Trackside Classics: Steamrail Victoria Newport Workshops — Open Days 2024

This has taken ages to write. What an experience! Just the program ran to eight pages. What to include? What to leave out? I had just got a new phone, but my son had a separate camera. Most of these pictures are his.

Steamrail Victoria is ‘a volunteer organization dedicated to the restoration and operation of vintage steam, diesel and electric locomotives and carriages’ (their website). They also run tours around the state every few weeks, and hold an annual open day in the Victorian Railways Newport workshops, which date back to 1884. Regular maintenance was transferred from here about a hundred years later. Various historic railway organizations now share the facilities. My son Ben, who works in loco maintenance, is a great rail fan, so we went along to this year’s open day. I hadn’t been for about ten years, and was keen to attend.

Being summer in Australia, we arrived at opening time when it was still relatively cool, but temps were up to the mid-30s (mid-90s F) by the time we left four hours later. We could easily have spent longer, but I was done in by then. But I was glad I went.

This historic AEC bus, running in the old MMTB colours I remember from my childhood, was giving rides between the workshops and the Railway Museum further down the road. These used to run on the Clifton Hill route 246 past my high school.

We walked everywhere and often backtracked for a closer look at engines, particularly ones in steam. There were always about ten engines in steam and shunting throughout the day, not to mention a traction engine driving back and forth. Electrics and diesels were static exhibits;

To give you a feel for the period, there were a couple of carts of luggage outside the workshop. Brought back memories to me!

Four bays of the workshop building were open, as well as five platforms and the administration building which is being restored by the Hobson’s Bay Men’s Shed to its original 1880s appearance inside and out;

There were guided tours of the workshop available, but aside from watching the operation of the carriage lift, Ben and I followed our own program around the workshops;


Not being up on the different classes of locos, I found it all a bit confusing. Fortunately, I was accompanied by a walking encyclopedia.

For Ben’s 21st birthday, he got to drive J541 on the Castlemaine-Maldon line;

However, that engine is now down for maintenance. They take it very seriously. Here it was as we saw it in the event;

Perhaps the greatest attraction was seeing the old steam locos shunting;

As well as the steam locos there were also early rail motors, some of which started life with Winton engines before getting a diesel transplant. It was amazing to realize how close the driver was to the engine in some of these;

And more modern diesels too. Here Ben sits in A66;

Old electrics and carriages were also there for the viewing;

In the workshop there was an incredible Lego model of the entire workshop complex (not just the section we saw) and detailed models of all the different types of locos on site. There were also a couple of HO scale layouts representing classic Victorian country towns;

It was an amazing day. We could have seen the nearby railway museum, but I’d had enough, We’ll go there another day. Health permitting, I won’t let it go another ten years!