NSW Rail Museum, Thirlmere

Several weekends back we finally got to visit the New South Wales Railway museum at Thirlmere.

Previous attempts to visit the rail museum were thwarted by… you know what… Finally the place is taking paying tourists once again. We went for the ‘museum plus train ride’ option.

The train was an old diesel locomotive with carriages from the 1950s. We only travelled about 20 minutes – a couple of stops on this old line – then the engine shunted to the front of the train to go back. All good fun for the kids to watch. And quite a few interested parents. The line was a former part of the rail network that had been closed down over the years. Most of it has recently been reactivated which is great news for the small villages along its route. Eventually it should form a loop that joins the main line.

The parents were probably more interested in the train coupling.

In May they have five days of fun with Thomas & Friends. That would be funny. I still remember Dani’s encounter with Thomas, Diesel and the Fat Controller way back when he was still a toddler. For some reason that trip never made this blog and I really can’t think why… Anyway, I suggested a return visit to Thirlmere for one of those ‘Thomas days’.

“No way” he said. “I don’t like Thomas any more.”  Funny how kids not only grow out of things, but also come to think that they dislike them. I am sure he would love it but I won’t be pushing it….


As you would expect there are quite a few steam trains on display. One was used by Queen Elizabeth when she visited Australia back in 1954. She was the first (and still only) reigning monarch to visit Australia. Alongside that train was an example of a prison transport carriage. Two completely different modes of train transport.

The locomotive that took Queen Elizabeth on her tour
Dani inside the prison train wagon

And here’s my favourite…

This next one was an odd looking part of the collection. This was basically a mini-bus on rails. Six were built by the Waddington Body Company in 1937 initially to carry passengers but that only lasted about a year. Powered by a Ford V8 petrol driven engine this funny little rail mobile was then given a very important job.

The FP1 ‘Rail Pay Bus’

All six would travel more or less the full rail network every two weeks to deliver rail staff wages. It as effectively a wages van on the railway lines. They were fitted with cash safes bolted directly to the chassis and the vehicle became known as the “Rail Pay Bus”.

I bet I know what you are thinking. Yes, sure enough, one was blown up by thieves in 1941, while war with the Japanese was distracting most people. But they were unable to open the safe.

This Rail Pay Bus was known as FP1
Bon voyage…

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