Steam engine driver for a day

23 March 2018

New Hope Group employee Andre du Preez took a step back in time with Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway on Sunday, to celebrate ten years of coal donations by the Ipswich-based mining company.

Andre, who works at New Hope’s head office in Brookwater, switched his regular Project Development Manager hat for that of a steam train driver at the helm of a restored locomotive.

“I really enjoyed spending the day on the steam engine, it was a beautiful heritage locomotive that was built almost 75 years ago, during World War Two,” Andre said.

“Over the course of the day we learned to start the fire, raise the steam and oil the engine but the highlight for me was learning to drive on the round trip from Swanbank to Box Flat.”

“It was the perfect way to celebrate our ten year donations milestone because it’s shown us just how integral our coal is in keeping the Railway open.”

New Hope Group donates coal from its mine sites to fire the steam engines at Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway, a volunteer organization that relies heavily on community support for its operations.

The donated coal is transported from the mine site to the Railway by Qube Bulk, a transport company that shares a long standing relationship with both the Railway and New Hope Group.

Mark Griffiths, a Steam Engine Driver and the Railway’s Assistant Operations Manager, said the Steam Driver Experience Days enabled people to drive a piece of Queensland history.

“Only 24 people are invited to take part in the Steam Driver Experience days each year so it’s a pretty unique experience,” Mark said.

“For as long as I’ve been with Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway New Hope and Qube have been donating the coal and transport that keep our trains moving so it was great to host both Andre, and Peter Shreiweis who works with Qube.”

“That type of significant support keeps our operating costs down so we can continue to preserve these steam engines and the important role they played in shaping Ipswich history.”

Mark said a section of the track used during Driver Experience Days was formerly used to access Swanbank Power Station.

“Funnily enough, that section of the track was used to transport New Hope coal to the power station up until about 2009,” Mark said.

“Apart from our Steam Driver Experience Days, we also offer a whole range of events suitable for families looking for a fun day out.”

Learn more about Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway by visiting their website at