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Next stop for little engine that could

Saturday, 27th June, 2020

West Darling Machinery Preservation Society’s Rex and Janet Lord and Leigh Quinlivan wave goodbye to Kintore Reserve. PICTURE: Emily McInerney West Darling Machinery Preservation Society’s Rex and Janet Lord and Leigh Quinlivan wave goodbye to Kintore Reserve. PICTURE: Emily McInerney

By Emily McInerney

A plan for the upgrade of Queen Elizabeth Park is now on display with Picnic Train volunteers very excited to make tracks.

During Wednesday night’s Council meeting, councillors voted to put a draft Plan of Management for Queen Elizabeth Park on public display.

The Picnic Train will be relocated to the park to make way for a new police station on Kintore Reserve. 

Park plans includes new toilets, car parking, dog washing facilities, a train-themed playground, irrigation, paths, and barbecue areas. 

The West Darling Machinery Preservation Society is particularly excited because it will see the Picnic Train get a new home.

Secretary Janet Lord said they were really happy with the layout of the park and where the train will be placed.

“There will be shade, toilets, electricity, we will have a permanent kiosk,” she said.

“The train tracks will take up a good section of the park.

“It’s a little bit different, but it won’t be much shorter than what is at Kintore Reserve now.

“We can’t wait to get down there.”

Mrs Lord said the idea of a permanent kiosk has all the volunteers excited.

“It will be all set up, so we don’t have to put something up or take something down every train ride.

“It will be much easier on our volunteers.”

She said there would be some changes with the machines currently placed around the track going back to the Society’s museum in Crystal Street.

The move was announced in August last year, after NSW police expressed interest in putting their new police station next to the Kintore Reserve.

The Penrose Park Picnic train was built in the 1950s and was restored by the West Darling Machinery Preservation Society.

It had its first run in 2001 with the circular track being installed by Work for the Dole participants.

“The picnic train wasn’t running when it left Penrose Park,” Mrs Lord said last year after the announcement.

“It was in disrepair, the society found it on Gypsy Hill, out of town, and approached the Council.

“They asked Council if they got the train up and running where could it be run.

“Council put us in Kintore Reserve; they’ve been marvellous to us.

“Their generosity has gone above and beyond.”

The Picnic Train celebrated its 20th year at Kintore Reserve in 2018.

The Society were planning a big farewell to Kintore celebration but due to COVID-19 are unable to do that.

Mrs Lord said there would be a big welcome party once it is all completed at Queen Elizabeth Park.

“This project is extremely exciting for the Machinery Society and the wider community,” Council’s General Manager James Roncon said.

“Queen Elizabeth park is well overdue for an upgrade, and by combining new amenities with the installation of the picnic train we’ll have an outstanding facility for both families and tourists.

“A lot of credit must go the Machinery Society for this project, they have really embraced the opportunity to create a great new attraction for the city, and provided invaluable insight and guidance.

“It’s a perfect example of Council and community members working together for the benefit of Broken Hill.”

Council may use COVID-19 relief funding to kickstart this project and other major upgrades to the city’s central business district and recreational facilities, Mr Roncon said.

Under the NSW Government’s $395 million Stimulus Package for Local Government, Council can access a $10 million loan at a fixed interest rate of 1.85 per cent over 10 years to help them recover from the effects from the pandemic.

If Council votes in favour of utilising the Stimulus Package as part of a “future proof” scenario outlined in the 20/21 budget, it could use the money as seed funding to attract grants for significant upgrades across the city.

Projects earmarked for funding would be an upgrade of Norm Fox Oval, the CBD, and a rejuvenation of Queen Elizabeth to complement the relocation of the picnic Train from Kintore Reserve.

The first stage of the Norm Fox upgrade would include new turf and irrigation, a new synthetic cricket wicket, cricket nets, soccer oval, walking track, and seating, while a second stage would see accessibility works to connect the soccer, cricket, tennis, and netball facilities across the complex.

The city’s central business district would be upgraded in line with a new masterplan for the area, and would include more trees and greenery, and new light poles incorporating banners.

Councillors will decide whether to access the Stimulus Package for Local Government when it adopts the 20/21 budget at an extraordinary meeting next week.

Anyone wanting input on the Queen Elizabeth Park designs can do so via Council’s website.

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