Push Gathers Steam to Restore a Historic Loco
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Why a community's beloved old locomotive has been left to languish in isolation after volunteers spent years restoring it.
The 'Krauss', as it is affectionately called by locals, named after its engine model, is a petite locomotive built about 100 years ago, that took visitors through the fledgling communities of Buderim and Palmwoods on the Sunshine Coast between 1914 and 1935.
It is a beloved part of Buderim's history.
Noel Williams from the Buderim Palmwoods Heritage Tramway Group took us back to that time.
"Smoke and soot everywhere, ladies in all their finery — long flowing dresses — and men in their suits. Up they came to Buderim," he said.
Division over proposed locationsA group of dedicated volunteers spent six years restoring the tiny German tram, finishing the work in 2010.
But since then, the tram has remained under a leaky tin shed on a private farm nearby — all because two critical groups cannot agree on where it should live out its days.
The tramway group wants it in the centre of Buderim, next to the local pool, as an attraction to be enjoyed by children, passers-by and travellers.
The Sunshine Coast Council, which initially donated the locomotive to the group in 2004, disagrees.
So does current Buderim councillor Ted Hungerford.
He said the middle of the village is the wrong place — it would be expensive and cause parking and traffic issues.
"To make it fit, we would have to realign the road, take some land off the aquatic centre and car parks would go missing," he said.
"I don't think people would be happy with us taking parking."
His vision is for the compact loco to live in a new park outside of town, where there will be room for buses to stop, so children can explore the elegant old tram.
The head of the tramway group Helene Cronin said that would be a poor choice because the location is isolated, quiet and leaves the beloved loco at risk of vandalism and destruction.
And while it might be across the road from the original train line, she said the loco "deserves better".
"The reason is, it has nothing to do with, it has no heritage value, it's across the road from it," Ms Cronin said.
"It was vandalised, there's nothing else there other than Ted's park which is going to be there, and I don't think it's an appropriate site to put it."
A nine-year fightThis spat has now spanned nine years.
And some of those who once worked on rebuilding the locomotive have died without seeing the Krauss return to Buderim.
One of those was Garth Frazer, who led the restoration but died in 2016.
Ms Cronin made a promise that should would keep fighting for the tram's future.
"I said to Garth. 'I'll never give up'," she said.
"It's something that I'm passionate about myself. I just think it's such an important piece of Buderim's history.
"I think when you read it's story, it actually built Buderim. We want it back in Buderim where it's history will be told."
Councillor Hungerford also paid tribute to those who died before seeing the grand Buderim locomotive return home.
"Those members have done a magnificent job. I don't criticise them at all," he said.
"They have put a genuine effort into it, they've done fundraising, countless hours of work and restoring and I really respect that.
"Some of those people have passed on and haven't seen it come to a final display.
"I think that's disappointing and I feel for those people and their families.
"That's why I'm genuine about trying to get it a place, but I have to be realistic."
A third alternative?The loco group are now vowing to campaign against the councillor, in the hope that a different politician would support their plans.
"There are plans for the running of a new councillor," Ms Cronin said.
"We'll certainly get behind that as time progresses."
The length of the battle means both sides are wary of any promises from the other.
But maybe there is hope.
On top of Buderim hill is a 3.4 hectare park developed by the council.
It has plenty of open space, parking and is bordered by homes, cafes and churches.
The tramway group is prepared to compromise, Ms Cronin said.
"But council staff have said to us there's no space in that park … which I find unbelievable [that] they couldn't find a space for the locomotive," she said.
"It's a children's park, the children would love it.
"It would tell our history. I think it would be quite fine there."
The council has so far said the park is unsuitable, and Councillor Hungerford agrees.
But he said he remains open to having the conversation.
It is not a solution, but perhaps it is a dim light at the end of a tunnel for little Krauss.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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