Heritage rail group 3801 Limited celebrates 30 years

All aboard: The Cockatoo Run heritage train starts at Central and picks up at Hurstville and Sutherland (above) stations, before continuing to Wollongong and up the escarpment. Picture: Daniel McQueeney
All aboard: The Cockatoo Run heritage train starts at Central and picks up at Hurstville and Sutherland (above) stations, before continuing to Wollongong and up the escarpment. Picture: Daniel McQueeney

Heritage rail group 3801 Limited is celebrating 30 years of transporting people back to an era when tourist travel in ornately finished train carriages was a delightful experience.

The milestone, achieved in December, also marked a decade since the not-for-profit group controversially lost steam locomotive 3801 to the NSW Rail Transport Museum at Thirlmere.

Approaching Hurstville: The Cockatoo Run is the only regular tourist train operating through St George and the shire. Picture: Adrian Roberts, of Carlton

Approaching Hurstville: The Cockatoo Run is the only regular tourist train operating through St George and the shire. Picture: Adrian Roberts, of Carlton

The group, which includes several members from St George and Sutherland Shire, continued to operate under its original name.

Its major offering is the Cockatoo Run in which lovingly restored carriages are pulled by a variety of heritage diesel locomotives.

The Cockatoo Run starts at Central and picks up at Hurstville and Sutherland, before continuing down to Wollongong, along the coast and up the escarpment to Robertson. 

Labour of love: Engadine resident Todd Rowling says volunteers love restoring, maintaining and operating the locomotives and carriages. Picture: Lisa McMahon

Labour of love: Engadine resident Todd Rowling says volunteers love restoring, maintaining and operating the locomotives and carriages. Picture: Lisa McMahon

Project officer and Engadine resident Todd Rowling, who has been a volunteer with the tourist train for more than 10 years, said it was one of the best rail trips in Australia. 

“It is the only regular tourist train operating through St George and the shire along the beautiful Illawarra railway line,” he said.

“Passengers enjoy scenic surrounds that are among the most spectacular in the world as the train travels through the Royal National Park and takes in sweeping views of the Pacific coast.

“We love restoring, maintaining and operating our locomotives and carriages at our Eveleigh LES [Large Erecting Shop] workshop, and sharing them with our passengers.”

Upcoming journeys: 3801limited.com.au