Friday, January 24, 2014

Orange East Fork

As a precursor to posting a few snaps of Orange East Fork these days, I thought I'd slap down a few from days of yore.

Most of these shots were taken on family trips en route to Dubbo and beyond. We don't have much of Orange, compared to Lithgow or Bathurst or Dubbo. I guess the reason for this was me. We always left the Illawarra around dawn, had a big stop somewhere on the Blue Mountains as a result of me chundering (I was a sensitive child), burnt precious minutes at Lithgow and Bathurst, loco depots and so had to race through Orange in case there was something good at Molong or Dubbo. Makes sense now. Anyway, onto the snaps...

First up is 6005, a Garratt tucked away, waiting its next call to duty. Memo to the cameraman; level the camera.

Next up is a phot explaining why you didn't bother with Orange... Or spot the loco... There are three here.

Other days you could get closer...4480 was caught in the early 80s sunning itself.

Not all locos at Orange got away... Am not sure that 4436 went further in revenue service?

And then there were 47s. Often they had snuck across from Parkes. 4705 now resides in Werris Creek but in the 80s it seemed like it was the only 47 I ever saw.

Talking of the 80s, here is another sort of 80s... 8020.

And to wrap up, the enduring sentinels at the Fork... The water tank and the signal box. Here is an XPT zipping into the distance.

And to finish, the tank.

Its lovely.

Sunday, January 12, 2014


Just  back from a few days in the Central West of NSW, observing the near wipe-out of all railway infrastructure and operations in that region.  Nowhere is this scorched-earth policy more in evidence than at Orange.  Before I show a few shots of Orange over the years, its worth seeing what is left - the station and platform, two roads, the shed and the signal box in the distance.

It wasn't always this way - even fairly recently.  Here is a snap of 5390 shunting a packed Orange yard around 1970.

In the mid and late 1980s Orange was always worth a drop-by, although it was a lesser venue than Lithgow, Bathurst or Parkes.  For example, in October 1985 I found 8046 leading another 80 and a 48 on a Sydney-bound freight, with 7332 adjacent.

Even five years later in August 1990 the Dubbo fuel train was often a daytime visitor.

It wasn't all freights -  Orange was 'home' to the Silver City Comet.  In the next three photographs it is seen in Orange in May 1977, May 1978 and at the end of its days - in June 1988.



The Comet was the signature rail service, but from the late 1970s the Central West Express became an XPT service.  Four years later we snapped one such service on the outskirts of Orange.

And to wrap up this installment,HPC 402 was caught at Orange station on 25 March 1993 during its numerous trips to the region when involved in radio testing for the then State Rail Authority.


Will take a 'now and then' look at Orange East Fork in the near future.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The Scenic Route

I am currently in the mighty Central West of NSW. This means its a lucky day to catch a train moving in front of a camera. 

Today (8 January 2014) was no different, so I am going to present a few snaps of the Molong to Dubbo route, which hasn't seen a train since 1990 or so. Read no further if you don't like silos!

First up, Molong yard...

Then it was off to Cumnock, for its rare 'country island platform'.

After Cumnock the rain really set in. Next stop was Yeoval. Nothing remains in the yard except the grain facilities and a crane.

Final stop on the so-named Scenic Route was what I think is Walmer. The station's tank and tank stand remains, opposite the silo.

Then it was time for lunch, so we scooted across to Wellington (on the main line).

Better finish off with another silo; this time at Wellington.

Ciao for now!

Monday, January 6, 2014

RIP - Reid's Hill loco depot - 50 years ago this month

Time for another blog post - I just lurve being on holidays; gives you so much more time for the important things in life.

Continuing with the theme in recent postings of steam on the south coast, I thought I would show a few snaps of the former Reid's Hill locomotive depot operated by the Public Works Department of NSW, which had responsibility for shunting Port Kembla's wharves and undertaking breakwater maintenance for the first half of the 20th century. This responsibility was assumed by the NSW Government Railways (NSWGR) in 1949, and to their credit largely kept these operations separate from mainstream railway operations until the early 1960s.

The Public Works Department had purchased or somehow procured a motley collection of former NSWGR steam locomotives over the years, augmented by several locos obtained in its own right.  I will stand corrected, but all were tank locomotives with short wheelbases - the latter aspect was needed to negotiate tight radius curves around the Port Kembla waterfront.  As an example of this, in 1940 the NSWGR had sold tank locomotive 2002 to Public Works for a princely ₤800.  It became PWD 80 and was sent to the Illawarra for work on the wharves.

