13 March 2024

Wagga charity promises magical twilight train rides and special cameos on Easter Sunday

| Chris Roe
Start the conversation
kids' train ride and Disney character

Kids on the miniature train rides will have Disney characters and superheroes to wave to. Photo: Supplied.

The Willans Hill Miniature Railway is undoubtedly one of Wagga’s best family attractions and it is again teaming up with a local charity for a perennial favourite: twilight train rides.

Angela Boulton from the Specialist Medical Resources Foundation (SMRF) is looking forward to creating a unique experience at the Botanic Gardens this Easter Sunday.

“We took the kids down to the Botanic Gardens and did the twilight train ride last year and they thought it was awesome,” she said.

READ ALSO Griffith War Memorial Museum not gunning to take over art gallery, despite six-tonne artillery display

“We approached the Wagga Society of Model Engineers to see if they’d be interested in having us on board for a fundraiser, so we’re going to put some Disney characters and superheroes all through the track for kids to go past and wave to.

“There’ll be fairy lights all around and we’re doing a barbecue and selling drinks, so it should be lovely.”

miniature railway

The miniature railway on Willans Hill is one of Wagga’s most popular attractions. Photo: Supplied.

SMRF is a local community-driven charity that aims to “bridge the gap” for families, children, adults and organisations in the Riverina that need ongoing medical care.

“There was a group of us that used to be involved with Child Flight and when it was shut down in 2012 we wanted to continue something here in Wagga that we felt was missing,” Angela explained.

“We started SMRF in 2013 and we aim to help people financially when medical costs are required to be self-funded.

“There’s a huge range of things out there that don’t have some sort of program or support, so we buy medical equipment up to $5000 for people.

”We also do financial hardship grants, pay grocery bills or gas or electricity bills for people struggling with medical expenses, and we donate petrol cards to people that have to travel to the city for treatment.

“We’re just trying to help people out of those sticky situations quickly.”

people on a miniature train ride

Willans Hill is one of the best miniature railways in the country. Photo: Supplied.

Angela said SMRF did help out with some ongoing initiatives, but was primarily focused on helping those in urgent need.

“We’re actually looking at funding some special projects this year and we are looking at doing on-site defibrillators and a few other little things as part of a broader project,” she said.

“But we don’t really limit what we do specifically, we step up when there’s nowhere else to turn to get help, and we’ll fill that gap.”

READ ALSO It’s autumn but health experts warn us to take summer precautions to beat the heat

The Wagga Wagga Society of Model Engineering usually hosts the twilight train rides in October but was happy to support SMRF’s event.

“The members enjoy the twilight runs and we get a lot of kids coming along,” said vice-president Jim Weeden.

“It’s something different, but can be nice and dark sometimes if the lights go out!”

While the track itself is not illuminated, each engine is fitted with a headlight, and key features such as bridges and tunnels are also marked.

Angela hopes her group’s own efforts to light sections of the track and populate it with volunteers in costumes will create something magical.

“It should be a lot of fun. It’s just $4 per person and we’ll have the barbecue down and some special drinks and desserts so people can come down and have dinner and go for a ride on the train!”

To get in on the action and support a great local charity, head to the Botanic Gardens on Sunday, 31 March, from 6 pm – 9 pm.

Start the conversation

Daily Digest

Want the best Riverina news delivered daily? Every day we package the most popular Riverina stories and send them straight to your inbox. Sign-up now for trusted local news that will never be behind a paywall.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.