Steam at the Don River Railway

Naomi and I had been planning to visit the Don River Railway when they next had a steam day. We skipped Father’s Day as we thought it would be too crowded but last weekend I heard that their M Class locomotive would be out of service for boiler repairs for a few months and making its last runs at a family day that weekend. We decided to go down to Coles Beach to take some photos at the terminus rather than riding on the train as we had done that recently.

We were lucky enough to arrive just before the 1pm train arrived at Coles Beach so we took some photos and then we decided to wait for it to come back in an hours time.

The weather forecast was not great and it did rain a bit while we were out but not as badly as we had feared it might so we were able to take Toby and Teddy for a walk on the beach between trains.

Fowler 060 Tank Engine c1886

We did not know that there was going to be a second locomotive and we were excited to see the small Fowler Tank Engine who was resplendent in blue paint and a smiley face as he played the part of Thomas the Tank Engine. M4 was also sporting a smiley face headboard as it was a family day. Personally I would prefer to photograph the engines without them but I know that the “Thomas the Tank Engine”theme is very popular on preserved railways and attracts families with young kids. They are a good fundraiser. I hope these little kids will be the railfans of tomorrow and keep looking after our steam engines and rollingstock so I don’t begrudge them their family days.

Blowing off steam

For the second train we had a chance to get into a better position on the other side of the tracks where we did not have so many people getting in the way while we took pictures. As railfans we are very conscious of not obstructing the view so that other photographers can take their pictures as well but of course when you have families with children the parents all want to get a photo with their child in front of the train.

For the people who are interested in locomotive and rollingstock details this is what I read on the Rail Tasmania webpage.

The M class were built by Robert Stephenson & Hawthorn in 1952, and were based on the Indian and Burmese YB classes.
  • There are several of them in preservation. Don River Railway has two M3 & M4.
  • The Tasmanian Transport Museum at Glenorchy has M5 which we have photographed previously.
  • M1 is at the Derwent Valley Railway who are trying to restore a piece of track at New Norfolk to run trains again.
  • M6 is at the Bellarine Peninsula Railway in Victoria
  • M2 has gone to a preserved railway in England

You can read more and see some photos here.

Shunting at Coles Beach

The little Fowler 0-6-0T was built by John Fowler Co. of Leeds, UK in 1886. Here is what I read about it.

This Fowler is an attractive locomotive with an interesting history.  It was originally ordered for a gravel tramway at Kiama, NSW, but this venture failed and the loco was sold before use to contractors for construction of government railways in Queensland.  (43) It was transferred to Tasmania by 1898 and apparently used in Macquarie Harbour breakwater construction but unused by 1912, and subsequently stored in Hobart station yard for many years after. (43)  It is now reaching the end of a protracted restoration at the VDRS, including having a new boiler fabricated, and is seen in this photo inside the workshop at the VDRS, Don on 8 May 2003. (1)  UPDATE: This locomotive was returned to operation at the Don River Railway in September 2007.

The volunteers at the DRR have done a great job of restoring their vintage rollingstock including this first and second class compartment car and guards van.

Vintage rollingstock

I did not make a note of the carriage numbers of the red and yellow cars but I know that they are ex TGR passenger stock. I will try to take some better photos of these another time.

TGR carriages

I had a bit of a mishap while taking these photos, the sole on my shoe came loose and it flapped every time I took a step so my progress was quite slow and I wasn’t able to get as far up the track as Naomi did. I had been hoping to make it to the other side of the semaphore signal. However, now that we have had a better look at the area we will be able to plan better photo shoots in the future. Naomi did take a few photos that day as well so I might see if she wants to post those as well. You can’t have too many train photos right?



I was born in England in 1957 and lived there until our family came to Australia in 1966. I grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, where I met and married my husband, David. We came together over a mutual love of trains. Both of us worked for the railways for many years, his job was with Australian National Railways, while I spent 12 years working for the STA, later TransAdelaide the Adelaide city transit system. After leaving that job I worked in hospitality until 2008. We moved to Tasmania in 2002 to live in the beautiful Huon Valley. In 2015 David became ill and passed away in October of that year. I currently co-write two blogs on with my sister Naomi. Our doll blog "Dolls, Dolls, Dolls", and "Our Other Blog" which is about everything else but with a focus on photographs and places in Tasmania. In November 2019 I began a new life in the house that Naomi and I intend to make our retirement home at Sisters Beach in Tasmania's northwest. Currently we have five pets between us. Naomi's two dogs Toby and Teddy and cats, Tigerwoods and Panther and my cat Polly. My dog Cindy passed away aged 16 in April 2022.

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