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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 . . .
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.
This article first appeared on www.illawarramercury.com.au
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