Two Seasons In One (Diesel) Day

It seems one can never really predict the weather. More accurately, one can predict the weather, but that’s useless if one doesn’t check the prediction before leaving the house. Thanks to my apathetic attitude towards weather forecasts, I managed to both swelter and freeze almost to death, whilst also getting drenched in torrential rain, all within the space of a few hours. Wait on, back it up a bit, what happened…

A co-worker of mine suggested to me that Sunday would be a good day to visit Trainworks at Thirlmere, as the venerable 4001 would be leading the loop line trains between Thirlmere and Buxton, rather than the more commonplace 2705 (that’s right, we specifically chose a day to visit a train museum when there would be NO operational steam engines to be seen). This was the annual Diesel Day, a celebration of vintage diesel motive power, often underappreciated in the world of preservation, as even historic diesel engines lack the crowd drawing power of steam.

Continue reading “Two Seasons In One (Diesel) Day”


2012 Top Ten

Last year, when I complied and submitted my top ten photos for the year, they all felt somehow right, like each one had earned its place in the list. Everything felt natural, as if “yes, these are the top ten photographs for 2011”. This year couldn’t have been harder. I’m not going to get ahead of myself and say that I had “too many” good photos to choose between them. I’m not conceited. That being said, I’m not going to play the “I can’t find one good photo, let alone ten” card either, because I know I got plenty of good shots this year.

The problem is the curse of knowing too much. That XPT shot at Donnybrook, look at the colours there! That’s a shoe in. A closer look reveals that it’s crooked. The headlight shot from the final ZZR train of the year? Looks like I’ve cut the top of the signal box off slightly. Too much blur here, not enough there. I managed to find something wrong with almost every shot that I suggested – that’s not to say that they are necessarily “bad” shots. Just that I know how they could be better, because I pressed the shutter.

I could go on and on about shots that could be better, but that’s not the point of the exercise. The point is to highlight my favourite ten photos from the year, and provide a bit of back-story to each shot. The year in review will be summed up in a separate blog post. Continue reading “2012 Top Ten”

Quality Over Quantity – Part Two

Day Two – July 30th

Thanks to a friendly SSR driver, we had learned that B61 would be departing Parkes Yard pre-dawn with a southbound loaded railset (loaded at Bathurst the day prior). Sure enough, when we arrived on a very cold Parkes Station a little after 0500, we found B61 idling away at the head of its train. Their departure would be delayed by L270, 48157 and 48152 (those locomotives sound familiar?) shunting grain wagons within Parkes Yard.

We were more than happy to snap plenty of photos of both L270 and B61. As L270 was shunting, it was almost impossible to get a “normal” shot of the locomotive in the rather pleasing station and yard lighting. In fact, it was only as we were getting in the car to go for a coffee that Todd remarked “oh look, it’s parked next to B61”. I grunted something in reply, conveying the message that the “stupid thing” would likely end up moving as soon as I set up the tripod again. When he went on to mention that the crew had climbed out and walked off, he finished the statement to a dust-cloud outline, as I was already back on the platform setting up. Shot taken, I returned to the car with a rather bemused expression on my face. The first success of the day and the sun wasn’t even up yet! All of the “real” photographers would likely still be in the warmth of their beds – everyone knows that if you can’t get a 3/4 sunny shot, it’s not worth leaving the house for!

Perhaps this success made us over confident. While ordering our coffees, we heard the distinctive sound of a veteran EMD loading up as B61 blasted her way out of town. Convinced that we would easily catch up to the train on the Newell Highway, we collected our drinks and headed south to Daroobalgie (just outside of Forbes). It was there that we set up camp, planning to follow the railset south until it either stopped to cross a northbound train, or started to dump rails. As the sun rose, the shot just got better and better… Continue reading “Quality Over Quantity – Part Two”

Quality Over Quantity – Part One

Western New South Wales is always an oddity (at least in terms of rail activity, I make no prejudice against those who call the area home) when compared to the other parts of the state. When compared to the oft-photographed lines of the Hunter Valley and Main South, Western NSW seems almost “Victorian” in terms of train frequency (in short, there are trains around, but they have no intention of showing up at the same place until at least six hours has passed since the last train). Certainly the scenery in parts of the Western Line (especially in the Lithgow to Blayney section) could rival that of the scenic North Coast Line, traffic is far less likely to show up during daylight, if at all! Thus, any trip to Western NSW will often involve covering¬† a lot of ground in pursuit of the movements that are being made, especially as the motive power used will often differ from the other mainlines of the state.

