The tour will begin in Jakarta. If you want time to acclimatise or recover from
the long flight consider arriving a day or two earlier, we can assist with
Overnight is in Jakarta.
The morning will be spent visiting Taman Mini Indonesia which includes Indonesia’s railway museum, home to more than 20 preserved mainline steam locomotives from Java and Sumatra. The
afternoon will be spent travelling to Cirebon.
Overnight is in Cirebon.
Sumberharjo has a very attractive loco shed with Ducroo & Brauns locos as well as those from Orenstein &
Koppel; in 2009 it was the only mill in Java with regular steam field work, albeit most of the full cane trains work at night. Our arrival should be in time for us to see the locos being prepared and moving off the shed. Most of the group will then probably walk to the top of the yard via the dumped locos on the empties side of the mill. After
hopefully catching some cable work to marshal the empty stock we can expect as many as three steam hauled trains of empties to head off to the fields. We will try to arrange for the bus to be at the weigh bridge at the far end of the mill to chase any trains heading
(tender first) along the roadside line to the west.
We will establish which fields are being worked and where we can expect the steam-hauled full trains to be located. Although there is a good chance that these trains won't return to the mill until after dark, this is a rare opportunity to see steam-hauled cane trains in the fields so we will chance our luck with a return there
after lunch to see what is happening.
Overnight is in Tegal.
Today is available for an extended morning visit to Sragi which had up to eight varied steam locomotives at work in 2009, the bustling yard makes for compulsive train watching. Star performers are the former Staats Spoorwegen Hartmann 0-8-0Ts and BMAG 0-10-0Ts.
In the afternoon we shall go to Pangka which has a busy road yard with
up to three steam locomotives at work in 2009 and much steam equipment
Overnight is again in Tegal.
Today has been deliberately left open, with the main
target the potential afternoon field workings at Sumberharjo.
Provisionally, we plan first to return to Pangka to see the morning
activity although some members may wish to visit Jatibarang (dieselised in
2009) with members of the mill tour instead. Thereafter both groups will
meet for lunch and Jatibarang visitors will rejoin the group. A final
decision on the afternoon visit will then be made, obviously if
Sumberharjo seems unlikely to perform, a repeat visit to Sragi (or even
Pangka) would be the alternatives.
Overnight is again in Tegal.
Today we leave the north coast area to transfer
southwards, skirting Semarang to Ambarawa which is home to one of Java’s
two railway museums although in truth it is more a locomotive park than
anything else. More than twenty iron dinosaurs are preserved here in the open.
There are two working steam locomotives here, both B25 0-4-2T (rack tanks)
and we shall have a special train on the line south with one of them up the rack to
Overnight will be at the nearby hill
station of Bandungan.
There will be a second B25 special in the early morning.
Thereafter, the group will proceed to Tasikmadu, some
distance away on the other side of Solo. Outside, up to six steam locomotives were at work in the yard in
2009, any extra time planned here tomorrow will not be wasted, we learned in 2008 that
these days activity varies considerably from day to day.
Overnight is in Solo.
A full day visit will be made to Tasikmadu where the
locomotives will be seen being prepared and then working the yard.
Alternatively, in view of the visit
to Tasikmadu the previous day, some members may wish to travel on the Wonogiri
branch train in the afternoon.
A bus will take them to Wonogiri in good time and return for those staying
on at Tasikmadu.
As a further alternative we can offer a few places on the
mill tour bus to stationary steam engine heaven, Gondang Baru which has the
oldest mill engines in Java and a supporting cast of more than a dozen other assorted stars. The lime kiln has its own narrow gauge push system, but the
mill’s steam locomotives are stored out of use in the shed and a couple more
are preserved in the on-site Central Java sugar museum. A couple of diesels
should be working the yard. This will be a 'whole day option'.
Overnight is again in Solo.
C1218 has been transferred to Solo to operate trains on (part of) Java's last rural branch
to Wonogiri and we hope to arrange for a charter early on a Sunday morning
when the traffic in Solo's main street should be much less than average. Moving
east, one piece of good news in 2009 was the return to steam at Sudhono, a
feature which hopefully will be maintained in 2010.
Overnight will be in Madiun.
First stop in the morning will be at Kanigoro where the mill
had just one steam locomotive in use in 2009. At Pagottan we should expect to
find one or two steam locomotives at work, including a Luttermöller geared
0-10-0T. In the afternoon we shall
go to Rejosari where there were two steam locomotives at work in
2009. If available, we shall arrange for the unique OK jackshaft 0-8-0T
Salak to be steamed.
Overnight will be some distance away in Cepu.
