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.
Over the weekend of 18/19 of July 2009, The New South Wales Rail Transport Museum ran a weekend of Vintage Train rides, between Thirlmere and Picton, and between Thirlmere and Buxton. Motive power for the Picton trains was provided by 4803 (Sydney end) and 3642 (country end). Veteran steam locomotive 2705 provided the motive power for the run down the line to Buxton and back, hauling the rarely seen Pullman carriage set.
Interestingly, one of the morning shuttle runs from Thirlmere to Picton was timed to arrive at Picton station shortly after the morning Endeavour service to Moss Vale had departed. This allowed passengers from Sydney to get to Thirlmere without worrying about dealing with private bus services or long walks through the back streets of Tahmoor. The final shuttle from Thirlmere to Picton also connected with an afternoon up and down service, to allow passengers to travel home again.
A number of different tickets were offered on the day, the best value ticket being the $30 all day ticket, which included rides on both of the heritage trains as well as entry into the museum, which was of particular interest given the work being done behind the display hall on the new roundhouse – which was looking far from incomplete. Certainly this upgrade will make the Thirlmere Heritage Centre a force to be reckoned with in regards to preservation.
In addition to the passenger steam shuttles, on both days steam locomotive 3526 “The Nanny” was on hand to shunt back and forth in Thirlmere yard with a short rake of restored freight wagons, complete with LHG on the rear. The 35 ran backwards and forwards on a short section of the yard to provide not only photographers and videographers, but also visiting families and enthusiasts a chance to witness a rare recreation of what was once a regular occurrence all over the state – the steam hauled goods train. The NSWRTM even went as far as putting on a branch line display of goods train haulage, with 3526 running down to Couridjah and return, specifically to be seen.
As well as providing for people wanting to ride on the trains, there was a chance for visitors to photograph 2705 running along the loop line, with a vintage double decker Sydney bus being on hand from the Vintage Bus Museum at Tempe, offering rides up and down the line to allow visitors a chance to capture the action from the side of the tracks. This was an excellent incentive for people to pay for a ticket to ride, as it meant that they didn’t have to go home without a “record shot” of the train moving along the line, rather than just the normal “start and end” shots from each end of the trip.
In this authors opinion, it was a most enjoyable day, and hopefully a success to the museum and it’s hard working volunteers.
For photos from the day, please click here to see photos from July, 2009.
Friday 29th of August saw a very interesting train assembled in the yard at Thirlmere, at the New South Wales Rail Transport Museum. A far cry from the usual consists involving two or more heritage locomotives and a selection of restored passenger cars, this consist was made up of a selection of exhibits and projects being transferred to Chullora (with some on to Broadmeadow) to make way for the planned renovations to the museum due to begin soon.
Many locomotives and wagons, aside from a couple of earlier “trial runs” up and down the loop line (to ensure that they were in running condition) have not turned a wheel (in service or in preservation, excluding being shunted around the museum) in many a year, and it was interesting to see them all lined up, ready to take to the mainlines of NSW again. Locomotives from the mighty 5711, to the diminutive four wheel vans, to trial electric locomotive 7100 (early electric locomotive, a precursor to the later 46 Class), combined with CFCLA units KL81 and 44204 (along with the museums own 4916) made up the consist, which was a sight to be seen!
Initially a seemingly simple task, to photograph the various parts of the consist before the sunset (or, far more worryingly, a 1700 departure time…), it became an impossible task to complete – it is one thing to get a couple of grab shots of old rolling stock, but this opportunity to crawl around it all, in daylight (well, dusk lighting) was something I couldn’t pass up, and I spent a fair bit of time looking over each exhibit in detail, trying to catch things on “film” that not everyone would see, even when standing next to it. As a result, I missed the chance to get photos from the rear half of the consist, but I was more than pleased with what I walked away with.
One thing I did notice, to my amusement, was that as we arrived, there were plenty of photographers around, inspecting the consist and talking amongst themselves. It seemed that as soon as the sun started sinking behind the horizon, everyone was keen to pack up and go home, but this is when the real magical lighting begins! In these days of variable ISO’s between shots and image stabilised lenses/cameras, people have no excuse not to get shots of stationary objects in the fading light – even a simple $50 tripod would have served them well with the longer shutter speeds required. I myself never got over ISO200 at any point, as I was shooting with an Image Stabilised lens, at between f4.5 and f5.6, with a shutter speed of 1/25 to 1/50 depending on the subject. Minimal use of flash to brighten some subjects was used, but sparingly. The effects I got that evening easily surpassed anything I could get in full daylight.
While most of the collection is currently private for various reasons, I have chosen a couple of them to display here, as a kind of “sample look” for Trackside readers. I hope you enjoy them, and get a view of a very unusual movement!
The train departed around midnight, and made it’s way to Chullora. A number of items then made their way to the yard at Broadmeadow.
Thanks goes to Anthony “42209” Johnson, Greg “42101” Gordon and Lee Baxter, both for your support and company on the day, and for always keeping each other motivated to push the boundaries of our hobby.