Wednesday, March 7, 2018


Sidings. I have known a few. I am just returned from three weeks in the southern USA, largely not train watching (in fact, I had a remarkable ability to only maintenance work being undertaken) and the rear end of trains disappearing into the distance.

From the little I saw I was reminded just how much industry was still served by rail sidings, compared to what I have become accustomed to here on the eastern seaboard of Australia. It rubs against my preconceived ideas of the lean, highly competitive stripped-back US rail freight business, with big, long unit trains. In the southern US states (at least) most towns had at least one operating siding. Lots of tanker (oil and gas) and ‘box car’ loadings.  This brought with it a fair smattering of what I call conglomerate trains – that is, not a uniform or unit loading.  This traffic was not the sole province of short line operators either – I managed to see BNSF, UP and Norfolk Southern operating trains which carried grain, auto-racks, flats, boxcars and gondola traffic, all in the single train. It was most refreshing!

Sadly, in New South Wales, this sort of traffic has gone to road and it unlikely to ever return due to our predilection to rip up infrastructure and to straight-rail sidings. Even the trains we classify as ‘shunts’ like the Harefield shuttle and the Grafton/Coffs Harbour cement are trains carrying one or two types of commodity (containers and sugar/cement, respectively).

Bringing this ramble back home, it got me thinking about sidings.  I didn’t make a practice of photographing sidings as a youngster and I kick myself now, for the Illawarra was rich with them.  Apart from colliery and quarry sidings, there were coke sidings, co-op sidings, milk sidings, general goods, fuel depots and probably others I can’t recall. Anyway, I have gathered a few snaps from around the State of NSW where the focus wasn’t on the main line. So here goes…

Here's a siding I photographed deliberately - the United Dairies siding at Lithgow 3 October 2002. 

Sticking with the milky theme - Tumut in 1981.

Another sort of dairy siding (I love milk) - Gloucester 12 February 1993.


A siding for another sort of liquid - Armidale fuel siding on 9 July 1994.

Happy to be corrected but I think Unanderra had the only cattle race in the Illawarra by the 1980s. Not the finest shot!

Further south, Bomaderry had 48127 attending some wagons in one of its sidings on 28 July 1993.
 Back up north, 48140 and 4475 are about to leave Ardglen's ballast quarry siding on 25 October 1991.

 And then to Barraba, where 4861 was heading a container train out of its siding in 1977.

 And lets wrap up with a black & white photograph of a loco that did its best work in a siding... X202 at a busy Yass Town in early the 1970s.



Saturday, March 3, 2018

Its a mystery to me

So sang Roy Orbison... and I found myself humming that very tune as I wandered through a few photos this Sunday afternoon. Why, I know you ask? Well, I have come across two in locations which are mysteries to me.  

This first one has a 45 and a 48 in a small loco depot, taken probably in the late 1960s or early 1970s. I had thought Cooma, but it could be Armidale for all I know.

This second one really has done my head in.  I would love it to be somewhere exotic like Batlow, but it could be Lithgow or somewhere out west.  This latter guess is based upon the cloud formation!

Any better guesses folks?


Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Albury town

A Wednesday lunchtime contribution... working from home has its advantages/distractions. 

As another distraction,I thought I would start an occasional series of location reviews, using an alphabetical sequence.  You can look forward to Zig Zag appearing on this blog - but not yet as I am staring at the other end. If I have them, I will post up to 5 shots of the particular location... might need to be a few roughies so bear with me.

So, A for Albury. The next five shots have one thing in common - they leave the viewer with the impression that Albury was a busy and crowded yard once.

I am going to start in black and white from one of Dad's Nurail trips he took while he left me in primary school around 1975 (thanks Dad, that extra 2 weeks of education certainly paid dividends).  This is an early morning shot of 4416 (or 4418) with what passed for the Riverina Express that day - it looks like 3 cars was considered sufficient to manage the patronage that day. A 421 is ready to follow the Riv north, while an interstater is ready to cross the border.

Now, three shots, all from 1983 I think, if memories and notes are accurate. Here is a basking 42105 and 4894.

(From memory) the following day  42202 and X44 rumbled by Albury signal box.

One the same day, the 40s appeared - X40 and a freshly candied 44240 sharing the platform roads.

And finally, never let it be said big engines don't shunt. Here's 8133, a shunter's float and van, going about their daily duties around 1985.

Will be back with the Bs soon (I hope).


