Followed on from my good mate Trent over at Trackside, I have decided to start my own blog also. Blogging about my gunzelling adventures, some adventures at work or the day to day life of an Operations Manager of a Mainline Heritage group in Victoria. I’ll try not to let it go by the wayside this blog, but knowing me i’ll forget about it after a while and will be 12 months between posts.
My first blog will be my favourite photos for each month of 2011. 2011 hasn’t been a big year for me gunzelling but I have gotten a lot more variety than other years mainly due to my change in companies at work. December of 2010 saw me leave Pacific National of South Dynon Locomotive Depot and head for El Zorro, a small operator around Australia which I have never looked back. El Zorro have given me opportunities that Pacific National would never have given me had I stayed. Back to the top ten, January was pretty quiet but February was huge. A week at the Mount Lofty station saw plenty of trains, plenty of meat burned on a BBQ and plenty of booze consumed between mates. A trip to Port Augusta was also had on the Wednesday while I was up there. The rest of Feb was pretty quiet. March saw another trek to Adelaide, this time on Steamrail business inspecting the Blue Bird carriages at the Museum. April was Steamfest time in Maitland which was a bloody good time with a few Victorians and Trent. May, June and July were all quiet months with gunzelling just around Victoria and the never ending Steamrail work. The start of August I headed back to Maitland for the SMR Class outing on the old South Maitland Railway which I had been looking forward to for a very long time. Thanks once again to Trent and Lionel for their company over the course of the weekend. September, October, November and December have pretty much been spent around Yarrawonga due to work commitments but some nice photos have been taken with plenty of trains to run. A trip to Junee in October saw me meet up with Trent again with the added value of Maikha for an excellent Saturday’s gunzelling. From the start of 2011 I was using a Sony A350 camera, in July I bought myself the new Sony A580 camera which hasn’t let me down yet. Roll on 2012!
This photo was taken about mid morning at Tocumwal on a stinking hot day. 40 wagons came up from Melbourne with B74, S303, T378, T357, T333 and T320. The other locomotives were stabled at Shepparton as the sections Shepparton to Tocumwal is flat, B74 by itself could haul 40 fully loaded wagons with ease from Tocumwal through to Shepparton.The shunt at Tocumwal is a somewhat complex one as there is a loop road at the station, another loop road at Gales which only holds about 10 wagons and the dead end at the silo can only hold 10 wagons. So to complete the job, 20 wagons go around to Tocumwal with 10 being stabled in the loop road at Gales, load 10 wagons then push back onto the 10 stabled wagons, load them then head back into the yard. Stable the loaded 20 wagons then repeat the process again with the 20 empty wagons you left in Tocumwal yard itself. Once all these wagons are loaded, combine again into the block of 40, do brakes then hand over to the running crew to run back to Melbourne. There is also another grain loading site at Tocumwal and that is called ‘Kelly’s’, El Zorro have never serviced Kellys before but Pacific National has. Of interest, Kelly’s has its own RT tractor in the yard and thats numbered RT5. The loop road at Tocumwal is called ‘Grey’s’ as the container terminal there is called ‘Grey’s’.
Pacific National operate a container service to Tocumwal on Monday, Wednesday and Friday’s being 9305 on the down and 9306 on the up. 9305 normally arrives around Midnight and 9306 departs around 1530.Due to the set up of Tocumwal yard, a grain train and a container train cannot be at this location at once. The trains have to run on alternate days. One last thing about Tocumwal, this was one of a few locations where the Broad Gauge met with the Standard Gauge. There is a platform here with BG on one side and SG on the other side. Sadly the SG stopped running to Tocumwal many many moons ago and is only serviced by the BG now. There are Heritage trains to this location a few times a year.
A group of my mates hired out the Mount Lofty station early in February for a week, this would be an awesome week of fun, laughter, drinking, spending time with some good mates and of course chasing trains. On the Wednesday we were there, we decided to take a trip to Port Augusta to chase trains as there was a fair bit rostered to pass through this location. My main aim for this day was to get ‘The Ghan’ pass through Yorkeys Crossing, this never came to be account of flooding and wash aways through the Tarcoola region and The Ghan was help captive in Alice Springs.
