Every year in April the growing town of Maitland hosts a festival of steam called Steamfest. For photographers Steamfest provides a great opportunity to get up close to working steam locomotives and other steam powered devices.
For the past 10 years I have visited Steamfest and taken pictures of the trains and other steam powered devices, as well as the crowd and other attractions along the way.
This year Steamfest will be on Saturday 12th and Sunday 13th of April. So what’s there to see and do…
With the 3830 (seen above) under maintenance with Powerhouse Museum, the 3265 and 3642 locomotives will be on display for visitors to Steamfest 2014. These two engines ran on the NSW rail lines for many years running passengers and mail. Both of these engines were retired from service in the late 1960s
The two steam engines will be running from Maitland to Newcastle and a diesel motor rail will be running between Maitland and Patterson over the Steamfest weekend. Draft timetables are available for steam powered trips and for diesel motor trips.
Along these lines there are many opportunities for photographers to make some great images. There are several stations along the line between Newcastle and Maitland, as well as areas with good views of the line and pedestrian overpasses. Take a look at the lines with Google Maps and you will see many potential locations. Maitland Station can get pretty busy, being the focus of all the other displays, but you can still make some unimpeded close up images of the trains as they pull in and out of the station. In the Maitland area there are also stations at East Maitland and Victoria Street that offer good views.
The Rally Ground is a field close to Maitland Railway Station, and during Steamfest is full of exhibits and events. You’ll be able to find Powerhouse Museum displays & lectures, vintage tools and machines, mini train and steam tractor rides, steam and diesel powered tractors, vintage vehicles as well as food and a place to sit and take a break for a while. The Rally Ground is usually $2 entry for anyone 16 and over, and is hugely popular. Events such as the Penny Farthing race are also held here.
Penny Farthing race
First held last year (2013), these races gathered a good crowd. Most people have never seen a penny farthing bicycle being ridden before, let alone several of them hurtling around a race track! In 2014 races will be held on Saturday 12th April between 9:00am and 12:30pm with the following events: Slow race, Slalom, 100m sprint, 1600m Powerhouse Cup, 1600m Womens. If you’re serious, you can find an entry form here.
Autobarn Maitland Show ‘n’ Shine
Run by the Maitland Street Rodders and sponsored by Autobarn, this is a great display of cars of all types. With over 600 on display, you can spend a lot of time checking out some amazing vehicles. The event will be held in Maitland Park on Sunday 13th April 2014, open 9am and free to the public. The park has pedestrian bridge over the highway, so it is quite safe crossing to and from the other Steamfest exhibits at Maitland Station.
This year I hope to be able to focus more on making planned, considered images. There are plenty of locations along the lines that should provide great views of the trains as they pass by. I’m sure I’ll see plenty of you there.