|Y112 in 2013|
The first loco is Y112. It is one of only two remaining Y-class locomotives, and the only one that is operational - Y108 is a static display at the Australian Rail Heritage Society museum in Williamstown. Built in 1889, it was originally badged Y419, and was the 238th locomotive built at Ballarat's own Phoenix Foundry, which used to be on Armstrong Street. The Y-class locos were originally designed to be mainline heavy-goods locomotives, but also did many miles hauling passenger trains around suburban Melbourne prior to electrification in the late 1910s. They started to be withdrawn from regular duties in the mid 1920s, after which they did shunting work in the yards of various stations, until the last one was finally withdrawn from service in 1963.
Y112 itself was in service from 1889 to 1961, after which it was preserved as a static display near Civic Hall in Ballarat for many years, until it was restored to active duty and started running again in 1996. Although it was originally restored by Steamrail Victoria and workers of the short-lived West Coast Railway company on a volunteer basis, it is actually owned by the Ballarat Historical Society, and is now maintained and run by Steamrail Victoria.
|K153 in 2013|
|Artist's impression from 1862 (source unknown)|
|Ballarat Railway Station in 2012|
|Ballarat East, then and now|
Presumably due to signalling constraints, the train doesn't actually make it to Lal Lal Station - a beautiful old bluestone building that is still in reasonable condition - but stops about 2km short, at the Lal Lal Block Point, which is about halfway between Lal Lal and where Yendon station used to be.
A few years ago the shuttles went in the opposite direction, heading on the line towards Maryborough and stopping at Sulky, about halfway to Creswick. Like Lal Lal Block Point, this is really just a field in the middle of nowhere nowadays (although there used to be a junction to Waubra via the Ballarat Racecourse there) but both trips nonetheless offer scenic views and the old-style charm of riding in your own compartment behind a steam engine. Since the last time the shuttles ran to Sulky, regular V/Line passenger services have been restored to Maryborough, so if you want to see that part of the terrain, and go further to see historic stations at Creswick, Clunes and Talbot, you can do so (in a VLocity).
All in all, it's a great way to celebrate some local history and discover some of Ballarat's heritage charm - and with the FedUni Tweet Ride on the Saturday, it's even worth dressing up for!