There’s a special feeling when you step on board a heritage steam train. The puffs of smoke, noisy engine and swaying carriages are an incredible way to experience a bygone era.
The Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway (QPSR) is Brisbane’s closest and oldest preserved railway experience, which operates in the City of Ipswich. Once a month, QPSR run its Picnic Train, which operates between two different stations, Bundamba Railway Station and Swanbank Station. The train runs a number of times throughout the day, so there are plenty of opportunities to hop on board. There is also a loop line which operates from Swanbank Station. Visitors can travel on the return journey, which runs for about 15 minutes and takes in the pretty sights of the surrounding area.
If you’re wondering where the “picnic” part comes in, all will be revealed when you step off the carriage at Swanbank Station. Follow your nose to the food stalls that are perched on a pretty patch of grass. There are delicious homemade cupcakes baked by Queen of Cupcakes, tantalizing lunch options, live music and more! It’s certainly the perfect spot to laze around on a Saturday afternoon.
The heritage modes of transport don’t just stop at the steam train! The Heritage Bus Association operates and restores heritage buses from times gone by. The Leyland Royal Tiger has been restored from 1958 and still has the old bell cables, bench seats and character features. The buses run tours to the Cooneana Heritage Centre in the Ipswich suburb of New Chum.
The heritage centre is a gathering place for those who are passionate about preserving the past and is also home to the Ipswich Historical Society. Walking through the centre and the surrounding grounds, you really do feel like you’re stepping back in time!
If there’s one thing this nostalgic day out will show you, it’s that the City of Ipswich holds its history close to its heart — and that’s thanks to the passionate people and close community. After all, as Marcus Garvey said, “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”