ROLL 13. Korong Vale – Robinvale, 4th – 5th January 1967.
All photos © Les Brown. Not to be used for Publication.
13-1. J501. Boort. Not the usual thing to find automatic semaphore signalling outside Melbourne. Here was a rare example.
13-2. J501. Boort.
13-3. J501. Boort. Fellow gunzel, Doug Miles, gives the fireman a break by watering the engine (Doug also fired as well, so the fireman must’ve had a pretty easy time). Gunzels often delighted in doing this sort of thing so as to be able to tell their grandchildren about railway engines that spouted volumes of smoke and steam – as some of us are now doing.
13-4. J501. Boort. It wasn’t the biggest train we ever took, but it was one of the best.
13-5. J501 & T365. Boort.
13-6. J515 & J501. Quambatook. It was always fun crossing another steam hauled train.
13-7. J515 & J501. Quambatook.
13-8. K152. Robinvale. This locomotive was nicknamed “The Rammer” and sported ram’s horns under the headlight.
13-9. K152. Robinvale.
13-10. K152. Robinvale.
13-11. K152. Robinvale. The choice upon arrival on the railmotor was; “do we go back with K152 or do we explore Robinvale and go back on tomorrow’s railmotor service?” We decided to stay – bad choice.
13-12. 64RM. Annuello. The Rail Motor was not performing very well and by the time we reached Annuello, a few k's down the track from Robinvale, it had failed completely. And there we sat - for hours. If only we took K152 back to Bendigo!! Have you ever been to Annuello in the midst of a bad drought? Can you imagine how Melbourne once looked after the last ice age? It was worse than that. Much drier, much worser.
The countryside around there is dead flat. It's so flat that if someone digs a ditch around there, the locals gather around and marvel at the height of the spoil and argue about what to name it. Just to prove that modern man has made an impact on this ancient and desolately boring countryside, they stuck a wheat silo beside the line. From its top, you can see clear over to the next wheat silos further up and down the line. I also suspect it was built as a back up messaging service to send and read smoke signals should the telephones fail..
Before the passengers died of boredom (The VR in those days used to have a policy of not letting passengers die in their Rail Motors as it ruined the carefully fostered, traditional, musty smells that usually permeated the inside) they were rescued by bus for transport to Bendigo. But not us gunzels. We were not going to be bussed about like the common folk, no way! We were going to stick by 64RM to the bitter end - no matter what. We are railfans and we shall not be bussed! And so we waited offering sage-like advice to the driver on what to do (Q: Can you stick a steam engine on the front and take us back to Bendigo? A: Shut up, kid). Eventually, the highly trained and experienced Rail Motor driver tried a novel approach or, rather, he found one (“Ohh arrr, what's this here for then? I think I'll stick it there and see what 'appens. VVVRRRROOOOOOMMMMM!!!! Eureka! It's ALIVE! Praise be the great motor god! Huh, sticking relays, my foot").
We got going again after about 4 hours and, by now, the Rail Motor was merrily rolling down the line, mostly as a railfan special, to Bendigo since the common folk had given up waiting for it and used the road service.
It was an experience, if not fun, but it seems we were not clear of 64RM's clutches. We groaned as it rolled to a stop at Bendigo, Plat. 1, for our next journey. It had taken us to Sea Lake, Robinvale and now it was to take us to Cohuna. We deserted it there and, to our eternal shame, took the bus to Koondrook.