In June 1904, the building of the Moe to Walhalla railway commenced and over a century later, I was thrilled to take a ride on an old locomotive along this unique stretch of Australian history.
Noticing that the locomotives were all diesel-powered, not old steam engines as I had anticipated, my curiosity got the better of me and I asked the driver what was “under the bonnet”. It turned out that they were engines from retired Cat diesel-powered locomotives that the rail yard had picked up over time. Included in their collection are two larger locomotives powered by Cat D353 engines and one cute little one powered by a Cat 3306.
The two larger DH locomotives were originally built with Cat engines installed. The Walhalla Goldfields Railway acquired the locomotives from Queensland and intend to put them back into service.
A journey on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway reveals the breathtaking beauty of the Victorian Alps through the spectacular Stringers Creek Gorge, the aptly named Happy Creek and incredible Thomson River Bridge. The revival of this fascinating railway is thanks to passionate locals and is today run by volunteers with little to no knowledge of the engines.
I am proud that EPSA could play a small part in its success by supplying engine manuals to help maintain these great old machines.
As a mechanic, almost the best thing to have when rebuilding or repairing old machinery, whether it is a lawn mower or a 20-tonne train, is the factory repair manual. They are invaluable for repair and maintenance but usually very hard to come by.
The Walhalla railway was the last of Victorian Railways’ four experimental narrow gauge lines. Located in the Victorian Alps, Walhalla first struck gold in 1862 and quickly rose to be one of Victoria’s richest gold centres. After the closure of the mines, substantial timber traffic was carried but the decline of freight and passenger traffic saw the entire line closed in 1954. The lobbying of a taskforce succeeded in rebuilding the line, which reopened to Walhalla in 2002 as the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, Inc. operating tourist services on diesel locomotives.