5 July 2023

Vote of confidence: Former MP Overall announced as Cooma Railway patron

| Gail Eastaway
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Group of people with old train

Former Member for Monaro Nichole Overall has been appointed Cooma Monaro Railway patron. Photo: Nichole Overall.

Cooma Monaro Railway (CMR) recently appointed a patron of the organisation in recognition of their enthusiasm for and assistance to the group.

Former Member for Monaro Nichole Overall was a frequent visitor to the railway, enjoying its history and revival at the hands of CMR committee members.

Mrs Overall was invited back to the station on 24 June when she was officially appointed patron by acting president Craig Moore.

“Nichole Overall has always been a strong supporter of Cooma Monaro Railway as well as many other community groups in our region,” Mr Moore said.

READ ALSO Old workhorse welcomed home as another Snowy Scheme icon is rounded up 29 June 2023 | Gail Eastaway

“As a passionate historian, Nichole was the perfect fit for Cooma Monaro Railway, and we are extremely excited that she has accepted our invitation to become patron.

“We have a strong and dedicated group of individuals that have achieved so much over the last few years, but we have even bigger plans for the future.

“Having the support of someone like Nichole, with her background and experience, is a huge boost for the organisation and will help us to continue to achieve our goals and deliver a world-class attraction for the people of the Monaro region.”

Mrs Overall responded, saying: “It’s lovely to have received this invitation to be the patron of the Cooma Monaro Railway Inc.

“From both a history and tourism perspective, what the amazing committee and volunteers have already achieved is impressive and important.

“I was really pleased to have supported CMR in my 12 months as the Member for Monaro, including securing a $310,000 grant they’re now using in further upgrading the railway precinct – one of the best-preserved in regional NSW and potentially the country.

“With people near and far excited about the recent delivery of the 131-year-old steam engine, there’s much more to come and it’s terrific for Cooma and the Monaro.

“Many know of my love for our region’s history and I’m also very keen on our future tourism opportunities so I’m looking forward to making an ongoing contribution in this way.

“CMR also deserves hearty congratulations on their recent, much-deserved Snowy Monaro Tourism Business Award.”

The Cooma railway was an important part of the local community and economy for nearly 100 years.

Cooma station and its railway link from Queanbeyan in NSW was completed in 1889, with the southern extension to Bombala finished in the early 1920s.

As the gateway to the Snowy Mountains area, Cooma was a key Monaro destination for almost 100 years of rail services, until the line from Canberra was closed by flood damage to the bridge over the Numeralla River in 1989.

For 10 years there were no trains to be seen in the Monaro area, until CMR began operations in December 1998.

Services were run by CPH-class railmotors, of which CMR has three (CPH 6, 8 and 22). It also has CTC 55, which is a matching carriage to the CPH class with a driver’s compartment at one end.

In 2014, CMR ceased rail operations due to the decaying state of the track north from Cooma to Chakola but since then, CMR has undertaken considerable work to repair, restore and upgrade the infrastructure with the Cooma Railway Station Precinct, with the result of the museum opening last December.

READ ALSO Much excitement as steam locomotive returns to Cooma

In May, CMR welcomed back steam engine 3204 after an absence of more than 50 years.

The locomotive was last in action in Cooma in 1973.

It has been cosmetically restored at Broadmeadow by Transport Heritage NSW volunteers.

The locomotive was transported by road from Broadmeadow to Cooma where it was carefully unloaded by crane and shunted into its temporary storage shelter on Goods Road No. 3, on the eastern side of the goods shed in Cooma yard.

Work has also continued on the restoration of the adjoining tennis courts, which formed part of the railway’s precinct for many years.

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