There was still a fair amount on this day so we decided to get up early and head towards the Flinders Ranges area of South Australia. I got a tip off from a mate that an SCT transfer train was on its way from Parkes to Spencer Junction with Greentrains locomotives 8026 and 442s2. We picked this train up at Port Germein and chased it into Port Augusta. It was a stinking hot day so plenty of fluids needed to be had, water of course. I picked up on the scanner that 3MP9 was departing Adelaide and due into Spencer Junction around 1600. This was the train I would get at Yorkeys Crossing, not The Ghan but close enough and away from the standard Pacific National trains. There was still plenty of trains to get around the area until 3MP9 arrived.
The SCT train arrived into Port Augusta right on time, attached to the Parkes rake, we then flew out to Yorkeys Crossing. Well I don’t know what happened then but we waited 3 hours on top of this ridge for the train to come on what was a 40 degree day! Pacific National came past us with 7SP3 then right on 1900hrs, we heard 3MP9 get a train authority to depart Spencer Junction and head west. For those that don’t know Yorkeys Crossing, you can see a train depart Spencer Junction then about 10-15mins later it will thunder past you. Well the sight of this big long white snake make it’s way out of the junction, round all the curves and finally pass us was an amazing sight to see. Right on 1913hrs, SCT002 and SCT013 in full power, rocketed past us up the hill and out of sight with the camera’s on Japanese Tourist mode the whole time. The result is the picture above and looks bloody great printed out poster size and in panoramic on my wall at home. After this train left, we headed back into Port Augusta to get 3MP1 then back into Adelaide to cap of a long and hot day, but bloody worth it!
Wasn’t what I call a good photo but it was probably the best I could do for March in a month which saw me travel back to South Australia for a weekend to inspect the old Barossa Wine Train Bluebird carriages for Steamrail. This weekend actually was quite surprising as I never saw one Pacific National train over there, just every other company that operated out of Adelaide.This photo was taken in the town in which I live in, Pakenham.
Pakenham is located on the Gippsland line and its teminating station these days is Bairnsdale some 270 km’s from Melbourne. This line did continue onto Orbost in its heyday but has long gone.One of my good mates is driving this train and gave me the tip off that H1 would be leading back from Maryvale due to cab conditions in the number 2 end of A73. All A Classes are bloody noisy when driving from the number 2 end and didn’t blame him one bit for leading back to Melbourne with H Class. It’s a pretty stock standard 3/4 frame photo but what makes it different is the fact that the H Class is leading on a mainline train and to that, T400 in Pacific National livery is right behind H1. I used the over wire gantry as a frame for the train but missed the top right hand corner, whoops! This is one train I do miss driving, the Paper Train from Maryvale near Morwell. It was always a favourite of mine but more so I loved the Eastern Line. El Zorro have no trains down to the east of Melbourne so my only fix for this line these days is either when I’m rostered on a Heritage train or when the annual Steamrail Snow Train heads for Traralgon.
This photo is one my best for the year, it’s 9162 loaded El Zorro grain train from Yelta to Geelong. Yelta is located at the end of the Mallee line past Mildura and once again AWB bought grain off GrainCorp as Yelta is a GrainCorp site. Locomotives on this train were B74, X31, T395, T356, T333 and T357.We rested at Ouyen having run 9161 up from Geelong the previous night. We jumped on the train and had a Train Order to proceed from Ouyen to Gama Block Point. We would sit at Gama for about 20 mins while we wait for a Pacific National grain train to clear the sections ahead of us. It was right on dusk when we pulled up here so I grabbed the tripod and started clicking away, one of the results is posted here to the left. It was a beautiful evening with the sky full of colour on a warm Mallee evening.
Further on down the track we took on fuel at Donald, not Donald itself but the Donald Sub Terminal where they load grain. It was here where I took another photo I really love with B74’s peircing through the dust of the silo area in the middle of the night. With my rules for this blog, this photo won through. You can see the other photo here.
