A century old steam train that hauled sand for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a recently restored Soviet MiG-21 jet fighter and a venue where The Beach Boys played live in the 60s are among the things you can see this weekend midway through the school holidays.
A good head of steam up at rail museum
When steam begins bellowing from the funnels of locomotives big and small at Illawarra Light Railway Museum for the first time in four months this Sunday it will be just as exciting for those involved in running the attraction as it is for visitors.
Like most community based groups during COVID-19 the light rail museum struggled to keep going.
But a dedicated and determined team of 65 volunteers made sure it would be ready to return when COVID-19 restrictions eased.
Enthusiasts such as Brad Johns, Carolyn Dumont and Garry Bailey eagerly got everything back up to speed so the romance of steam remains alive in Shellharbour.
Mr Johns is a life member who has been involved in ILRM for 37 years and said the first day back will be like starting all over again.
On Sunday the locomotive Kiama will be doing the mainline run. The 1917 Davenport Steam locomotive worked for many years on the Kiama Tramways.
Prior to that it worked with Cordeaux Dam construction.
And hauled sand from the Nepean River bed before it was transported to Sydney by the then NSWGR for the construction of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Mr Johns said ILRM started in 1972 and took ownership of Kiama in 1977.
He said one of the great things about being a volunteer at ILRMs is seeing the smiles on the faces of so many children. And knows that will happen again this Sunday when the miniature train operates again.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy walking through the park and leisurely checking out the historical items on display.
Mr Johns is presently treasurer but started at ILRM in 1983 when his father got involved after retiring from BHP where he drove trains and is now the longest serving director.
He has himself worked for Sydney Trains for 46 years as an area controller in the train control centre in Wollongong.
"We control the signalling movements between Waterfall, Port Kembla and Kiama," he said.
Mr Johns said the museum has been able to survive so long because of many enthusiastic people such as Ms Dumont and Mr Bailey, a retired train driver.
"I love working with everyone here. There is such good camaraderie here and we all have a passion about this museum going into the future.
"We have had such great events here for Halloween and KidsFest. We are working towards the future now with 2022 being our 50th anniversary.
"We couldn't have done all we have in recent times without the great president we have in Carolyn Dumont who runs this museum like clockwork".
There is such good camaraderie here and we all have a passion about this museum . . .Brad Johns
The museum has new social distancing measures in place this Sunday and next Saturday. A decision will then be made about when to open in coming months.
Cold War jet fighters on show at HARS
Nearby at the Historical Aircraft Restoration Society president Bob De La Hunty said there was an exciting weekend planned showcasing aviation history.
Mr De La Hunty said visitors can turn back time on Saturday and Sunday in the lead up to a landmark fly-over by the final Boeing 747-400 in the Qantas fleet on July 22 and the first drive-in cinema held at Shellharbour Airport by KidzWish on July 24 and 25.
But this weekend for the first time ever two iconic delta wing jet fighters from the Cold War era will feature side by side at HARS Tarmac Days.
They are an ex-RAAF Mirage supersonic jet fighter and a recently reassembled Soviet MiG-21.
"Volunteers at HARS Aviation Museum have just finished putting the MiG-21 back to its original condition complete with Indian Air Force colours where it served," Mr De La Hunty said.
"And as A3-42, the HARS Aviation Museum's Mirage 111O served with the RAAF from 1966 to 1987, and was one of the 100 single-seat and 16 dual-seat versions acquired by Australia as a replacement for the Sabre jet fighter. Able to exceed Mach 2 in horizontal flight the Mirage was a formidable opponent to the MiG-21 which could reach up to Mach 2".
Two Fokker Friendship F-27 airliners are also being displayed side-by-side outside Hangar 1.
Mr De La Hunty said he loves being involved in a volunteer run organisation that restores aviation history for future generations to see and enjoy.
And this weekend visitors will also get an opportunity to check out progress being made by the museum's volunteers to restore a replica of Kingsford Smith's Southern Cross to flight with the second of three engines now installed.
HARS is open daily from 9.30am to 3.30pm.
Many who visit HARS also enjoy the Australian Motorlife Museum at Integral Energy Park. From Saturday it is open every Thursday to Sunday from 9.30am to 4.30pm.
Ten Pin Bowling ready for school break
In the 1960s Northern Bowl started life as Wonderland Disco with artists such as the Beach Boys playing live.
Ten Pin Bowling started in the 1970s and the present manager Sandii Hughes first started working there a decade later. But the biggest change and challenge has been COVID-19.
After Northern Bowl closed in March the family owned business took the opportunity to invest in screens between bowling lanes and new sanitisation systems so it could reopen safely as soon as social distancing restrictions eased.
The changes are proving so popular there was a queue waiting outside to get in on Tuesday. Northern Bowl is open from 10am to 8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am to 6pm on Sunday.
Other school holiday activities:
- Children start rediscovering Wollongong's Early Start Discovery Space which has reopened in time for the school holidays
- School holiday fun on agenda for Illawarra Fly Treetop Walk and Zipline Tour from Saturday
- Science Space plans a grand reopening on Thursday in time for the school holidays
- Excitement is building for the grand reopening of the new 3Sixty Indoor Skate Park few got the chance to visit before COVID-19
- Children happy as inflatable play centre reopens at Warrawong
- No ball pits but plenty of other fun activities as play centres reopen for Illawarra children in time for the school holidays
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