Bingera Mill ‘Ralf’

Privately owner at Echuca


A picture containing old, engine, dirty

Description automatically generated

‘Ralf’ was privately owned at a location near Echuca, Vic at the time of my visit on 23 March 2005.

I found her dismantled in the loco shed as part of a protracted overhaul, as seen above.


Bundaberg Foundry Engineers Ltd

(now Bundaberg Walkers Engineering Ltd)

Builder’s Number & Year

4 of 1952

Wheel Arrangement



The Bundy Fowler locos

The well-known manufacturer John Fowler & Co, Leeds, UK built many steam locomotives for the Australian sugar cane industry, where their products were held in high regard. In 1935, John Fowler & Co made a strategic decision to cease manufacture of steam locomotives in favour of internal combustion designs, leaving a market gap in the Australian sugar industry where demand for steam locomotives remained. Stepping in to fill this gap were Australian companies Perry Engineering in Adelaide, and Bundaberg Foundry Engineers Ltd (Bundaberg Foundry) who leveraged their established heavy engineering business serving the cane mills of Queensland’s Burnett Region and beyond.

By 1948, Bundaberg Foundry had obtained firm orders from various mills for 8 steam locomotives based on recent John Fowler & Co designs operating at Queensland mills, in particular 0-6-2T ‘Airdmillan’ (Fowler b/n 20763 of 1935), and with modernisations such as roller-bearing axles. It seems a licence was eventually negotiated with John Fowler & Co, but steel supply proved problematic in the post-war years and the first loco was not completed until 1952. A single 0-4-2T version was among the 8 constructed. These antipodean Fowler cousins became known as ‘Bundy Fowlers’ and were not only among the last steam locomotives built in Australia, but also among the last in revenue service – with all 8 Bundaberg-Fowler steam locomotives ultimately passing into preservation.

John Browning and Brian Webber have written a comprehensive and well-illustrated account of the various steam and diesel locomotives built and reconstructed by Bundaberg Foundry Engineers Limited in ‘Built by Bundaberg Foundry’ as referenced below. Rather than repeat the information provided in that authorative work, I have sought here to provide a brief background to the Bundy-Fowler steam locomotives and their preservation careers.

Bingera Mill ‘Ralf’

Bingera Mill, situated to the west of Bundaberg near the Burnett River, ordered two Bundy Fowler locomotives, the first being b/n 4 which arrived in 1952 and was named ‘Ralf’ followed by b/n 7 which arrived in 1953 and was named ‘Kolan’. The two locos toiled in the cane fields during crushing season, hauling heavy loads of cut sugar cane to the mill for processing and returning to the fields with long strings of empties for refilling. By 1972 its sugar industry career was over.

‘Ralf' entered the preservation domain in 1973 when purchased privately for the Goulburn Steam Museum at Marsden Weir, joining the extensive collection of 2- gauge steam locomotives at that site. After a brief spell at Goulburn it was sold in 1974 to the Lachlan Vintage Village at Forbes. I understand ‘Ralf’ was the operating loco at the Lachlan Vintage Village on the opening day, 17 May 1975. Photographic evidence suggests it was running in various configurations with or without side tanks and steam domes until at least 1980, after which it was placed on static display and painted a rather gaudy sky blue livery.

The Lachlan Vintage Village was an interesting local museum featuring relocated historical buildings, a recreated Aboriginal camp and other displays relevant to the region. From a railway perspective it included a 2’ gauge line using ex-sugar industry locomotives and a standard gauge railway which ringed the site. Unfortunately, the Lachlan Vintage Village did not succeed as an ongoing concern and most of the railway assets were sold at auction in 1986. Among these was ‘Ralf’ which was sold privately to an enthusiast based on a rural property outside of Echuca, joining a collection of steam locomotives and other vintage steam equipment at that site.

The owner at Echuca kindly permitted me to view his collection during on 23 March 2005 and several of the photos on this page date from that visit. At that time I found ‘Ralf to be dismantled in the engine shed during a somewhat protracted overhaul. The loco wore the faded remnants of sky blue livery. (I don’t recall seeing the side tanks, but I imagine the drawings still exist, else authentic replacements could be modelled from surviving sister locomotives.)

‘Light Railways’ magazine of August 2019 (No.268) included a news article with the sad news that the private owner in Echuca had passed away. The sale and dispersal of his locomotive collection was reported, but I am unsure of the current location or status for this locomotive, so further information is welcome.

A picture containing text

Description automatically generated

Detail of the builder’s plate attached to the cabside. Photo taken 23 March 2005.

Bingera Mill’s ‘Ralf’ in steam at the Lachlan Vintage Village in early 1979.

The fireman seen on the footplate is Gary Gentle, who kindly contributed this photo (original by the diver, the late Bernie Kelly).

A picture containing grass, outdoor, train, sky

Description automatically generated

Bingera Mill ‘Ralf’ and two 4-wheel coaches run around the narrow-gauge circuit at the Lachlan Vintage Village, Forbes in December 1975.

The green livery follows the original Hawthorn Green as supplied by Bundaberg Foundry,

although the side tanks have been enhanced with red lining and a ‘Britannia Steam Tramway’ logo.

This view is a zoom-in from a slide image kindly contributed by Graeme Nitz.

A picture containing grass, outdoor, sky, field

Description automatically generated

A second view of ‘Ralf’ and tourist train at the Lachlan Vintage Village, Forbes in December 1975; image courtesy of Graeme Nitz.

The train is passing some of the replica and relocated pioneer buildings that were a feature of the Lachlan Vintage Village.

A second view of Bingera Mill’s ‘Ralf’ in steam at the Lachlan Vintage Village.

While the side tanks are missing, the mounting brackets and supports can clearly be seen.

This view dated mid-1980 and was contributed by fireman Gary Gentle (original by ‘Ralf’s’ diver, the late Bernie Kelly).



Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc. Web site

(Retrieved 18 November 2022):

'Preserved Australian Sugar Cane Locomotives' list by John Browning



Website for Bundaberg Walkers Engineering Ltd,

retrieved 12 September 2022


Browning J. & Webber B.

‘Built by Bundaberg Foundry’, published 2012 by the

Australian Narrow Gauge Railway Museum Society, Woodford QLD

ISBN 978-0-9596009-4-0


'Light Railways - Australia's Magazine of Industrial & Narrow Gauge Railways',

Number 268, August 2019, (News article page 46),

published by Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc.


Information provided by Stephen Moulton

via email dated 20 July 2022.


Information provided by Gary Gentle

via email dated 7 September 2022.

Page updated: 11 December 2022

Government Railways:











Private & Industrial Railways: