What's at Trainworks


Thirlmere was once a booming town of tents for the many railway workers who created the Great Southern Railway from 1863 to 1867. The Heritage Precinct has witnessed the full gamut of Southern Highland colonial history.  It comprises:

  • Thirlmere railway station, opened in 1885 as Redbank and renamed Thirlmere in 1886.
  • The Station Master's Cottage, built in 1891.
  • The Co-Op Shed, built around 1908.

The design concepts for the Station Master's Cottage were imported from the United States and the house, constructed in 1891, was the first brick building in town. It served as home to Thirlmere's stationmasters and their families for decades. The house was planned and built during the lead up to the depression of 1892 and bucked the public spending trends of that time by adhering to a brick rather than a timber design. The house is a fine example of suburban architecture of the time.

Combined with the nearby railway station, which for a time incorporated a post office, the cottage formed a social hub in the town.

Due to the easy access to working steam trains, Thirlmere has been the backdrop for a number of television commercials and shows.  Perhaps the best known television series filmed at Thirlmere was the Channel Seven series Always Greener, from 2001 to 2003.


The Main Exhibition Building is where you will discover how the NSW railways brought life to town and country. Learn about life on the lines and in the workshops, marvel at some of the engineering and design achievements of the railways, find out how signals and points keep the lines safe, walk the timeline of rail development from the invention of the very first steam powered engine to today, and see how the railways revolutionised tourism and leisure travel in Australia.

Highlights include:

  • Governor General's Carriage -- if there was a rolling, steel-wheeled work of art in this country, it is the stunning Governor General's carriage - a Palace on Wheels.
  • Prison Van -- you will find a lot more in the Prison Van than you could imagine. These rolling gaol cells operated in one form or another from 1867 until the 1950s.
  • Steam Machine -- climb aboard the steam machine and find out more about the fastest and longest trains, compare energy use across different modes of transport and learn how steam power works.
  • Mail Van -- an important example of the Travelling Post Offices which enabled the speedy delivery of mail, newspapers and parcels to communities across the state
  • Steam locomotive E18 -- built in 1866, this is the oldest loco in the collection and it had a working life of almost a century


Linking the new Main Exhibition Building to the Great Train Hall is the Worker's Walk where you can discover more about 14 of the most interesting railway jobs.

Make sure you meet:-

  • Station Master - he was a pillar of the local community.
  • Steam Engine Driver - find out what it took to become a steam engine driver.
  • Fireman - the fireman on a steam engine fed the coal into the firebox - and this was not as simple as it sounds.


The Great Train Hall houses the biggest collection of rolling stock in Australia. A significant portion of the collection has been steadily refurbished and restored over the years by the NSWRTM volunteers, while others patiently await the time, money and labour required to be returned to their former glory.

It's here where you will see our Heroes and Legends, including:-

  • 6040 Garratt - the heaviest and most powerful steam locomotive to ever turn a wheel in Australia. It's massive, powerful - a sight to behold.
  • 1905 Steam Engine - the first locomotive to cross the Sydney Harbour Bridge - a Beyer, Peacock of Manchester England construction.  Trainworks hosts one of the finest and most diverse collections of this maker's locomotives in the world.
  • RS1962 Dining Car - the envy of the world for luxury and speed in the years following the end of World War II.  This is one of the all time great sights and experiences of Australian railway.
  • 1709 - one of the most profound expressions of 19th Century travel in the collection.  It is a true treasure.
  • The Rail Pay Bus - one of the oddest little items in the collection. It was used for transporting employees wages all over the state rail system.
Some of the carriages are accessible - climb aboard and relive some of your favourite rail travel memories or experience for the first time the feel, look and smell of these wonderful relics of Australian social history.


The new roundhouse is a blend of traditional roundhouse style and modern workshop concepts. In the roundhouse staff and volunteers work on a variety of locomotives and carriages and carry out heavy overhauls and restorations as well as the more traditional 'running' maintenance that roundhouses were originally designed for.

Here you can view this 'behind the scenes' maintenance and demonstrations of specialist heritage and conservation processes.

The roundhouse is serviced by a 105-foot turntable from the old Enfield steam depot. It is one of only three in NSW of that impressive size, constructed to turn the enormous 33.5-metre-long, 265-tonne Beyer Peacock Garratt locomotives - such as the mammoth 6040.


Children of all ages will find plenty to do at Trainworks:

  • Run, jump and spin in our playground which features an amazing 7-metre high climbing frame
  • Climb into the cab of an old steam locomotive
  • Watch the live action of the working turntable and roundhouse
  • Explore inside some of our special-purpose carriages such as the sleeping car and dining car
  • Enjoy the sound and light show which tells the story of loco 1021
  • Experience a real steam or diesel train ride*
  • Hear the hustle and bustle, puff and chug of a steam-era train station
*Train rides operate on selected weekends each month and during some special events


With over 10,000 square meters of lawns, Trainworks is the perfect place to have a picnic. Grab a delicious sandwich from our cafe or use the barbeque facilities to cook your own hot lunch.


Trainworks is a multi-use site and with onsite catering it's the perfect place for your next party or function.

No other venue can provide a backdrop like we can!

From corporate parties to kids parties, 30 people to 250 people - we can do it all. Contact us by email, info@trainworks.com.au, or by phone 02 4683 6800