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The Echuca Steam Rally,
run by the Rotary Club
of Echuca-Moama, Vic-
NSW, and scheduled this year for
the June 7-8 long weekend, is the
biggest and most popular steam
rally in Australia.
It’s an annual Rotary project
involving upfront costs of
$100,000, 190 volunteer workers, 600 exhibitors and about
10,000 visitors paying $45 per family. And it’s all organised
and managed by a club of merely 22 members.
“Last year was our 50th annual rally,” club President Chrissy
Weller said. “ The weather was perfect and we raised $90,000
for local charities from the 13,500 people who came.”
Four years ago, with the club ageing and shrinking to
just 16 people, the intent was to scale down the event, said
rally director Alan Whitten. But local people demanded it
continue “full steam ahead” and the club rejuvenated as
membership increased to 22.
The huge vintage steam engines are the stars of the
show, valued at around $500,000 each. Owners sleep
under the warm boilers at night. As dawn breaks, they join
hundreds of other machinery buffs firing up their steam
engines and wreathing the oval in smoke.
Apart from the grand parades, the highlight of the show
is the “Burning of the Dunny”. An old style country outhouse
is set alight and the fire brigade’s job is to save the dunny
by use of a horse-drawn, steam-powered pumper, loaned
for the occasion by the Fire Museum of Victoria.
“We did a special trip round the district collecting old
dunnies,” Whitten said.
Steam rally a
giant task for
The rally is held on four hectares of land owned by
the small Rotary club. The first of the club’s steam rallies
a half-century ago had to move each year from place to
place, and a sympathetic landowner sold the club a block
on easy terms – now valuable real estate. The government
also agreed on a 99 year lease to the club of adjacent
Crown land of about equal area. This lease is now being
renegotiated to become perpetual.
The Rotary-owned block boasts large sheds, toilets
(including traditional “long drops”), kitchens and club
facilities, with a resident caretaker. The club hosts horse
and truck shows, machinery clubs, a miniature railway and
a vintage car club.
The club’s strategy is to increase the community’s
input. The rally is already supported by three
organisations involving children and adults with special
needs. About 15 local groups and two other Rotar y
clubs provide volunteers.
Last year a big beneficiary from the 50th rally was the
new Echuca Hospital. The club has put in $50,000 over
three years towards the $2.4m community target for
A drawcard for kids is Thomas the Tank Engine,
converted from a one-time Queensland sugar-railway loco.
The tank engine is borrowed from the Bellarine Railway,
Queenscliffe, and hauled via tracks onto a low loader for
Echuca. All school kids in the District are offered free entry
(normally $5) if they bring an adult along ($15-$20).
For more information visit
— Peter Jones
1300 4 ROTARY rotaryaustralia.org.au
Vintage motorcycle enthusiast joined his local Rotary Club because he wanted to
meet a group of young, community-minded people. “I knew this is where I’d find them.
It was through Rotary I learnt and became inspired about Interplast and the story of
a little boy in Indonesia who suffered from a bilateral cleft palate. He’d been ostracised
by his community, believed to be ‘kissed by the devil.’ Interplast intervened with a very
simple operation, and here was a different kid, smiling and bursting with confidence.”
So Peter created Miles for Smiles, a motorcycle charity ride that will take
him through Nepal, India and Southeast Asia to raise funds for Interplast.
“The great thing is, I’ll be helped along the way by Rotary Clubs in all of
Like Peter, you can join Rotary to make a difference.
Join the conversation by visiting rotaryaustralia.org.au
Rotary. Humanity in motion.
RCS13826 Rotary Press ad Peter Jones 210x275mm FA.indd 1
6/11/13 10:17 AM
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