Adelaide Freight – 4th to 7th December 2012
Our transport from Melbourne to Adelaide was provided by Great Southern Trains in the form of their “Overland” service, departing Melbourne at a sociable 0805 and booked to arrive Adelaide Parklands Terminal at 1750. Tickets were booked through their website before departure from the UK. The seating on board is very relaxing indeed, and that was in economy class. The restaurant car on board was pristine and had a great selection to choose from. The journey in all was great from start to finish and with a Pacific National GE, NR53 at the helm, what more could you ask for….
On arrival at Adelaide we were met by a local Australian crank, originally from the UK but had been living in Australia since the age of 4. I’d been in contact with said person for a year or so, mainly in relation to my Mozambique trip earlier in 2012, without actually realising he lived in Adelaide. It was only right that we met up when I went out there, and to be honest he became our guide for the three days were spent chasing trains out there. The main point of which was actually to chase the G&W Broad Gauge “Stonie”, which didn’t let us down, although we were very lucky as the two days we chose ton chase it happened to be the only two it ran that week!
Tuesday 4th December 2012
Having been picked up at Parklands we were soon heading off towards places we’d never heard of, which would eventually become second nature once we’d got our heads round the geography of Adelaide’s railways. Firstly we stopped at the level crossing just beyond the station, hoping to get some photos of PN’s last serviceable PL Class Alco, PL1, which is used as carriage shunt loco at Parklands. There was an Alco there alright but even our resident crank was surprised to find it to be 80 Class, 8046 and not the usual PL1, the latter being nowhere to be seen.
Our trip round Adelaide that evening took us through the sprawling city and eventually to Adelaide Freight Terminal, where we found nothing and eventually ended up at Islington Shops where Patrick Portlink Alco, ex 45 Class, #103 with its cut down nose, was sat waiting possibly for overhaul. Also present was Bluebird Rail English Electric, 500 Class, #53 fresh off overhaul.
With the light fading we did manage to catch a couple of freights departing the freight terminal that evening, a PN one headed by NR’s 92/68 with S Class S307 inside for extra help and also an SCT train with a pair of SCT GT46C-ACe’s SCT013/008 heading out of town. Once the light had really gone we headed off to our hotel to prepare for a day chasing the “Stonie” the following day.
Wednesday 5th December 2012
Once I’d got over my schoolboy error that morning, having not changed the time on my phone which resulted in me getting up at 0540 instead of 0610, we were on a roll. It took me having a shower and getting dressed to realise mind! And we didn’t end up on the road until 0815 either; our lift being stuck in the Adelaide rush hour traffic.
The plan for the day was to head up to Penrice Soda and chase the stone train that ran back to Osborne, locally known as the “Stonie”. First port of call en-route was Dry Creek Motive Power Depot to get pictures of the Alco’s that weren’t on the train, on shed. These being 830 Class, 843/844 meaning 700 Class, 704 & 830 Class, 841 were out on the “Stonie”, or so we hoped anyway. Also at Dry Creek were GM45, GM46, FQ03, DL39 and GWA Alco 701 was in the yard.
It only took about 45 minutes to get into the Barossa Valley and as we pulled up alongside the weighbridge at Penrise Soda the conveyor belt delivering the product to the train stopped, the last wagon having just been loaded. The guy in the weighbridge told us he expected the train to be away by 1130; GWA Alco’s 704/841 were stood running, their train being in two parts.
We didn’t have long to wait at Nuriootpa, the location we picked to start our chase, the train turning up at 1135, 704 leading 841, the former not appearing to be doing a great deal. From then on there was no time for messing about, the car always being positioned for a quick getaway when we stopped. It seemed that the fact that 704 didn’t seem to be doing a lot helped us out a bit. At most of the places we stopped the train was climbing and down to 20kmph at most. The chase wasn’t that hard, although it does help to know where you’re going, which our driver did. the main road follows the railway quite a lot of the way though so it is quite easy once you get out of Nuriootpa.
Once on the outskirts of Gawler the train has to wait a path to fit in with the Adelaide Metro service, which is where the chase ends. We did stop at Gawler station to get a photo though, where I very nearly made a right fool of myself as the train approached behind me, 841 on full power I might add, the noise of which was blocked out by the DMU idling beside me, all while I was attempting to send a text message. The fact that I managed to run faster than it to the end of the platform and still get my photo tells just how slow it was going, and my phone and bag were still on the bench when I got back too.
While the train headed back into town we took the fast way back and headed it off at Port Adelaide, hoping to get shots of it coming over the new flyover into the Port area. It took a while to actually figure out whether we could get to it of not initially but once we’d found a parking space at the side of the road we then walked down the pathway that leads down the side of the flyover at the Port end, which then opens up allowing you to walk underneath it giving way to a cracking view of any train heading into the Port; the sun even having made an appearance too.
We waited, and waited, and waited some more. If it had been up to the other two we’d have gone a good hour before I started to think that maybe they’d been right all that time ago. Still I was adamant we’d beat the train, in which case it had to turn up. Just before 1500 a PN NR Class, NR35 headed out of the Port with a short train, shortly after which the signal at the Port end of the flyover changed to green. 25 minutes later the orange paintwork of 704 could be seen in the distance as the train began to climb the flyover, behind the warehouses at the opposite side of the water. 841 was doing all the work as the train staggered up the gradient towards the peak. the sun had gone that far round since we’d been waiting that the money short was actually after the train had got to the top and started descending the other side, but on the opposite side of the flyover to where we were. As it was going so slowly we had no problem legging it underneath to get a whole new set of photos as 841 eased off coming down the ramp at the other side. It was well worth the wait in the glorious afternoon Adelaide sunshine but boy was I glad I’d taken my hat out of the car with me!
