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Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
See also John Raby's blogs at www.rabylee.uk/linesidingindex.html


Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Sunday 27 June Ingham

The next morning saw much better weather at Ingham.
The first thing I saw on arrival was Macknade Mill's bogie Baldwin number 19, proceeding through the Victoria Mill yard with empties for the Hamleigh area.

The ex-Plane Creek Mill Clyde HG-3R DALRYMPLE has now been thoroughly 'Herbertised' and was on full yard shunting duties.

DH-class CLEM MAC was on sugar box duties, as usual. It has received a remodelled front end. It carries (once) illuminated number panels from DH8 and DH38 and now has a Sucrogen sticker on the cab side.

Saturday 26 June Tully and Mourilyan

As the result of a work commitment in Townsville, I took the chance of a quick trip to far north Queensland. Unfortunately, north of the Cardwell Range, wet weather prevailed (in June??) and so the visit to Tully was very disappointing. I did however manage to see the finished historical exhibit in the Tully mill yard, which is very well done.
I also saw the DH loco that was obtained from Mackay Sugar last year.


At the old Mourilyan Mill site, the old social club is now a 'play centre and cafe'. The ex-South Johnstone Drewry locomotive outside still looks very complete.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sunday 6 June Johannesburg

World Cup fever is taking over South Africa and my transit through O R Tambo Airport, Johannesberg, gave me the chance to catch up with some of the fans.
Need you ask? (Toon Army contingent)
 Cool Italia
Volunteer Moslem reception committee

Sophisticated Portuguese cuisine
Laid back Brasil

Beware the Argies

Bafana Bafana

Saturday 5 June Avontuur line Day 5

With the tour group dispersing today, it was possible for me to travel back towards Port Elizabeth for one last time as my return flight was not until Sunday.

The journey made was from Assegaaibos to Kabeljouwsrivier, a distance of 71 kilometres. Here we were met by a road vehicle as the train was only scheduled to go as far as Loerie today.
It was a wonderful opportunity to sit in a brake van with the door open and view the countryside passing by.
We made several stops to build up the fire.

 At Essenbos.

The road ahead.
Yes, they are twins! 

Keen interest in the working of a steam locomotive at Billson.
Lots of spectators at Humansdorp.

The descent to Kabeljouwsrivier

And so with a brief inspection of the diesel depot at Humewood Road after the road trip back to Port Elizabeth, the rail segment of the trip was over.

Friday 4 June Avontuur line Day 4

Assegaaibos, 88 kilometres past Loerie and 164 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, was an important centre on the Avontuur line and many of its facilities remain intact including the loco shed, coaling stage and watering facilities. Following flood damage it is the current most westerly point to which traffic can run, although it is anticipated that the line will soon be repaired as far as Louterwater, another 69 kilometres.

The hotel where we staying operates an AEC double-decker bus for local transport so the opportunity for a runpast was too good to miss.

The time was taken to get some photographs in the 51 kilometre section between Assegaaibos and Humansdorp. There is a wide variety of countryside on this wonderful line even though cloudy conditions hampered the photographers.

On arrival at Humansdorp we discovered that an empty timber train had arrived, hauled from Port Elizabeth by one of the line’s General Electric fleet.

We returned to Assegaaibos for the overnight stay once again.

Thursday 3 June Avontuur line Day 3

This was a cloudy day and photographic opportunities were limited.
Loerie was an important railway centre with banking engines once stationed there in steam days to assist trains on their way towards Port Elizabeth. This housing was typical of that provided for railway employees in the 1950s.

This also appears to be railway housing at Mondplaas, 13 kilometres beyond Loerie, presumably built for African labourers who maintained the track.

Our journey took us close to the sea, at the famous surfing centre of Jeffreys Bay.

There is a taxing 7 kilometre climb to gain 86 metres in height from Kabeljouwsrivier up to Jeffries Bay station.
Lunch was taken at Humansdorp, 41 kilometres from Loerie
and on our journey through to Assegaaibos we halted at Howley and the Dieprivier crossing, 62 kilometres out of Loerie.

Wednesday 2 June Avontuur line Day 2

After a delightful evening at a private game lodge, we returned to Loerie where we resumed our journey following some shunting of our coal and water supplies.

We proceeded to Gamtoos where the river has cut its way through many metres of red alluvial deposits that consist largely of pebbles. These are loosely concreted together so that even railway cuttings can be driven through.

We proceeded on the Patensie branch up the Gamtoos valley.

Unfortunately, the line is currently not available for use much beyond Hankey, 13 kilometres from Loerie, but the train did cross the bridge just north of Hankey for our benefit.
We saw few animal-powered conveyances in South Africa, but in the Gamtoos valley we spied an ox cart and two donkey carts.

We returned to Loerie for a second night.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tuesday 1 June Avontuur line Day 1

We departed from the famous Humewood Station in Port Elizabeth at the start of our Avontuur line odyssey. The 2ft gauge railway, with a main line of 284 kilometres, opened in stages from 1902. We were travelling on a charted train operated by the Apple Express organisation that operates tourist trains on part of the line, which is also used by South African Railways diesel-hauled freight traffic.
Our locomotives were Class NG15 No.119 and a Lawley locomotive which had been brought down from Sandstone because of the unavailability of the hoped-for Beyer Garratt. The line had not seen this type of locomotive since the 1920s.

Unfortunately, SAR operational requirements did not allow the Lawley to proceed across the stupendous 77 metre high Van Stadens bridge, the tallest 2ft gauge viaduct in the world, so we proceeded from there with just the NG15.
Having crossed the bridge we proceeded to Loerie, 72 kilometres from Port Elizabeth, reaching our destination by means of a dramatic twisting and turning descent of 200 metres in 13 kilometres, with the line’s engineers having made full use of the landscape to find a practicable route.

The turntable in the evening light at Loerie.

Monday 31 May Creighton to Port Elizabeth

Today we had a 13 hour bus ride from Creighton to Port Elizabeth in Eastern Cape Province.

We passed through the Transkei, once an ‘independent’ homeland under the apartheid regime, and one of the poorest areas of South Africa.

Poverty does not seem to be an obstacle when it comes to students being neatly attired in school uniform.

South Africa is a land of contrasts. We passed Nelson Mandela’s house on the highway just outside Mthatha and many closely settled rural areas.

We also passed through a number of busy market towns and saw plenty of roadside stalls.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Sunday 30 May Creighton Day 2

Today we took a ride behind the GMAM Beyer-Garratt to Donnybrook, travelling along sharp curves and steep gradients through an area of Zulu settlements. The scenery was magnificent and many locals turned out to see the train and its passengers.

The scenery was magnificent and many locals turned out to see the train and its passengers.
The steep hillsides were a challenge to the intrepid photographers.
The gentleman in red pants here used his excellent English to extol the virtues of cultural exchanges such as this. He was a very effective marshal of a large group of children spectators who he instructed to keep out of the way and be quiet for the benefit of the photo line, receiving a small consideration for his efforts.
This lady in Sunday best and barefoot was intent on her daily business and gave little attention to the excitement on the railway.
Donnybrook, once a busy and well appointed junction station with a locomotive depot for both the 2ft and 3ft 6ins gauges, is a shell of its former self and the narrow gauge has disappeared. However, a memorial to apartheid remains in the shape of the two footbridges – one for whites and the other for non-whites.