These videos were found on you-tube and make very interesting viewing. There is plenty of Garratt footage, and even some double Garratts. The original footage is available from www.rossrailvideo.com.au, and thanks to DuckPlmber69 who uploaded the footage to you-tube.
Thursday, June 18, 2009
GARRATT TO COOMA
By Graeme Stanley
Members of the ACT Division saw their dreams come true at dawn on 4th July last when 6029 reversed its train slowly into Canberra station amidst clouds of swirling steam. As they warmed themselves alongside the gleaming loco, sniffing once more that sweet combination of burning paint, hot oil and steam, members recalled the thousands of hours spent preparing the massive loco for its return to service. Only days beforehand it had made its first post restoration run under a brilliant orange sunset, an emotional moment for those fortunate to be present. 6029 was exactly what we needed to warm our hearts on such a cold cloudy day. In spite of the gloom, our passengers were all smiles as they gazed with pride at the shiny-black steam machine, sporting its home-made polished brass numbers and red and gold builder's plate.
On the footplate our enthusiastic crew prepared themselves for a long day on the track while our own volunteer fitters made last minute checks and adjustments. Back down the platform, passengers were finding their reserved seats in the newly painted cars (HFO 1111, BI 1127, BI 1175, CBI 1259 and HFO 1276) which had been the subject of much activity during the preceding months. Even HC X 632, our latest acquisition, which arrived from Goulburn only the previous afternoon, had been given a coat of oil to brighten up its faded and peeling paintwork. A few last minute interstate passengers were accommodated while spares, tools, first aid equipment, food and sales items were stored in the baggage compartments of the BCE and HFO 1276.
With a full passenger complement, but a mere 160 tonnes behind the drawbar, we departed 2' late at 0732 amidst dense clouds of steam, whistles, and garbled announcements over the stations p.a. system, with a good crowd of well-wishers on the platform to see us off. A kilometre down the track at Jerrabombera Creek we paused to pick up photographers before setting off in earnest for Queanbeyan where the locals were out in force despite the early hour and wintry weather.
While the Garrett's tanks were topped up and the run-around manoeuvre completed, two enterprising newspaper boys made a killing amidst the throng on the platform (selling last week's local rag which contained an article on the train). We eventually departed 10' down, only to stop at the south end of the yard for an impromptu photo run in a patch of brilliant sunshine. At that stage the chance of seeing more sunny weather seemed remote.
Track maintenance slowed our progress for a considerable distance in the vicinity of the former station of Letchworth, 5 km south of Queanbeyan, before we poured on the power for the 7 km climb to Tuggeranong, mainly on 2.5% grades. If you were near the front of the train and had your head out the window, chances were you got soaked as hundreds of litres of water gushed out of the rear tank under pressure from the front tank. The loss of this water was not viewed seriously at the time but if we had known what lay in store ahead, we might have been more concerned.
The views from the train were magnificent as we climbed the bank within sight of Canberra's newest suburbs. The sun broke through briefly as we stormed over the crest through the now unnamed platform at Tuggeranong and circled the picturesque Melrose Valley with views of the snow-covered Brindabella Ranges to the west.
At distance 341 km, slightly upgrade from the valley, we staged our first scheduled photo run from a high vantage point with the train set against a distant view of the Tuggeranong Valley and Mt. Taylor, a steamy shot to say the least: From there it was up and over the 2.50 grades to Royalla where we changed the staff and took the opportunity for a walk-forward photo.
Waterhole Creek, just south of Williamsdale, was the scene of our next photo, affording photographers the choice of a shot from the trackside or a side-on shot from under the gum trees in the paddocks, all in brilliant sunshine. By this time we had attracted a large following of cars and even a light plane which swooped low alongside the train much to the enjoyment of our younger passengers.
As we came down the 20 grade into Michelago, some 14' late, we noted the Tinderry Ranges under a light cover of snow to the east. Safeworking formalities at Michelago took 6' and we resumed the journey south to distance 382 km where we held another pleasing photo run in inaccessable hill country with wooded valleys and mountains as a backdrop.
Continuing south over "roller-coaster" terrain, we tackled the bank to Colinton Tunnel with views of the Murrumbidgee River from the train. Apparently in years gone by it was common for the Down Cooma Mail to set down trout fishermen at this point and collect them on the Up journey on the evening of the same day. At Colinton Tunnel the fans climbed to the top of the tunnel mouth for a magnificent elevated view of the train working at full cry up the 2.5% before coasting through to the other side.
