When it comes to big engines in Australia, there is none larger than the AD 60 class Garratt. Delivered from Beyer Peacock in the UK from 1956, these magnificent machines hauled freight until the very last steam train on the NSWGR in March 1973.
They hauled the famous W44 from Parkes to Lithgow, and from Gosford to Sulphide Junction, with a changed number of N645. The sight of double Garratts climbing Fassifern bank was something one will never forget and inspired me to build my model layout around Fassifern. I just purchased a bunch of coal hoppers to create the 18 wagon consist that struggled up the hill until nearly the end of steam.
One of the class, 6029, was acquired by the Canberra Railway Museum and operated tours in the early 1980s. Recently, with $500,000 of donations,6029 was restored to operating condition and for 2 years ran excursion trips around NSW.
Due to gross mismanagement, the Canberra Railway Museum went into liquidation and the assets were sold off by auction.
Fortunately, the Garratt was purchased by enthusiasts and is now based at the Rail Transport Museum at Thirlmere. From time to time, she is used on push/pull workings with a diesel on the other end travelling at various towns around NSW. While this is a far cry from the effort the Garratts performed in regular service, kids and adults alike are thrilled at the opportunity to travel behind this giant and trips are full to capacity.
Back in my earlier years, I would visit Campbelltown, south of Sydney, which until 1968 had garratts working coal trains to Glenlee Colliery. On my first visit there in 1965, there were plenty of steam train movements to keep me occupied.
A 60 class cruises through Campbelltown on its way to pick up a load of coal at Glenlee colliery. 1965.
I never saw the Garratts out west of the Blue Mountains, although when I was young, we had a family vacation near Blackheath, and I distinctly record seeing a Garratt haul a goods train across the top of the mountains.