The Workshops Rail Museum is in Ipswich and often referred to as the Ipswich Railway Museum, opening in 2002. It is the first point of interest on the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive .
The site was originally Queensland Rail’s North Ipswich Railway Workshops, a larger site from the when the original workshops, where Queensland trains started running back in 1865, was outgrown.
The collection has trains from various eras, from steam and diesel locomotives, and carriages, and a variety of railway memorabilia.
Steam locomotives of note are the 1089 and 1079, a pair of 4-6-2 locomotives, and the 1009, a Beyer-Garratt 4-8-2+2-8-4 locomotive.
The 1089 is the last steam engine to go into service on a main Australian railway. It is one of 6 remaining preserved BB18¼ class locomotives. In addition to The Workshops Rail Museum’s locomotives, two are with Mackay Heritage Railway, one in Winton at the Waltzing Matilda Centre, and one in Lithgow at the Zig Zag Railway. They were all built in Maryborough in Queensland, except for one of Mackay Heritage Railway’s engines which was built in England.
The 1009 looks a fascinating locomotive, articulated in three parts, with two sets of drive wheels at either end. Built in Manchester in England, the 1009 is the last remaining from 30. It was restored to operational condition in the 1990’s but has since become a static exhibit. They were meant to run passenger trains between Toowoomba and Brisbane but proved to be unsuitable for the tight tunnels. They ran some passenger services, such as The Midlander between Rockhampton and Winton.
Fun for Children
The museum caters for children very well, with lots of interactive and hands-on activities. The diesel train driving simulator was popular, using the cab and shell of a real diesel locomotive, and controls hooked up to a computer train driving simulator. Release the brakes, engage the engine and build up speed, then slow it down in time for the platform at the next station – or go as fast as you can, no sense in stopping at a station! Another simulator lets you view a trip on the tilt train from the driver’s seat.
A play area has dress up clothes and trikes to ride around on a mock railway track. It gives kids a space to let off some steam (see what I did there?) and a break from looking at all the boring stuff Mum and Dad want to look at. The science section demonstrates some aspects of railway science, with electricity, gears, and rail and wheel shapes, and gives another outlet for kids to interact and have some fun.
Some exhibits are not related to the railways. A temporary exhibit of taxidermy specimens from the Queensland museum featured some impressive animals you wouldn’t normally be able to get so close to, including polar bear, grizzly bear, tiger, and more. Another focused on smaller things, insects and microscopic photography viewed with 3D glasses.
An old German tank, the A7Z Sturmpanzerwagen, or Mephisto, is the only surviving example of 20 built for use in the war, making it the rarest tank in the world. It was the first tank built by Germany and saw limited service in 1918, when a detachment of soldiers from the 26th Battalion helped recover the abandoned tank, and it was brought back to Australia as a war trophy in 1919. It is to be returned to the Queensland Museum in 2018 when the Queensland Remembers gallery is to open late in 2018.
Update December 2018: Mephisto has been relocated to the Queensland Museum. It is no longer on display at The Workshops Rail Museum. The photo displayed was taken at Queensland Museum.
Workshops Tour and Buildings
The tour around the workshops is definitely worth going on. To begin with, it is included free, but also some of the locomotives in the collection can only be seen on the tour. There are other exhibits to see on the tour such as the handcarts for workers to travel along the rail to a work site, and a cutout steam engine showing the working parts of the steam locomotive.
History of some of the buildings is also provided on the tour, starting with the electricity generator built on site to start replacing the steam-powered machinery for building and servicing locomotives and carriages. They point out how the designs of the workshop buildings changed, like altering the roof design to something more suitable for Australia and capture more natural light, and the changes to ornate features on the facades so save costs.
To get there:
From the Ipswich Visitor Information Centre, exit onto Queens Victoria Parade and follow for 900m and turn right onto East St. Follow East St over the bridge and turn right at the roundabout onto The Terrace, following the brown sign. The Terrace bends to the right onto Downs St, continue for another 1.3km and turn left into Delacy St, following the brown sign just before it. Follow Delacy St to the end to reach The Workshops Rail Museum.
The Workshops Rail Museum is along the Cobb & Co Tourist Drive from Ipswich to Toowoomba, located near the start of tourist route in Ipswich. Instead of turning left into Downs St from Delacy St, continue straight ahead on Delacy St towards The Workshops Rail Museum.
From Brisbane, head towards Ipswich along the Ipswich Motorway. Follow the directions towards Toowoomba onto the Warrego Hwy, and take the North Ipswich exit to Francis St after 8.6km. Follow straight ahead into Holdsworth Rd for 1.6km, and turn left into Waterworks Rd towards Ipswich Central. After 800m turn left into Pine Mountain Rd, and continue for another 1km. Turn right into W M Hughes St at the brown sign for The Workshops Rail Museum. In 100m turn left into North St, and the parking area for the museum will be 450m on the right.