ROLL 5. Ballarat, Hamilton, Maroona & Ararat. 3rd - 5th January 1966.

 

All photos © Les Brown. Not to be used for Publication.

 

5-1. K162. Ballarat. This was the first photograph of many taken on what became an annual summer school holiday pilgrimage. Armed with a 14-Day “All Lines Ticket”, a vast horde of school-age railway enthusiasts caught the next Monday after New Year trains from Spencer Street Station.

 

I came carrying little more than a timetable, sleeping bag, toothbrush, mum’s salad sandwiches and the Kodak Instamatic 50 I was given as a Bar mitzvah present. The 9:10 am to Dimboola was a particular favourite departure of mine because this led to where the wheat harvest was in full swing, where trains were in abundance, and steam engines were everywhere around you.

 

The ultimate mission was to go where the normal travelling public had never gone before, and on as many lines as possible within 14 days. It was a mission that was undertaken with the utmost seriousness; weeks of perusing the rail-fan’s bible, the “Working Time Table”, (or “W.T.T.” for those in the know), planning, interrogation of those recently in the area, saving up, and arranging travel indemnities should one unfortunately fail in one’s self appointed mission. If only our parents knew!! Asking our folks was something along the lines of; “Sign here mum, it’s just permission to travel on a goods train” – yeh, that plus help with the shunting, firing, and once, even the driving!  If Mrs. Brown ever found out what her little boy was up to….. She needn’t have worried too much because the railway staff generally kept a watchful eye out for me, and they always made sure I was safe – well, sort of.

 

By the time I had eaten the last of the warm, wilted, soggy sandwiches, washed all the ash, dirt and oil out of my hair and be permitted once again to sleep between clean sheets, after 14 days of railway nirvana, I was thoroughly exhausted.

 

 

5-2. K162. Ballarat. This locomotive had the honour of being the last in a few events over the decades. It was the engine for the last train between Yarram and Woodside on 25th May 1953 (For a shot of that event, click here), it was the last non-preserved, steam locomotive in regular service in Victoria. It was also the last in Australia working for a government railway. Finally retired at the North Ballarat Workshops in March 1979, this engine is now on static display at Yarragon in Victoria. For a picture, click here

 

5-3. K162. Ballarat.

 

5-4. J505. Ballarat.

 

5-5. R748. Ballarat. Seen here “Light Engine” on its way to Newport Workshops for repair, this loco had suffered motion gear failure near Lubeck whilst hauling No. 49 Pass to Horsham (“The Peanut”) 5 days previously. The R-Class were noted for losing wedge bolts in the big and little ends of the connecting rod, which often had dramatic results, especially if it happened at 120 km/h. Even 40 years later an event like this can still happen, as it did to R711 when hauling the regular steam passenger train to Warrnambool on 15 July 2000 with similar results to R748.

 

Driving this engine must have called for an experienced hand. Stopping it would have been easy enough, but getting it going again would have been quite a challenge.

 

5-6. Ballarat.

 

5-7. J541. Hamilton.

 

5-8. N430. Hamilton.

 

5-9. N430. Hamilton. The point rodding to the signal box can be seen in front of the engine. The signal box was taken out of service a few months later.

 

5-10. N476. Maroona.

 

5-11. N468 & N463. Ararat. The tender of N468 had derailed with all wheels off. N463 was helping its “brother” back on the rails. These were the two engines that kept me awake with their noisy shunting whilst I was trying to sleep in Ararat “A” Signal Box after an all night cab ride in an “S”-Class diesel engine whilst hauling “The Overland”. How I wish I could still be bothered by such incidences these days.

 

5-12. K174. Ararat.

 

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