image 520 class loco

The Best Times of Our Lives

image 520 class loco

SAR 520 class “Sir Malcolm Barclay Harvey” at Adelaide Railway Station circa 1977

I found this post that I wrote a couple of years ago so I decided to rewrite it a bit and run it again for those who came in late as they say in the Phantom comics. Feel free to skip it if you have read it before.

Naomi and I went to the Hobart Model Railway Show. It is usually held at the Tasmanian Transport Museum in Glenorchy.  It is always a busy day for them and they fired up their M class steam locomotive on the Sunday.

Seeing a live steam engine made us nostalgic. We spent a lot of our teenage years traveling on steam excursions around South Australia. Naomi said that she thought that those were probably the best times we had in our lives. I tend to agree. We were so lucky that we were in the right place at the right time to do that.

It all started when I was about thirteen. We were in Adelaide with mum one day when I saw a big sign advertising a school holiday trip on a steam train. I asked mum if she would take us as my birthday treat. She agreed and we had such a good time we wanted to go again. The next year mum let us go by ourselves and soon we were regularly doing trips on Saturday or Sunday afternoons around the suburbs.

I remember how in 1972 we got a brochure in the mail with the latest trips being run and  one of them was a weekend trip to Victor Harbour, a seaside town about 50 miles away from Adelaide. I was fifteen and we didn’t really expect that we would be allowed to go away overnight without an adult but we asked anyway. Much to our surprise mum said we could go if we could get someone older to go with us. We produced a seventeen year old cousin and that was acceptable. We took sleeping bags and slept in the carriages in the station yard. Can you imagine the horror of parents today if three teenage girls did that? Naomi was only thirteen. Rail fans, then and now, were predominantly men a lot older than we were. However, in all the time we went on trips together we never felt unsafe or had any trouble with men. Most were just surprised that two girls would be interested in trains.

After that trip we went as often as we could afford. Once I turned sixteen we were allowed to go without a chaperone although our cousin sometimes came along too. At that time there were still many country towns that could be reached by rail and as we were too young to drive it was an ideal way to see the countryside in safety. We went to country shows and festivals like the Cornish Festival in the “copper triangle” of Moonta, Wallaroo and Kadina and the Orange Festival in the Riverland district visiting towns like Loxton and Berri. We went on evening trips where there were “listening stops” where everyone could get out of the train usually somewhere in the countryside. You stumbled into a dark paddock and waited while the train reversed back down the track a mile or so and then came forward working hard and whistling. Most people said that for recording the conditions were better at night. We enjoyed standing in the night air listening although we never became avid steam sound recorders. Sometimes we’d stay on the train and watch the people instead especially if it was raining.

Sometimes we went on dinner trips where we’d  be served a meal in a 1920s Pullman dining car and other times it would be a run round less used suburban lines to factories or to the docks. When we were a little older we visited wineries although we were always more interested in the trains than the wine. We went on other weekend trips too and even joined the Australian Railway Historical Society. Naomi reminded me how at the meeting where we were accepted as members we got a round of applause when our names were read out. We are not sure if that was because we were girls or because we actually turned up at the meeting as most new members never seemed to be there when their names were called.

We enjoyed the meetings which were held once a month on a week night We’d catch a bus, train or tram down to Goodwood where the meetings used to be held in a hall there. There were a lot of reports read out but the one we always looked forward to was the Tour Manager’s Report. This was the one where you would find out what trips were being planned for the future. We always wanted to go on all of them of course. After the business part of the evening there would be an interval when we’d buy a drink and browse in the book sales area. We could buy books and videos or souvenirs like postards, teaspoons, badges and T-shirts. The sales were one way that the society raised money for their restoration projects. After the break we’d have entertainment, usually a slide show or films, sometimes professionally made but more often than not made by members. Many were excellent, occasionally they were terrible but everyone was polite and always applauded anyway. We still laugh over the memory of the awful slides a member brought of his trip to England. There were numerous slides of clouds taken from the plane and a lot of his railway photos were out of focus. We had a really hard time not laughing.

Traditionally the evening ended at the Pie Cart in front of the Adelaide Station where those of us catching public transport home usually ended up buying a hot drink or snack. Occasionally once we got to know people we’d be offered rides back to the city. I have one hazy memory of several of us squashed in to a Volkswagon Beetle with our bags, a picture someone had bought and Naomi somehow squashed onto someone’s knee in the back because she was the smallest.