Thursday, January 25, 2018

4499 after being a ghost

A couple of years ago (2016) I published some shots of 4499 shortly after it had been repainted into its unique grey ghost livery in January 1986. If you are wondering what I am talking about and can't be bothered scrolling down to find the article, here is another shot of 4499 heading north through Sawtell with a little Alco cousin - am thinking this was around September 1986 (photo snapped by the Senior on one of his numerous holidays).

I had forgotten that this livery only lasted until the following September (according to the Digest), whereupon it got the candy treatment. So here are a few shots of it in its candy scheme...

Well, here's a bit of '99 but to be fair, this was the shot I wanted - one of Keira Signal Box at Gipps Street, Wollongong.

I am guessing that 4499 spent its last years working out of Broadmeadow depot? I only saw it up north, like this day when I caught it squeezed between 44225 and 4448 near Tamworth at dusk.  The day was 13 April 1992 by the way...

The last time I saw the penultimate member of the 44 class was 22 August 1992 when it rolled by on a container train at Maitland. A nice train to remember it by!


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Bomen fuel trains

I haven't posted for so long I had forgotten my password, so apologies for those who check this site regularly for updates. This update is particularly for those of you who are KGB spies checking Australian rail fan sites (thanks Google Analytics for help with my target audience).

Anyway, I thought a reflection on a particular train that no longer runs with stuff that the railways don't cart so I can't be accused of being disloyal to the monarch. It will also give me a chance to test whether I can successfully link videos out of my Flickr site into blog posts.

Lets start with a couple of snaps...

The Junior Hunter and yours truly took a couple of days in October 2002 in Bundanoon.  Here's the train absolutely flat out on 9 October, with 8129, 8125, 48151 and 4887 up front.

And in a flash it was gone...

 And here is (hopefully) a link to the same train:

The next day it was still 8129 & 8125 up front, but 8046 had replaced the little Alcos. Still going like the clappers.  We did manage to interrupt eating our cream buns for morning tea to get these shot, so please excuse the (signal) pole.

 And the link for the train...

I have a few other shots and videos of this train on my Flickr site for those who want to hunt them down, but I suspect even my KGB friends don't have the patience or overtime budget for that task.


Friday, November 24, 2017

Skillion roof stations

It takes a special sort of person, called an architect, to come up with a design for a railway station building that shields intending passengers from the elements until that moment when the rain overwhelms the gutters just as the train pulls into the station. 

Even I think I can spot a design flaw there somewhere here...I think I particularly like the way a skillion roof can take water from the building's entire surface area and tip it over the only side needed for the building's purpose.  But they do look nice and are easier to model so lets have a look at a few I have passed by over the years.

And lets start with Gilmore as its a place that gets a fair amount of rain - I think this example wasn't far from getting the bulldozer when I snapped it around 1981.

I think I took this one of Stroud Road in 1984 or 1985. It took me a fair while to line the pole up in the middle of the photograph, so I hope you appreciate it.

Stocky has always been a favourite of mine... four skillion roofs, at four different angles.

Eumungerie is home base for my paternal line... which explains the persons lurking in this 1963 photo.

But the example I liked the best was Gulgong.  I think the building has since been restored but in 1995 it was ruggedly dilapidated.


Thursday, October 26, 2017

A Few Hours on the River

The River Hawkesbury, that is.  In this second installment from Ian Brady there is a selection of action shots from 24 November 1956.  In my humble opinion just about every one of them is brilliant, even if they may have seemed a bit prosaic at the time to him. Read my previous post if you want to know more about how and why I am presenting another photographer's efforts, but lets get on with the action.

I have no way of knowing what order these are supposed to be so lets start with the start or the end of the journey.  It is labelled as the 'Chips' which seems reasonable.  What I didn't know is that the Railways Administration were guilty of inflicting FGs on the good citizens of the Blue Mountains.  Thought only the southern highlanders and south coasters were that unlucky.  Anyway, here's 4607 at the head of the Chips.

Now, up to the River.  In the hope that someone recognises Ian or whoever this person is, here's a partially obscured tender from 5611. The tender lettering looks like one of my decalling efforts.

Onto the steam action.  Ian may have reflected that he hit the button a fraction early on this shot of a 59 leading a Garratt down Cowan Bank, but I love the result. Poles are up, but no wires at this stage.

Anyone who wants to guess the number of this 38, you are welcome to post your guess in the comments below. Guessing its the Midday Flyer. I reckon its number is somewhere between 06 and 30 (inclusive) and not 13. Yes, I am being a smarty pants.

Better job on working out this one - 3816 also moving a seven car Flyer service at great speed.

And Ian wrapped up his photography that day with snagging 4014 as it emerged from the tunnel. Might even be a greenie?

More to come at a later time.