Our almost monthly pilgrimage to Cootamundra would not be complete without a stopover at Wingello to photograph (or watch if in the middle of night) trains, speak bollocks to the friendly station master that once resided there, or generally rabbit on with those endless amounts of useless trivial bits of information that us railfans tend to spurt forth.
Last week I found myself spending significant amounts of time in throbbing metropolis of Canberra, the capital of fun, excitement and the pornography industry in Australia.
While it is almost impossible to detect any grundy (Aussie slang for ones under garments, specifically underpants. See also Underdurps and Bogcatchers) type stirrings at the thought of spending time in our Nations capital, it is at least out of Sydney and the trip is usually much enjoyed.
It was on my second run during the week I found myself able to have a sleep in and still have a very easy schedule for getting down there.
So it was to be that I decided to dump the highway for a leisurely drive through the nipple hardening rural towns of Exeter, Penrose and Bundanoon (home of yet another model railway club of some name) as I made my way to a much changed Wingello.
Gone was the lovely semaphore signals, as was the friendly station master, replaced by an unmanned station, a selection of those less than inspiring coloured light signals and a selection of track workers with dirty glances to offer every few moments or so.
After brief consideration as to location, I decided to park under a tree where I used to sit so many times before. Not a good view to the north, the sun was the dogs poop in that direction anyway, but a nice shot to be had for trains approaching from the south.
First thing one noticed was the disappearance of the old signal which would have been to the right of the above photo, come to think of it, the siding it once protected also looks to have buggared off with it.
The wait commences with the occasional noise making me look up in anticipation.
Track work was occuring just south of Wingello so trains in both directions were using the up line. The appearance of flagmen before each train certainly making it easier to be well prepared for any southbound movements.
Finally, after just over 20 minutes, there is movement, with a Melbourne bound XPT passing by slowly with XP2001 and 2003 in charge.
With that excitement over, one grabs ones issue of Model Rail, sits back in the seat and awaits the next installment of train action.
40 minutes later a loud noise to the south causes me to stir. Magazine down and I prick the old ears listening for further noise to help identify what gem of rail action may be coming.
I didn't have to wait long, the noise growing louder as it slowly climbs up over the hill into Wingello, a road based grader returning from some of the work.
The day was warming up and I had been sitting near the crossing for well over an hour since the XPT.
Finally the flagmen walk across the platform and over to the level crossing again.
Frothing excitement builds as one groans (or swear words regarding the wait) in pleasure as these two less than happy gents walk down the ramp and on to the level crossing, before moving onwards to the store across the road for some lunch.
Another 30 minutes pass with the heat, lack of activity and a now severe bum cramp (sitting in Commodore seats for too long is a pain) becoming to much to take.
As I go to start the car, an unmistakeable NR horn is hear in the distance and soon we find our old mates walking quickly back to the the crossing with their full bellies, flags and suspicious stares.
It takes a while with the up steel train moving slowly through the worksite, but soon enough the engine noise is clearly heard and NR55 BL28 NR1 make a very colourful site as round the corner and slowly approach my location.
As the train passes I start to consider whether or not to stay here for the extra hour I still had remaining before departure was needed.
Headed off to Goulburn soon after to check what loco delights would be slumming it up around the yard. I mean Goulburn always had something to look at hey.
Hmmm apart from some of those things locos pull around the state, there was little else to look at besides a platform devoid of passengers and something dead on the tracks which may have been a cat, or some other feral creature that had wandered into town from the bush on its hapless last journey.
Hope you all enjoyed you 'Virtual Railfanning of Wingello' adventure.