No.103 ‘Spirit of Baw Baw

Privately Owned, formerly at the Walhalla Goldfields Railway


No.103 preparing to depart Thompson station on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway on 6 November 2005.

This photo was kindly contributed by Rob Ashworth.



Henschel & Sohn,

Kassel, Germany



Builder’s Number & Year

25427 of 1956



Wheel Arrangement



This modern industrial locomotive was built by Henschel & Sohn, Germany as recently as 1956. Apparently, it was originally built to 750mm gauge for the Sri Maharacha Timber & Co. at Sri Racha, Thailand as their No. 15 and appears to be one of a batch of at least 4 identical units. By 1972 it had moved to the Thai Sugar Corporation at Nonchak, Thailand as their No.103.

In 1982, No.103 and sister No.104 were purchased for preservation in Australia by a private owner based in Spotswood, Melbourne. I understand a change of ownership followed in 1989 to a second private owner based in South Belgrave.

No.103 arrived on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway (WGR) by 2000 and found use on this interesting tourist line which is based on the final section of the Victorian Railways 2’ 6” gauge developmental route from Moe to Walhalla, from the Thompson River crossing station and along Stringers Creek gorge and traversing numerous bridges to Walhalla. No.103 was overhauled and regauged to 762mm (2ft 6in) prior to WGR trials from July 2001. The loco carried the name ‘Spirit of Baw Baw’ on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway, referencing the local Shire of Baw Baw.

It seems that No.103 departed the Walhalla Goldfields Railway around 2006, and I’m not sure where it spent the following years. An October 2022 post by the Dalby Pioneer Park Museum on their Facebook page suggests No.103 was at a private workshop site in Dalby, Queensland, where it has now been joined by sister No.104, presumably both locos being owned by the same person. Further information about the status and future intentions for these two locos is welcome!

Walhalla Township

Walhalla was a favourite weekend destination for webmaster in the mid-1990’s as the historic gold-mining town and surrounds offers the combination of bushwalking, mining heritage and railways. At that stage the Walhalla Goldfields Railway had yet to rebuild the final half of the route up Stringers Creek gorge and I recall bush-bashing the railway route down to the head-of-steel; the valley (once dominated by alluvial gold miners) was very steep and proved impassible where some of the old bridges were down! The WGR achieved renewal or replacement of all the missing bridges in Stringers Creek circa 2000 to complete the magnificent section of railway from Thompson to Walhalla. The town was also notable in those days as the largest in Victoria that was not connected to the electricity grid, and thus the local homes and businesses sported various bespoke solar or other generation systems which added to the town’s heritage & frontier feel.

Mains electricity came to Walhalla around the turn of the millennium (with the reticulation carefully hidden so as not to detract from the town’s heritage). Another restoration achieved around this time was the recreation of The Star Hotel in Walhalla, faithfully rebuilt on the location of the original and providing much more comfortable accommodation than the tent I had previously relied on! My wife and I enjoyed greatly enjoyed staying at the Star Hotel and various local bushwalks such as the track to Mushroom Rocks and on to the snow gums at Mt Erica. Another favourite route direct from Walhalla follows the old timber tramlines which traversed the steep slopes and now provide easily graded walking tracks through otherwise very tough country, with a particular highlight being the old Poverty Point tramway bridge crossing the Thompson River.

Walhalla Goldfields Railway

Motive power on the Walhalla Goldfields Railway is provided by diesel locos including a wonderful old John Fowler locomotive built in 1950 for the State Electricity Commission of Victoria, which began its preservation career with the WGR in April 1994.

The WGR has a good presence on the Web & Facebook:



Sister Henschel / Thai Sugar Corporation locos:

Rob Dickinson’s ‘International Steam Pages’ (as referenced below) lists sister Henschel / Thai Sugar Corporation locos 105 (b/n 29582 of 1956) and 106 (b/n 29584 of 1956) as preserved in the UK. No.103 is also listed as now preserved in the UK, but that listing presumably is in error.

This photo is also provided by Rob Ashworth and shows No.103 at Happy Creek station on the WGR during August 2004.

A scanned photo view of No.103 at rest in the loco shed at Thompson.

A second view of No.103 at rest in the loco shed at Thompson.

The shed frame rather gets in the way!

Detail view of the builder's plate.



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

Number 214, August 2010 (Page 21).

Published by the Light Railway Research Society of Australia Inc.


Dalby Park Pioneer Museum – Facebook page:

Post dated 28 October 2022.


‘The International Steam Pages’ website published by Rob Dickinson.

Thailand page: Preserved / Extant Steam Locos and Steam Cranes in Thailand

Retrieved 29 February 2024

Page updated: 11 May 2024

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