As a family that drives or flies to our destinations, we don’t really think about the important role the railway played in linking the city with rural towns in Australia in the past. It’s fantastic to see that rail history is being preserved at the Junee Roundhouse Railway museum.
JUNEE ROUNDHOUSE RAILWAY MUSEUM
Junee in southern New South Wales is home to one of the few working railway roundhouses in the Southern Hemisphere. We recently visited and found the attraction had good wheelchair access and our transport-lover had a wonderful time.
While the Junee Roundhouse was a working 35 metre roundhouse in the past, its role changed in 1994. Half of the roundhouse was converted to a museum which is the area we visited, while the other half is used for its original purpose of re-conditioning locomotives.
The locomotive area of the museum was the most popular with our family. I’d never seen a roundhouse (aside from on Thomas the Tank Engine of course) so I was interested to hear how they operate. The roundhouse has 42 repair bays, a machine shop, and until the demise of steam in the early 1960’s, had a large elevated coal stage and a de-ashing pit. During the 48 years of Government railway operation, virtually every class of steam and diesel locomotive, self propelled rail cars, modern XPT power cars and some interstate locomotives received attention at the Junee Roundhouse.
Knowledgeable volunteers are on hand to share the history of the railway or you can wander taking in what you want from the informative signage.
My favourite fact I learnt from our day at the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum was that there used to be a travelling post office service in New South Wales which operated from 1870-1985. Due to the vast distances involved in Australia the sorting of mail on the trains was vital.
Rail carriages were specifically constructed and provided a mobile post office. It sounds like the service was more efficient than the one we have today with mail delivered within 24 hours of posting. Interesting to hear the mail service has in fact gone backwards given all the tools we have at our disposal now, including technology.
The service had unique hand date stamps (post marks) which in many cases included the simple word “Up” for services taking mail to Sydney and “Down” for mail leaving Sydney.
Special post boxes were provided at railway stations and even on the side of the railway carriages where mail could be posted.
BJ was more impressed exploring the various areas of the open carriages.
Unfortunately we visited on a day when there was a local blackout so we didn’t see the working model railway in operation but it looked great.
The working model railway was donated to the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum after a rail enthusiast passed away and his wife was looking for somewhere it could be appreciated by many.
Inside the museum there’s a mixture of railway memorabilia including railway badges, ticket dispensers and railway staff uniforms.
ACCESSIBILITY AT JUNEE ROUNDHOUSE RAILWAY MUSEUM
Access throughout the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum is generally good. Entry into the museum is step-free.
The historic building does have standard size doorways which may be too narrow for some larger wheelchairs. BJ’s chair fitted through all the spaces with his off-road tyres which makes it 64cm wide.
BJ was keen to explore the carriages which are open for visitors. These carriages are fitted with stairs with hand rails.
A large accessible bathroom doubles as a ladies toilet stall.
While the inside of the carriages are only accessible to visitors with some mobility, I think train enthusiasts will still enjoy seeing the roundhouse, locomotives and the history captured in the small museum. The entry price is modest so I think it offers good value for money.
The Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum is open Wednesday to Sunday 10.00am to 3pm.
Special group tours are available by appointment – contact the Tours Manager. Go to the Group Tours page for further information.
Entry concessions are available for Seniors Card Holders, schools and groups of ten persons or more.
General admission charges at time of visiting
Adults – $8
Concession – $5
Family (2 adults & 2 children) – $20
You can read more and plan your visit to the Junee Roundhouse Railway Museum by visiting their website.
While in Junee, make sure you also visit the Junee Licorice and Chocolate Factory and the GasWorks Garage. We shared our experience in this review.