Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2009 Week 08 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 June 2009) . . Page.. 2795 ..
cars and track maintenance vehicles. Dr Quinlan has a great depth of knowledge of experience of the ACT’s railway heritage and is a great asset to the community for the knowledge he holds.
The museum is home to the society’s restoration work. Significant volunteer effort goes into restoring and maintaining the society’s locomotives, carriages and rail motors. The society uses some purely as exhibits, whilst others are used for the society’s many rail tours. The steam locomotive that led the first train into Canberra in 1914 is housed at the museum. Locomotive 1210 was originally built in 1878 and entered service on the New South Wales Railways. On 24 May 1914, when the Queanbeyan to Canberra railway line was constructed, that locomotive pulled the first train to what was then the national capital construction site. The locomotive continued to serve on the New South Wales Railways and, when it was eventually withdrawn from service, it was purchased by the National Capital Development Commission on behalf of the people of Canberra. It was displayed outside the railway station on Wentworth Avenue from 1962 until 1984.
In 1988 the locomotive was recommissioned to celebrate the Australian bicentenary. It has since been used to operate heritage trips. Indeed, the Australian Railway Historical Society operates a number of heritage train services throughout the capital region. Unfortunately, trains can no longer be operated to Michelago, due to storm damage of the tracks. Services do continue to operate to Bungendore, the Southern Highlands, Sydney and sometimes further afield to the North Coast, central west and south to Victoria. These services are operated by a combination of steam locomotives and historic wooden carriages, trains with the more modern stainless steel carriages of the old Sydney-Melbourne Southern Aurora train, or the smaller “tin hare” rail motors that were a feature of New South Wales branch lines in the second half of the 20th century.
There can be no doubt there is something special about rail travel. I have many fond memories of the Michelago tourist railway with my late grandfather, Alan Salisbury ISO, who was also involved with the society as a foundation member. I would also like to pay tribute to Graham Stanley and Stephen Buck for their services to the organisation over many years.
What makes these rail tours possible and keeps the museum operating is the selfless dedication and tireless support of the association’s members and volunteers. The association can only afford to employ staff for specialist maintenance duties on their locomotives. Other than that, all the work is done by the association’s more than 100 active volunteers—whether it is carriage conductors, catering, manning the onboard bar, performing the guard’s duty, track work, opening the museum, secretarial work or driving the trains. It is the spirit of volunteerism within the society that ensures Canberra’s rail heritage is preserved for the current and future generations. The society also operates a CountryLink travel agency at Queanbeyan to ensure that Queanbeyan travellers continue to have access to ticketing services at their local station.
The organisation faces significant challenges, including attracting volunteers, increasing costs and keeping the skill set necessary for its maintenance and restoration