In March 2020, I had 4 weeks of Long Service Leave. I still had more than a month on the NSW Trainlink Discovery Pass that I used on my previous railway holiday. So I decided to book some journeys served by NSW Trainlink.
Sunday 1st March: Travelled Culcairn, NSW to Thirlmere, NSW. As the trains were in disarray on the Melbourne – Sydney mainline due to a passenger train accident near Wallan, Victoria, the XPT train journey between Culcairn and Moss Vale was replaced by a bus. When the train replacement bus arrived at Moss Vale township, the bus driver didn’t know where Moss Vale station was and had to be guided by a passenger. From Moss Vale I caught a City Rail Xplorer train to Tahmoor, and then had to walk for 4 or so kms to Thirlmere. I had read that there was a Steam Festival and model railway exhibition at Thirlmere on the day I travelled but due to bush fires a month or so before it those events had been cancelled. But there were still steam trains running between Thirlmere and Buxton being operated by the Thirlmere Railway Museum so still got to go on a steam train and have a look at the various trains at the railway museum.
Photos of Steam Train Journey to Buxton and back:
Photos of Thirlmere, NSW, Railway Museum:
Thankfully it was all trains for the return journey to Culcairn, the trains running more or less on time. While waiting for the southbound XPT overnight train at Moss Vale, I did some train spotting.
Train spotting @ Moss Vale, NSW:
2nd – 6th March: I worked on my bookshelf layouts including converting the sector plate on Box Street from a hidden element to a fully scenic element including removal of the low relief building in front of sector plate. This will be covered in another blog post.
Sunday 8th March: This was the start of an adventure covering 3 Australian states – Victoria, New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. Today, very early in the morning, caught a train replacement bus from Culcairn to Southern Cross in Melbourne. The bus driver didn’t know where Culcairn, Broadmeadows and even Southern Cross stations were located. That didn’t exactly engender confidence, but the bus eventually made to Southern Cross with the directional help of a passenger. From Southern Cross station, caught the PTV suburban electric train to Sandown Park station where a model and hobby show was located nearby.
I enjoyed the train show for a few hours, then caught a suburban train back to Southern Cross station, and then walked out to Spence Street and caught a Light Rail / Tram to Port Melbourne (Station Pier). There I saw the Queen Mary II and Spirit of Tasmania ships. When I returned to Southern Cross I had a wait for the train replacement bus from Southern Cross to Albury to arrive. It left Southern Cross more or less on time and arrived at Albury about 23:50pm, somewhat late, 10 minutes before Monday.
Monday 9th March: Found my seat on the XPT train at Albury for the next leg between Albury and Sydney, NSW. The XPT left Albury right at midnight, about 40 minutes late, and arrived Sydney Central station about 7:30am, approx 30 mins late. The next leg of my adventure was to Brisbane, Queensland. But the XPT wasn’t due to leave until after 2pm. To fill in time, I caught the Light Rail from Sydney Central to Dulwich Hill, then caught the suburban electric train from Dulwich Hill to Birrong, then another suburban train from Birrong to Circular Quay via Redfern and Central stations. At Circular Quay I had a look around the quay precinct including the Sydney Opera House. Then I caught the new LS Light Rail from Circular Quay to Sydney Central.
I got back to Sydney Central about 12:20pm. The northbound Brisbane XPT left Central on time at 2:41pm. Between Hornsby and Woy Woy we seemed to be chasing another train not far ahead as there were a number of yellow signals and the train was travelling at slower speeds. At Gosford we overtook a northbound SCT / CSR freight train, seeming to confirm that we had been chasing it previously. By 8pm it had been dark for a while, and at 8:25pm the train had left Taree, but still wasn’t half way to Brisbane by that point. At about 9:30pm, north of Wachope, the interior lights were turned off indicating time to try to sleep.
Tuesday 10th March: XPT train arrived Roma Street station, Brisbane at 3:50am. I purchased a “Go” card for travelling on Brisbane’s Translink railway system and did caught a train and tram to Broadbeach (Gold Coast). The Gold Coast narrow gauge (3′ 6″) mainline is rated to 140kph in parts which impressed me greatly. And the ride was very smooth, which added to the enjoyment. I alighted at Helensvale and caught the G:Link tram, which is standard gauge, to Broadbeach.
