Thirlmere village woke to the enchanting sound of steam whistles, on both Saturday and Sunday morning, for the beginning of each day of the annual Thirlmere Festival of Steam.
Just under 8,500 visitors bought tickets to the Railway Museum and Train Rides over the Saturday and Sunday, making this the largest-ever Festival of Steam held by the Museum.
In addition to those ticketed numbers, were the hundreds, if not thousands of non-ticket holders who visited Thirlmere over the two days of the Festival, just to enjoy the free street parade, market stalls, amusement rides, display of vintage cars and much, much more, including the dramatic departures and arrivals of the various steam engines on their regular trips to either Picton or Buxton..
Street closures were essential and such was the popularity of the event, many visitors had to park over a kilometre or more away from the town centre, just to find parking spaces.
Crowds filled the various streets offering food stalls and the market stalls continuously over the two days of non-stop action, whilst live music kept the crowd fully entertained, either with the street band or with the various stage performers, including Mahalia Barnes.
The Festival of Steam had been scheduled for earlier this year but following the extreme weather event which culminated in Wollondilly being declared a disaster region, Wollondilly Shire Council and Transport Heritage NSW had jointly agreed to postpone the Festival to later in the year.
At that time, Wollondilly Mayor Matt Gould said, “This decision was not taken lightly and has been made in order to respect the integrity of this well-loved event. Whilst this is extremely disappointing for everyone, it does means that the deferred event will not require scaling back and will reflect instead, the grandeur of
such a premier steam event for the region.”
That proved to be the case and the success of this year’s Festival is a tribute to the hard work and dedication of the Museum volunteers and staff, along with Wollondilly Council and its employees, along with the many stall holders and exhibitors.