Saturday, 15 November 2014

A Steamy Affair in Newcastle!

I love to take photographs of Steam Trains!

Not sure why.  

There is a definite romance about them; engineers stoking that blazing fire, the 'choof choof' noise as they make their way along, the smoke hanging in the air as they go by, steam wafting lazily about the station platform as people bustle about with suitcases boarding their carriages.....

And what about some of the great old movies starring steam trains?  2 that spring to mind immediately are 'Von Ryans' Express'  and  'Breakheart Pass' .  And, of course, the TV series 'Casey Jones' (and the Cannonball Express!).

I have probably inherited it from my Dad.  When I was about 12 I remember being woken up at some ungodly hour of the morning and Dad driving us both out to a small railway siding at Glenapp in SE QLD to see the big loco 3801.  I have a photo of that hanging around somewhere; I must look for it and post it!

Anyway, I started planning this photo safari when I learned that 2 steam trains from the Lachlan Valley Railway were to be running for the weekend on a loop from Newcastle train station, out to Port Waratah and return.  The 2 locomotive running were 3237 a P Class (late a C32 class) Beyer Peacock loco and 5917 a D59 class Mikado.  They keep detailed records of these and the oldest of the 2 is 3237 which had its' first run on the 26 Feb 1893.  

My first vantage point was the road overpass on the Pacific Hwy at Tighes Hill.  There is a nice straight approach from Newcastle up to the overpass; just right for some photos from an 'on high' perspective.  I started clicking using my 18-55mm zoom because I wanted to go wide as the train got closer.  After it had passed I went to the other side of the road to catch it on the return journey.  I swapped over to my 55-250mm zoom to get some close in shots.

From there I went into the CBD and set up just west of the Newcastle Train Station on one of the pedestrian overpass bridges.  Problem there was all of the gantries that support the electric rail system and overhead wiring that obscured the track for a clear shot.  Finally squeezed the camera through the security fence to get a shot of 5917 standing at the platform.  

Not wanting to get any more overhead shots, I went to Wickham station where I caught 3237 returning on the up line to Newcastle for its next run.

Possibly, these photos (and others taken by photographers on the day) are of some historic value.  In a short while, the 4km of track between Hamilton and Newcastle is due to close to heavy rail use.  It is planned to install a light rail system for commuters and remove the heavy rail track and corridor altogether.  This is planned to open up the foreshore area on Port Hunter to the shopping and business precinct of the Newcastle CBD which, at present, is cut in half by the heavy rail track.

These photos could very well record the last steam trains to run on that line.


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3237 at Wickham.  Newcastle, Australia.

Coal dust and Steam.  From the overpass at Tighes Hill.  Newcastle, Australia.

5917 departs Newcastle, Australia.

Last steam train out? 5917 at the station. Newcastle, Australia.

3237 from Tighes Hill overpass.  Newcastle, Australia.

Smoke and Steam.  Newcastle, Australia.

Where there's smoke.... There's STEAM!  Tighes Hill, Newcastle, Australia.