After walking over to the beach and back to the tram stop, I reversed the journey back to Roma Street. In afternoon, went for a walk around Roma Street parkland.
Wednesday 11th March: Today I went to the Ipswich Railway Museum. I caught a Translink electric suburban train to Ipswich (not Ipswitch!) and walked out to the railway museum (aka, The Workshops), and spent a few hours wandering around looking at the various displays and generally enjoying the railway emphasis.
Photos of Ipswich Railway Museum, Queensland:
Thursday 12th March: Today, I travelled south to Sydney on the Brisbane to Sydney XPT. It left on time (4:55am Brisbane time). The train crew south of Grafton, by which time the daylight had well and truly arrived, announced a few features adjacent to the railway which the driver slowed down for so that passengers could get a good look and take photos. This gave the journey between Grafton and Maitland an almost ‘tourist train’ feel, like a train stopping for photo opportunities enroute. It certainly added to the general enjoyment of the journey but not sure it would have been ‘regulation’ to do that. One of the features that the train crew announced was called ‘Hole in the Wall’, which is the closest point the north coast mainline gets to the Pacific Ocean (or is it the Tasman Sea?), located about 5 minutes by train north of Nambucca Heads station.
The train driver also slowed down for passengers to get a good look at “Teddy Bear Junction” a little south of Kendal station, the place where teddy bears and other toys “go to retire”, but I didn’t get a photo of that. The train trip to Sydney was uneventful, but the enthusiasm of the train announcer after Grafton and his use of positive adjectives to describe each station stop or town, and the staff at those stations, and the beauty of the scenery for pretty much the whole trip, made for an enjoyable journey. The train arrived at Sydney pretty much on time. From Sydney Central I walked to my accommodation at the Capsule Hotel.
Friday 13th March: Walked to Sydney Central and caught the Melbourne XPT which left on time from Central. Got some photos of Gunning but they didn’t turn out overly well. Maybe I’ll just have to visit Gunning one day to get some decent photos?
Also tried to get some photos of the disused station and yard at Galong, between Binalong & Harden but those photos didn’t really work out. Train arrived at Albury more or less on time but the Albury – Wangaratta, Victoria, replacement bus was about 10 mins late arriving at Wangaratta, where I met Rebecca and Eliana.
Monday 16th March: Caught the XPT from Culcairn, which left on time, to Cootamundra, where it arrived on time arrived on time. From Cootamundra, I caught a bus to the township of Binalong and booked into hotel for the night. After booking into the hotel, I went for a walk to explore the railway infrastructure and town.
Tuesday 17th March: Awoke fairly early and went for a walk to Gilberts Grave and the town cemetery to see the grave of Banjo Paterson’s father. After waking up and while on the walk I heard a number of trains go through the area, and so after exploring I went to the bridge over the railway line near the station in the hope of seeing some trains. But alas, I saw none. Not even one! After spending a good hour or two waiting for a train to appear, I walked to bus stop, arriving there about 10:40am. The bus to Cootamundra arrived on time and arrived at Harden on time too. I booked into the Carrington Hotel, close to the railway station and spent the afternoon at the station watching trains and getting photos of station area. After my afternoon meal, I went for a walk to Murrumburrah to where Google Maps said the station was located there, but didn’t see any evidence of a station. I did see a freight train there, though.
Wednesday 18th March: Before the sun rose I heard a number of freight trains pass through Harden. Around 8am, I went to station to see what trains I could see. I saw a few. One in particular, heading towards Goulburn @ 10:14am, was quite long, had just 2 locos (an NR class + an AN class), and was slowing down a bit as it went through the station and up the grade to the east of the station – I wondered whether it would make it to Goulburn as the line gets somewhat hilly after Harden.
My train to Culcairn train left Harden more or less on time. Got some photos of junction to Boorowa (Demomdrille) from train just to the west of Murrumburrah but as is often the case when taken photos from a train they didn’t turn out very good. A few kms north of Cootamundra, the XPT overtook a southbound Pacific National steel train that passed through Harden about 30 mins before it (11:39am). Arrived at Culcairn about 30 mins late after having to wait at two different locations approaching Wagga Wagga.
A non-railway related write up of the days covered by this blog post can be found at my Jims Life Log website.