Puffing Billy Railway – A Victorian institution and major tourist attraction, has been captivating the public for over 100 years with tourist steam train experiences, which take in scenic views across iconic timber trestle bridges and original mountain narrow gauge tracks. This year – a new magical experience, the Puffing Billy Railway Train of Lights, is offering passengers the rare opportunity to be immersed in the natural surrounds of the Dandenong Ranges at night. Combining the magic of steam with modern LED and automated lighting fixtures to create a breathtaking lighting experience, it’s the very first of its kind in Australia.
Tim Newman, train enthusiast and industry veteran lighting designer was chosen by the Puffing Billy Railway Trust for this exciting project, and he has been working with the Production team at Resolution X for over 16 months in bringing it to life after many COVID delays.
The Lighting Design called for a complex rig that could not only light the train itself but also project a dazzling display of gobo projection and colour into the surrounding forest.
“It’s been a delicate balance between making this experience a modern look and technologically complex, but still keeping the heritage look of the train intact” comments Tim Newman.
That look is delivered in spades by over 600 metres of RGB LED Neon Flex mounted to custom-built frames along the train, powered and controlled by 4km of cable and two grandMA MA2 Command Wings running in session at either end of the train. Interspersed along the train are two open carriages, housing the power generators and series of Clay Paky Mythos 2 and Ayrton Perseo-S units to light out into the surrounding forest, as well as project some very special custom gobos onto the nearby hills as the train rattles on towards Gembrook.
The production team tested a number of different outdoor profile fittings for this project, as the gobo moments, whilst fleeting, needed to be sharp and easily discernible from the moving train. The absolute standout fixture to achieve this has been the Aryton Perseo-S from Show Technology.
Tim Hall, Managing Director of Resolution X is thrilled with the product choice. “The reliability of this this IP65 profile can’t really be questioned when we are strapping them to a steam train in the Dandenong’s in the middle of winter,” comments Tim Hall. “We really took our time to find the right product for the outdoor market and the Puffing Billy Project in particular, and I couldn’t be happier with the response from our clients to the Ayrton Perseo-S.”
Resolution X was the perfect partner for the project; not only could they supply the hire equipment and production labour for the activation, but were able to call upon their partners in the Lightmoves Group for further support. The LED Neon and drivers were supplied by Lightmoves, whilst custom manufacturing was handled by the resX workshops and Browns Precision Welding. This enabled them to manage all aspects of the project in-house, and offer a complete turnkey solution to the client.
Tim Newman and the crew have absolutely relished the opportunity to get up and close and very personal with some of the finest examples of steam machinery anywhere in the world.
“Being able to work with the team at Puffing Billy to create this event has been an amazing experience” continues Tim Newman, “the team at Puffing Billy Railway have been so trusting of with us with their brilliant machinery, it’s really been a rewarding collaboration which I believe has yielded a beautiful result.”
Although quickly selling out for this Winter holiday season, the Puffing Billy Railway Train of Lights can be seen travelling between Emerald Lakeside and Gembrook stations every night of the school holidays. A stunning sight for young and old as it passes; keep an out for future runs of this fabulous experience.
Lighting Designer – Tim Newman
Project Manager – Mark Hopkins
Systems Design and Asst Project Manager – Andrew Davies
Show Crew – Chris Lewis, Jamie Bebb
Custom Manufacturing – Russell Brebner, David Madill