Southern Sojourn

On a quick visit to the Main South last week, Fred and I found we were not the only visitors. We had travelled down under the impression we would be photographing some of the more interesting motive power on export grain rakes to/from Port Kembla (like everyone else seems to be able to do), but the best we managed was to chase C504 leading an empty grain train – C506, the two PN L Class, the BL Class, the G Class, the X Class and the 48 Class locomotives that have been photographed were all nowhere to be seen (come to think of it, that was one of only two grain trains we saw all day… The other visitors to the Main South were three 82 Class “borrowed” from Pacific National’s Southern Coal division, being utilised at the Moss Vale depot for limestone traffic while the coal unloader at Port Kembla was closed due to industrial action.

With very few trains running, we exhausted our supply of limestone trains when one vanished into the works at Berrima to unload and the other wandered into the mine to load, so instead turned to something that’s been on my bucket list for a few years now – visiting the Goulburn Roundhouse. I have covered this on a separate page for reasons to be revealed later (ooh, mystery).

The first train we photographed was a fluke meeting with 8126 at Wingello leading 3938N loaded flour from Narrandera to Bomaderry – we’d literally just pulled over on the off chance we’d see it, and quickly heard the train approaching.

It was then we got ahead of ourselves. Guessing that the limestone train due out of the mine would be following behind, we figured on the train being a slow runner (as it usually is), so we relocated to Tallong. While we correctly guessed that it would follow the flour train, we incorrectly assumed it would wait for the passage of the Canberra Xplorer and Melbourne XPT services on the down main before being allowed to cross over to the up main. Clearly control had other ideas, and when we realised, we turned around and gave chase.

We finally caught up to our missing limestone train tackling Exeter Bank – this normally gives the two 81 class a run for their money, however it was proving easy work for the two 82 Class on the train (we had only dared hope for one to be paired with an 81 class, with two beyond our wildest expectations). We settled on a shot at Werai, a classic location that the 82 Class are unfamiliar passing through.

Sadly, the shot at Werai I had selected depends on a slightly more interesting sky to break up the top of the image… oh well!

We followed the train into Moss Vale for a quick pit stop, at which point I noticed 8256 leading the second limestone train south (crossing the loaded train slightly north of the station). Back south we went, deciding to play it safe and go for the shot of the train entering the mine at Marulan South.

It was at this point that we ran out of trains. With the choices of Moss Vale or Goulburn for lunch, we decided on Goulburn (at the time, the logic was “it’s closer, and there might be something fun in the yard” as opposed to any strictly rational reasoning). Turns out we were right – 44209 could be seen outside the sheds, having only recently been painted in the current CFCLA scheme (this unit previously wore an attractive red and white “R&H Transport” colour scheme), sitting on transfer bogies. A rather poor photo, but the best we could do given the fence we were shooting through, and the angle of the sun, which had taken it upon itself to park in the worst possible position…

We then decided it was too early for lunch (only being about eleven in the morning at this point), so we wandered down to the roundhouse for a look. The visit is covered in the link above, but it proved to be a very worthwhile use of our time, with plenty of items of interest there!

With word coming through from the Illawarra about C504 departing on an empty grain train, we had our lunch and propped up at Towrang to wait for C504. 7BM4 would beat the C Class however, arriving behind NR13 and NR70 (sadly both in original “National Rail” colours). C504 was wasting no time behind 7BM4, and the chase was on! We shot 7BM4 again crossing the Cullerins, as well as the grain train, although it was at that point that 7BM4 gave us the slip, and we settled for a final shot of C504 at Oolong (we finally got the sun to come out from behind the clouds we were cursed with, only to have the light fall on the wrong side of the train! Such is life).

On the way home, we paused at Moss Vale to see if we could get a look-in at those limestone trains again (no dice), and again at Picton for the evening Melbourne XPT and a down Westons wheat train from Enfield to parts south to load (behind 8178 and X46, no less – we finally found an X Class!)

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