11 May 2014
The Hotham Valley Steam Engine ready to take on passengers
Most people love steam trains, from young kids to the oldies, and Pete and I are no exception. We had read about the Hotham Valley Steam train so were keen to have a ride. The steam engine is not used during the summer months due to the risk of embers causing fires, and today was the first day the engine was to run for the autumn/winter season.
Beautiful Hall’s Head Beach at Mandurah
Dwellingup, the town that houses the train, is about 84 kilometres from Perth, so we decided to drive down the coastline, and drive home the inland highway. We arrived at the seaside holiday town of Mandurah in time to have a look around, and found the town to be really jumping, especially around the main cafe area along the waterfront. It was Mothers’ Day, plus the Sunday morning markets, so it seemed everyone in Mandurah had decided to head for the waterfront.
Mandurah from the other side of the estuary
Finding a parking spot was impossible, so we crossed the bridge to the opposite side of the estuary and found our way to the ocean and Hall’s Head beach. This was a very pretty spot with pure white sand, waves breaking gently on the beach, and a small lagoon ideal for the kids to splash around.
Opposite the beach was the Dome cafe (right)- we have seen similar Dome cafes and assume it is a franchise, but not sure of this, very similar to Gloria Jean or Starbucks. Naturally it was crowded with families taking Mums for lunch, but we didn’t have to wait long for a table and after a quick bite and coffee we headed off for Pinjarra, and then Dwellingup. On arrival we had time to explore the steam engine, and the quaint station and take some photos, and chat to some of the volunteers who keep the train running, then it was time to climb on board.
It certainly brought back many memories of my childhood when we would catch the steam train from Sydney to Lithgow to visit our maternal grandparents – the smell of the engine, the soot coming in any open windows, the sway of the train – we had a great time.
The quaint station at Dwellingup
Dwellingup is 864 feet above sea level, and the train descends into the valley during the ride, passing through farm lands with cattle and sheep, and bushland of native trees including eucalypts, teatree, banksia and acacias, ferns and hundreds of xanthorrhoea (formerly known as black boys before that term became politically incorrect).
When we reached the end of the line, we were able to disembark and watch the engine being shunted to the front of the train for the journey home….a long haul up the hill. There was a refreshment car, unfortunately the scones with jam and cream had run out by the time we felt like a coffee, but there was fruitcake available, and it was yummy (no doubt baked by some of the CWA ladies in town!)
The train arrived back at Dwellingup at about 4pm, and time to make our way back to Perth. Small hiccup with the GPS when we made an incorrect turn, however after a few detours we were back on the correct highway and finally found our way back. We had been given some tickets for a parking station opposite the hotel, but had trouble using the tickets so had to obtain one of the parking station’s tickets before we parked the car. Once we got back to the hotel we asked why we had not been able to activate the ticket, and were told we were in the wrong parking station – duh! So we had to retrace our steps, pay $6 to get the car out of the wrong car park, and find our way round the corner to the correct parking station Not a totally successful afternoon navigating our way home and parking the car – however we have thoroughly enjoyed our day.
Waiting at Dwellingup Station for the Hotham Railway steam engine
After our “battle” with the GPS, and having to relocate the car, we were a little weary! There is a nice kebab shop around the corner (our hotel is located in the main CBD) so we bought a doner kebab and a falafel kebab and enjoyed them with the red wine we had left over from last night – just what we needed!
Tomorrow we will do some more exploring around Perth, and revisit Kings Park