Saturday, November 1, 2014

The Comet

This is the 100th post for this blog, which is a bit of a milepost for me starting and sticking to the job. Gratifyingly, I seem to be rapidly approaching the 50,000 pageviews for the blog too (and not all of them are mine!).

Anyway, today is significant for greater reasons.  Twenty five years ago today (2 November 1989) the Silver City Comet ran its last regular revenue service, having commenced as Australia's first air-conditioned passenger train just over 52 years prior to then. 

While the Comet did a few years' service between Sydney and Newcastle, it spent most of its service life plying western lines - from Orange to Broken Hill and to Dubbo. And it is in this service that one of our first photographs of the Comet was taken in the mid-1970s.

I always thought that the previous photograph was at Orange, but am not so sure these days.  The large building in the background looks a bit like the Bathurst gasworks.

No doubt about this next one being in Orange - just out of it actually, on its way to Dubbo in 1977.

And when the Comet made it to Dubbo, it was parked opposite the station when I snapped it in December 1979.

The Comet's spiritual home will always be Broken Hill. Keen eyes will pick the tuscan EHO at the rear of the train.

For the greater part of its period of operation the Comet ran in a distinctive silver livery with blue lining.  In the 1950s it scored a tuscan and russet livery, which was replaced by a complete tuscan scheme.  The last non-silver iteration was the candy scheme, which was rather less than flattering.  Here is a 'Hill' bound service, in the middle of nowhere.

My last trip on the Comet was in June 1988, which required a 4:30am start in the Broken Hill.  Taken from the Comet as it stood at Parkes station, here is a view of the Comet depot/graveyard.

And shortly after we hopped off at Orange, the Comet was snapped basking in the late afternoon sun.

Appropriately these days the class leader may be found well cared for in Broken Hill.

I have a lot of fine memories of the Comet but none more than the breakfasts served in its spartan dining car. While quality was almost absent, devouring four slices of white toast completely submerged in baked beans at 100kph as the Comet raced towards the sun at dawn takes some beating.  Especially as when one looked out of the window, emus and 'roos could be seen taking flight from the railway right of way.

Ciao for now!

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