Journey into railway history at Newport Workshops Open Days


    By John Hawthorne

    The historic Newport Railway Workshops is one of the few remaining operational 19th Century steam-era railway workshops in the world. As an active rail depot, it is normally off-limits to the public. But on the Labour Day long weekend this year (9 to 11 March), the rail preservation groups located in the historic West Block buildings will open their depot for all to see and experience.

    Each year, the volunteers put various locomotives into steam and operate them up and down the sidings in the rail yard, a thrilling sight for the thousands of people who attend.

    “Lots of people all over Victoria see our steam trains running on the main line rail network,” said Noah Clancey, who works in Steamrail’s Operations Department. “The Open Days event is a rare opportunity for people to see these amazing machines up close, to look inside locomotive cabs, or walk through complete trains, as well as seeing the incredible historic workshop buildings where we maintain the heritage rail fleet.”

    Joining Steamrail’s displays will be exhibits and attractions from heritage rail groups DERMPAV and Seven-O-Seven Operations, which are also based at West Block, as well as locomotives from the Castlemaine-based Victorian Goldfields Railway. There will even be exhibition games of Trugo, a 1920s sport invented at the workshops. 

    For icing on the cake, tickets to the Open Days event also include free admission to the Newport Railway Museum. While the museum is located a few hundred metres further down Champion Road from the West Block buildings, a special heritage bus will operate a shuttle service between the two sites throughout each day, also stopping at the nearby Newport Railway Station for visitors using public transport to get to the event. 

    Since the museum passed into new ownership in early 2020, it has seen some major improvements, including restoration work on some of its locomotives and carriages. During the last three years, around 1700 square metres of new roofing has been constructed to protect exhibits from the sun and rain. “It’s not only protecting our exhibits, but our visitors too,” said Museum President Nick Hewitt. Nick notes that the museum is also part of the new Storytowns podcast series commissioned by Metro Trains. 

    Both Steamrail Victoria and Newport Railway Museum are registered charities, and proceeds from ticket sales go directly into supporting their efforts to preserve and restore the trains and other historic items in their care. 

    Don’t miss this ‘once in every two years’ chance to take a stroll through the west’s railway history. 

    The Newport Workshops Open Days event runs from Saturday 9 to Monday 11 March, with gates open from 10 am to 5 pm each day. 

    Tickets can be purchased online at, or over the counter at Newport Railway Museum, which is open every Saturday from 12 noon to 5pm. 

    For more details, please contact John via

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