As such, many visits to the region will often ensure a photographer will end up with a smaller set of images, however if all has gone to plan, each photo should almost stand alone as a unique shot, without having to rely on any other shots in the set. By comparison, photos from other regions will often feature the same train multiple times, or the same location for a number of different trains. Granted, it takes a degree of skill and patience to whittle down a set with very few sightings, as the temptation will be there to “make the most” of the trains one did see – instead, it is better to keep things concise, and keep the interest level high. This is all well and good in theory, and I’ll let my readers be the judge of how successful I was in this endeavour! Continue reading “Quality Over Quantity – Part One”

Part Three – Afternoon Departures

With the morning having been spent successfully recording the arrival of the loco-hauled services into Southern Cross, and a tasty light-lunch had in tourist centric St Kilda, we decided to find a different location to record the afternoon departures from Southern Cross (rather than use La Trobe Street again). Under the guidance of fellow enthusiast Ernie, we settled on a bridge at West Footscray that showed us all traffic running to/from the Bendigo and Ballarat lines, as well as all of the North/West traffic on the standard gauge.

Within a few minutes of arriving, the signals on the up freight lines to Dynon flipped over to clear, and NR66 and NR99 rolled through with 2XW4 loaded SteelLink service from Port Augusta. The trains eventual destination would be Port Kembla – indeed, as this train is a daylight runner into Sydney, we were certainly familiar with it, although it was interesting to look at the loading that normally comes off in Melbourne. Only ten minutes after its passing, A66 returned to our lenses, racing north with 8129V, bound for Bacchus Marsh. A70 would appear at the head of a similar service at 1700, very nearly crossing fellow Victorian broad gauge veteran X37 arriving on the goods lines with a selection of wagons recently repaired in Geelong.

Shortly before leaving the footbridge, P17 and P18 worked a push-pull Sunbury service past our location at 1724, followed ten minutes later by classmates P16 and P14 on a Bacchus Marsh service. With word that the down freight to Tocumwal was due to depart Dynon in approximately an hour, we gave up our perch and relocated to the famous Bunbury St tunnel entrance.

Our arrival at 1808 could not have been timed any better, with A81, P20 and A78 growling into the tunnel within seconds of our arrival! Good thing we didn’t walk any slower from Footscray Station (the tunnel is only a five to ten minute walk down Bunbury Street from the station – a must visit location in Melbourne for the railfan). Only four minutes after “the down Toc” cleared the tunnel, N470 rolled through with the down Albury passenger service on the adjacent track. It was at this point that we bid farewell to Ernie, as he was moving to a different photospot on the far side of the river which offered a better view of arriving trains, while we were content to sit in the shade and sweat out the last few minutes of the (baking hot) day.

A sadly graffiti marred LDP005 led LDP004 north with 3MB7 at 1836, while 9318V empty quarry train to North Melbourne arrived at 1859 behind X44 and X41. The up Melbourne XPT from Sydney (another familiar train) arrived a little after 1900, followed by our final sighting of the day – the P&O Trans Australia freight from Horsham, behind S311, GML10 and 8030. Typically, the two units we wanted to photograph were tucked safely behind an S Class we’d seen plenty of times in P&O service in NSW!

Content with our haul, we packed up our gear and walked back to Footscray Station, keen for a quiet dinner and a good night’s sleep!





Those of you that come for the pictures and stay for the text will notice that there are some photographs missing – due to the nature of the Bunbury St location, it’s less than ideal for catching southbound traffic into Melbourne. I did try a couple of shots for the arrival of the quarry train and the XPT, but they didn’t work as well as they could have. The shot of the P&O train worked a little better, but I have some more ideas for inbound trains next time I use this location. As for the “missing” peak hour loco and freight trains at West Footscray, I don’t like uploading a lot of similar shots from one location, so I picked the better shots (basing my decision on the shot, not the “interestingness” of the movement), so apologies for any¬†disappointment.