Family Ties at Steamfest

Charlie, his Pop Ian, and the City of Maitland Pipes and Drums performed at Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest last month.

Ian Innes moved to Australia from Scotland over 50 years ago to play bagpipes. He is now the Pipe Major in the City of Maitland Pipes and Drums and shares the Scottish Culture with the local community.

The band practices each Friday evening and are always looking for young members. Four years ago, Ian thought his seven year old grandson, Charlie, might like to come along to a performance with him.

When asked how Ian got Charlie involved, he said ‘We had a small kilt, and I said “Well Pop is playing today if you want to come along, so we got him dressed up in a white shirt and a kilt, and he’s learning to be a drum major”‘.

Charlie was a natural and became the youngest drum major in the country. It seems the rest was history because Charlie, now 11, loves to perform with his Pop and their new aim is to get his six year old sister Olivia involved.

‘I just like being part of it and having a role’, Charlie said.

The grandfather and grandson duo will be soon heading off the Drum Majors Competition in Aberdeen in July with Charlie competing and Ian cheering him on.

If your community group would like to get involved with Steamfest in 2020, please email [email protected].

A Celebration of the Steam Era at The Rally Ground

When you’re at Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest this year, make sure you head on down to the Rally Ground, a bustling hive of activity which celebrates and showcases engineering ingenuity across a range of machinery from the steam era.

You’ll find entertainment for the whole family including Sanjex Seratti with his vintage games and penny farthing demonstrations. Sanjex is keen to pass on his passion of the steam era, saying “I’m looking forward to passing on a bit of history about the penny farthing and sharing the old ways and an appreciation of the old steam technology”.

At the Rally Ground you’ll also find wood carving demonstrations by Chainsaw Artist Mark Ray and workshops with Steampunk Sydney where you’ll have the opportunity to pose for a photo or hear about the history of Steampunk.

Brought together by Maitland Steam and Antique Machinery Association, the Rally Ground features one of Australia’s largest collections of portable engines, traction engines and vintage farming equipment.

John Preston’s Sooty

You’ll be amazed at the endless display of portable and traction engines including old favourite Sooty. Listen to a steam powered radio or buy a fresh hot cob of corn cooked by steam power.

Mini portable designed and built by Simon Pritchard

The Rally Ground also features a dedicated kids area with coal shoveling, miniature railway rides and the trackless train to get you from one end of the Rally Ground to the other.

Entry fee to the Rally Ground is $2, children under 16 years are free of charge. Please note that some activities also incur charges.

View the full Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest program here.

Local Projects to Benefit From Green Steam Funding

The 2019 recipients of Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest’s Green Steam funding are Maitland Public School and Earthcare Park Landcare Group.

Maitland Public School will put the funds towards their Gardening Club and green enterprises which aim to assist students to develop their social skills and appreciation of the environment. Now in its second year, the Gardening Club allows students to research crops and work as a team to plant, weed, feed and harvest.

Landcare Group will use the funds to continue their restoration work at Earthcare Park including the reintroduction of a wide variety of indigenous grasses.

Green Steam is an initiative where $2.00 from every ticket sold helps support local environmental recovery programs, renewable energy projects and greening initiatives to assist in offsetting the carbon emissions produced by the steam operations of Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest.

Each year expressions of interest are sought from non-profit organisations seeking investments in their programs and projects which improve the natural environment.


Tiger Moth Pilot Phil Unicomb Tells Us Why He Loves Steamfest

Ever wondered who is in the air, flying high and racing against the steam locomotives in Burton Automotive Hunter Valley Steamfest’s Great Train Race? Well wonder no more, because we were lucky enough to have a chat to the man behind the controls, Phil Unicomb.

With a grin from ear to ear, the 2019 Tiger Moth Pilot, Phil Unicomb greets his visitors to Royal Newcastle Aero Club (RNAC) HQ in Rutherford with passion and enthusiasm, and it’s instantly apparent that he adores his job.

A seasoned pilot, Phil has been heavily involved with RNAC since 1978 where he is now the Chief Flying Instructor. When the idea of flying a Tiger Moth in the Great Train Race at Steamfest was presented to Phil many years ago, he was immediately on board.

‘Through my involvement with old aeroplanes and being a real steam enthusiast, the two went together, so that’s why I really like to do it’.

‘I’m a real Steamhead, I love steam!’

In 2018 the Tiger Moth which was to be flown by fellow pilot Charlotte Zeederberg was unable to race due to high winds, so Phil is hoping for fair weather this year.

When asked if he thought he could edge out the locos to fly over the finish line in 1st place, Phil said that the weather plays an important part in the race.

‘If we get the moderate Westerly, the locomotives have the advantage because I’m pushing into the wind,’ he said.

The Great Train Race will take place on Sunday 14 April as Phil and the Tiger Moth go head to head with locomotives 3265 and 3526.

A number of unique journeys on locomotives 3265 and 3526 will be available across the Steamfest weekend, in addition to journeys on the ever popular Tin Hare and Red Rattler diesels.

There are a limited number of seats still available on the Great Train Race. To purchase tickets on the Great Train Race and all Steamfest journeys click here.