Maldon to Castlemaine Train Route

The proposed first virtual train route to be made is from Maldon to Castlemaine, passing through Muckleford station. Although this is a short journey of about 16 kilometers, it is of 45 minutes duration when traversed by a steam locomotive with passenger carriages.

This route passes through a variety of terrains, from farmland and natural bush land to the outskirts of a large country town with modern, free standing housing and factories. There are railway cuttings, bridges and road crossings to provide further interest.

At Castlemaine station the Goldfields Railway track runs parallel to the platforms with the main line to Bendigo and beyond, where the regional Vlocity passenger trains made by Bombardier Transportation, Dandenong, travel. Freight trains also use this line to collect and deliver grain and other goods to the Port of Melbourne.

Maldon, the First Notable Town in Australia, is where the train route terminates. A turntable and workshops are located here, along with a beautifully restored station and freestanding cottages along the street outside.

Historically there was a branch line that diverged on the outskirts of Maldon to go to Shelbourne, to the north. This track passed what is now a gold mining enterprise operated by Octagonal Mining, in what was once a significant mining town. There are tall mullock heaps to one side of the track but these are mostly concealed by trees in between the track and the piles of rock.

On this train route there are many features to be modeled, which means a lot of work but it will never be boring. The challenge is to develop workflow procedures to maximize efficiency.

Early Morning Preparation

The virtual train project is under way. After much careful thought, a review of resources and consideration of the realistic possibility of successfully completing the project, we approached the people who run the Victorian Goldfields Railway at Maldon and Castlemaine. What a wonderful group of people we found there! Their enthusiasm is contagious. So with camera in hand, Floss started collecting visual information in order to compile an overall view of what needs to be done and in what sequence.

The basic components required are of the physical experience, that’s the easy part because riding on the trains is fun; and the processing of collected information into a format that is reproducible in the virtual world of computers, which requires many hours of solid work. Fortunately both tasks are integrated, so we look forward to many journeys on the trains, just to make sure we are still on the right track. (Sorry, couldn’t help myself there!)

Here are a few of the first photographs taken: