The International Steam Pages

Case Notes - Steam in Australia
New South Wales
1972, end of steam on NSWGR-3

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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The previous posting looked at J & A Brown’s railway at Hexham, I will now focus on NSWGR operations.

In addition to Standard Goods engines I was also able to see the fabulous 60 class Garratts in their final year of service hauling double bogie hopper trains on this section as they headed to the Newdell mine near Singleton. My first sighting of a 60 class Garratt was on 16th May 1972 when 6009 rushed through Hexham on one such working, beating the shutter speed of my Petri “Racer” camera, which like the Garratts was retired at the end of the year. 

Despite the current downturn in coal mining a staggering amount of coal is still shipped out of Newcastle. On some days over 600,000 tonnes of coal arrives for export in a 24 hour period. Typical net train load is 9,000 tonnes, so this represents around 70 trains each way in 24 hours. It was somewhat different in 1972 when train loads were comparatively small.


This was approximately mid-way along the line and had the attraction of grades in both directions making it a favourite location. My final visit was on 19th February 1972, I was exploring a short branch off the mainline which led to the Bloomfield Colliery. Once more my camera failed to cope with the conditions, perhaps it could be excused as the temperature had reached a whopping 109F (that's 43 C for most of us. RD)! Spare a thought for the crews on the steam engines and the conditions they had to work in.

5274 heading for the Bloomfield colliery climbs the grade into Thornton, 18th December 1972. 

My last shots of steam on this line were taken on 19th December 1972 when 5069 (one of the last 2 surviving saturated examples of the class) worked a train to Port Waratah. With only a couple of days to go before almost all steam working came to an end it was a good way to steam out on this line.

5069 climbing towards Thornton on a super-hot afternoon.

Over the summit and heading towards Thornton station and Port Waratah.

That night I watched from a pub veranda as a Standard Goods got a string of hoppers underway, the cab glowed a dull orange as the fireman was busy swinging rounds into the furnace. The 4 wheel wagons banged and rattled in protest as the loose couplings were stretched, it seemed little had changed since the beginning of the century.

Port Waratah.

Port Waratah was an amazing complex, the depot featured a long trestle ramp that led to the coaling stage, two antiquated 19 class 0-6-0s were retained here for coal stage pilots. Two other rare survivors were 30 class 4-6-0s which were also used as pilots. Crews were friendly and I was able to observe engines being coaled and watered prior to going on shed, or heading back out to the yards.

Early evening was a busy time in the half Roundhouse as hostlers placed their engine on the turntable and directed it to a stall. Even so at least half a dozen engines would remain busy in the yards and not just Standard Goods, but 59 class Mikes and 60 class Garratts from Broadmedow depot, (the mainline Newcastle depot). The three pictures were taken on 16th May 1972 

Port Waratah depot, watching engines being coaled and watered.

3090 and coal stage pilot 0-6-0 1923.

Portrait of 3090

5069 one of the last saturated 50 class in action receives another chute of coal. The engine was saved for preservation..

Rob Dickinson