Junee Roundhouse Museum


3609 looking rather worn and weathered during storage within the workshop area at Trainworks on 22 July 2012.

The motion has been removed and weeds are starting to grow out of the water-soaked boiler lagging above the firebox.

The green steel resting against the tender bogie is a part of the valance from a 38-class loco!

This photo was snatched from the window of a passing ‘loop line’ train from Thirlmere to Buxton and return.



NSWGR Eveleigh Workshops



Builder’s Number & Year

156 of 1928



Wheel Arrangement




No. in class



Successors to the (C)35 class 4-6-0 on top passenger duties where the larger and more powerful (C)36 class, designed by New South Wales Government Railways (NSWGR) under CME E. Lucy for hauling the newly introduced stock of heavy passenger carriages without resort to double-heading and with a high capacity tender to allow 100 miles running without stops for servicing. Passenger duties on NSWGR main lines called for a large, free steaming boiler to meet the demands of steep and curvaceous routes, and the (C)36 class were supplied with large round-top boilers at 180 psi together with 23” diameter pistons and 69” diameter driving wheels producing 30,500 lbs tractive effort, resulting in good hill climbing and a fast turn of speed. Walschaerts (outside) valve gear was also specified to make lubrication and maintenance easier. Construction was divided between the NSWGR Eveleigh Workshops (10) and the Clyde Engineering Co, Sydney (65).

The (C)36 class were nicknamed ‘Pigs’ by railwaymen, perhaps due to the appearance of the large diameter boiler and smokebox. These locos were superseded on top link passenger trains by the (C)38 class Pacifics from the late 1940’s but found further use on secondary passenger and mail duties, together with some fast freight work. In time the original round-top boilers became due for renewal and almost all class members were rebuilt in the mid-1950’s with Belpaire boilers at 200 psi, together with new cabs; as rebuilt the traffic effort increased to 33,880 lbs.

Late in the steam era the class were being increasingly used for fast freight, banking and pick-up good services, leading to crew complaints about heavy reversers, so six class members (3638, 3642, 3644, 3651, 3652 & 3654) were fitted with power reverse gear salvaged from withdrawn locomotives of other types. These six were among the final (C)36’s in revenue service, with 3642 becoming the last when officially condemned on 28 November 1969. Fortunately, it was retained for historical purposes.

The Commonwealth Railways followed the pragmatic policy of copying proven Australian locomotive designs, a decision which perhaps also reflected a spirit of Federalism. For express passenger duties on the tough Trans-Australia Railway from Port Augusta to Kalgoorlie, the Commonwealth Railways specified their C-class to the same design as New South Wales Government Railways (C)36 class with some modifications, including large 12-wheel tenders to provide sufficient fuel and water for the long stretches between coal stages across the Nullarbor Plain. Eight of these C-class locomotives were built by Walkers Limited, Maryborough but alas the final example was scrapped in the 1960’s, perhaps one of the greatest losses to Australian railway history.

The authorative ‘Steam Locomotive Data’ (July 1974 edition) provides the following milestones for preserved loco 3609:

In Service:

24 August 1928

Rebuilt with Belpaire boiler:

31 August 1956


December 1965

Distance Travelled:

2,596,945 km

3609 represents the original batch of 10 locos built by NSWGR Eveleigh Workshops and retains its manual reverse mechanism. 3609 was statically restored and repainted to lined green livery by NSWRTM members in an annex at Petersham during the late 1960’s before being placed on display in the Enfield No.1 Roundhouse. It was towed to the new museum site at Thirlmere in 1975 for further static display. A repaint to black livery with red lining came in 1988, with 3609 the beneficiary of ongoing attention from NSWRTM volunteers to keep it presentable. From time to time it has swapped parts with 3642 to keep the latter in traffic, notably a driving wheelset during the mid-1990’s. 3609’s motion was reassembled after this wheelset swap and the loco was returned to the Thirlmere display hall at the head of a mail train consist.

Since the redevelopment of the NSWRTM Thirlmere to the ‘Trainworks’ museum, 3609 has been relegated to storage near the workshop where it is not accessible or visible to the public. (I believe this may be due the fact that 3609 required its old boiler lagging to be removed before it was fit for public display.) During this time it has been exposed to the elements and has become rather rusty and careworn, with weeds growing from the soaked boiler lagging above the firebox crown sheet. Observation suggests 3609 continues to occasionally donate parts to operable sister 3642; hopefully this is being done on a 1:1 exchange basis so that 3609 can one day be returned to display condition. (As an aside, several spare (C)36-class boilers are also available at Thirlmere which could assist any future restoration, including boilers tab 3605B and 3634B and a spare 36-class tender (tab 3617) which was obtained as late as approximately 1988.)

Further information about 3609 can be found on the NSW Office on Environment and Heritage fact sheet for this locomotive. Additional technical details can also be found on the Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (C)36 class.


Locomotive 3609 has now been allocated to the Junee Roundhouse Museum for permanent display. The old boiler lagging was professionally removed at the NSW Rail Museum workshop, Thirlmere during 2018, and on 15 January 2019 the locomotive and tender was shunted from Thirlmere to Buxton, loaded onto three trucks and transported by road to Junee. Photos and video of the relocation showed that the boiler lagging requires repair & refitting, together with a thorough repaint for the loco, but it will no doubt make an excellent addition to the collection on display within the historic Junee Roundhouse.

Phil Brammer kindly contributed this ‘over the fence’ view of 3609 in the workshops area at Trainworks on 18 August 2015.

The yellow crane calipers at the front suggest it was being readied for a lift, presumably to release the bogie wheels or similar for exchange with 3642.

Shunting for exhibit repositioning at Thirlmere brought 3609 into the sunshine for a period in 1995.

It is wearing lined black livery, following a repaint in 1988.

This scanned photo dates from 1982, prior to the roof at Thirlmere being extended to the full length of the display sidings.

3609 is wearing the lined green livery it received when statically restored by NSWRTM volunteers at Petersham in the late 1960’s.

In front of 3609 is an ancient 4-wheel, external frame goods van, while behind are the two fire-fighting tenders LO32 (4-wheel) and LO33 (bogie).



‘Locomotives of Australia - 1985 to 2010’ (Fifth Edition),

by Leon Oberg,

published 2010 by Rosenberg Publishing Pty Ltd.


‘A Compendium of New South Wales Steam Locomotives’

compiled by Alex Grunbach,

published by the Australian Railway Historical Society,

New South Wales Division, 1989.


‘Steam Locomotive Data’ July 1974 edition,

compiled by J. H. Forsyth for the

Public Transport Commission of NSW.


Wikipedia entry for the NSWGR (C)36 class,

retrieved 17 March 2016.


Transport Heritage NSW ‘eNews’, January 2019

(received 24 January 2019)

Page updated: 13 May 2023

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