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


Friday, August 31, 2012

Friday 31 August 2012 Normal service resumed

We hired a little four-wheel drive and had no transport problems today.

This helped to make for a good day. It was helped by: a ride in a linecar

Learning how the gang in the Labasa “railcar” get to work

Catching a train on the Labasa River bridge

Seeing an ox team used for hauling trucks

Getting the reflection shot (that’s why there’s no photo of oxen hauling trucks!)

Getting the ploughing shot

Noting the wonderful Vanua Levu scenery

Getting the loco by the sea shot

And visiting one of the top 2ft gauge locations in the world– Nasealevu

Tomorrow we have a last half day here before heading back to Viti Levu.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thursday 30 August 2012 “It’s only a minor problem”

I spoke too soon. More of that later.

We started off having a look at the Waiqele branch before going to the mill offices. We soon came across Clyde number 20 delivering empties with an all too common problem. The line was blocked because a loaded cane truck had overbalanced .


At the Waiqele Sector Depot we found railcar number 2 ready to go “just as soon as the line has been cleared”. It had been summoned to do a job east of the mill. From what we observed most of the working day must have gone by the time it got there.


We visited the office and were advised to come back later so we then followed a train down the Batinikama branch near the mill, hauled by Clyde number 8, also delivering empties. Guess what? Two capsized trucks blocking the way where they had been “left by the night shift”. We witnessed a demonstration of how to remove a wayward truck from the track to clear the line.

We also witnessed a proud farmer showing off his beasts.

After clearing the line, number 8 went on to the terminus where it demonstrated how to shunt the trucks off the line where there is no tractor to help you.

After that back to the mill where we met the Chief Engineer and were shown around the loco shed by foreman David Simmons. His great grandfather had worked on the locos when the mill opened.

Not David but one of his offsiders


Most of the derelict locos have been scrapped. I’m not sure why they have kept this.

We then headed east to see more action and on approaching a siding with two locomotives, the car expired on a small bridge. We had to push it off the bridge and call the rental company. I wiled away the hours by walking up to Vuo Cutting, "Kanaka Cutting" which has been widened in recent years.


On arrival of the rescue party we were told, “Don’t worry; it’s only a minor problem” and after some lengthy period were persuaded to go for a siesta while it was fixed. At 4pm we had a walk down to the mill where we found that the weighbridge shunter, Baldwin number 5 had failed.
By 7.30pm we managed to establish that the car would not be ready for tomorrow so we hired another vehicle for the day from a rival compay.

Should I wish for better luck tomorrow?


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Wednesday August 29 2012 Tyre problems on Vanua Levu

We found the second Ontrak rebuild in the mill yard – this a rebuild of one of the mill’s Baldwins. together with Clyde number 20.

 Out on the line east we found two trains heading towards the mill combining their rakes so one, Clyde number 9, could proceed to the mill and the other, number 11, head out again.

Huw with keen observers

There were some truck derailment issues that had to be attended to.

The track runs close to the coastline at many places.

The train going out to the eastern extremity of the line at Nubu was eventually intercepted in the Wainikoro Sector Office and success was obtained to gaining approval for a cab ride for Huw. I was to head around by road and meet him.
Departing shot Wainikoro Sector Office

It was then that I shredded the first tyre. Dirt roads with jagged stones. No problem. I put on the spare.
After a lengthy delay, Huw’s train arrived at Lagalaga and the farmers demonstrated the standard cross country haulage of the empties. The train continued over the last leg to Nubu, over a range of some proportions.
Tractor shunting at Lagalaga

Coming down the hill to Nubu

Departing from Nubu

After meeting him at Nubu, Huw shredded the second tyre. Fortunately we had a mobile phone signal and the car hire fellow had to come out from Labasa with two fresh tyres. We waited about an hour and a half while all this took place. No photos of shredded tyres unfortunately.

Crossing a tidal creek at Lagalaga

Let’s hope that tomorrow brings better luck with tyres.













Tuesday August 28 2012 Bula! Welcome to Fiji

It was a tiring flight to get to Nadi overnight and then a wait of 6 hours to get on another plane to Vanua Levu. We didn’t even see a cane train outside Nadi Airport but the Fowler is still at the Raffles Gateway Hotel. Aptly named – it is opposite the airport’s front gate.

The short fight to Labasa is a scenic one.

We finally arrived at Labasa to pick up our hire car. On arrival at the mill we were greeted by the track repair gang that works in the mill yard. They can’t go too far as their “railcar” is unpowered.

 The first loco we saw was one of the ex-Proserpine Mill Clydes that was rebuilt by Ontrak in Sydney.


 Out on the line east we found Baldwin 12 and Clyde 20.


Heading for the mountains