If you have a little train lover in your family, you can’t beat a morning at Richmond Vale Railway Museum. Located at Richmond Vale, between Kurri Kurri and Freeman’s Waterhole in the Hunter Valley, this unique museum, run by a board of volunteers, celebrates the steam train and mining history of the region.
The museum is open on the first three Sundays of every month, every Sunday of the school holidays and for special annual events such as Family Fun Fest that we recently attended, which is on the Saturday and Sunday of the fourth weekend in September. The gates open from 9.30am.
Once you take the turnoff from Leggetts Drive at Richmond Vale, it’s a short and pleasant drive along a bush dirt road to the main entrance. The entrance has been built to resemble a train platform, displaying signs and memorabilia of days gone by. The cafe and a souvenir shop are also located here.
The first thing the kids will want to do is ride the miniature railway. Babies and toddlers won’t miss out as mums, dads and carers are encouraged to ride alongside littlies. On the day we visited we rode on ‘Emily’. A gold coin donation per ride is worth it, especially as donations go towards improvements, operating costs and restoration work of the museum.
Your entry to the museum includes unlimited steam train rides. We rode ‘Marjorie’, a 1938 model, restored 31.5 tonne engine. The ride is interesting and scenic through the surrounding bushland and takes approximately 20 minutes.
The kids loved listening out for Marjorie’s whistle and at the end of our ride they were allowed to have a closer look at the steam engine and pull the whistle, which they loved! You can read all about Marjorie’s history and the other engines on the informative signs around the museum.
While visiting, you might like to take a walk through the Richmond Main Mining Museum, located in the beautiful old building of the Richmond Main Colliery Administration Office on the museum grounds.
The Mining museum houses photos, maps and artefacts relating to the history of the Richmond Main Colliery. With two energetic preschoolers, it was impossible to spend as much time looking at these exhibits as we would have liked.
A good idea, if you have another adult with you, would be to take turns riding on the steam train with the kids, allowing each adult at least 20 minutes to browse the museum.
Another activity to keep the kids busy is the signalling activity, where they get to operate a train signal with levers (my two thought this was great!).
There’s also a fantastic photo opportunity, the R1 class tram sculpture, located inside the cafe. It was an entrant in 2017 Sculptures by the Sea and Sculptor Simon Rathlou later donated it to the museum where it is used as a photo booth.
The cafe sells hot and cold drinks and an array of food and is a lovely place to sit and have lunch.
There are also tables located on the cafe verandah and a few picnic tables in shady areas on the museum grounds if you prefer to bring a picnic lunch.
Richmond Vale Railway Museum is family-friendly, with clean amenities including a disabled toilet and mother’s room with a change table. It is run by a board of volunteers and we found all volunteers to be friendly and helpful. If you can, I’d recommend organising your visit to coincide with one of their annual special events, details of which can be found on their website. Their next event is the Santa Special on Sunday 16 November.
Good to know
Address: 262 Leggetts Drive, Richmond Vale NSW
Entry: Adults $16, Concession: $11, Children (5-15): $7.50, Children Under 5: FREE
Open: First three Sundays of each month and every Sunday during school holidays (except for Christmas and New Year’s Day). Double-check the Richmond Vale Railway Museum Facebook page for exact dates.
Opening Hours: Gates open at 9.30am. Trains run from 10.00am, with a lunch break around noon. Trains run no later than 3.00pm.
Phone: 02 4018 7230
Disclosure: Newy with Kids received complimentary admission for review purposes. However, all opinions are our own.
Meg is a born and raised Novocastrian whose interests include gardening, reading and writing poetry. In between writing for Newy With Kids and working casually as a School Learning Support Officer, Meg enjoys camping and travelling with her family and exploring Newcastle and all it has to offer. Meg has two energetic kids and is passionate about kids having the opportunity to be outdoors as often as possible.