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


Saturday, September 8, 2012

Saturday 8 September: Clean sweep

Today we did a drive through from Drumasi in the north to Batiri in the south – from one end of the Rarawi-Lautoka system to the other - and by some miracle of good management and good luck we found every train operating out of the mills on day shift. So here it goes:

7.44am Rarawai 9 on empties at Drumasi, east of Tavua.

8.51am Rarawai 8 on empties on Koronubu Road, Ba.

9.31am Rarawai 27 on truck shop duties at the mill.

 9.48am Rarawai 10 bringing fulls in from Koronubu Road.

9.55am Rarawai 28 crossing the Kings Road light engine coming back to the mill from the west.

10.49am Lautoka 24 crossing the rebuilt Naviago bridge with empties.

11.51am Lautoka 23 coming through Saweni Beach with empties.

12.29pm Lautoka 22 coming through Vuda Point with fulls.

1.54pm Lautoka 11 crossing the rebuilt Navo bridge with empties.

2.02pm Lautoka 14 takes off from Navo with the empties brought by number 11 while number 10 is ready to depart with fulls.

 2.07pm Lautoka 10 departs Navo with fulls.

3.56pm Lautoka 12 with empties at Batiri.

Home to Brisbane tomorrow morning!












Friday, September 7, 2012

Friday 7 September Penang

Penang is a small mill and is only crushing 170,000 tonnes of cane this year. Its small rail system uses 35lb rail. We found Drewry number 8 dumped in the yard after it had been out of use in the shed for many years.

Clyde number 21 has come from Lautoka this year and is fitted with a monstrous radiator housing. It is the mill’s first “big” loco.

 Baldwin number 3 and number 21 just inside the main gate.

 Ex-number 4 Hudswell Clarke pictured on our tour around the mill yard.

 Nothing much was happening so we had time for sightseeing.
Maleke Island

And for a siesta back at the Rakiraki Hotel.

Diema number 10 is the full yard loco but it got to haul cane into the mill later in the day when number 21 failed.

 Baguley-Drewry number 9 was built for Mozambique but ended up in Fiji.

Here it is heading out west over a road-rail bridge. It was called back to take over number 21’s run.
Number 3 substituted.

When I grow up I want to be a bogie loco.

Horses with rope harnesses and no stirrups are popular for personal transport.


Cubu Island from the coast at Naivuvuni.
Tomorrow we head back to the west coast for our last day.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Thursday 6 September: The real Fiji

The morning started off dull again but the forecast said it would clear up.
Lautoka numbers 24 and 20 were taking empties south at Sabeto.

Number 12 running towards Nasavusavu at Nabila village. By 8.30am we had seen three trains outside the mill, already bettering yesterday’s efforts.

Returning north to Navo, the crew was doing some work in the yard there. 
 Number 10 crossed the highway at Navo to go on shed. In the background is one of the Navoto linecars, which had come down for greasing. By now the sun was shining.
As we headed north again, we noted that Lautoka Mill had stopped for lack of cane. Motor trucks cannot get into the fields in wet weather, another reason to maintain rail haulage.
Arriving at Rarawai Mill, number 8 had arrived from the north with cane.

And we saw number 28 heading out across the Ba River bridge.


Moving on to Tavua, numbers 9 and 22 were ready to go up to Drumasi, the furthest extent of the Rarawai tramline, to collect fulls.

Number 9 leaving Tavua yard.

Homeward bound

Number 22 at Tawawa, a yard near the terminus.

Number 22 awaiting departure at Malele.

We pressed on towards Rakiraki.

And not far from the western terminus of Penang Mill’s line we found Clyde number 21, recently transferred from Lautoka Mill.


Let’s hope that the fine weather has returned for the rest of our visit!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Wednesday 5 September More of the same at Rarawai

It was not actually raining when we set off for Ba this morning but it was certainly dull. When we arrived we found number 8 setting off for Korovuto with empties. 

We received permission to visit the Rarawai loco shed and the mill yard. All the locos at the mill were inundated by the floods this year (along with everything else) with water around six feet deep.
Both Hunslets based at the mill have their torque converters out. These are the heavy haulers from Tavua and not much cane is coming in from there this year.

The Diema was also in the shed needing repairs.

These locos have been sitting here for years and show evidence of the flooding.

There was a lot of mud through the yard after the overnight rain. Baldwin 17 was on its normal weighbridge duties.
And Baguley-Drewry number 24 on the empties.
And is this the original “garden shed on wheels”?
At Tavua, the Hunslet there, number 22, was receiving a few adjustments. The fitter is very proud of the reliability of the two locos he looks after here.

 The “moon buggy” line car of Brad Peadon fame is back in the shed at Tavua.

The weather was getting steadily worse and we had no luck finding trains. The only exception was Lautoka 23, having a break at Ravivravi, the place where the Lautoka and Rarawai lines join.



We retired for the day early, hoping for sun and fine weather tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Tuesday 4 September A dull kind of day

A check at Lautoka Mill this morning showed that it was still idle. We headed south under clouds and at Navota found both line cars based there ready to head off to south and north.

 At Navo we found three Clyde HG-3R locos, 10, 11 and 12, at change of shift. We think that number 14 is also based here but it was back at the mill following a misfortune with a side rod yesterday.
 There was time for the loco crew to get the navvies to carry out a modification to number 12.

Number 11 then headed in towards the mill with the last load from the south until crushing resumes.

We called in at the mill office but were told to come back after lunch. Number 22 had brought more cripples in to the mill and so a little shunting was going on.

Eventually we got permission to visit the loco shed and yard. Baldwin number 16 is still “under repair” just like last year.

Simplex 13 – the weighbridge shunter.

With no prospect of crushing before tonight, we headed north to Ba and found operations at Rarawai Mill in full swing. By the time we got there, it was raining and getting darker all the time. We saw Clyde 28 struggling up the full yard.

Clydes 6 and 10 and Baldwin 17 near the stabling point.

It was wet and increasingly dark so we headed back to Lautoka. On the way we came across this.




The weather forecast for tomorrow is for extensive heavy rain so it probably will not be much good for photography even if both mills are working.