What is now becoming an annual event, the city of Ballarat each May has a Heritage Weekend. Steamrail Victoria were asked to attend this event in 2011 and run shuttle trips from Ballarat Station to a location called Sulky about 15 mins out of town heading towards Maryborough. Keeping the Heritage theme in mind and the fact that Steamrail house 1889 built Y112 at the Ballarat East depot, it was decided to send D3 639 to Ballarat for these shuttles having been built in 1903.It was also decided to paint the old girl into the commissioners livery of black and red lining to also celebrate the 65th anniversary of this livery. I had organised with a few people around the Ballarat area to paint the lining onto the locomotive. I saw it for the first time when I arrived at Ballarat on the Friday night having just run the sitting car section from Melbourne with T356. It looked good.
Saturday morning at 10.00am the first shuttle left Ballarat with D3 639 leading all day out to Sulky and Y112 leading back into town. I had invited my good mate Trent to come down and experience a Steamrail weekend, right down to sleeping in our crew car at the Ballarat East depot. We decided to head to Macarthur St for the first shot of the day, standard 3/4 sunny shot but I really wanted this photo of the D3 in its new livery. The result is above and looks quite splendid. The shuttles ran very well for the rest of the weekend with the locomotives being reversed for Sunday running. D3 639 travelled back to Newport the weekend after the shuttles due to no crews being available on the Sunday night.
2011 pretty much saw my home being shifted to either Benalla, Seymour or Yarrawonga with the majority of the time being spent in Yarrawonga running Oaklands Grain Trains. There are only a handful of drivers at El Zorro qualified on the Benalla – Oaklands branch line and I seem to get all the running on the top end which im not complaining, its been a hoot working with some good trainees and teaching them the ins and outs of driving.
This particular photo was taken early in the morning at Sangar, 303km’s from Melbourne. I had run the train from Benalla this morning and on the approach to Sangar, smoke started coming off the long end of T386. The train was stopped to have an inspection. The long end number 4 axle of T386 was running quite warm, we stopped here for a while for it to cool down then limped into Oaklands where fitters met us later in the day for a look see of the axle.While waiting, the sun had come up with some brilliant light in the early morning. I grabbed the camera and started taking a few shots around this location. Its pretty baron but the curve, silo’s and early morning light proved to be a winner with me and this shot.
It was also here back in 1999 on a Steamrail Cup Weekender that R761 failed with a broken driving spring after hitting a large hole in the track around Sloane. We were trapped at Sangar for quite some time whilst repairs were made to the big Hudson. Everyone got to see the striving metropolis that Sangar is that day! One house that is empty and a long long away from any sort of civilisation.
The Seymour Railway Heritage Centre had contacted me in late May about the possiblity of hiring two diesels and 5 carriages to help them out for their annual July Tocumwal picnic train. Of course I tried to help them out as much as possible. Their diesel’s were either broken or in the shops for some work but in late May I thought this was a little premature as the trip was in early July. The carriages I could understand as they had issues with V/Line and their carriage lift dates. The reason for the hire of the two T’s I found out later on in all the proceedings is that the SRHC would lose too much locomotive hire money from El Zorro if they ran their own locomotives…
Anyway, I supplied T364, T356, 14BRS, 25BE, 17BE, 3ABE and 46 BE to the SRHC for their trip. I actually ran the delivery train from Newport to Seymour through El Zorro about 5 days before the trip. I was staying in Seymour running Oaklands grainies, so on my day off from the Oaklands line I ran the train up. The Saturday of the tour I also had the day off and decided to chase the train as it was also T364’s first running job after repaint and a lot of repairs.
The Heritage Diesel Co-Ordinator rang me the Thursday before the trip and asked me to work on the Saturday morning to prepare the train as he was a bit short, I said yes. So after the running crew relieved me at the Seymour station, I got in the Hogster and proceeded to chase the train towards Tocumwal. It was a nice winter’s day for a gunzel and got quite a few photos of the train and various points, including near Wahring where the Highway Patrol had pulled me over to see what I was doing.The photo above is the train crossing over the little creek at Wunghnu, 208 km’s from Melbourne on the way to Tocumwal. The locomotives were set up elephant style and long end leading to Tocumwal by yours truly. I really think anything looks good running long end leading.
