Its not often that I do trip reports in the royal halls of the 'Semi-Retired Foamer', indeed its not all that often I get out lineside for a good dribble in order to bring such reports to my beloved readers.
This week we had a terrific two days around the Hunter. As always, we based ourselves at the fantastic Neath Hotel and worked our way out in many directions from there. This hotel is now a regular haunt for us and is greatly recommended to any gunzel looking for a place to get sloshed and head to sleep after a big day photographing.
While on the subject of 'haunt', while there you may be lucky enough to meet their resident ghost. I believe I had the pleasure one night, though he could have picked a better location than the toilet which, at least for this railfan, is normally a private location. :-)
3109 3104 2203 up conts Mascot 06.53
Twas a very disturbingly sober Colonal that greated me outside the 'Lotto Headquarters' prior to a couple of days train chasing in the Maitland area.
It was a miracle that proved to be a first indication of the amazing photos we would get during the next 36 hours or so.
After initial problems actually trying to get to our trusty Nissan, we eventually set forth to northern locations. Apart for passing a Tangara (that should excite the foamers) around Berowra and triple EL combo at Cowan ( later seen by Alec at Thornleigh), little else to set the parts a tingle was noted until Maitland.
Following a visit to the Austar loader and fast stop at a bodgy pie shop in Abermain, we headed on towards the now famous railfan bridge just east of Maitland. This bridge, while not only providing a great hack spot for gunzel activity, it also carries the latest updates on railfan sexuality and magazine interests.
One can read all the latest news from the rusty sides of this very old structure which, most likely, soon be replaced like the Georgetown version.
Our arrival coincided with 8243 8183 8111 8210 passing on an up coalie bound for port.
8162 up wheat 11.06
9014 15 02 dn empty coal 11.06
Following this less than riviting crossing of trains we were joined by 'SinCity' (can't remember your real name, actually was amazed that Railpage members actually had them) and my good mate Alec and his friend, both from down the Illawarra.
Later in the session MrNathan showed, while Scott Abberfield (aka: 'The_Shopping_Trolley') was caught watching railcars during a brief cameo appearance.
8139 8143 up coal 11.51
8119 up cement/sugar 11.56
8211 8140 24 8209 up coal 12.02
9024 19 8217 dn mt coal 12.08
5003 5001 up coal 12.41
Excessive heat, absence of the Railpage crowd and a urgent need for some liquid refreshment saw us drag our energy depleted butts to Maitland station while the others headed for K Mart (memory cards) and one of the local Maitland pubs.
On arrival we noted a coalie to the west awaiting departure of the Exploder for Tamworth and Armidale. As it was being viewed head on we were unaware that it had 8227 48143 8224 up front. Twas not until it passed under road bridge that the ALCo content became noticed and a chorus of wording launched that would make discussions at Neath Hotel seem tame in comparison.
One could only guess at the reasoning behind the 48 between these two EMD products, but it feels good to think that, just perhaps, EMDs still can't cope without their ALCo partners. I am sure Bernie would wholeheartedly agree! :-)
8227 48143 8224 up coal 13.02
NR14 DL40 NR80 dn conts 13.04
PL2 5 48129 PL7 dn coal (to Austar) 13.22
This last train is pretty standard fare for the old 'South Maitland Railway', however the interesting fact they were all nose ahead had us making a quick decision what to do. With still no sign of the Railpage crowd we decided to notify the others of our decision to set sail south towards Cessnock.
Road works on the Mt Dee Road ruled out trying for a shot with the semaphores (remember them?) at East Greta Junction, so it was to be that the first shot would be at the station of the same name thats located behind Gilliston Heights. This was followed by locations around Neath and at Bellbird cutting.
A desire to obtain shots in formerly unused locations, I mean how many PLs do you want at Neath and Weston stations, lead us to a very picturesque location atop the Swamp Creek bridge in Abermain for the train that was to follow the first as soon as it cleared at Pelton.
Due to SMR track speeds we had bulk time to partake in some very greasy seafood while roasting ourselves in what had become a very hot sun.
Just prior to the arrival of this second train we were joined by a cavalcade of foamer friends in the form of those who were with us at Maitland. All clambered up the embankment for a shot of the approaching coalie.
As it rounded the corner, only the most hardened of kettle fans could not have felt a throsby stirring with the sight of 48134 120 137 leading lone PL7. Bulk shots were taken before the four car convoy headed of towards moose territory at Kearsley. Some remained on the crossing, while I dragged the Colonel down to the former location of 'Aberdare Central Junction'.
All were greatly satisfied in a way no man should feel outside of marriage and it was here we decided to head to Branxton for an afternoon full of photography, swapping views on Rothbury and taking a rare glimpse at the Burwood Bullfrog.
See PART 2 for the Branxton/Neath part of the trip.