Photographers then scrambled over the top of the tunnel to rejoin the train, but not so one unfortunate Sydney visitor who fell and twisted his leg and had to be carried back to the train by stretcher party. While our wounded passenger was being retrieved, our mechanical team worked to clear sediment from the injector filter. Although the Garratt's water tanks had been given "the treatment" from the inside during restoration, it appears that more attention will be necessary before the next trip.
Our next port of call was Bredbo at 1132 (21' late) where we left our injured passenger in the care of attendants to await the arrival of ambulance transport to Cooma Hospital. Departure from Bredbo was 27' late necessitating cancellation of a planned photo stop at the Bredbo River bridge. However, it wasn't long before we came to a stand yet again. The water level in the tanks was dangerously low and the sediment had to be cleared from the injector filter twice more before we pulled up at Bunyan level crossing only 8 km short of Cooma, our water supplies exhausted. If only we hadn't lost all that water on the Tuggeranong Bank: With 6 km of up-grade still ahead of us we had no choice but to make a hurried phonecall from a nearby house to the Cooma Volunteer Fire Brigade on stand-by at Cooma station. After what seemed like an eternity, the fire truck arrived but its 700 gallon capacity was by no means sufficient to slake the thirst of our dehydrated loco. A second tankful courtesy of a local property-owner enabled us to complete our journey to Cooma where a large welcoming party, including State M.P. John Akister, waited to view the largest loco ever to visit the town. Because of the urgent need for water, the train passed through the platform without stopping and pulled up alongside the standpipe in the cutting south of the station. Despite the simultaneous use of the standpipe and a hydrant, it was nearly 2 hours before the tanks were replenished . We later learned that Cooma's water pressure is reduced by half at weekends - previous tests on a weekday had indicated that one hour would have been ample to complete the job...
During our extended stay at Cooma, the injector filter received further attention and ladies of the local Legacy Club provided excellent fare for the lunchtime needs of our passengers. As an unexpected bonus, a light fall of snow set the scene for our departure almost 2.5 hours late
Accompanied by a huge motorcade, we headed for home running bunker first. At Snowy Junction we paused to set down a good few local residents who came with us for a short ride. From there on, however, the only stops were for safeworking as with such a large timetable deficit and the coal bunker less than half full, photo stops on the return run were totally out of the question. Elimination of the 4 planned photo stops combined with time-savings in running and safeworking, cut our timetable arrears by half. With the experience of the forward journey, our crew concentrated their efforts on maximum fuel and water economy resulting in a healthy surplus of both commodities at the end of the trip.Although it was nearly dark when we paused to exchange the staff at Michelago, there was no shortage of spectators on the platform. Apparently hundreds of people had driven south from Canberra during the afternoon to await the return of the train, and although most had given up and gone home by the time we arrived, good crowds still awaited us at stations along the route.
Descending the Tuggeranonag Bank our attention was drawn to the fireworks exploding over Canberra in honour of the United States Bicentenary. Despite our 112 hour late arrival at Queanbeyan at 1835, 50 people had waited to buy tickets for the short ride into Canberra, the final section being completed to the accompaniment of much whistle-blowing.
As in effect, a proving run, the outing was an unqualified success. Some problems were expected but those which arose were not of a serious nature (the trouble-free return run proved that). The experience gained will greatly benefit our future operations and give us a far greater understanding of what we are up against. We are now looking forward to the anticipated commencement of tourist operations in October next.
In conclusion we would like to acknowledge our debt of gratitude to the many people who helped to bring our hopes to fruition. Included are the officers of the PTC and ANR who helped in so many ways. On the local scene we owe a great deal to the District Superintendents and staff at Canberra and Goulburn, the DLE and fitters at Goulburn, the local train crews who gave us such a great day and the President of the AFULE, Goulburn Division.
Thanks also to those members and friends who supported the tour by coming from as far afield as Sydney, Alb ury and Melbourne to join us, but perhaps the people most deserving of our appreciation are the members who devoted so much of their own time and energy, preparing the locomotive and rolling stock for its tour debut, organising the outing and attending to the needs of passengers on the day.
We look forward to many more trips like this one and the ACT Division takes this opportunity to invite readers of "Railway Digest" to join us on the next occasion when
STEAM'S BACK IN THE ACT.
This article was originally printed in the Australian Railway Historical Societies New South Wales Digest, Vol 14, No 7 in September 1976. It is reproduced here with the kind permission of the author, Graham Stanley and the editor of the Railway Digest, ARHS NSW Division.
Photos by Leon Oberg, as originally published in the railway digest.