Sunday, February 23, 2014

South Coast steam tours

This is another in the series of blogs which cover photographs taken just south of North Wollongong station, at the location of my paternal grandparents’ former home.  

After diselisation of the line in April 1964, the steam kept coming… in the form of tours. Apart from its inherent scenic beauty, the proximity of the Illawarra to Sydney (50 miles), its beaches (Austinmer, Wollongong), seaside villages (Kiama), steelworks (Port Kembla) and scope to head up the ‘Mountain’ to Moss Vale and then to loop back to Sydney made it a popular destination for tours.

Most of our family’s collection of steam tour photographs was taken at Wollongong, where the locomotives were watered, or at Famborough Heights where the trains climbed up the escarpment.

Returning to North Wollongong, here’s a broadly representative sample of a wider collection of tours from the 60s, 70s and 80s.  Starting off with the ridiculous, here are two 19 classes, back to back, on a RTM tour on 19 October 1963, headed to Thirroul.

Around the same time, the stately 3810 headed a tour with more comfortable rolling stock northwards.

In an act of painted exuberance, specially-adorned 3830 and 3313 return to Sydney after a tour to the Illawarra on 10 October 1965.

In the opposite direction about ten years later, green classmate 3813 raced through one Sunday morning.

If it wasn’t 38s, it was 32s. Showing Shelleys advertising signs and the coke works’ stacks in the background, on 28 January 1973 3203 steams through North Wollongong on a tour to Kiama. 

Shortly before it was hit with the maroon paint brush, 3214 got a run down the coast on a beach tour. 

30 class locos were regulars on steam tours, but usually arrived in the tender version – 3001T and 3028T being regular visitors in the 1970s. It was not until the late 1980s when 3112 got a dinky little ginty that 30 class tank locos got more familiar with their old stomping grounds.  Here 3112 was captured on 9 April 1998.

Another regular visitor has been the 36 class – with 3616 and 3642 making numerous trips down that way.  Less frequent was 3644 – principally because it met its fate at the scrappers’ torch less than a decade after this photograph was taken.

I am finishing on two immigrants to this country.  The first came and stayed, the other for just a season.  The first came from the Land of the Free – the 59 class were imported from the USA in the early 1950s.  It is fair to say that have spent more time on the Illawarra on tours than in regular service, with 5910 and 5917 being frequent attendees. Here the former heads to Wollongong in 1985 to work a weekend of shuttles to Thirroul.

And finally, a loco which came in 1988 and did not conquer. Its large driving wheels made short work of the flat sections of track between Thirroul and the Gipps Street level crossing at North Wollongong but struggled on the grades elsewhere.  So, it is with some irony that the final photograph is of the Flying Scotsman held at the signal immediately preceding the by-now extinct level crossing, meaning that any momentum it had for the climb up the bank to Wollongong had evaporated.

Still even more to come so please stay tuned!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


According to Wikipedia, AD 6029 is a four cylinder, simple, non-condensing, superheated, articulated steam locomotive built for the NSW Government Railways by Beyer Peacock and Company.

According to the rumour mill, after five years of restoration apparently 6029 completed a steam test of its boiler very recently.

If the rumour mill is true, and I hope it is this time, perhaps it won't be much longer before this fine loco treads the rails under its own power.  In anticipation of that eventuality, here's a couple from the vault of the last time a family member saw a Garratt move.

I think the year was 1982 and 6029 was off for an afternoon run.

Here is a shot from the train. Even the cows showed a passing interest.

And here is the old girl, on its return.

So, here's hoping, 107 years after a NSWGR employee invented the Garratt concept, we get to see one run once more!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Cockie rides again

Coming to you live from Central... The Cockatoo Run is on today, with its usual consist of 4918 plus three cars.

As usual the GM is immaculate. 

For the record the carriages are, in order from the loco, SFN2182, FRN2186 (Lachlan) and SBN2195 (Macquarie).

Its going to be pretty hard to sit at a desk today.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Molong Calling

This afternoon I was contacted by the Senior Train Hunter, who wanted a view as to whether his HO scale representation of NSWGR's W44 ore train should be tailed by a guardsvan.  Of course it should have a van, I say, thereby averting his public humiliation at the hands of IMRA's stalwarts.

Once home from work I check the validity of my assertion.  Of course, in 25,000 photos you would expect that at least one would exist to justify what I had ventured.  About 6 hours later I am about to admit defeat, but have found a few examples of freights through Molong over the years.

Starting with a black and white shot of Molong in the distance, we have a couple of pigs getting started  to head east in the early 1960s.

I think the next shot was taken a few minutes later, and by that time 3652 and its mate had neared the camera.

The next two shots are the same sequence, but this time its around 1963 and the train is the famed W44 ore train, headed by 6024 and another 60 class.

Around the same year W44 is ready to head to the seaboard once more, this time with 5284 leading a 60 class. A local farmer is busy divesting his flock's product on the far left of the shot.

Later in the 60s diesels took over for most of the big freights, especially during the drought of 1965 to 1967.  Most of the time it was branch-liners on duty - 48s and 49s. In the following photograph a 49 leads two 48s with what also appears to be W44.  By this time the silo had received a bit of freshening paint.

There are other shots, but I'll keep those for another time.  Instead I'll finish with a nice snap off the end of the station platform of a sun-drenched 8021 with two sister Alcos in 1982, and then a 30 year fast forward to January 2012 with a fairly shuddery video of NRs 40, 121 and 6 coming through a very rationalised yard with NY3 steel train.

So there you have it - truly 50 years of Molong.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Orange East Fork in 2014

In my last post I foreshadowed that I had a few shots of Orange East Fork, taken about a month ago.  Its a pretty lonely place... tumbleweeds weren't seen but you could feel their presence.

Lets start where I left off with the last blog -  the water tank.

And here is a view across the turntable, looking southeast (I think its southeast anyway).

Here is the loneliest little S wagon... couldn't get a number for it and I don't know that its much good for anything apart from to keep a few Orangonians warmer this coming winter.

Across the way from the turntable, near the old sanding equipment, a solitary louvre van awaits its fate.  Though I didn't venture over there, I suspect it once trod the rails as an MRC (?).  Happy to be corrected.

I think I will finish up this quick survey of the old loco depot with the classic side-on shot of the turntable..