Having seen the train as far as Harden, we retired to the caravan park for showers, as well as a quick lunch up the road. Resolving to catch the train again as they moved north to Harden for a second time, an enjoyable lunch was had and we settled into a good position on a dirt road just south of Wallendbeen.
Little were we to know that we would not be seeing the 59 and 32 running tender first again, instead the consist was 4701/train/3237*. Again, due to the 32 running tender first, the train was limited to 40km/h, and everyone had plenty of time to line up a shot of the bright red 47 leading the train. I later heard (disappointingly) that a number of my “fellow enthusiasts” (although I wouldn’t class myself or any of the people I know through this hobby in the same class as such folk) had immediately called up Cootamundra Station to complain about the diesel leading the train. This is very sad – these enthusiasts are not riding the train, nor are they paying anything towards the running of the train, and yet they are the ones complaining – not the passengers, who I am informed were having a whale of a time! It didn’t matter what was on the front, merely that the train was fun and comfortable for all involved!
Content to take it easy, we moved a couple of kms down the same dirt road, and set up next to an old bridge over the road. With nothing running on the mainline for an extended period, we set about kicking dirt and talking about… well, nothing really! This is one of the joys of the hobby, especially away from the noise of the city. A group of friends just sitting or standing around waiting for a train and enjoying the atmosphere of the countryside.
Before we knew it, the silence was broken, and with a brief roar, the Countrylink XPT between Melbourne and Sydney had been and gone. As suddenly as it had arrived, it had gone again, fading away into the distance. It certainly called for nimble fingers on the shutter, this one!
After a great deal more dirt kicking, rock throwing and other such nonsense, the distant sound of a P Class whistle could be heard, followed by a steady, rhythmic chugging of a hard working steamer. Scurrying into position for the last shots of the day (or so we thought), the 32 emerged from behind the treeline, stomped over the bridge and vanished again in a cloud of smoke. Hurriedly checking our shots, we jumped back in the car to check out another couple of spots along the road, before heading back to Cootamundra.
Return to Cootamundra and on to Stockinbingal
Moving down to Cootamundra behind the train, we assumed a couple of afternoon shots would be in order, before heading back to Harden for a quick dinner and an early night. Of course, we all knew that the two 47 class would be taking a train out to Stockinbingal that night, on a “dinner special”, but we were not counting on chasing that too!
However, armed with tripods, we quickly changed our minds and jumped into the car to head to Stockinbingal to set up shop. The potential for some spectacular evening photos was not something to be denied! Certainly, we were not disappointed, with some spectacular oppertunities to grab some unique shots of the locos and their train after most had retired to bed.
Finally, having taken enough to exhaust our memory cards (and traveling companion), we hit the road back towards Harden. Hopefully we wouldn’t be woken up early the next morning by another grain train!
To be continued…
* This was due to the 59 being declared a failure on returning to Cootamundra. It was detached, and shunted into the yard for proper attention from the crew. More on this in future “chapters”.