August was a very busy month for me, probably the busiest for the year. The start of the month saw my mate Lionel and myself head to Newcastle and meet up with Trent once again for some South Maitland Railway line running. It wasn’t for coal trains with double EL’s or PL’s and 48’s, it was was for the 10 Class steam locomotives. I had always wanted to see this little tank engines in anger and this was my chance.
3801 limited ran a train with diesels from Central station in Sydney to East Greta where SMR’s 10 and 18 took over for a run to Neath and back to celebrate the 1ooth birthday of SMR 10. While some good photos were taken on the day, the photo to the right was a ripper on my opinion.
The Saturday morning we got up with the sparrows and locked onto 4621N cement train departing Maitland heading up the North Coast. The chase was on and finally caught up to the train at Wirragulla. It was still dark here but we kept pushing on northwards searching for the famous early morning light. The photo is taken of BL26 and 48121 departing from Stratford Loop having just crossed 6BM4. We left the train here quite happy with the results of our morning trek. It was from here we tried to track down the QR National coal train from Duralie, but we didn’t get it and headed over to Singleton to get some coal road action before flying back to Melbourne that evening after a very successful couple of days in the Hunter Valley.
This month saw most of my time spent in Yarrawonga again running grainies to Oaklands for El Zorro. There was a mad panic to try and move all of last season’s grain out of the bunkers and into Melbourne to be stored or put on a boat. The 2011/12 harvest was looking like it was going to be a bumper one early in September. All the planets were aligning and the farmers were over the moon about the rain and sun they were getting. I had a number of different locomotives on these trains and seemed to change everytime the train come up to me. I think I went through just about all the standard gauge locomotives except for C501 which wasn’t allowed ont he branch due to its weight which is a bit of a shame.
This train on the photo day had S300, 44209, T333 and GM36 leading 7CM5 home which was quite a colourful lashup. We ran very late on this day due to problems with the train departing Melbourne. By the time we loaded and did brakes on the train, we would have to wait in Yarrawonga for 2 hours before we got relief. The Melbourne crew were at rest and their rest period is 8 hours off before signing on again.
Yarrawonga to Oaklands takes roughly 1hr 10mins, loading can take between 1hr 45mins and 2hrs 30mins, another 40mins for brakes then running time back to Yarrawonga. There is normally some kind of wait along the line, in Oaklands itself or back at Yarrawonga just waiting for the Melbourne crew to sign on. Bearing this in mind, the train was pulled up between Warragoon and Sloane to get a photo of this train in the fading evening light. It always a good run on sunset between Oaklands and Benalla and through Yarrawonga. It’s the time where I am most relaxed and if I have my phone playing my favourite music, I feel one with the world. Getting paid to drive my hobby, watching the sun set over the horizon, driving past paddocks of grain, animals or simple towns in the middle of nowhere. It’s really an amazing feeling.
K190 was sent to the Victorian Goldfields Railway in late October as all of their Steam Locomotives need a bit of attention over the summer period. Steamrail was contacted from a VGR rep late September to see what the possiblity was of hiring a K Class over the summer. After a few phone calls to and from each group, it was decided that we would send a K Class up there. K190 was chosen as it didn’t need any work performed on her over the summer period, it would just need a boiler inspection before it headed to Central Victoria. K153 needed work done to its brick arch and a few other bits and peices over summer.
October 29 saw K190 depart Newport and head to Castlemaine on the V/Line network. It was pretty smooth sailing all the way to Castlemaine were V/Line blocko’s met us on arrival to get us over into the branchline as there is no lever or point machine supplied there. This was done and K190 was the first steam loco in steam to use the crossover in broad daylight, it was a pretty good moment between SRV and VGR volunteers. K190 was turned and prepared for the light engine run to Maldon but had to wait for K160 to arrive first with a driver experience train from Maldon. K160 arrived, we were given a ticket to proceed to Maldon and away we went. I couldnt get over at how rough the locomotive was on the branch line and even the VGR crew said the same. We were put into the yard at Maldon after a few photos to wait for K160 to arrive back with some wagons as we were going to pinch them to run to Muckleford and back on a bit of a test run and play.
