There was a real buzz around Seymour Railway Station on Saturday morning as passengers for the Seymour Railway Heritage Centre’s special train to Echuca discovered that a steam engine was to head their train.
Centre marketing officer Stephen Baker said that as a surprise, they were able to borrow steam engine R707 from 707 Operations in Newport for the occasion, at no extra cost to the travellers.
‘‘Ah, the smell of steam, the toot of the whistle,’’ one traveller said.
‘‘Awesome, you can’t get better then this,’’ another said.
People along the tracks waved and photographed the train as it travelled along, and the grins that turned in to big smiles said it all.
The whistling and smoke around the countryside and small towns as townspeople and farmers watched, waved and photographed the train was a highlight for those travelling on the train.
Mr Baker said the nine-carriage train was made up of rolling stock from the original Spirit of Progress, as well as preserved vintage 100-year-old wooden carriages.
On-train highlights included viewing from the open-ended 111-year-old Yarra parlour carriage at one end, and the enclosed rounded famous Spirit of Progress parlour carriage at the other end.
The dining carriage was prepared by local caterers Taste on Track.
Morning tea of scones, muffins and fruit, and on return a ploughman’s platter, was another highlight and a first for Seymour Railway Heritage Centre.
‘‘In fact this offer was so popular we sold out weeks before the trip, and had many on our waiting list,’’ Mr Baker said.
At Echuca, passengers had the choice of a paddle steamer cruise, a visit to the Port Echuca Discovery Centre or the annual Echuca Steam rally.
Many passengers boarded PS Hero, a paddle steamer built in 1874, for a two-hour cruise down the Murray River that included a barbecue lunch on board with spectacular views.
‘‘We couldn’t have asked for a better day, a beautiful 17 degrees in Echuca,’’ Mr Baker said.
There were many tired passengers as they stepped off the heritage train at Seymour at the end of a great day, and there were various comments of ‘‘breathtaking’’, ‘‘awesome’’, ‘‘daunting’’ and ‘‘when is your next trip’’.
One posted on Facebook, ‘‘had an amazing time today, wonderful service and a big thanks to all the great volunteers that made this day possible. We will be back and will tell all our family and friends of this great experience’’.
To experience these tours for yourself, you can join Seymour Railway Heritage Centres mailing list by emailing [email protected]