I had arrived into Sydney from Tamworth at 6:30 on the morning of Thursday 23 June 1988. After a brisk day I met the old man for a late dinner and then jumped on the then-titled 'North Mail'. On this occasion it was headed by electric loco 8602, which was to tow two sleepers (both BAMs), then six sitting cars and a LHO guards van.
We scored a couple of seats in car 7 and settled in for a pretty uncomfortable night after our 10pm departure from the capital. At Broadmeadow, well after midnight, 4428 and 4483 replaced the 86 class. Our first glimpse of these steeds came much further north around breakfast. I think this next photo was grabbed at Armidale.
Friday afternoon approached as we drew closer to the end of the line, Tenterfield. We made it just before noon, about 30 minutes late.
By this time, assorted shunting measures, we had been reduced in total to a sleeper, two sitting card and a van. This was to be the consist for our return journey, four and a half hours later. This interregnum gave us a chance to walk the mile into town and back, and to get a couple of shots of the train basking in the afternoon sun.
And from behind...
It wasn't all trains... We admired the well preserved barracks and goods shed.
As it was extremely cold we boarded the train, as the only sleeping car passengers more than an hour before our 4:25pm departure. When we did leave, it was a stuttering affair. The trailing 44 kept cutting out, so after several stops in the middle of nowhere the crew simply cut it out. This meant for a slower trip but I am not sure time mattered much for the North Mail anyway. It didn't worry us, sleeping soundly in our berths in a very cosy BAM. They were good sleepers.
It was another gawd awful hour when we got to Sydney on Saturday, well before 6:00. Although I had plans for a weekend jaunt west I chose a better option - study for approaching exams.
Sunday was another rest day of sorts. it wasn't until 7:00pm we gathered at Central for a departure on the 8:00pm Melbourne Express. I don't have a record of the locos or the train, probably because I was pretty over things by this stage. Once again, we had opted for a sitter rather than sleeper, just for further punishment.
By Monday, 27 June, my bum had been moulded into a NSWGR seat pattern. At the gloriously early hour of 4:50am we tumbled out onto Albury station.
It's funny how the mundane of the moment becomes a bit special later in life. Here is an ordinary shot off the footbridge.
A slightly less ordinary shot could be achieved towards the south. Here was a pristine 4458, the first red terror 44 as far as I recall, lurking in the yard.