OCTOBER EXCURSION – TRAINWORKS THIRLMERE

A bright sunny day and every kid’s dream (and older kids), to ride on an old fashioned locomotive – what could go wrong? Both the Trainworks and the local Picton Bowling Club had been booked for a minimum of twenty persons at generously discounted group prices. Five last minute cancellations caused some concern. However, the smiles returned as a flood of people arrived at the Casula Crossroads Hotel starting point. Les, Barbara and Brian were going directly to the Trainworks and would be added to the total. Darren and Ray were low on fuel but were going to fill up at the destination so as not to hold up the convoy.

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The blast down the Hume Motorway was uneventful with a number of motorists showing some interest in the convoy of Z cars – but fortunately not cutting in. After negotiating the Picton turnoff the convoy headed towards Picton. Ray was leading the convoy but the satnav in his 370Z was doing what it does best – being totally unhelpful and acting purely as a dashboard ornament. The downloaded “Whereis” maps were also unhelpful. Fortunately the Trainworks posted signs pointed the way. The convoy arrived intact (no lost souls) at the Trainworks just before 10.00AM. It was very pleasing to see the 16 Z cars and 23 persons (comprising Z car members and guests) forming a group outside the Trainworks.

As the group lined up at the Trainworks desk to secure their tickets – it was realised that to view the museum, go on the train trip (45 minutes) and get to the Picton Bowling Club for lunch at the designated time was going to take a tight bit of scheduling. It was decided then to have the provided morning tea first, take the train ride and view the museum after the train ride. There were two choices of carriages coupled to the train – economy and second class. Most of the group wanted to sit in second class – which became a little crowded – but everyone fitted in ok.

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The train was diesel and about fifty years old with the usual old fashioned fittings. However, the seats were very comfortable and it proved to be a very pleasant trip as the train headed towards Buxton. The group enjoyed interesting views of the countryside (mostly bushland) and the ride was very relaxed and smooth. On arrival at Buxton the locomotive was swapped via a side rail track to the other end of the train for the return journey, which took about ten minutes – just time for the group to stretch their legs. Some of the group swapped carriages from the “second “ to  “economy” class and were rewarded by a Trainworks official relating the history of the railway on the return journey to Thirlmere.

On arrival back at the Trainworks museum , Ian , Barbara’s brother conducted a very interesting and informative tour of the various trains on display as well as the actual workshops where restoration work was being carried out. The group marvelled at the sheer size of the locomotives and the associated rolling stock. After a comprehensive tour of the museum, Ian was thanked and commended for his interesting commentary and insightful explanations of the Trainworks site. Now, it was time to head for the Picton Bowling Club for lunch. The busy road at the rear of the carpark caused some delays in getting the Z cars into a convoy formation for the run to the lunch venue.

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Along the way to the Picton Bowling Club (which was only a short distance from the Trainworks) Ray glanced at his dashboard and a warning sign was displayed – the previous “Distance to empty – 42 kms” had morphed into “Distance to empty —“– must be travelling on petrol vapours! Ray made it to the club – “shaken but not stirred”.

There was a fairly large crowd inside the Picton Bowling Club – and the arrival of the 23 Zedders added to the numbers. Although the staff were very courteous the arrival of this large crowd (nearly 20 minutes late) added to the confusion. Not everyone wanted the booked concessional two course meal for $13 which meant a few more compromises and changes. John and Terry should be highly commended for the excellent way in which they listed the individual choices of meals (the $13 meal had three Mains choices) and both collected and collated the money from the individual members. Well done!!

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However, all’s well that ends well! It had been a very enjoyable day, with an interesting tour of the Trainworks Museum and a relaxing train ride. Great attendance and good company rounded off the excursion.

– Ray