Help keep VGR on track

Dedicated members of the VGR civil gang and their trusty but tired 'Takeuchi' excavator are pictured hard at work replacing the ageing timber sleepers with the new concrete sleepers.

The Victorian Goldfields Railway has launched a fundraising appeal to assist with an upgrade of the tourist line between Muckleford and Maldon.

VGR president Rob Lee said the track was now 25 years old and in critical need of rejuvenation to ensure the popular railway could continue to run a premium service.

“Unfortunately, recent rainfall has accelerated the deterioration of the current timber sleepers and therefore we are now looking at these works as a priority for our dedicated team of volunteers,” he said.

Due to the urgent track work, VGR will not be operating its regular Wednesday service from March 1 to June 30. However, weekend services will continue.

VGR has managed to acquire about 10,000 concrete sleepers, which is almost enough to complete the entire section from Muckleford to Maldon, thanks to state government support. However, the cost of transporting and installing the new sleepers means the not-for-profit organisation needs community help to make the project a reality.

“While these concrete sleepers were free, having been kindly gifted to the Tourist and Heritage Sector by the Victorian Government, it still cost VGR around $150,000 ($15 per sleeper) to transport them from the depot at Tarrawarra to Muckleford,” Rob said.

“On top of the transport cost we need to spend an additional $20 per sleeper in associated hardware – such as pads and clips – required to install them.”

To donate to the sleeper appeal and help keep the much-loved VGR tourist railway on track visit:

In addition to the sleeper appeal, VGR is also raising funds to replace its ageing ‘little’ Takeuchi excavator and ensure its civil gang can do the delicate work required to replace the track.

Volunteers are also continuing the painstaking work to restore the railway’s steam locomotives and hope to see them return to service in the coming months.

“Everyone is working hard, from our drivers, fireman, conductors and service staff providing our weekly tourist rail services to our civil gang, mechanical department and Young Volunteers Group,” Rob said.

“We always welcome new faces who want to join our dedicated team and any donations are gratefully received to assist us with our various projects.

“The Castlemaine and Maldon Railway Preservation Society is a non-for-profit organisation and donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. All donations go towards ongoing maintenance and are a large source of funding for future projects.”