The first of the iconic machinery for 2017 Steamfest arrive in Maitland

READY TO ROLL: Steamfest organiser Peter Garnham poses with Sooty, the iconic engine that drives hundreds of kilometres to participate in Steamfest every year. Picture: Perry Duffin

READY TO ROLL: Steamfest organiser Peter Garnham poses with Sooty, the iconic engine that drives hundreds of kilometres to participate in Steamfest every year. Picture: Perry Duffin

The first of Steamfest’s iconic engines has rolled into Maitland in preparation for the 32nd ​iteration of the event.

Among the hissing, churning machinery that draws thousands of people to the town is Sooty, a 1926 Fowler engine that journeys more than 360 kilometres from inland NSW to Maitland each year.

“Sooty would have more than 20 years at Steamfest now,” Councilor, co-pilot and The Burton Automotive Group Hunter Valley Steamfest organiser Peter Garnham said.

“It’s owner, John Preston, has always been a massive supporter.

“And that engine is world-renowned for its road runs, he doesn’t just run it around the ovals. He gets it out on the streets.”

The engine, and it’s entourage, left Wellington near Dubbo late last week. 

It took four days to reach the Hunter, winding slowly along the country roads while four two-man crews stoked the fire and watched the boiler. On Monday it chugged the final leg from Merriwa to Maitland’s rally ground, where it will be staged until Steamfest wraps up.

“You spend hours up there behind the hot fire,” Cr Garnham said.

“The only rain we got was around Merriwa on Sunday.

“We were thankful for the North Westerly breeze, but there was some thunder and lightning that wasn’t as welcome toward the end.”

Steamfest 2017 will follow on from one of the most successful in the event’s three decade history. Last year, the 30th anniversary, attracted approximately 80,000 people to the city.

Steamfest celebrates Maitland’s steam and industrial heritage and allows visitors to explore an impressive collection of antique machinery and steam trains from across Australia.

The celebrated Locomotives on display this year are the 3642, 5917, 3076, Tin Hare and Red Rattler.

Steamfest will also include a show and shine for classic cars, live entertainment, vintage machinery and activities across town. The event will run on April 8 and 9. 

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