Who are we?
The Southern Downs Steam Railway Association Inc (SDSR) is a volunteer, not-for-profit tourist heritage steam railway.
Formed in 1996, the SDSR has been operating on Queensland Rail main lines in the heart of the picturesque Southern Darling Downs and Granite Belt Regions of Southern Queensland since 2009.
The lines run on include:-
- Southern Line – South to Stanthorpe & Wallangarra, and North to Hendon, Clifton & Toowoomba.
- South Western Line – West to Inglewood, Goondiwindi, and Toobeah.
With a focus on people “experiencing the magic of steam on the Southern Downs”, SDSR offers train journeys to meet most tastes. From short family journeys to Hendon and Clifton, to the full day out retracing the Sydney Mail run to Wallangarra, SDSR’s journeys are all different, unique, and steeped with a touch of magic. Why don’t you join the magic today?
SDSR is the corporate entity and the term ‘Downs Explorer’ is the name of the consist or train makeup comprising either a heritage diesel or steam locomotive motive power depending on mechanical, fire, government restriction or location imposed conditions. Please do not expect steam motive power on every tour offered by SDSR.
In 1995 a group called ‘Warwick Enterprises’ was formed for the purpose of undertaking the restoration of the Warwick Locomotive Depot with a workforce provided by the Queensland Government through what was then known as ‘Training for the Long Term Unemployed’ (now called ‘Work for the Dole’).
During completion of this restoration project, the Warwick Locomotive Depot was renamed the ‘Warwick Railway Precinct’.
The longterm goal was to turn the area into a static display of railway equipment and memorabilia and restore 5km of railway branch line between Hendon and Allora (30km north of Warwick) to allow for the possibility of running a regular tourist railway on the line.
This mammoth task began in November 1995 by the unemployed people of Warwick and district.
In mid-1996, the group was renamed ‘Southern Downs Steam Railway’ or ‘SDSR’. SDSR continued restoration of the buildings and took on the task of restoring four Brisbane suburban carriages and other memorabilia that had been obtained. It was about this time the Warwick Railway Precinct became SDSR’s home.
In 2000, a C17 steam locomotive, diesel engine and several additional passenger carriages and other rollingstock were obtained for restoration.
With the restoration of the C17 and two carriages completed in late 2008, SDSR successfully completed the mainline trials of its first train in December 2008. The first passenger services commenced January 2009, with Clifton being the initial destination. SDSR’s continual goal will be to provide Warwick, Stanthorpe, Wallangarra, Allora, Inglewood and Clifton, with a regular tourist railway.