I went off looking for something for this blog about three weeks ago and fell into a big pit of information. Since then I have been sluicing through the electronic versions of the Railway Digest and the Railway News, plus paper copies of some/most of the Roundhouse, discovering rail tours of the 1960s and 1970s. So far I have logged over 400 tours - and these are the ones that actually ran, as many didn't. I do intend posting the details of these tours, once I get through what I have committed myself to.
In doing this digging it became apparent that there was a real and perfectly understandable shift in the emphasis in tours over the course of the decade to 1973. In the early 1960s tours were largely smaller affairs, concentrating on vulnerable branch lines and venerable classes of locomotives.
By the mid 1960s the emphasis was on mainline runs, using modern steam power. Then, as the decade closed the emphasis was on desperation to use steam before it disappeared. All perfectly understandable and it led to some amazing tours. I think this era started with a RTM tour to Wallangarra using 3827, 3616, 5442, 3022, 3524, 3617, 3233, 3390, 5909, 3036, 4876 and 4608 - 12 locos! The ARE's weekend tour from Melbourne to Merriwa in 1969 used 17 locos - 42207, 3801, 4638, 3820, 6019, 3067, 3046, 3214, 5902, 3088, 2705, 3813, 4609, 3642, 4639, 3122 and 42212.
Then there are stories of a single 30 tank starting other tours by lifting an 11 car train out of Sydney Terminal. Things I wish I had seen.
And this all came about because I was looking for a date for a RTM tour from Sydney to Canberra held on 14 March 1971, using 3801 to and from Goulburn, then combinations of 3229, 5212 and 5271 on the Canberra line.
The Digest tour report explains the day:
.... 3801 led the Museum’s Canberra tour out of Sydney at 6.14 a.m. on Sunday 14/3, on the first step to Goulburn. Failure of 42206 on a down goods in the Picton-Bargo section and single line working from Penrose to Tallong caused delays, which were however just added incentive for the crews of 3229 and 5212 to pick up time between Goulburn and Bungendore. 5274, with its odd tender, was in charge from Bungendore through to Canberra, arriving there perfectly on time. After a short bus tour, most passengers re-joined the train, now hauled by 3229 which had come over tender first from Bungendore as a result of inoperability of the Queanbeyan turntable. 5212 was attached leading at Queanbeyan. At Bungendore, No. 18 passenger ran through (having brought over some passengers who had participated in a more extensive bus tour) and the engines were interchanged to have 3229 leading on the three final sunset photos. 3801 took over again at Goulburn for the run to Sydney.
At least one of my uncles was on this tour, so we have a few shots of it.
This first shot shows 3229 and 5212 about to replace 3801 at Goulburn on the outward journey.
And here is a snap of 5274 with its 'odd tender' travelling over (I think) the Molonglo River at Burbong.
And here is a nice afternoon capture of 3229 again leading 5212 on the way back, on one of the three 'sunset' shots taken after Bungendore.
All three shots were taken as Agfa slides, which have deteriorated badly in the 50+ years since this tour. They are now as crazed and speckky as your scribe so, apologies for our condition!