Train photographers were out in droves over the past few days as Locomotive 3801 made several runs from Thirlmere to Goulburn.
The loco's arrival was an extra special treat given that it hadn't been to Goulburn in some seven years.
Built in 1943, the loco is said to embody the romance of the steam era. It was retired from service in 1962, according to Transport Heritage NSW, and withdrawn from heritage service in 2007.
In more recent years, Goulburn engineer Ken Ainsworth has refurbished the original boiler. In 2016 Transport for Heritage NSW CEO Andrew Moritz said the work involved "manufacturing processes never attempted in Australian standard gauge railway preservation."
Mr Ainsworth also loans his specialist skills to steam equipment at the Goulburn Waterworks.
Loco 3801 was restored at Chullora and repainted at Thirlmere.
The total project has taken more than a decade but with the loco certified in October, 2019, preparations have been underway for a relaunch when coronavirus restrictions allow.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, the loco ran between Thirlmere and Goulburn and return to train crew and test the engine.
The sight drew onlookers and train photographers all along the line.
Goulburn Loco Roundhouse Preservation Society (GLRPS) secretary Kerry Dwyer caught an up-close view as 3801 was turned at the Braidwood Road facility.
"I think it's marvelous," he said.
"I travelled with those locos as a child growing up in World War Two. I became enamoured with trains, as most boys do."
The ex-merchant navy-man grew up in Sydney and travelled around the state with his school teacher mother by train, visiting family.
Mr Dwyer and his wife moved to Goulburn from their Braidwood retirement property three years ago.
"I haven't seen anything I don't like about Goulburn yet," he quipped.
Earlier this year he was appointed secretary of the GLRPS. The museum remains closed to the public due to coronavirus restrictions.
"We don't have the resources to comply with regulations and until we do, we'll stay closed," Mr Dwyer said.
"It's having a big impact on our ability to exist."
Meantime, loco 3801 may be running again between Thirlmere and Goulburn on Friday and Saturday, depending on the engine's performance.
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