As a prelude to the forthcoming SteamFest a unique event is to take place in northern Tasmania. Historically, time trials were a practical and much safer way to compare the merits of individual Traction Engines, rather than speed trials.

Mr Jo Phillips and his team of steam enthusiasts will drive “Annie”, a McLaren Steam Tractor, built in 1911, along the former route of the Bass Highway. Commencing at the SteamFest site in Sheffield on 26th February they will progress in an easterly direction for two days to reach Pearn’s Steam World at Westbury, turn around and make the return journey. Two more steam powered machines will join Annie there and they will travel in convoy back to Sheffield prior to the commencement of SteamFest 2020. The Robey Steam Traction Engine, and a Marshall Steam Roller headed by the more diminutive Annie will make a grand sight on the road.

Knowing the distance travelled, and the time taken Mr Phillips can compute the rate of travel.
In that less frenetic era when “Annie” and her like were familiar sights on the road, travel time was measured in days rather than hours.

He has chosen this route so that residents and visitors can again see this beautifully restored machine making its leisurely progress between the villages and hamlets, as it did in former times. The smell of wood smoke, the mesmerising easy action of the pistons and cranks, the cheeky steam whistle will take us back to the time when these leviathans were the only mechanical alternative to horses. While slow and ponderous, they were immensely powerful and versatile machines that revolutionised farming practices in this state.

Overnight stops will be made in Deloraine and Railton. Visitors are welcome to view and photograph this unique attraction.

The Sheffield Steam and Heritage Society is the host of SteamFest which will be held at the Sheffield Recreation Precinct, 14 Spring Street on March 7th – 9th.

For further information:- www.steamfesttasmania.org.au

Brenton Wheare