On 12 November I started a recount of a two-week odyssey on NSW railways in the depths of winter in June 1988, using a Nu-rail pass. Part 1 of that story covered the first five days of the tour, which resulted in trips to Cooma, Dubbo and Broken Hill.
After these strenuous travels, we took Sunday 19 June 1988 off – after all, it is supposedly the day of rest. However, we did rendezvous that evening for 9:55pm departure from Sydney in car 1 of N7 North Mail, which was composed by 8625, our MCS, MCS, BAM, BAM, MCS and an LHO guards van. I have no idea why we didn’t book a sleeper that night. It was a rough, cold, noisy and thoroughly unpleasant trip. I am still in therapy and physiotherapy from it, decades later.
Somehow the 44 which had replaced the 86 at Broadmeadow was gone by the morning – presumably at Werris Creek and replaced by double 48s at that junction. It was Moree a bit after 9:30am when we ventured out for a shot at the station of the two steeds - 4885 and 48100.
Then we left the rails to head east at 10:15am in R.15N – a mini-road coach which brought us to Inverell by noon. After three hours of nothing – except photographing the water tank many times, we then joined R.44N road coach to arrive in Grafton in the dark a little before 5:00pm.
Tuesday 21 June was a planned day of line-side photography, and it started very well with a visit to South Grafton station in time to see 8048 and 4875 head north on a freight.
Things got even better an hour later in clearing weather when 44237 and 48117 trundled by on freight at South Grafton. This train also deserves two photographic commemorations, so here they are.
In what probably wasn’t the smartest tactical move, we decided to walk a couple of miles out of town in the hope of picking up a few freighters on some of those delicious reverse curves which surround Grafton. Of course, whilst in transit 44233 roared through with a north bound freight. I managed a poor photo across a vacant allotment.
Then, naturally, nothing came through for the next four or so hours!
It wasn’t until late-afternoon that we returned to the station, where we found 4458 readying for the evening trip south on N6 North Coast Overnight Express. Apart from the 44 class, the express was composed by a five car set and a FAM sleeper.
I don’t recall much of that trip, except that 8645 replaced the 44 class at Broadmeadow for the final part of the journey.
Arrival in Sydney at 5:35am gave the old bloke a chance to return to the South Coast in time for a breakfast arrival. I decided to take my breakfast on the nearest XPT I could find – it being NT23 Northern Tablelands XPT, which left Sydney at 8:50am.
An on time arrival at Tamworth just before 3:00pm allowed me plenty of time to snap the steeds responsible for the journey, and then to look around.
I do recall the increasing cold from about 4:30pm, which forced me into the local hostelries for warmth and sustenance. By the time that I left Tamworth just after 10pm on (N8) Up North Mail the temperature was at least five below. Up front was another trusty Alco – 4465 – with a BAM, MCS, FS and LHY in the consist.
Sensibly I had paid a small premium, which got me berth 13 in the BAM sleeper. In fact, if I recall correctly, it was my personal carriage that evening. Perhaps the lack of passengers – or the knowledge of what lay ahead – led the guard to offer me four or five blankets for the berth. They were received gratefully, and put to good purpose throughout.
I woke just as we were arriving into Sydney at 6:30am on Thursday 23 June, with 8626 at the head of the train. And I think I’ll leave it there, as part 3 can cover the last two great trips.