621 Adelaide Station

SAR Pacific 621 at Adelaide station

I can still remember the sheer excitement I felt on the morning of a trip. We’d get to the city early and would run up to the end of the platform to watch the locomotive arriving. We were not the only ones, there was usually a crowd of other rail fans with cameras and families with children doing the same thing. “Look, there’s the smoke.” someone would say. “There’s the whistle, here she comes.” and soon we’d see the engine and tender reversing into the station and backing onto the train.

We’d stand on the end platforms of the old wooden carriages or stick our heads out of the windows risking getting soot in our eyes. Many rail fans wore goggles but we never did. Sometimes we took a packed lunch and a thermos of tea which we frequently seemed to break. Other times we bought box lunches usually consisting of a bit of chicken, a bit of ham, piece of cheese, bread roll and a pickle followed by a slab of fruit cake. We still call that particular light fruit cake “railway cake” when we see it. If we were still hungry we could buy sweets, potato chips and drinks from the baggage car later.

Those were such great days, we met lots of friendly people, saw places, laughed a lot and learned new things. You really could not ask for more than that.

M Class steam locomotive and train. Tasmanian Transport Museum.

M Class steam locomotive and train. Tasmanian Transport Museum.

 

Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

via Photo Challenge: A Face in the Crowd

Create an image that represents being “a face in the crowd.” Explore silhouettes, shadows, orientation, and other ways to mask your subject. As you hide the defining characteristics of your model, notice which traits continue to stand out. Without facial expression, can you tell how someone is feeling? Without color, does your impression of that person change? If portraits aren’t your thing, get even more creative with your use of shadows, reflections, animals, and patterns to represent a sense of anonymity.

Explore the use of anonymity to express both that which is common to all of us and the uniqueness that stands out even when the most obvious parts of us are hidden. Just as all of us can oscillate between conformity and individualism, allow your photo to do the same.

I took the photos below at the Puffing Billy Railway near Melbourne, Victoria and decided that for this challenge I would convert them to black and white. I feel that they are timeless in a way. They are modern day pictures but the work of the train crew and the attraction of watching never changes.

The love of trains

Watching the action

Train crew and a boy

Rail fans

 

 

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter X

My X’s are mostly to do with transportation today. X really marks the spot there. Explorer of the Seas and Celebrity Solstice both have an X in them. Explorer has one in the name while Celebrity Solstice is plastered with the letter X. I took a good one of the funnel some time ago and there is a big X on it. I also found a railway crossing sign in my travels today. I was driving along the rather notorious Mudwalls Road to go to Richmond today and there was just the very thing I needed for the challenge. It was a narrow road and there was a rise and a bend and some deep ditches on the side of the road. You wouldn’t want to put a wheel in one of those I thought to myself. Still I took a bit of a risk and pulled over easing the car on to the verge as carefully as I could so I could get my X photo of the crossing sign. No traffic passed us and we got away without getting side swiped or bogged. Someone driving in the opposite direction probably wondered what that idiot woman in the purple cardigan was trying to do however. I also got a picture of a hotel in Picton New Zealand that has an X in the name from my archives. The blades of the windmill in Oatlands also form a very nice X.

Celebrity Solstice (1)

Celebrity Solstice

Celebrity Solstice (2)

Celebrity Funnel

EOTS

Explorer of the Seas

Oxley Hotel

Oxley’s Rock Hotel

Railway Crossing

Railway Crossing Sign

Snow in Oatlands 024 (2)

Windmill at Oatlands

 

YouTube is my Time Machine

Recently I have been watching some old rail films on YouTube. I often do. I find a lot of interesting documentaries online but these have been particularly special. I have been watching old films of steam trips in South Australia in the 1980s and 1990s. Naomi, David and I travelled on many of them ourselves and seeing that old footage makes me recall what good times we had.

VR R Class 761

VR R Class 761 photo by Bruce Laughton

 

I always look back on those days with a great deal of pleasure. We loved the steam engines and old carriages and we loved visiting different places around South Australia and western Victoria. What I had almost forgotten though is how good our South Australian broad gauge locomotives and their Victorian  cousins sounded.  They have wonderful deep-throated whistles very different to the high-pitched whistles that narrow gauge locomotives usually have. I love to hear a locomotive working hard climbing a hill and even the occasional wheel slip.

