The International Steam Pages

Steamy Java Sugar Mill Tour 2010, The End of the Line

This series of pages from July and August 2010 records our travels from China to Malaysia and on to Java, Indonesia where we were hosting the 'Steamy Java Tour 2010'. Click here for the main Winds of Change index page.

It's early morning at Olean and to all intents and purposes nothing has changed. OK 0-8-0T #1 has gone off to shunt some of the early morning truck cane and sister #4 is being fuelled with logs as there is still insufficient bagasse for the mill's boilers let alone its steam locomotives. But today is different because the wood has been bought with money paid by visiting enthusiasts in addition to the normal fee they must pay to visit. Having been a regular visitor here for over 25 years, I found it both bizarre and sad and something I really felt was not quite right. As such, it was a 'one off', a final farewell to a place I have loved like no other in Java, rather like buying a round of drinks at a wake for a good friend.

The local fauna treated the visitors waiting for the train with a mixture of suspicion and disdain:

The local bullocks had seen it all before:

Even avowed stationary steam enthusiasts were moved to take outdoor risks and the views just kept getting better and better as the train headed further into the countryside.

Eventually it was time for the secondary motive power to take over as the 'loris' were needed at the end of a long section of temporary track. At least this part was 'real', if we had not paid up front then one of the small Japanese diesels would have worked the train.

One of the disappointments of my part-time career as a tour organiser and guide is that very few people have brought their lady partners with them. Apart from the obvious reason (= basic lack of interest in things steamy), Yuehong demonstrates another possible reason. In practice, those who do have thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to see a beautiful island with charming people away from the hustle and hassle of the more traditional tourist attractions.

I passed on the cutting, it was extremely hot and this is where we had filmed that activity for our Sweet Spot DVD. It was now time for an early lunch. Afterwards we had an extended visit to the mill until it was time to see the cane being brought in, before which there was a reunion with one of my regular crews:

Whereupon we were graced by a quadruple header:

Apart from the fact that the locos are somewhat asthmatic and the loads less than half what they used to be, photographically things don't look too different:

After #4 went back, #1 backed on to the train and we followed it back to the mill. With two buses, the number of opportunities was limited. First passing the level crossing at Duwet and then about halfway home with the children debating whether to raid the train in front of the cameras.

After which, I swung around, let the train roll past me and as it trundled slowly up the road, I took what will be my last ever serious image at Olean. All good things must come to an end.

Rob and Yuehong Dickinson