The Long Road to Cootamundra
Recently, I had the pleasure of joining two friends (better known as Bwana and Fred3801) for a weekend long sojourn to Harden and Cootamundra. Departing East Hills Station at approx 1030 Friday June 6th, we would not return to Sydney until after dark, Monday June 9th.
Why travel over 370km each way for a weekend in the freezing Southern Tablelands? Lachlan Valley Railway, based in Cowra were bringing their own 3237, 4701 and 4716, as well as privately owned 5917 down from Cowra to Harden and then Cootamundra. Over the whole weekend, the two steam locomotives would be running tours between Cootamundra and Harden (as well as a couple of tours Cootamundra to Stockinbingal, a route not normally used by passenger trains).
On the trip down, frequent stops were accounted for to visit a couple of locations along the line. The first stop was at Burradoo, to have a look at the photographic potential of the shot bridge on the Moss Vale side of the station. A lot of potential was found, for some nice low angle photos a shot walk from the station. However, the weather was not on our side and we found ourselves facing dark locomotives on a dark grey background.
A sign of things to come, double NR Class made an appearance here on 3PS6 – once we were south of Goulburn, this seemed to be the only class of locomotive we would see in daylight!
Pausing in Moss Vale for some lunch, and a couple of photos of 8179 (PN RB colours) and 8123 (Freightcorp blue) leading a Medway-bound mineral train ex Berrima, we continued on down to Werai. Due to trackwork on the short north, naturally, nothing was going to run on it’s path. Eventually, NR46/NR81 were sighted on southbound 6NY3, followed by southbound NR102/NR65 on superfreighter 5BM4. Finally, mere minutes before the sun dipped below the horizon, CLF4 and X53 rumbled south with QRNational service 6SM9 (ex Yennora).
With the sun in bed for the evening, we continued on our trip towards Harden (where we had secured accommodation for the weekend in the caravan park), pausing at Yass Junction for dinner. After arrival, we headed down to the station to get a look at the heritage train stabled there. Following this, a sleepless night was spent by myself, listening to the constant rumbling of trains outside on the mainline. Saturday could not come soon enough…
To be continued…