ROLL 47. S.K.A.R.E. Excursion to Patchewollock, 8-10th June 1968. Flinders St. Station, 16th June 1968.


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



47-1. S308. Ballarat.



47-2. J525. Murtoa.



47-3. J525. Murtoa. For a personal account of working trains in this area by Howard Franks, click here.



47-4. 58RM & J525. Murtoa. The three major stations of Murtoa, Horsham and Dimboola on the line to the South Australian border, were distinguished by having rather tall, wooden signal boxes on the platform. Towards the end of their life, these signal boxes developed alarming leans, that threatened to squash anyone unfortunate enough to seek shelter from the strong winds that rolled in across these stations from the surrounding bowling-green flat wheat fields.



47-5. 58RM. Warracknabeal.



47-6. 58RM. Warracknabeal.



47-7. Y133. Hopetoun.



47-8. Hopetoun.



47-9. Patchewollock. A town of about 400, in the splendid isolation of huge, flat Wimmera wheat fields. Why did we go there? Because we wanted to say we had been, and to biro in a blue line on the Victorian Railways map that indicated lines we had travelled. What other reason on earth could there be? We arrived at about 7:30 pm Saturday and departed at 11:28 pm Sunday. The local wildlife consisted of rabbits and the town yobbos that proliferate in the Wimmera and delight in tormenting, if not transients such as us then each other. Such is the entertainment of these lonely small towns. This town, however, did once have a moment of fame when it featured in a Victoria Bitter beer T.V. commercial in the late 1960’s complete with steam-hauled goods train. The commercial forever afterwards reminded me of a documentary on the dietary intake of small Wimmera town residents - beer and rabbits.



47-10. Y133. Patchewollock. The darkness was as impenetrable to my flash, as the spread of civilisation. It was one of the last towns in Victoria to be connected to the State’s electricity grid.



47-11. Patchewollock. S.K.A.R.E. or Steam Klub (sic) And Railway Enthusiasts was started up by a bunch of teenage rail-fans frustrated at the lack of involvement in the running of excursions by younger bloods. This was our first (and last) excursion and we chose Patchewollock because few of us had been there and we could do it over a long weekend. We organised with the Railways to have attached to the regular goods to Patchewollock, a Victorian and South Australian Railways Joint Rolling Stock First Class sleeper coach. One of us, Andrew Cook, even printed our own tickets.



47-12. Patchewollock. To mark the occasion and the joy we felt at our impending departure from Patchewollock, we glued letters to the back of the Z-van that said: “Patchewollock Mixed, June 1968”. That’s a young Lance Adams, now a senior driver with Metro Trains Melbourne and a driving instructor with Puffing Billy, caught in the act. We spotted the sign on the Z-van for quite a few months afterwards in our travels around the state.



47-13. Y133. Minyip.



47-14. Near Minyip.



47-15. S312 & S304. Murtoa.



47-16. S304 & S312. Ararat. S304 is being detached here.



47-17. Flinders Street Station. This view, as well as the next two, is now impossible to see since Federation Square has been built on this site and the area roofed over.



47-18. Flinders Street Station. From the moment the twin office towers above Princess Bridge Station were completed, I had an intense disliking for them. In this picture, the West Tower is shown shortly after completion. Their demolition and the construction of Federation Square marked a vast improvement to the appearance of Melbourne’s skyline.



47-19. Flinders Street Station. I must admit, Melbourne’s appearance has also vastly improved since most of the area that you see here has been bridged over by Federation Square.