It all came back as I watched these old films taken by fellow rail fans probably with a big old video camera originally or maybe even Super 8 film. I remembered how good it was to smell the burning coal on a crisp winter morning and to sit back in your seat and listen to the clickety clack of wheels on rails. I remembered how we’d sometimes stand in a doorway or on an end platform to enjoy the sounds better. I remembered other things too; the box lunches we used to get, cold chicken and ham, some cheese, a pickle, a bread roll and a slice of sultana cake. The visits to the Bar Car where you could buy a Freddo Frog for five cents or a cup of tea for a dollar. Often we would congregate in the baggage van that served as bar car and braver souls would stand by the open door while others would sit amongst the boxes of potato chips, chocolate, beer and soft drinks and chat. It was a social event. There was a lot of trust in those early days too. You could leave your belongings on your seat and know they would be safe.

621 Adelaide Station

SAR Pacific 621 at Adelaide station

A few times in the films I spotted people who I used to know, volunteers or regular passengers, people I haven’t seen in 25 years or more but hadn’t forgotten. Naomi and I still have a laugh about the misadventures of some of them. The volunteer tour organiser who managed to miss his own train, the rail fans that strayed a bit too close to the locomotive while it was being watered and got an unexpected shower, the poor fellow who had his sleeping bag pinched on a very cold night when a bunch of us were sleeping on the train. Naomi has a very funny story about how she and David nearly missed the train themselves in some country town and had to run after it.

We participated in some special events too. We saw the “Flying Scotsman” on tour from England. We saw locomotives from New South Wales notably 3801. We saw and rode behind several locomotives from Victoria even travelling from Adelaide to Melbourne a couple of times.

NSW 3801 hauling the Bicentennial Train in 1988.

NSWGR 3801 hauling the Bicentennial Train in 1988.

The Flying Scotsman in Australia 1988

I wish that  I really did have a time machine so I could go back and do those trips again because in the real world it is no longer possible but being able to watch them on YouTube is the next best thing.

Here is a short video from steamsounds AU. It is about seven minutes long and while for last couple of minutes you can’t see anything much just listen.

Cee’s Black and White Challenge:Numbers

Numbers

I decided to use things I saw at The Tasmanian Transport Museum for this challenge. Nearly everything there was numbered either because it had numbers on it anyway or because it was an exibit. Here they are.

Adding Machine

Adding Machine

Bedford Bus

Bedford Bus 249

Enigne Q 5

Engine Q5

Fire Alarm

Fire Alarm 35

Telephone

Telephone

Time Table and Fares

Sign with fares Etc

Thursday Photo: M Class Steam Locomotive

This M class steam engine belongs to the Tasmanian Transport Museum. The M5 entered service in May 1952 the same year it was built. It was in service until 1971. The M5 hauled suburban passenger trains and some special trains until it’s retirement in 1971. M5 was donated to the museum in the mid seventies and was on display for many years before being fully restored to working order. Here is my photo of M5 taken last year at the museum. I have provided a link for those who would like to learn more about M5, or the museum. If you are planning a trip to Tasmania it is well worth a visit. If you should be here on the week end of August 19th & 20th there will be a model railway exhibition. For more details follow the link to their website. Get there early though as it is a very popular event and will be crowded.

http://www.railtasmania.com/ttms/index.php

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Bad Photo Monday: Flash

Vice Regal car interior-01

David and I used to have a saying that the best way to make people think we were good photographers was to never show anyone the bad ones. When we’d get a film back from being processed we would examine all our photos together and cull the worst ones immediately . We would  then  usually cull again for ones we considered mediocre. However, I would make an exception for holiday photos in places I thought that I might not visit again. This was taken at Steamrail Victoria’s Railway Heritage Centre at Seymour although I am not sure if it was called that in 2007 when we were there. This was meant to be a photo of the interior of the Vice Regal (Governor’s) Car but as you can see I did not allow for the reflection of the flash in the mirror. This was taken with my first digital camera, a little Kodak Easyshare I bought for $50 from eBay.