The West – Our Next Project

When we produced our first book on NSW steam, “Northern Exposures”a few years ago, we had no idea how it would be received. As it turns out, we had rave reviews, and sold out in just 6 months. This inspired us to move forward and put together a book on the South.

“Lenses South” appeared at the end of June 2016, and by the end of August, we had distributed the entire print run. Once again we were amazed and pleased with the result and acceptance.

That left the Western Division, a place where most steam was finished by 1967, due to 45, 48 and 49 class diesels being dispatched there in bulk. Many of us, including myself, were simply too young to venture beyond the mountains, electrification to Lithgow isolating us from that steam area as well. However, through our connections we have discovered some great colour photos from the days, and they are presented in “Shooting the West”, due out in July 2017.

The West was different. Slow paced, steep hills, and bad roads. It took effort to get the coverage. There was the spectacle of double Garratts hauling W44 from Parkes on its journey from Broken Hill to Sulphide Junction near Newcastle. They made a spectacular sight climbing Molong bank. There were double headers on the Central West Express in peak times, and way out where daylight greeted the mail trains, double headed passengers.

3665 and 3827 on no. 46 Coonamble Mail approaching Wongarbon. Photo Brian Coker

The Mudgee line (now out of use) climbed a picturesque part of the Great Divide at Kapertree, and went on to Coonabarabran. I did have an opportunity to travel the 26¬†hour trip on the Mudgee mail, but regrettably, I didn’t take it up. This line included the cement works at Kandos and Portland and skirted the Warrumbungles.

4538 leads 5917 nearing the summit of Raglan Bank

After dieselisation, bankers lingered on out of Bathurst until almost the end of steam. ¬†Witnessing the 59’s pushing the diesels up the hill, was a reminder of what it used to be like when smoke billowed out across the plains and rolling hills.

I recall after my Higher School Certificate exams at the end of 1969, venturing out to Bathurst by train and walking along the tracks to get a few shot of the bankers in searing heat.

By then, there was no more steam South of Sydney, and after 2 weeks riding back and forth to Newcastle on the Flyers, it was a welcome change from the short north.

Oh to have been there when standard goods banked 36’s!

 

 

There are the many branchlines, snaking there way to far distant places like Bourke and Coolah, the Cowra area, and much more. This is all captured in the new book, along with stories of brushes with the law, cab riding the Central West Express, and other antics by our heroic team of photographers, who would do anything to get the coverage!

3813 on the last steam hauled Central West Express. Photo Graham Coterrill

Those were great times, and you can relive them as you peruse your copy of “Shooting The West”. Until July 31 the price is $80 shipped to your door. Shipping is free for early orders. The price delivered will be $90 after this date.

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