By: Lorraine Aitken
All aboard is called as the bell is being rung and the carriage doors behind the K163 steam locomotive are being securely closed by station volunteers. Excited children are trying to decide which compartment they will sit in for the 15 minute trip from Mornington to Moorooduc station as the adults are admiring the period details within the restored historic carriages. As steam from the engine bellows past the window, a long whistle sounds and a small jolt follows as the wheels begin to turn.
We pass through the Mornington industrial area, then behind the Tanti estate houses, certainly not Mornington’s most scenic part of town but an important part of the community for business and affordable real estate. We soon come to a stop at the grassy Tanti station before the bells and whistles start signalling on Bungower Rd for the train to cross over. Kids are waving at passengers in cars with smiles that are broad and joyous. Motorists seem to enjoy the experience as much as the children, waving back enthusiastically. On the other side of Bungower Rd the scenery starts to become more rural as we pass horses in paddocks and a few very large homes. Nearing the Moorooduc end of the line there are several kids playing footy on the oval and some of the kids waiting for their game decide to race the train on the other side of the fence before admitting defeat and waving to kids on-board.
The train brings smiles to everyone, whether its passengers, motorists or onlookers, however the most infectious smile of the day came from a young boy named Markus. Markus was volunteering on the train as the ticket inspector, punching holes into the cardboard tickets; a very passionate train enthusiast just like all the volunteers that work tirelessly to keep the train running for the community and visitors alike.
This short journey is perfect for young children and is a favourite with my own children. We often hear the whistle from our home on Sundays and without fail the kids yell out “The steam trains on today, can we go visit?” No matter how many times the kids ride on the Mornington railway they never seem to get tired of it.
Near the Moorooduc station there is a good playground with picnic tables and BBQs which can be accessed from a walking path just west of the car park. A small range of refreshments are available from the kiosk at the Moorooduc station along with a BBQ stand selling sausages.
The Mornington Historic railway operates on the first three Sundays of the month from 11am at Moorooduc and the last train leaves Mornington station at 3pm. Tickets cost $48 return for a family 2 adults + 2 children, $18 adults, $14 per person concession and $9 for children aged 4-16 years old. Prices may seem expensive for a short return train ride but upcoming special train days include Teddy’s Day on the 10th July, and T334 diesel locomotive 60th birthday on Saturday 20th of August.
For little train enthusiasts, a birthday party aboard the train might be just what they always wanted. Birthday parties are self-catered and are held within one of the carriages and are reasonably priced at $14 with a minimum of 10 people.