A Great Way to Learn New Skills and Meet New People
Volunteers maintain the tracks, crew the trains, restore and paint the carriages, serve refreshments and sell the tickets. You can share in the thrills of building and operating this unique and fascinating railway by becoming a volunteer!
Whilst maintaining the railway is a big task, the work can be fun and interesting, and you will learn new skills. There is nothing quite like operating a 100 year old railway in the 21st century.
No matter what qualifications you may bring, it is certain you can find work that is both rewarding and of tremendous value to the society. Even where the society already has someone performing a unique or specialised task, no offer of assistance will ever be rejected.
The skills required are wide and varied. Members are able to participate in all aspects of the activities taking place in and around the Bellarine Railway and can help out in any way. Any trade skills or specialised knowledge can be put to use around the railway, restoring locomotives or rollingstock, track maintenance, crewing trains, selling tickets along with many other possibilities.
If you’d like to volunteer, reach out to us via the contact us page, or visit Queenscliff Station on a running day.
Volunteer Reflections: My First Year 2023 - John Godden
I am John Godden retired, it’s hard to believe it has been 12 months since volunteering at the Bellarine Railway Restoration Workshop in Bridge Street Queenscliff. I joined a happy crew of chaps from various backgrounds enjoying the task of refurbishing the last Australian Standard Garratt No33 steam locomotive (assemble at Newport Workshops in the early to mid-1940’s) and also restoring the oldest rail carriage in Australia.
The ASG33 locomotive was built by the Victorian Railways during WW2 and is the last existing engine of its type built for the war effort. It is a rewarding opportunity to be able to be part of making this piece of history, a magnificent steam locomotive (machine) run again.
As for me, I have an Electrical/Engineering background. My working life was spent on road electrical/electronic infrastructure with little knowledge or interest in trains. At the Bellarine Railway a lack of knowledge of trains is not an issue in helping with restoration as there is plenty of technical support supplied to carry out the variety of restoration tasks, having an engineering background does help. So far, I have had the chance to use skills learnt over my working life to use machines for drilling, cutting, sanding, grinding, welding, metal press, painting, carpentry and broom skills to clean the workshop.
Volunteering in the workshop does remind me much of my time as an apprentice at Country Roads Board having morning tea when the bell rings, having a good chat with a like-minded group on all topics from saving the world and of course trains. Then we get to do it all again at lunch time and afternoon tea. Don’t get me wrong, we do get a lot done, but as some of us, not being as young as we used to be do need to sit down.
Why do I volunteer here?
There are a number of places to volunteer in this area and this is one that is not so well known. I ended up here after a steam train ride with my brother’s model rail club and had the opportunity to look at the restoration workshop. I was amazed at the Garratt and the engineering involved for a locomotive of its size. Chris took the opportunity to get me to come down on the next Tuesday at 9.30am and the rest is history. The work is very rewarding, there is a great group of chaps with years of knowledge in different industries. Some of us have retired to this area, others live in the Geelong area, some have long time rail experience, others are like me. This all goes to provide fuel for good conversations, a feeling of belonging and time well spent. Chris did ask me after a few weeks how I was enjoying the work. I said that it is good to be able to do a task with no budget, no time limit, no staff to manage and no management expectations to worry about.
If you are looking to volunteer, you could do a lot worse than to join us.
Throughout the Bellarine Railway’s 16km length, there are two main volunteer workshops, and two main staffed stations.
All of our operational rollingstock is housed at a place named LAKERS SIDING, and this is also where we undertake heavy maintenance on our locomotives and carriages. Some of our more long term projects are undertaken at QUEENSCLIFF WORKSHOPS, such as the restoration of the last surviving Australian Standard Garratt Locomotive (G33), and the rebuild of some of our more unique items of rollingstock.
Currently all our passenger services originate at QUEENSCLIFF STATION, where volunteers man the booking office, gift shop, and undertake platform duties, such as assisting our passengers in boarding the train and cleaning between services. In the future we will run a heritage train to DRYSDALE STATION, which has a manned booking office and kiosk, much like Queenscliff.
We also have a talented team of gardeners and ‘ways and works’ volunteers, that maintain the buildings and scenery along our railway line, as and where work is needed.
And of course we have a large group of volunteers qualified to operate our trains. Each train must have a Driver, Fireman, and Guard, and a Signaller where needed. Each of these positions require training and an exam to attain the appropriate qualifications, all of which can be undertaken at the Bellarine Railway itself.