THERE'S something magical about old steam trains, says David Dowd.
The Steamrail Victoria customer services manager said the sound of the whistle blowing and the chug of the engine is like a call to adventure that draws people in.
"When you hear the whistle you automatically think of the past and everybody has had some relation to a steam train, to the Old World nature that they have," he said.
"It's almost a romance.
"It attracts people from miles around – you can hear that whistle from miles."
Proving Mr Dowd right, train lovers from Bendigo and beyond flocked to Bendigo Railway Station on Monday see a R761 model coal burner, built in 1951, roll in.
The novelty visit was part of Steamrail Victoria's annual Northern Weekender tour which saw the train depart from Melbourne on Friday night and visit Kerang, Swan Hill, Echuca and Bendigo.
It stopped at Bendigo on Monday for four hours, allowing the 50 passengers time to explore the city.
Passenger Maxine Agios, from Melbourne, said she had a delightful weekend and enjoyed visiting Bendigo.
"We had a very nice lunch (in Bendigo), we went to the Bendigo Botanic Gardens and the observatory and had a walk through the gardens," she said.
"It's very pretty; there's lots to see."
Spectator Austin Jinks, a Bendigo resident who went to the station on Monday morning to see the train pull in, said steam trains reminded him of his childhood.
"I used to climb on the steam train that was outside Bendigo station when I was four or five," he said.
"My little girl Anna saw a video of a steam train online and went silly over it.
"I was very keen as a child and when Anna took an interest in (steam trains) it got me interested again."
Mr Dowd said the train traveled at a speed of 80 km/h for most of the journey.
He said 25 crew members attended the train, most of whom were volunteers.