This post is not going to be able to deal with operations at Reid's Hill, as I have next to no knowledge about such things. I can however relay a little information about the demise of the depot and its occupants, which will be shown to be somewhat timely and relevant to my earlier posts on North Wollongong.  Before I go further please note that I will suspend my usual abhorrence for acronyms to use the moniker ‘PWD’ throughout this posting in reference to the Public Works Department.

Reid’s Hill locomotive depot was closed 50 years ago this month, after the dieselisation of Port Kembla’s wharves was completed by the allocation of all ten members of the 70 class to the NSWGR’s nearby Port Kembla locomotive depot.  While I have no shots of 70s on the wharves, as this blog is supposed to include photographs here is a location shot of double 70s doing their stuff in Port Kembla yard around 1980.

While Reid’s Hill depot closed in January 1964, its occupants had been leaving town well before then.  PWD 30 and PWD 78 had been scraped on site in September 1955, while PWD 27 suffered the same fate in 1961.  Luckier was PWD No. 29, which moved from Port Kembla to Enfield to become Garratt shed shunter in June 1961.

In September 1963 PWD No. 79 stored at Thirroul depot, having been donated to the NSW Rail Transport Museum.  Thirteen months later it was towed to Enfield by 5593 to commence life as a very special museum exhibit. By 1982 it could be found safely undercover at Thirlmere with its big cousin Bronzewing, and it remains at this location to the current time.

While 70 classes had assumed an increasing load of shunting duties throughout the second half of 1963, steam did not subside until the very end of that year.  On 29 December 1963, PWD 28 had the honour of being the last steam to operate a shift on the wharves.  ‘Kembla’ as it was known, disgraced itself by failing mid-shift.   

The family photograph collection does have a few shots around Reid’s Hill.  First up is a sadly scarred photo of 1076 in situ, still worth publishing in its reduced condition due to its content.  

In its last days Reid’s Hill had a fair representation of 26 class locomotives.  Here 2619 and 2612 bask outside the shed.

As a sort of a postscript, there was some steam action at Reid's Hill after the depot’s closure.  Sadly it only involved the scrapping of PWD No. 34 on-site in June 1964.

And now to the link to North Wollongong.  According to the Railway Digest, on the second day of 1964 – 50 years ago this week - 2001, 2609 & PWD No. 28 were moved from Reid’s Hill to storage at Thirroul depot.  I think that the following photograph, taken from the back door of my grandparent’s home captures part of this working.  2609 probably worked north under its own power or as part of a regular goods working, but it was necessary for PWD No. 28 to be towed to storage following its failure four days earlier.  So, unless contradictory information comes to light, I think this is 2001 towing PWD No. 28 to Thirroul on 2 January 1964.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Illawarra goods by steam

Happy New Year to all!

This is the third of a series of blog postings covering photographs taken just south of North Wollongong station, at the location of my paternal grandparents’ former home. 

For those unfamiliar with the history of railways on the Illawarra, its probably worth noting that this line was dieselised relatively early in the piece – around April 1964. This means that photos of steam services were pretty limited in the family collection.  And those that exist are in fairly ordinary condition, albeit they are now 50 years of age or more.  Still, here are a few of the more interesting examples.

First up, 5364 is caught on the up milky in April 1964.  This is pretty much the quintessential South Coast goods train in my view.  Its headed to Darling Harbour with a full load of creamy products.

The backbone of Illawarra freight services was and is still one commodity – coal.  I have chosen one coal operation – that from South Bulli Colliery – to showcase the use of standard goods locomotives in the last days of steam on the Illawarra.  First up is what I believe to be (but could be mistaken) 5056 on a down service.

The next two photos have the ‘improved’ version of the NSWGR’s standard goods locomotive – the 53 class.  The first photograph is of 5395 headed south in 1963, while the second shows 5487 treading the rails in the same direction. (Do not adjust your computer's settings - these are black and white photographs!)

The third and final version of the NSWGR standard goods locomotive, the 55 class, is usually never described as an improvement on the 53 class and it is not really remembered as an Illawarra-based class of locomotive.  However there were exceptions.  55 class locos were used extensively on the Unanderra to Moss Vale line as bankers. They also got to work the South Bulli coal run on occasions.  The next photograph shows 5595 headed south, while the one following has its younger sister 5619 headed the same way.

Outside of coal and coke headed south, a bit of steel headed north and milk trains, there wasn’t a real lot of freight action.  I am going to finish up with the sublime, 3816 relegated to a general freight service. I am going out on another limb here to guess that the 38 had worked a passenger express to Thirroul, and then had been commandeered to worth the freight further south.  It is a bit unusual as turning a loco of this size was easiest at Thirroul.  

As 3816 trundles off to Wollongong I will sign off for the time being.  Plenty more to come so please stay tuned!