Miniature railway almost complete as Bushtown Waimate celebrates annual Steam Up Day

Bushtown Waimate's annual Steam Up Day raised an estimated $10,000 on Sunday as the park development prepares to reach another milestone.
Bushtown chairman Allan Laurie said about 1000 people attended and were treated to numerous activities and displays including steam traction engines, tractors, a working sawmill and a miniature railway which the group wants to have signed off and ready for commercial use by November.

The new 550-metre railway which circles the Dobson St site is the latest milestone in a two-stage rail development, Laurie said.

Stage two of the railway would eventually add another 250m of track to the link.


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Laurie said 300 volunteers helped put the annual event together.

The group is the process of applying for funding to employ a project manager as it continues to press ahead with its 10-year plan which includes building an auditorium and refurbishment of the sites church.

Al Williams/Stuff
Stephen Unahi, of Southland, left, Nic Corbin, of Christchurch, and Simon Bond, of Otautau, demonstrate their skills with the handsaw.

We have applied for funding to a range of agencies for a project manager.

The imminent completion of stage one of the railway is something we are focussed on, as we are looking to go for a registration for an amusement park device.

The next step is to get it up and running, and get the park open more often.'

Al Williams/Stuff
Andrina Benson, left, Joy McIvor and Liz Fleming offer lollies at the manchester store.

The park is open for community and private events at the moment, but once we get the train operational we will set open times.

Laurie said he was absolutely delighted with how Bushtown Waimate is progressing.

The project is very much a strong thing in the community.

We are on a journey with this thing and there is huge support from the community.

Al Williams/Stuff
Patrick Partleton, 14, left, Joanne Wilson, KJ Cumming, 17, Maddy O'Malley, 15, and Lily Pay, 15, all members of the Waimate Venturers, get into the spirit of the day.

The Bushtown Waimate committee, formed in October 2002, was allocated land by the Waimate District Council to develop a tribute to a key part of the town's history - with plans drawn up in mid-2003.

History covered at the spot spans from the 1860s to 1920s. Visitors can explore old buildings, and learn about the 1878 fire that destroyed the Totara forest, a few bush mills, and more old homes.

Waimate District mayor Craig Rowley, who attended the event, said Bushtown was going from strength to strength, 'and I am not alone as I watch with excitement as this heritage park grows and develops.

When I look at all the interactive displays, machinery and equipment, I consider our district rich not only in history and resources, but also in members of the community who are passionate about recreating and preserving our history for current and future generations,' Rowley said.

The vision that members are continuing to build is offering young people an opportunity to have hands-on experiences and knowledge that they may never see outside of museums.

As a district, we can thank the Bushtown committee for their vision and commitment in continuing to grow and shape this facility, and what a legacy they are building.

Al Williams/Stuff
Thomas Kyle, 15, of Seadown, left, and Guy Wigley, of Waimate, operate the thrashing mill.

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