Five Photos: Junee Roundhouse, NSW

In October 2022, the Junee Railway Roundhouse celebrated 75 years of service as the largest operating railway roundhouse in the Southern Hemisphere. It is located at the halfway point on the Main Southern Railway line between Sydney and Melbourne, and continues to play an important role in maintaining and servicing locomotives that pass through the region, as well as being a focal point for the history of the railways in NSW, and Junee in particular.

Working section of the roundhouse

There is a video showing footage of the 75th anniversary celebrations and includes historic photos and interviews with people who worked in the roundhouse. It provides insights into the geographical significance of Junee as a fueling point for steam trains in the 1800s and 1900s, and it remains an important location for similar reasons as it continues to serve interstate and regional passenger and freight trains.

Engine outside the Junee Roundhouse

The roundhouse was closed by the NSW Government in 1993, but the people of Junee had other ideas. They recognized the potential for a museum on the site, and their vision and actions saved the roundhouse from possible demolition. Their passion for the history and heritage of the site is evident, and since the museum opened in April 1994 the range of exhibits has continued to grow.

Museum exhibits, Junee Roundhouse

There is an extensive display of engines, carriages and specialist equipment in the museum section of the roundhouse. The equipment is well maintained and there are informative plaques which provide a brief history and additional details. Many engines and carriages are available for inspection, so you can get a sense of the varying degrees of comfort available in the carriages, or get a feel for the range of controls that engine drivers had to master to keep the machines working. Museum guides are also on hand and they provide personal insights into the displays. An illustrated list of the main exhibits is also available.

Engines in the roundhouse

The Mail Car carriage was used to sort the mail whilst the train was in transit. There were separate racks for each town that the train passed through, and shelves were available for parcels. Larger items were stored at the end of the van. One can only imagine the degree of balance and accuracy required to sort mail whilst rocketing along the railway line at speed! Other carriages included the Junee Accident Van. This was part of a response unit that could be sent all over the state if there was a serious accident or derailment to offer medical support. The guide said it was like a triage service, stitching people up as best as possible in the circumstances.

Inside the mail sorting carriage, Junee Roundhouse Museum

There is a wealth of information available on the museum website. The Junee Roundhouse Museum is a testament to the strong sense of community in Junee, and is well worth a visit.

Photo: Junee Roundhouse, NSW

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