Where is it: All South East city train lines!
What's it all about: A special train with some very special passengers!
How can I join in: Check Queensland Rail's website to find the details of which line the Santa Express will be running on!
Tell me more: Every year in the lead up to Christmas, Queensland Rail has some very special passengers riding on-board their network! Generally a specially decorated train (a standard commuter train so plenty of seats available) – last year’s was complete with a Rudolph nose and antlers – running on a different line every day so no matter where you are in Brisbane, you shouldn't be too far away from joining in! No need to pre-order tickets (you can also use your Go-card) - just keep an eye out for the right train and hop on board! Santa and his helpers wander through the train, singing and dancing, stopping for photos and you might even get a candy cane or two!
Where is it: Leaving from Bundamba Racecourse, Ipswich.
What’s it all about: Another one of Ipswich’s excellent rail experiences! Get to ride on a vintage train - either steam or diesel powered – and learn a little about Queensland’s rail heritage!
How can I join in: Buy your tickets online or at the station (we recommend online so that you are assured of your spot)! They run a number of different experiences so check their website for details!
Tell me more: A surprisingly easy to access experience is the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway (QPSR) which runs its heritage rail from Bundamba Racecourse - right in Ipswich! The sight of the old steam engine with smoke and steam billowing out is almost too good to resist, and we're sure that they have collected a few passengers who until they saw it, probably weren't planning on a heritage train trip!
QPSR runs their vintage steam an diesel locomotives, pulling retired Queensland Rail carriages generally once a month (they also do longer special trips at times - check out their website for more information) along a short section of track, before looping back and returning from the original departure point and taking about half an hour to complete the trip. There's no stopping or hopping off on the journey, so we think the half an hour is a good length for little kids. The train leaves for each trip every hour.
While the ride on the old carriages was fun and well worth taking, for us we probably enjoyed being on the platform more! Seeing the old steam train up close is truly impressive, and it's something that is a little hard to appreciate when you are sitting on the train. So we loved being on the platform for the half hour before the train departed again with the smoke and steam, the hisses and whistles, and the heat of the fire box! We could have watched it for hours! The volunteers are also really friendly and passionate about the train, and more than happy to have a chat and provide some more information about the train.
This is a really fun and authentic experience! The locomotive and carriages are well maintained and very comfortable for the short journey. There's an added bonus of coordinating with the Handmade Markets which is on at the same time across the road at the racecourse. The markets have lots of great products so they're great for doing a bit of shopping or even just browsing. You can also grab a bite to eat and there's always a few things going on for the kids - plus you can see the train pull in across the road every hour!
Websites: http://www.qpsr.net/ and http://www.thehandmadeexpo.com.au/ipswich.html
Brisbane Family Explorers