Keeping Tailem Bend on track

THEY lovingly restored the Tailem Bend Railway Station to its former glory, worked tirelessly to preserve the State's railway history and created a quirky museum for the town.

But eight months after Tailem Rail celebrated the railway station's centenary, the committee has disbanded to make way for new tourism ventures in Tailem Bend.

The efforts of the 14 dedicated members over the past 18 years has not gone unnoticed for any person who has driven through Tailem Bend.

Tailem Rail committee member Brenton Qualmann said the group had become like brothers.

"I take my hat off to achieving what we thought was impossible," he said.

"It even looks better than what it was."

The fact Tailem Bend has an iconic State heritage-listed railway station hub comes down to one local, Noel Bockman.

"Stations were all being vandalised and just becoming an eye-sore...had a policy to demolish every station as it closed," he said.

"They actually had demolition papers all signed for this one.

"I convinced them to hand the station over to the local group that was going to start up the museum."

That was in 1996 and three lots of grant funding - local, State and Federal - helped volunteers restore the historic station to its former glory for the official opening in 2001.

Since then, the group has passionately collected railway artefacts, photos and equipment to preserve the local history at the Railway Museum.

According to Coorong Council community and tourism development officer Anna Del Rio, the mentality of the volunteers and the railway culture would be kept alive with a new tourism committee.

Nicknamed the gangers and fettlers, the committee for the recently named Tailem Info Station would work towards achieving tourism and economic development, preserving Tailem Bend's historic railway culture and promoting the greater Coorong region.

Former Tailem Rail committee members, many of whom were station masters, engine drivers or shunters, will still meet unofficially to restore an accident train.

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