Today I heard some exciting news about 6029, one of the very last Garratts to run in Australia. This loco has been preserved by the ARHS ACT division and lovingly restored to working condition over the last few years. Now it is in steam again and will soon be hauling tours on the main Southern line.
Once again we will able to get shots like the one above of 6029 taken on the line south of Goulburn in better days when there were many steam engines running on specials. Due to what I would say are many bungles by various organisations and governments, there are very few steam locomotives running in NSW at the present moment.
The NSW 60 Class Garratts
The 60 class Garratts were the last steam engines purchased by the NSWGR. They came from the UK in the mid 1950s, the first one delivered the year I was born. Their appearance resulted in the demise of the 57 and 58 class, which I first saw lined up for the scrapheap at Enfield. This was late 1964 when I went on my first school railway excursion to Botany. I turned up in school uniform which was embarrassing! After purveying the dead locos at Enfield we all hopped on board a Garratt for the trip past Sydney Airport to Botany. I distinctly remember waving at all the people along the way. This probably fuelled my interest in steam to a greater level.
I am not sure if I had a camera back then, but I was unable to find any photos of the event. Anyway I next saw Garratts on the Glenlee line south of Campbelltown, before it was electrified in 1968. A day out in 1965 netted a heap of photos, with a 38 leading 36, 20 class shunting the yard, and numerous coal and other trains.
Glenlee Coal Trains
As you can see from the above picture, this was before electrification. I remember that day well. I rode 14A relief Goulburn Day Train back to Sydney with 3617 and it clocked over 80 mph through Ingleburn. Admittedly it was a light consist, but we made the trip from Campbelltown in just under 12 minutes at a mile a minute average speed. It was to be one of the fastest regular steam runs I travelled on.
For many years there were regular coal trains from Glenlee to Balmain, the export port. This has now changed dramatically and most of the infrastructure disappeared. Part of the old line is now a light rail line.
Garratts did make it to Goulburn occasionally, although it was fairly rare. After electrification of the Glenlee line, a few travelled south. My lack of transportation meant I was restricted to a few depot shots.
I was lucky enough to have this rare shot included I the 60 class book written by Harry Wright.
While stories of W44 travelling from Broken Hill with double Garratts in charge from Dubbo to Lithgow were legendary, I didn’t make it to that part of the world in time. In fact, my only trip out west was on the Central West Express where I rode in the cab of 3811 from Bathurst to Orange in the 1967 My school holidays. I remember the climb up Tumulla bank on that day. I consider myself very lucky to have this experience. The 38s were withdrawn from the West soon after.
North Of Sydney – The Last Domain Of The 60 Class
In later years, I frequently sighted Garratts north of Sydney. My first trip I encountered 6013 at Hawkesbury river, heading towards Sydney. I had hitched a ride on a 46 class electric that was doing banking duties on Cowan that day. Some of the Garatts had two sets of driver controls and were labelled “DC”. There were only a handful of places you could turn a Garratt, with turntables at Broadmeadow and Enfield, plus a few triangles in other towns. In these days a few of the single control Garratts travelled between Sydney and Broadmeadow with assistance up Cowan bank, and 6013, which did not have dual controls, was one of these.
Garratts double headed with all sorts of other locos on the short north and possibly the most spectacular site of steam in NSW were the Newstan Coal Trains which made a standing start on the 1 in 40 grade out of Fassifern with double Garratts, heading to Port Waratah, now the largest coal loading facility in Australia. Newstan Colliery was recently closed due to a fall in the price of coal.
I still count this shot of the very last double Garratst run in NSW in December 1972 as one of my finest. These two really put on a display that is etched in the memories of those few rail fans who were there to witness it. Regrettably this will never be seen again, although there is consolation that 6029 is back in service and will soon be hauling trains again.
More great photos of 60 class are in “Northern Exposures”, a full colour recollection of steam in the North Of NSW. It is your opportunity to get a permanent record of those days and an insight into what it was like to live through those times. Something to have in your collection or share with grand kids who will never have the chance to see these amazing engines.
You can order a copy at http://northernexposures.com.au Delivery expected August 2014. I have some special offers to those who order before the end of August.
I have put together a Slide Show with some of my better pictures of the AD60 class Garratts for you.