Castledare Miniature Railway: lifelong love of locos leads to volunteer work


Les smith with a selection of locomotives at Castledare Miniature Railway.
Les smith with a selection of locomotives at Castledare Miniature Railway.

A LIFELONG love of locomotives led Les Smith to volunteer at the Castledare Miniature Railway in Wilson.

Mr Smith said the miniature railway was the largest in the southern hemisphere and needed volunteers to help with its upkeep.

He said the 54-year-old railway was comprised of 5.5km of track that ran alongside the Canning River.

“We would like to have more members. Working on the railway is a dream many of us have had. Volunteering can be a very rewarding experience and you will get your hands dirty,” he said.

Mr Smith’s interest in trains began at age three when he watched them pass by his grandfather’s place of work in Shenton Park.

Since then his passion for locomotives has not waned.

He has worked with trains all his life having worked at Westinghouse Air Break Company and as the chief mechanical engineer at Australian National Railways Commission.

“It has been my life; it has got me all around the world.”

These days Mr Smith volunteers his time as secretary of the railway where he runs his 40-year-old miniature steam train called the Karalee.

“The original life-size version used to do the run between Perth and Fremantle in the 1890,” he said.

Many of the railway’s members own their own miniature locomotives that cost anywhere from $5000 to $36,000 for some of the larger miniatures.

In addition to member locomotives, the railway owns about 60 passenger wagons and a selection 20 steam and diesel locomotives.

Mr Smith said the common thread between members was their love of trains with volunteers travelling from as far away as Kalamunda, Rockingham and Butler.

“When we run our trains we have a stationmaster and we have signalling, guards and drivers. You progress from doing your ‘safe working’ through to becoming a guard or a driver or buying your own loco,’ he said.

The railway is open to the public on the first and third Sunday of the month.

For more information contact Les Smith on 9314 6382 or visit www.castledare.com.au.

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