K190 was loaded right up on its load limit and we departed Maldon bound for Muckleford tender first with a mixed train. Freight wagons at the front of the train and four pass cars at the rear. A few photo stops were had throughout the afternoon and this is where the photo comes into play. At the 85 mile post mark, we had a photostop on the train climbing the 1 in 40 bank from Muckleford towards Sinclair Lane. The photo is actually of the train setting back down the hill after dropping us off. The driver was laughing at me as I was flat on my stomach on the grass taking this photo, now i’m laughing at him as it’s his desktop photo on his computer…
November was a pretty quiet month for taking photos, mainly because I was captive to Yarrawonga again running grainies. November 19 saw me signing on at 0900 on a Saturday morning to head to Benalla and help prep 31 AHGX wagons to go to Goulburn and off hire to El Zorro. These wagons would eventually go on hire to QR National to start up a second Southern NSW rake. The AHGX’s had been on hire to El Zorro for quite a number of years and saw them on the Broad Gauge and Standard Gauge running. They weren’t a favourite with crews as the top lids had to be manually opened via a bar and a number of turns about shoulder height on the wagon. Some of them were getting pretty stiff to move in the end and you sure know you had mucsles in the arms and shoulders after opening up 31 of them. I for one wasn’t sorry to see them leave.
GL103 and EL60 had travelled down light engine from Junee to Benalla to pick them up. Due to a locomotive failure on the Oaklands grainy a couple shifts before had, 9 wagons were stabled in Benalla yard. 442s6 had brought the AHGX’s from Melbourne the night before and also stabled in Benalla yard which made it very full and snookered the CFCLA loco’s from collecting the wagons. 442s6 was started up and used as the locomotive to do brakes on the AHGX’s. GL103 and EL60 arrived, 442s6 pushed the wagons onto the mainline where the two CFCLA loco’s then attached to the train once 442s6 had cut off. A quick Brake Pipe leakage test was conducted then EL60 now leading GL103 departed Benalla to head to Goulburn. The photo was taken as the train passed through the station on the West Track (which was orginally the Broad Gauge side) departing Benalla. It was a pretty miserable day and the rain held out for me to take this phot. The front of the train was slightly highlighted and the freshly painted wagons looked a treat all wet and behind the two locomotives.
Once again I was held captive on the Oaklands line during the month of December which meant for little photos taken again. With the AHGX’s gone, I had AWB4 rake for a while with the WBGY wagons. 47 wagons actually came up one day which proved to be quite a shunt at Oaklands as the train was too long to run around anywhere. AWB4 only lasted a couple of trips before AWB5 made a return to Victoria and was put straight on the Oaklands runs with EL54 and G535. Having had mainly S Classes, T Classes, the GM, 442 Classes and TL Class locomotives, it was quite a change to have some decent locomotives for once and enjoyed the time on them. There were some issues with EL54 leading due to no Victorian radios installed but this was solved with the use of a steam box (Portable Victorian radio box).
A week out from Christmas I went down the shops and got some decorations with the intention of dressing up one of the locomotives to get in the spirit of christmas. EL54 was the chosen locomotive and out at Oaklands after loading the train, the unit was dressed up with tinsel and santa fixed to the front of the train. It actually looked quite good i thought. We departed Oaklands and headed back to Yarrawonga. Warragoon was coming up and thought I should get a photo of my handy work, this is where the attached photo comes into play and the result of EL54 getting into the festive season. Our relief crew took many photos on arrival into Yarrawonga and was the talking point of te depot for some time. The decorations were removed at Oaklands on Boxing day.
I hope you enjoyed reading about all my stories of 2011, everyphoto has a story behind it and these were 12 of my stories of the year. 2012 promises to be even bigger and better which I am looking forward to the challenge. Thank you and come back soon to read more stories from me.
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