As if we hadn’t been treated to enough heritage workings over the past two days, we had plenty more to come! Not only did we have the final run of the LVR train to Harden to look forward to, but we also had the ARHS ACT train returning to Goulburn and then Canberra, as well as the NSWRTM Southern Aurora returning to Sydney from Melbourne!
Heading to our favorite spot of the weekend at Wallendbeen, we got more than we bargained for. Starting with an early morning steel train heading towards Cootamundra, we also photographed a pair of 422’s and a 31 heading back to Narrandera with empty flour wagons for Manildra Group.
Before long, 4821 blasted through with a very ALCOesque display of smoke (enough to put the 59 to shame, anyway) on her way to Goulburn.
After the ARHS ACT train had gone through, we packed up and moved down to Cootamundra West, to get some shots of the steam locos as they turned on the triangle. With the steamers turned and attached to the front of the train, and the two 47 class on the rear of the train (they would have to take the passengers back to Cootamundra), we moved up to a very popular hackspot, at Jindalee.
A good thing we got to Jindalee early, as soon after we arrived, cars full of enthusiasts started showing up. Dissapointly, nobody actually bothered to say “hello” upon arrival, perhaps seeing us as competition? At any rate, the 32 and 59 stormed up the grade past our photospot, and everyone madly rushed back to their cars to continue the chase. Well, everyone except us that is. We were content to sit around and chill out and wait for, first, the down XPT to Melbourne, and then the Sydney bound RTM Southern Aurora special.
Only one other person turned up for The Southern Aurora, who jumped out of his car, camera in hand, offering a “G’day fellas”. We all then gathered to exchange stories – this bloke was up from Melbourne, and had been staying with a friend in Canberra when he heard about all the action on the mainline.
All too soon, the Southern Aurora roared through behind the all-ALCO lashup of 4520, 4803 and 4490, and we were all back in our cars, ready to give chase to Wallendbeen.
Upon arrival at Wallendbeen, where a far larger number of enthusiasts was camped out for the return of the LVR train (perhaps they thought the steamers were going to be coming back?), we chose our photospots and were content to wait. Sure enough, we were in a good spot to watch the Southern Aurora blast through, and it was suddenly time to bid our new friend farewell as we split paths – us back to Sydney, him back to Melbourne.
Of course, we couldn’t help but pause at the Murrumburrah Viaduct to bid farewell to the two unsung heroes of the weekend, 4701 and 4716. Hard working locos, they bore the frustration of a number of “enthusiasts” for being on the leading end of a number of the steam shuttles. Ironically, if it wasn’t for these locos, there probably would have been no steam shuttles to speak of at all!
With our final goodbyes to Harden, we were on the road again, back towards Sydney. A great weekend had by all.
Without the following people, this weekend of fun and games would not have been possible. When reading my account of the weekend, and viewing the many photos I took, please remember that none of it would have happened without (in no particular order):
Maikha Ly: For giving me the idea to organise this crazy adventure to begin with, and never letting me doubt myself or my abilities.
Andrew Easton: For doing all of the driving, and for researching all of these great photospots from google maps before we set out (something I completely forgot to do…)
Fred Sawyer: For bringing his good company and photographic skills along – I always enjoy comparing results with Fred to give me new inspiration for next time…
The Lachlan Valley Railway Society: Everyone involved in this fine group deserves every thanks they get, as they put on the finest show I have ever seen, despite obstacles and setbacks. Their positive attitude towards preservation and entertaining the folks on the trains and trackside alike. They will only continue to get bigger and better as the years go on.