For nearly 100 years, the teak trees of the Cepu Forest were harvested conservatively with planned reforestation. Social and political changes mean that this is under threat from overcutting, but today we shall have a special logging train which will recreate the days before road transport took over. We shall ride out to the forest on the empty loris (wagons) and watch as the train is loaded by hand before returning in the late afternoon. There will be plenty of photo opportunities during what is traditionally one of the highlights of the tour.
Overnight will again be in Cepu.
In the morning, an early start will be needed to get to Purwodadi where there is a busy road yard
operated by up to three OK 0-8-0Tsteam locomotives. For those interested, the many stationary
steam engines inside are particularly photogenic and well laid
out in contrast with many mills which are quite gloomy and cluttered.
In the afternoon, we will move on to Merican where a
couple of steam locomotives were at work in the yard in 2009, including
Java's (and the world's) last Mallet. In 2008 the locos were burning wood which doesn't offer the night time fireworks as when burning bagasse. However, if the locos are burning bagasse again, we will wait for darkness to see the impressive fireworks display. If not, there will be the chance of a shower before dinner. Either way, we will need to be at dinner by
7.30 pm as Kediri goes to bed early.'
Overnight will be in Kediri..
Today should be a little more relaxed as apart from a
return to Merican first thing, there is no active steam at all left in the
next part of Java moving east. In the afternoon, a visit will be made to Kedawung which is a diesel operated mill with field lines
and some out of use steam locomotives - there are no live steam
attractions available in this part of Java.
Overnight will be in Probolinggo.
We have to be at Semboro by late morning. After inspecting the two fireless locos, we will board our special train around the large estate. The train loco will probably be the 1961 Jung 0-6-0T, none of the Mallets was available for line work during our visit in 2008. In the late afternoon we will drive
some way north for a somewhat later arrival than usual to give us an extra
morning at Olean.
Overnight will be in Situbondo.
By 2008 the number of mills which still used steam on railways
for trains to the fields outside the immediate mill area was very few and Olean was the best place to
observe such activity. However, reports from 2009 indicate that such
activity was much reduced and it is difficult to predict what steam
activity will be available in 2010. The next two days will be spent here
or at Asembagus which still had serviceable steam in 2009. Even then if no steam was
scheduled for use at Olean it could easily be substituted for the diesel for group visits. We will explore this possibility in 2010 if necessary although we hope to find
'natural' working steam here.
The interior of the mill rivals Gondang
for its variety of ancient steam power some of it dating from the 19th
century and time will be set aside for a visit, similarly to the nearby
mill at Wringinanom.
Overnight will be in Situbondo.
A second day will be spent at Asembagus and/or Olean. If
we draw a steam blank then there are also attractive (diesel) operated
field trains at Wringinanom and Panji.
Overnight will again be in Situbondo.
After breakfast the group will disperse. For those who
need it, transport will be provided to Surabaya (airport) from
where most will fly out to Jakarta (or Singapore or Kuala Lumpur) in good time for onward
Those who can afford the time will start their post tour
experience... See http://www.users.waitrose.com/~jraby/posttour.html
for more information.
I am scathing about the 'Lonely Planet effect', I have been quietly running
tours to Java for nearly 20 years in which time our regular destinations have
remained 'unspoiled'. The peoples of Java are uniquely hospitable, helpful and
friendly and I respect them and their traditional lifestyle. Apart from paying
for what is now an official agro-tourism programme in the sugar mills, this tour
will continue my policy of taking the sugar mills as we find them and not
turning them into a circus.
This tour is designed for the kind of person who says 'normally I don't join
tour groups but....'. It is intensive but not at the expense of being
Over the years many people have extended their visits with me to travel
independently afterwards and I can offer practical advice, Java is not a
difficult destination despite what the media implies. We can advise how best to
do this. By the same token, I have
always welcomed independent travellers who wish to join the tour for activities
like the Ambarawa special trains.
Java is equatorial, it will be hot outdoors in the daytime, but not
excessively humid as sugar cane is harvested in the dry season. The evenings
will be pleasantly warm. Every few years we seem to get a slightly wet 'dry
season', this is most likely to affect the Ambarawa area which is inland and in
the hills, but there is no need to bring a rain coat!.
Hotels will be 'good local' as opposed to 'international', all
with air-conditioning (except in Bandungan which is a hill station) with
en-suite facilities including western toilet, normally with a hot shower or even
Breakfasts will be a mixture of local and continental. Lunches
will be simple rice or noodle dishes. Dinners will be substantial Chinese style
Bottled water and international soft drinks are readily
available. Finding cold beer is now a major logistic exercise. If you enjoy a
stronger tipple from time to time, best bring your own.
The tour is definitely 'non-smoking' and if (unlike me) you
have a mobile phone or similar toy, it should be kept switched off in public.
There are internet cafes in most towns, but the connections will be slow. If you
have a laptop computer, WiFi is slowly spreading through the island, a few
hotels may offer Ethernet connections.