Sunday 16th October once again saw us heading down to the railway station to catch another Steam Incorporated’s steam excursion. This time to the River City of Whanganui. It was to be a full on day with a bus and boat trip thrown in.
Once again God smiled on us with another fine Spring day. All along the way cattle and sheep ran for their lives. Used to seeing diesel hauled goods trains they probably have never seen a steaming and smoke breathing monster like this before.
Upon arrival at the Whanganui goods yard we were greeted by 2 steam traction engines in steam and a fairground organ merrily playing away.
Steam Incorporated had laid on various forms of transport for the day’s entertainment. Buses to take passengers into town for shopping etc; a 1936 Bedford 12 seater bus to take others on a tiki tour culminating in a visit to a private collection of vintage cars before cruising up the Whanganui River as a climax.
The final stage was a trip up the river on the vintage tunnel boat “Wairua”. This boat was built in London by Yarrow & Co for Mr Hatrick and shipped to New Zealand in kitset form and assembled on the Whanganui river where it has spent it’s whole life.
Prior to the coming of the railways river transport was a major form of transport in New Zealand. When the river trade dropped off the boat was moored up until it sank at it’s moorings. It was many years later that an enterprising group re floated and restored the vessel to it’s present condition. A tunnel boat was an early version the modern jet boat capable of negotiating shallow waterways.
The bus trip in the vintage bus was a surprise in that we were taken to a private collection (museum) of vintage cars. Among the collection was a Standard 8 which was the first car I ever owned. The rest of the collection was spectacular with the age and condition of the vehicles on display.
Standard 8 fully restored.International truck.1928 Chevrolet.1927 Standard 18HP 6 cylinder.Maxwell in what I was told was original condition.Waimarie alongside the Dublin St bridge over the Whanganui River.
Originally we were to travel upriver on the Waimarie Paddle Steamer which unfortunately was in Dry Dock for her 10 year survey and paint.
Once everybody had returned to the train we were off, back to Paekakariki, Steam Incorporated’s base. A light evening meal of bangers and mash had been arranged to be prepared and served on board the train once we had reached Marton.
Our arrival at Palmerston North became the anti climax of the whole day when Kiwi Rail were unable to provide a Steam licensed crew to take us home. The solution was 2 DX diesel locos to be hitched in front of the loco at the front of the train.
There was nothing wrong with Ja1271 but it still needed to be manned and driven by the Steam Incorporated crew to keep everything lubricated as if it was working normally.
Once again Steam Incorporated organised a truly memorable day for which they should be congratulated.