Location: Manning Valley
Date: July 2010

July 7, 2010. July already. Anyway, steam loco 3237 made a return to Taree today and I got myself a ticket to ride. It was a trip to Wingham, about 10 minutes away as the loco flies. We went forwards on the way there, and then got pulled back by diesel... there are sidings available but no turntable and no way of turning a train around. No worries.

While we waited for the steam loco to dock at the station, an XPT arrived... which provides the regular passenger service up and down the coast and elsewhere. So I took advantage of that to take a few pics. Actually, as I drove to the station, I had to stop at the nearby level crossing to let the steam loco pass from its earlier trip, so I got a few pics of that as well. Then, while the steam loco waited to depart from Taree station, we had to wait for a goods train to pass... more pics!

The carriages were different to the ones I'd ridden back in 2003 on my last steam trip. This time, the carriages were compartmentalized, with cubicles seating 6 people, 3 facing each other. The interiors were dark so there wasn't much point in taking pics of that. But I did get a few pics of the interiors.

(Wikipedia) 3237 was built in the United Kingdom by Beyer Peacock & Co and came into service in Australia on the 26th of February, 1893. the Loco was originally numbered P 508 but became 3237 in the NSWGR (New South Wales Government Railways) 1924 renumbering scheme. The loco worked mainline runs around NSW, while its orginal use was as a passenger express locomotive, it was also used for light freight. For the last part of its working career 3237 was based at Cowra's locomotive depot. The loco was withdrawn in November 1971.

The loco was dismantled during the 1980s for a lengthy overhaul which included a new front tube-plate. The overhaul was completed with 3237's return to steam in mid-2005. 3237 is currently stored at Eveleigh Workshops, Redfern (Sydney) for occasional mainline use with LVR and 3801 Limited.

The scene was bedlam for a photographer. People were milling everywhere, obsessed with getting a decent picture... including me. Eventually, I took the lead from a little kid who stood on a platform bench, which is not all that easy for a bloke my age, but I managed to remain upright with some difficulty. During the trip, I remembered what my parents had said about steam travel - cinders and ash from the smoke stack - so I was careful. One bloke (pic 58) leaned out and got an eyeful of cinder which he spent the rest of the trip trying to remove. He was in serious discomfort, poor bugger. 

I asked permission to take a pic of two little kids from their mother and got lucky... the pics (77 and 78) turned out better than I thought they would. It was all a bit hectic and I just kept pressing the shutter button hoping for the best. Yes, it was a worthwhile experience, and quite enjoyable, but when a steam loco comes to town, the people go crazy... and that's one of the things up with which you just gotta put! Check out the photo album here.


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