J550 on the move again: The Baw Baw Shire Council has found five parties interested in taking its historical train.
Warragul’s historic J550 train could be fully restored and set to work on a rebuilt Noojee rail line if the Noojee and District Historical Society wins its bid to take the locomotive from the Baw Baw Shire Council.
UPDATE: Noojee Historical Society wins bid for Warragul’s J550 locomotive.
The council announced in January the train, presently on static display in Rotary Park, is too expensive for it to maintain and called for submissions for a potential new home for the locomotive.
A Baw Baw Shire Council spokesperson told The Warragul Citizen five submissions were received during the submissions period, which will be considered by the council at an as-yet unscheduled meeting.
One group vying for custody of the locomotive is the Noojee and District Historical society, who would like to fully restore it for use at its planned Noojee Heritage Project Centre.
The proposed centre will incorporate the Noojee station, an underground museum, an old saw mill, a cultural centre and an early settlers’ camp, with a working historic rail line running from the station to, and over, the Noojee trestle bridge.
The project will see restorations made to the whole site, including the goods shed, railway line, cranes, carriages and, if their bid is successful, Warragul’s J550 locomotive.
Will Langoor of the Noojee Historical Society told The Warragul Citizen the train would be a perfect fit for their project and he was confident the society would get it.
“It would just compliment… the Noojee Heritage Project Centre,” Mr Langoor said.
“We actually started meeting with council about that train over six months ago.”
“At that time we heard that train was possibly going and we… put our name forward.”
“We’d had several meetings with the council before that was made public in the newspaper… They’ve been pretty supportive but they don’t commit themselves.”
Victorian Minister for Tourism Louise Asher, local MP Gary Blackwood and Baw Baw Shire Mayor Diane Blackwood all recently attended the site.
“We showed [Ms Asher] around the site, we showed her photos, the plans and everything and she was really excited and impressed by what we’re doing and I think she’ll be supporting us to get this project up and going,” Mr Langoor said.
The group has also had some success in lobbying for funding to transport the train from Warragul to noojee, which will cost between $35,000 and $45,000.
“Gary Blackwood’s already said that if we’re successful he’ll lobby for funding for [its transport],” Mr Langoor said.
Mr Langoor said he is confident the train could be restored.
“From the people that we have had check it out it is restorable,” Mr Langoor said.
“We’ve been told it’s one of the better ones on static display, not like the one at Yarragon.”
“There are a few bits missing off it but the bits are available… and if we got the funding for sure we can get it restored.
Mr Langoor said he thinks it important the train remains in the shire.
“I think the rate payers in the Baw Baw Shire would prefer to keep it within the shire and benefit everybody rather it going to some other organisation with nothing to do with the Baw Baw Shire,” Mr Langoor said.
“We’re doing this to preserve the history for future generations in the district with things that are relevant to the district, and the J is.”
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