Sunday, July 22, 2012
Southern Highlander Steam tour
Now for something different.As a kid growing up I lived in Ashfield our Town house complex backed onto the Railway line next to the Telecom complex so i didnt have very far to watch trains go past. We moved there from Fairy Meadow and our house also backed onto the railway line there so a slight interest started there.Our next door neighbour at Ashfield, was a keen Steam enthusist and he introducd me to the Rail Transport Museam at Enfield in 1971 .Steam was well and truly being withdrawn enmass ,and being delivered to the Bullring at Enfield.I had a job as a paperboy around Ashfield as spent most of my wages on RTM tours and developing pictures taken on tours and at Enfield.Whats this got to do with the "Southern Highlander" then,well 39 years after my last steam tour which was proberly the 6042 goodbye trip to Bargo and Glenlee coaliery my wife bought me/us a ticket on that tour,and what a day it turned out to be. When she bought the tickets the tour was to leave Central and go via Campbelltown and onto Robertson we would get on at Campbelltown as we live on the Narellan side of the M5 ,do the tour return to Central and then cityrail train back to the car at Campbelltown. A couple of weeks later Heritage Express sent us a letter stating that their was a change in direction of the tour,going via Sutherland and up the Illawarra escarpment, that little piece of info just save us 3 hours at the end of the day!!yes. I rang the RTM and requested seats facing forward we booked very early and the response was "how do I know which direction the carriages will be facing once at Central" Ok thanks. We arrived at Central 40mins before the tour was due to depart and one thing I could not believe was both ARHS and RTM bookshops were closed and with 400 odd passengers??? (so I heard on the train) and no bookshop open. Ok grab a cappicino and on to our carriage "D" .I saw that there were 2 diesels on the rear and then 2 old HUB set cars ,generator terminal car and the Diner car that was decked out for a function as it seemed, why they were on their i dont know. Found our seats and guess what we are sitting in reverse in a "CN car" oh #hit we said to each other. By the time the train departed Central no one had emerged to fill the seat,yes!, next pickup stop was Hurstville and the Sutherland . As the carriage attendant informed us they were a no show so we could not only sit forward but also able to strech out. Passed the old primary school Towradgi Public and also the old house at Fairy Meadow its now 2 story.
Enter the climb up the Illawarra escarpment ,ive never been on this line before and here is a 5 minute video of the climb.Hope you enjoy ,sorry about the wind noise . The tour was great my wife enjoyed it and we had lunch at Burrawang at our stop at Robertson. Then to top the day off we got off at Campbelltown picked up something for dinner arrived home and the tour train was still 10mins out from Central via the timetable, and to top the day off my Rugby League team had a good win.