of comments. They bring back many memories for the older visitors.

“It is important to remember how the mining and railway industries began. Visitors can see a lot of this history at our site.”

Richmond Vale Railway Museum was closed for three months earlier this year as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, forcing the cancellation of some of the major fundraisers required to keep the gates of the volunteer-run facility open.

But with restrictions easing and appropriate safety and hygiene processes in place, including train ride capacity limits, the reopened site is back on track with plans to hold two of its popular annual events in coming months.

“We plan to run our annual Family Fun Fest on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th September,” Tracey said.

“There will be extra displays and attractions, but this will depend on what happens with COVID-19. There will be a model train layout that children and adults can operate for a donation.

“We will also have our annual Santa Special on Sunday 16th November. Children will not be able to sit on Santa’s knee as usual, but they can say hello and get a goody bag each.

“Outside of these events, visitors can still ride behind Marjorie, the steam engine on the short Mulbring Road branch line.

“We have a mini-train for big and little kids; there is a display of railway memorabilia in the Entry Building, and the Mining Museum houses many artefacts from the early days of mining. There is also an audio-visual display with stories about early mining and transport.

“Visitors can also get up close and personal with the ROD locomotive, which was used by Australian steam drivers and carried Australian soldiers in France during World War One. “Richmond Vale Railway Museum is a place where people of all ages can have a fun day out.”

Richmond Vale Railway Museum is open on the first three Sundays of each month, and school holiday Sundays from 9.30am. For more information, visit www.richmondvalerailwaymuseum.org

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