Tully Mill No.5

Under restoration in the UK


Tully Mill No.5 in storage (sans side tanks and other fittings) at a private site near Echuca on 23 March 2005.

The rear bunker added at Tully Mill can be seen.



John Fowler & Co, Leeds

Builder’s Number & Year

16341 of 1924

Wheel Arrangement



Tully Mill No.5 is typical of the many small steam locomotives which worked the 2’ gauge sugar tramways of Queensland. It is one of a batch of five locos ordered for Tully Central Sugar Mill, arriving in early 1925 and numbered 1 - 5. At that time Tully Mill was under construction by the Queensland state government, and in 1931 the mill was sold to local growers to become the Tully Co-operative Sugar Milling Association Ltd. Loco No.5 received a number of modifications from its original Fowler design during its years of sugar haulage at Tully Mill, including extended water tanks, the addition of a rear coal bunker and a modified smokebox door.

Tully Mill No.5 was withdrawn from service in 1961 and placed in a local park. Tully is situated in Queensland’s tropical north and is known as the wettest town in Australia – fittingly celebrated by ‘big thing’ attraction The Golden Gumboot! Presumably the wet climate caused rapid deterioration of this little loco, or perhaps it became a maintenance burden. In any case, in 1972 it was sold to Bruce Macdonald and departed Tully for the growing collection of 2’ gauge steam locomotives at the Museum of Historic Engines, Goulburn, NSW, based at the historic pump house at Marsden Weir.

After a brief stay at Goulburn, a further change of ownership came in 1973 when Tully Mill No.5 moved to the Lachlan Vintage Village at Forbes, NSW, where it re-joined sister loco Tully Mill No.4. The Lachlan Vintage Village was an interesting working museum featuring relocated historical buildings, a recreated Aboriginal encampment and other displays relevant to the region. A 2’ gauge railway provided tourist trips around the village, and a standard gauge railway also ringed the site. Unfortunately the Lachlan Vintage Village did not succeed as an ongoing concern, passing to Forbes Shire Council in 1981 and then to the O’Keefe Family Trust in 1984. While Tully Mill No.4 was operational at the Lachlan Vintage Village, it seems that No.5 was only used for spare parts. During this time it lost its water tanks and chimney.

The Lachlan Vintage Village railway assets (including Beyer-Garratt 6042) were sold at auction in 1986, with Tully Mill No.5 being purchased privately. After a short stay at Swan Hill it joined the owner’s interesting collection of steam machinery on a rural site outside Echuca, Victoria. The owner kindly permitted me to view his collection on 23 March 2005 and the photos of Tully Mill No.5 on this page date from that visit. Here the loco remained in open storage for 32 years, but the climate at Echuca is relatively favourable to outdoor storage of vintage machinery, and no further parts were lost.

Unfortunately the owner passed away in 2016, and in 2018 his estate sold Tully Mill No.5 to a UK enthusiast for his Richmond Valley Light Railway, Kent. The loco returned to the UK in 2019, and after a further change of ownership, it arrived at The Steam Workshops, Leeds on 9th December 2019 where a full restoration to operation is now underway. I understand the intention is to remove the modifications made at Tully Mill, returning the loco to as-built Fowler design.

While I am always sorry to see Australian steam locos departing these shores, none-the-less it is good to see a capable and well-resourced team rebuilding and restoring this machine – which has otherwise been static since 1961!  The Steam Workshop website provides a detailed and well-illustrated history for Tully Mill No.5, together with restoration progress.

A front view of Tully Mill No.5 in storage at Echuca on 23 March 2005.

Later photos show the eucalypt saplings surrounding No.5 had grown into large trees!



Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc. Web site (as at 28 July 2017):

'Preserved Australian Sugar Cane Locomotives' list by John Browning



Information provided by Tony Smith via email,

12 December 2020


'Light Railways', Number 69, July 1980.

Published by Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc.


The Steam Workshop website,

retrieved 19 January 2021

Page updated: 27 January 2021

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