A great day’s chase, the prominent bits of which were all discussed over a beer and “barbie” that night.
Thursday 6th December 2012
Another 0830 start and a long day ahead, although it wasn’t as long as we’d originally expected in the end. The plan being to head up t Whyalla, where GWA had some Alco’s of the 830 & 900 Classes working on their narrow gauge system, which may well be displaced by new build stuff during 2013. It was a 382km driver to Whyalla, which ended up taking us almost 5 hours in the end.
En-route we saw two freights, one an SCT northbound ore train with new Chinese locos CSR002/008. This cost us a bit of time as it went into the loop at Snowtown and blocked us wrong side of our car, which was still running and unlocked as we walked round the back end of the train to get to it. We ultimately came across the southbound train it was waiting to cross only a few miles north, a PN container train with NR Classes NR69/14 at its helm. That was all we saw until we got to Whyalla.
In the PN marshaling yard on the outskirts of town there were a couple of NR’s shunting a train together, when we pulled over to investigate there was actually a GWA 900 Class attached to the rear, seemingly attaching more traffic. By the time we’d parked and got out it had been detached and done one back towards the steelworks, never to be seen again! It looked like 907.
The GWA stabling point near the pellatising plant in Whyalla was more promising where we found another 900 Class, 901, with two GM’s 1302 & CK3. All were running but with no crew anywhere to be seen. I had to scale a fence to get a photo of them as even though my camera had a flip out screen I wasn’t tall enough to be able to point it over the top so the old school method of overcoming such obstacles had to come into effect.
Just outside Whyalla is a loop where a set of wagons was stabled and nothing much else. We sat under a tree contemplating what to do, while out driver attempted to ring someone to find out what trains were running and what traction they had on them, which came to nothing unfortunately. Just as we were about to head out of town to head off anything heading back into Whyalla we spotted a headlight in the distance and there was also a shunter at the points to let the train in. while the train was approaching he confirmed that there was another train heading back in about an hour behind the one just arriving, whcih was just as well as the one approaching was GM’s, not what we’d driven all that way to photograph! Once 1301/CK4 had run by us we set off in search of the following train.
It was only 20 minutes before the headlight could be seen in the distance. Once we’d stopped and positioned ourselves that familiar GM rasp carried through the airwaves and sure enough GWA’s GMs 1304/1907 ran past with the 3rd and final train of the day. It looked like 901/CK3/1302 had arrived shortly before we’d got to Whyalla, with 901 leading too, and had we been a bit earlier we’d have got the photos we’d driven up for. As it was we headed back from Whyalla having taken a gamble, which in this case hadn’t quite paid off. Had we not actually seen an Alco at all it would have been a disaster of a day.
En-route back we stopped at Port Augusta Yard, present were GWA006/002, NR89, SCT005 & NR40/6, the latter shunting a train together, while the rest were stabled up. On our way to Whyalla we’d been able to see a couple of GM Classes in the yard, which had obviously departed with a train.
On the journey back south to Adelaide we soon came across a headlight coming towards us, this turned out to be GWA010 running light engine to Port Augusta. We then came across the rear end of a southbound ore train, again with new built Chinese locos, this time CSR010/004, easing their way through the countryside at a steady 100kmph. We did manage to get a few shots as the evening sunshine sank out of the sky; before the tracks disappeared into the hills away from the roadway.
Despite the lack of Alco’s it was a decent day out with plenty of variety and we managed to make it back for a beer too. Our driver deserved one I have to say, he did a sterling job!
Friday 7th December 2012
A second day of chasing the “Stonie” this time with a full car of 5 now we’d all be reunited again. The stop at Dry Creek Motive Power Depot revealed only three engines on shed, all GWA ones at that, 700 Class, 701, along with 830’s 841/844, meaning that 704 was out on the “Stonie” again, this time with 843. It was quite ironic that a Downer EDI shed should be full of Alco loco’s.
Again we managed to get to Penrice Soda as the train was almost fully loaded and again we were told it would be away by 1130. Our wait in Nuriootpa was a little longer on this occasion, than the last. The train not turning up until just before 1200 and this time 704 seemed to be doing something, although not for long.
By the time we’d overtaken it, just up the road, it was again evident that the 830 Class was doing all the work with 704 being along for the ride. The train was going that slow in places that it was down to walking pace and seemed like it would stall at any point. Hat off the the little 830 though, it kept the train moving, just. One thing the staggering train did do for us was allow for more points to stop as it was taking so long to get anywhere. It was a more intense chase that the previous occasion, more stopping and more people to get in/out of the car I guess.
At Gawler this time we waited for the train on the footbridge rather than the platform, which was the right thing to do as there was a train in again when it turned up. As we had other plans for the later afternoon we headed to Dry Creek rather than Port Adelaide this time. The train has a crew change there, which we could see taking place from our vantage point, a pile of ballast, where the line to the Port branches off. Once a PN train had cleared it’s path 704 led the way across the main lines and onto the branch, very evidently being pushed along by 843 and as it hammered off into the distance that was the end of our Adelaide photographing experience. Somebody at GWA must have figured out that 704 was in a bit of a state as the “Stonie” was worked by 3 x 830 Class the following two days it ran, Saturday and Monday.
From Dry Creek we were Mount Barker bound, via Islington Shops for another peek, to SteamRanger Heritage Railway to sample some good old Alco DL500 thrash on an evening special.