PASSION PROJECT: The SDSR is one of the most beloved community organisations in Warwick.
PASSION PROJECT: The SDSR is one of the most beloved community organisations in Warwick.

Steam railway’s plea for help to survive COVID-19's wrath

ONE OF Warwick's major tourist attractions and custodians of history could soon reach the end of its tracks following devastating coronavirus losses.

Volunteer-run Southern Downs Steam Railway launched a GoFundMe yesterday, asking the public for donations to keep doors open, after it was forced to cancel the remainder of its 2020 trips.

Secretary and treasurer Kelvin Hutchinson said the organisation was in the peak of planning for a September reopening when Queensland's COVID-19 cluster started to grow again.

"Things were starting to look good around the country," he said.

"We had our new brochures out and had started television and radio marketing … and then of course we had a flare up around southeast Queensland and our ticket sales just stopped dead."

Unable to access government assistance to cover the "substantial" operating costs, the group is facing the devastating possibility the venture could close and its historical treasures lost to the Rose City.

"We see ourselves as the custodians at this point and time and we want to keep them (the steam engines) in good order for next generation to run and mange," Mr Hutchinson said.

"We don't want to see it broken up and leave Warwick."

For SDSR's 200 passionate members, many of whom travelled from Brisbane and Toowoomba to volunteer, that loss would be unbearable in more ways than one.

"Most of our volunteers are in their 60s and 70s, and it is a big part of their lives," Mr Hutchinson said.

"They don't want to be sitting at home, they want to be with like-minded friends who share their passion."

The organisation also hosted federally lauded Work For the Dole and correctional services programs, and the flow-on effect to surrounding businesses would be noticed.

"We partner with third party bus service and wineries," Mr Hutchinson said.

"If we weren't there, the Wallangarra cafe would see a big impact.

"If we can't pull in and stop, all those businesses in Clifton, Girraween, their success and passion, is affected, too."

To donate to the GoFundMe, click here.

Alternatively, reach out to the organisation's email on info@sdsr.com.au



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