The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Australia
New South Wales
1972, end of steam on NSWGR-1

Terry Case writes about his travels for steam. Further tales will follow from time to time covering more of Australia, India, South Africa, Indonesia and Pakistan.

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NSW still had steam on regular line workings, mostly concentrated in the Newcastle area but that was over 1,000km away from Melbourne. In January 1972 I didnít have the money to pay for hotels and long distance travel. Plan B was to use overnight trains to allow me to see some steam pilots on the New South Wales Southern line, which was a little closer to home.

Albury is the border station where Victorian Railways met the N.S.W.G.R. (New South Wales Government Railway). The Albury pilot was 5241, a Standard Goods 2-8-0 class that were first introduced in 1896. I visited Albury on 10th January 1972 to see the locomotive in action. Unfortunately, most of the shunting was during the night shift, but I was able to photograph it being prepared and on the turntable where it was blown down. Steam shunters on this line were replaced by diesels a few months later and  5241 was withdrawn on 11th April 1972.

Leaving Albury I travelled overnight on a Mail train to Goulburn where I arrived at 3.20am, only to find the steam pilots had been withdrawn. A sparse passenger service meant I had plenty of time to observe the new diesel pilots before I could escape back to the large railway town at Junee. Instead of the expected two steam pilots I found another diesel in use, I was relieved when it was joined by a standard goods.
As night fell the amount of shunting required picked up. In those days wagons were checked for hot boxes as long distance freights slowly entered the yards. Freight trains were often broken up and re assembled, now that is a distant memory as most yards have been ripped up.

I returned to Melbourne on the Spirit of Progress, the crews were changed at Junee and I found an empty compartment and slept till arrival in Albury where I was woken by the Fruit Fly inspectors who checked luggage to see no fruit was brought into Victoria. Standing by an open door I watched 5241 at work, its noisy exhaust keeping some passengers from the land of nod. 

It had been a long trip for only a glimpse of steam at work, but by May I was 'more financial' and ready to travel to Newcastle.

I made my first visit to Sydney and from there travelled to Newcastle on the overnight newspaper train. I had an empty compartment, equipped with foot warmers for a cold night. I could have taken an air conditioned express, but this humble train had windows that could be opened, a prime consideration and I was in no rush! I still remember the thrill of crossing the Hawksbury River for the first time, the moon lighting the water below the massive bridge.

A suburban service took me to Maitland, from where I set out to walk to the South Maitland Railway depot where 2-8-2Ts Nos 10 and 24 were being steamed up while 25 was busy shunting the East Greta Junction exchange sidings. Introduced in 1912 the 10 class were tank versions of the Standard Goods class built by Beyer Peacock for the SMR. The picture shows the depot at Maitland with 10 raising steam on 16th May 1972.

Dumped 4-6-4Ts which were once used on SMR passenger trains stored at the abandoned Mount Dee Box. Both locos were scrapped in 1973.

Poled out! One of the 2-8-2T departs East Greta with empties.

On 16th May 1972, Standard Goods 5485 leaves East Greta Junction and approaches Maitland station:

The slow moving coal trains had their own pair of dedicated lines on a quadruple line section from Maitland to Waratah as did the NSWGR coal trains. These lines continue to be used for coal traffic, but now trains are of immense length and during the recent mining boom they were operating on a frequency undreamt of in 1972.

Rob Dickinson