Woken at 7am by a Colonel heading for the throne, I slowly became aware of my location and reason for being there. A greatly relieved, and significantly lighter, Colonel soon returned, along with the custom grunt, and notifies me that the second Pelton (Austar) rake had passed by around 3.30am bound for the mine.
Still half asleep one slowly carried out ones morning duties in slow motion fashion, I mean five hours sleep just don't cut it, and we packed everything back in the car before heading up to the local servo in search of breakfast material.
As always, the little Indian servos hot food section was not open and we decided that it may be best to transplant our bott botts down to Neath station, guessing that the train could not be to far from returning.
In a stroke of luck, far removed from usual gunzel way, our arrival at the station was greeted with a PL class headlight ablaze in the distance. The great length of straight back in the Caledonia direction, coupled with the slow speeds, mean't we still had a good five minutes to run around like dogs on heat looking for the perfect location.
PL3 48120 134 143 up coal Neath 07.54
As always, the passing of the train resulted in a mad rush back to the care in order to set chase.
After briefly sussing out a new location at Abermain for later in the day, we got ahead of our quarry as it aproached Kurri North. Quick shot and it was off to East Greta station (as opposed to junction) where I hightailed it across the ruins of the former mine and reached an elevated location I have long wished to use.
Again the slow speeds were of great benefit, allowing us to negotiate some road work and still be there with five minutes to spare. This all proved even more handy given the huge amount of speed traps deposited by recently resident bovine.
Again it was time for a location change with The Colonel desiring some North Coast action, and me a bit of the long awaited breakfast. Headed to a small shopping centre in Telarah and negotiated a sea of western type hornbags in order to obtain breakie. Hmmm bacon and egg sandwiches, only marred by the drowning in, what had to have been, a whole bottle of BBQ sauce.
A brief check of the board at Paterson revealed nothing so we moved on the Martins Creek so the Colonel could partake in some sunny shots of the station (hands up those who thoughts I was going to say alcohol!!!!) which had eluded him in the past.
On arrival we were greated by a green on the up, again it was panic mode as a crane was blocking the usual location and we really had no idea of where it was.
NR18 NR21 up conts Martins Creek 09.09
Huntercar dn pass Martins Creek
A quick pie stop at Paterson for the Colonel before more green signals were noted on the down.
2015 2014 dn XPT Paterson 10.23
Finally the SMS start rolling in. Alec and friend going to check out relics of the SMR, while MrNathan is up for meeting us at East Maitland, an overused hack spot, but with a nice bend and lots of trains.
8211 8140 8249 8216 up coal 11.44
** My 8216 has again hunted me down and well away from the usual south coal stamping ground.
8205 8183 8251 dn mt coal 11.57
NR22 NR121 up conts 12.23
5011 5007 up coal 12.31
8224 8227 8137 up coal 12.38
** 8137 having replaced the 48 class from the mega combo the day before.
NR77 NR34 dn conts 12.44
9025 9018 9005 dn mt coal 13.02
Then it was RED ALERT time again!!
PL3 48120 48134 48143 dn mt coal to Austar 13.12
Another run back to the cars for a chase to the East Greta bridge hack spot, followed by a dash to Abermain to try out the location found earlier in the day. A last shot was got on a S bend in the area approaching Austar.
My theory that the second set would be at the loader was checked and proved correct. So it was we decided to head back for Bellbird and do the long walk along the deep cutting to reach the former Kalingo line bridge.
PHOTO: MrNathan on the former Kalingo line bridge at Bellbird.
It would be our only chance for a shot of this train, but as we were needing to return to Sydney (impatient wife) we thought it to be worth it. Indeed it has been many years since I last used it, back when car access was possible.
Despite the long walk we still had about ten minutes to wait. Time well spent photographing both the bridge and the former railway formations in the area.Eventually the train was seen passing the relics of Bellbird Colliery before entering the deep and narrow cutting. Today, as one watches the ALCos and coal hoppers sway to and fro, its hard to imagine that once upon a time two tracks passed through here.
Gradually PL2 PL5 48129 PL7 passed underneath and disappeared off into the distance, rounding a curve that would aim them in the direction of the former Bellbird Junction.
The day was ended with another visit to the 'Grumpy Chinese Woman Takeaway' for some lunch. He we said farewell to MrNathan before driving back to Sydney, me taking the wheel as the Colonel was suffering heavily the effects of 'NO' alcohol all morning.
Another great Hunter trip was complete.
Thanks to Colonel for making his car available for the trip, as well as the great company along the way. Thanks also to MrNathan, Alec/Friend, Timmaayy and the SinCity couple for ensuring it was one of the best trips yet.
Looking forward to the next time we all converge at the Neath Hotel.