March 2008 shall go down as the month that 3642 returned to steam, to fill the role left by 3801 the previous year. 3801 has been withdrawn pending a full boiler overhaul, and will likely be out of steam for some time, which. While the withdrawal of 3801 is very sad, fans of steam in NSW have not been left wanting, with 3642 an excellent locomotive to see in steam – one must see 3642 charging along the line to experience this for themselves!
In fact, I spent the first weekend of March chasing 3642 around Sydney with Fred “Fred3801” Sawyer, on a suburban mystery tour – in fact, the tour was a mystery even to those chasing it! It was the best day out I’ve had in a long time, as we were chasing 3642 by public transport – on buses, trains and even in a taxi! Fortunately we got a couple of photos of 3642, as well as a couple of other trains running around on the day. It would not have been possible without an anonymous friend of mine who was riding on the tour – he kept us updated as to where the train was going.
During March, I continued to explore The Main South even more, trying out photospots that, while others may have been there before, I had yet to visit. I found some success at Yerrinbool, especially when 2212 ambled through light engine, having returned The AK Cars to Sydney the previous day. It was certainly unusual seeing a GWA unit so far north!
As I’d only ever seen one 423 class unit and one 421 class unit in my time spent trackside, March was also the first attempt I made to photograph the Newstan Colliery Train – this train runs between Morisset and Fassifern on the Short North, and uses ex Queensland Rail locomotives and rolling stock, as well as ex NSWGR 421 class. All this combined with a very eye catching yellow/orange/blue livery! From Morisset, I headed on to The Hunter Valley for a disappointing day out – lighting was just not on my side, so I retired to Newcastle proper for a beer or three.
As Easter Sunday was a mandatory day off, I gathered up a small group of gunzels and we all ambled down to Moss Vale for the afternoon, and saw plenty of action! As well as The Cockatoo Run, we also saw two mineral trains, a coal train, and a QRN Intermodal train! Not only that, but it was a great day to go out with my friends, and a good time was had by all.
Finally, to finish the month, Anthony “42209” Johnson and I went for a day out in The Hunter Valley (I was certainly hoping to make good on my last failed attempt to take photos…), only there were no coal trains to be seen! We spent an hour at East Maitland and only saw the obligatory Endeavours and Hunter Cars. After a light lunch at the nearby pub, we were emerging to the car park only to see MB7 go roaring north, with the two newly repainted G Class on the front. As far as we knew, this was the first time they had gone north together in their new colours, certainly the first time we’d seen them together, so we jumped in the car and off we went to Paterson. After getting some photos, we moved back to Maitland, to see a few coal trains as the sun slowly sank below the horizon to cap off another great day, and another great month.
Finally, find the whole months photos on Flickr!