Thursday, May 14, 2009

Black mountain NSW, part 2

It's been about twelve months since Darren and I headed south on tour through NSW. Darren had been invited to display his layout 'MORE' at Inverell, as part of the model railway exhibition hosted by the New England Model Railway Club. We'd spent at least the previous twelve months nutting out just where we'd like to venture off to, and the list just kept getting larger. Our aim was to visit areas that had rail infrastructure still intact even thought the line may have been disused for some time.
We were and still are acutely aware that the rail system is quickly being erased from the communities collective memory. Many lines are closed, most are not anything like what they were when at their peak, and more concerningly the people who worked on them directly are becoming few and far between. So the need to record what is there still is really becoming a 'last chance' effort.
Both Darren and I have the most understanding of wives, for them to even consider us going on a week long jaunt and leaving all the family stuff for them to deal with. Actually I think that Helen said that I was the one giving her the 'break', I'm not really sure what she means with that comment. Anyway after the Inverell show, we left the trailer at a friends place in Glen Innes before heading further south.
Darren and I both had suggestions of places we'd like to visit that included, Guyra, Werris Creek, Binnaway, Merrygoen, Molong, Canowindra, Bathurst, Merriwa, and many more along the way. Now with our list of stops, our plan was basically to take as long as we needed at each location to record with cameras and comments to each other or chats with some locals if the opportunity arose before moving on.
Heading south from Glen Innes our first place to stop was Glencoe, then Ben Lomond, Llangothlin, then Guyra. Guyra had a fair bit to see with Goods shed with goods crane, station, and some extensive fettler sheds. South of Guyra our next stop was to be Black Mountain, just off the main highway on Black Mountain Road, we came upon a strange sight a NSW guards van on blocks in a backyard. Of course we had to take a photo so up on top of the 'troopy' and a couple of photos later we thought we were done, till the owner came out, with movie camera in hand. Yep one of the pre digital cameras using probably Beta tape by the look of it. He was 'renting' the house and I use the term house and renting very loosely. The van had been placed there by the owner, and the current resident had converted one end to a guitar making workshop. An interesting fellow, very keen to show us his planting of food trees and vegetables, we thanked him for the welcome and his hospitality and moved on to Black Mountain.
We drove down the road over a hill top and down the back to be met by the rail line. On our left before the crossing was the station masters residence, then over the line to our left was the station building, lamp room and signal. To our right was the goods area with two loading banks and a well in between the sidings. we found what appeared to be the footings of a goods shed and rail rack. The line was cut into the hillside and followed a gentle curve, so that if you were at the station the goods area could not be seen. The loading banks were different to any we'd seen so far. The long loading bank on the high side of the line was constructed in two completely different methods. The far end was faced with 12"x12" timber posts and 12' timber behind. The end of the bank closer to the station was of the cement type. The top of the whole bank had the standard rail front with cement then a rail on the back as the edge to stop vehicles from going over the top. South of the loading bank was the well, then the rail rack and goods shed area. Opposite the goods area was the second loading bank, a simple timber structure.
What struck me at this stop was the simplicity of the structures, a real 'bare bones' feeling about it. This was reinforced by the ash ballast that was used in this whole area. This feeling was in complete contrast to the ballasted deck trestles, and the brick faced culverts and built up earthworks seen on the line to the north.
From here we headed further south to Dumaresq, but that will have to wait to another time.

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