Thirlmere is a small semi-rural town in the Macarthur Region of New South Wales in the Wollondilly Shire. Popularly known for its railway origins, the town is located 89 km south west of Sydney (about a 60 minute drive), one third of the distance from Sydney to Canberra. Thirlmere’s neighbouring towns are Picton, Tahmoor and Couridjah/Buxton.
Thirlmere is home to the train museum and Thirlmere Lakes. Thirlmere has a local primary school as well as a chemist, vet, petrol station, sports oval, tennis court, park, fresh produce shop, post office, newsagency, bakery, hairdressers, bottle shop, a supermarket, butchers, party shop, take away shops and the Thirlmere Inn Hotel. Schools include Thirlmere Public School for Kindergarten to year 6, and Wollondilly Anglican College an independent school serving students from Kindergarten to Year 12. Secondary students also attend the nearby Picton High School.
The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum is Australia’s largest and oldest railway museum with over 125 railway exhibits. It is the home to many steam and diesel locomotives, the most popular of which is the famous 3801. Steam train rides are available on every Sunday between March and November and they often hold ‘Day Out With Thomas’ for the kids featuring Thomas the Tank Engine and friends. Each year on the first Sunday in March, the town’s population grows to over 15,000 as tourists flock to the “Thirlmere Festival of Steam” – NSW’s premier annual steam event featuring the state’s biggest gathering of main-line steam locos and all the fun of the fair and markets. Thirlmere is home to Thirlmere Lakes National Park, it is a popular picnic spot for locals and day trippers from Sydney. Covering an area of 627 hectares there are several sand beaches. The lakes (maximum depth 6m) are popular for kayaking and canoeing. There are a few bush walking trails with the longest being a 16km return trip.