Thursday, 9 November 2017

Last Train to Grafton

It's hard to believe that this is the 15th book I have released. I've always thought of myself as a writer who was taking a break from finishing his next novel to dabble in writing some railway articles and indulging in some model railroading. That was four years ago however, and Last Train to Grafton now becomes the 7th railway book I have released since 2013.

The second instalment in my Last Train series follows on from Last Train to Brisbane, only this time heading across the Brisbane Border Ranges and into the hills of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales. Once more there are 56 full colour pages of hauntingly beautiful photographs and accompanying poems, thick with nostalgia for both train buffs and those who just like to reflect on the good ol' days. The 8 x 10" premium colour book is again available in either hardback or softcover.

As for the cover? That's the original 1930 Glenapp signal hut that stands approximately 100 km south of Brisbane on the Sydney to Brisbane Interstate Line. The fact that the signal hut is still standing is a testament to the hard work of two terrific blokes that I'm honoured to have met. Rob and Dennis Sibson, more affectionately know as The Glenapp Boys, grew up alongside the railway line when their father Reg was stationed there between 1948 and 1960. Now retired on the Gold Coast, the brothers can be found camping alongside the signal hut on weekends, and tending to the former station's surrounds with ride-on-mowers and brush-cutters. To have sat in the sunshine with them on a Saturday morning while listening to their stories over a cuppa tea was a reminder that the Australia we once knew is still alive and well. Only these days you have to venture a little further off the beaten track to find it.

Some of the places featured in this book will be familiar to those who remember travelling aboard trains such as the Gold Coast Motorail along the now abandoned Murwillumbah Line, others like the mountain line to Dorrigo a little less-so. Or what about a little dot on the map situated north of Kyogle that is simply called The Risk? Thanks to Google Maps, the satellite imagery showed me that something was still standing alongside the mainline. Thanks also to Google Maps, I almost became bogged on what was supposed to be Risk Road. Talk about a road that lived up to its name! Heavy rain had reduced it to nothing more than a two-tyre cow track with deep ruts, flanked on either side by slippery wet grass with nowhere to turn around. It was hardly what my seventy-year-old parents had in mind when I asked them along for a nice drive through the country! Continuing over a single car lane wide timber planked bridge that also happened to be missing a plank, and through a corrugated iron road tunnel beneath the Sydney-Brisbane railway line, I soon found what I came to see. The 1930 steel water tower that is still standing where The Risk Station once belonged, became one of my favourite photos featured in this book. I'm glad that the photo will live on in this collection, because there's now way I will ever risk driving there again!

From ghostly railway relics, to lively railway stations that have since found a second purpose, Last Train to Grafton is a book I have been planning for the past decade. Taking a poetic romp across the Brisbane Border Ranges, through the hills of the Northern Rivers of New South Wales and onto the mountain town of Dorrigo, all in search of what remains of the towns and places where you could once board a train to Grafton.

After spending the past 6 months writing and producing this book, I am now left with only 6 weeks to research and gather all the information I can before flying to the other side of the country to write the next instalment in the Last Train series. Last Train to Perth will see me set off with my wife of 25 years Denise to explore the towns and places in the far south west corner of Western Australia where it was once possible to board a train to Perth. We'll be taking The Australind train from Perth to Bunbury before collecting a rental car to explore the far flung back roads and forgotten railway lines of this amazing part of the world. And just in case we encounter any roads similar to Risk Road, you can bet I've taken out extra insurance!


Available now through my Books page

See also; Last Train to Brisbane

Friday, 20 October 2017

Lineside Liaisons #16 Rotorua

Uniquely New Zealand rail adventures.

Across the ditch in the Land of the Long White Cloud, you'll find one New Zealand's most unique little rail adventures waiting for you just outside the city of Rotorua. When I visited Rotorua's Railcruising park in December 2013, I was treated by park manager Neil Oppatt to a rare ride along the rails on the yet-to-be-opened section of track down through Ngongotaha to Kawaha Point. Neil kindly took this posed photo for me crossing Kawaha Point Stream just outside of Rotorua which featured in my book 30 Years Chasing Trains.

Friday, 13 October 2017

Lineside Liaisons #15 Ardglen

Aurizon coal train banker locomotives at Ardglen.

The Liverpool Ranges north west of the Hunter Valley in NSW Australia, is a notoriously tough climb for loaded coal trains on their way to the port in Newcastle. From Chilcott's Creek both Pacific National and Aurizon attach a pair of 4,350 horsepower locomotives to the rear of an 86 car loaded coal train to help shove it up the range as far as Ardglen. Here, the two rear locos release their couplers from the still moving train, and roll to a stop before descending back to Chilcott's Creek once more. For big Australian railroad action, watching this procession of heavy trains grind their way up Ardglen bank is a helluva sight! In perfect morning light, I captured Aurizon locomotives 5042 and 5043 back in May 2016 as they quietly purred back down the range in my book 30 Years Chasing Trains.

Thursday, 5 October 2017

Lineside Liaisons #14 Muswellbrook

Chilly morning at Muswellbrook Railway Station.

Muswellbrook Railway Station in the Hunter Valley of NSW, Australia is not the place you want to find yourself standing at 5 am on a chilly winter's morning. But that's exactly where I found myself in May 2016 on a return trip from holidays. What makes this photo from my book 30 Years Chasing Trains special, is the fact that I managed to keep my arms from shaking long enough for the exposure to capture this rush of cold wind as another Hunter Valley coal train blasted by the platform on its way to the port of Newcastle.

Saturday, 30 September 2017

Lineside Liaisons #13 Quirindi

92 class on a coal train heading north under blue skies at Quirindi.

Moving on to some modern Australian diesels, and this shot of a C44aci Pacific National 92 class locomotive thundering through Quirindi Railway Station in the north west of New South Wales on an empty coal train, was sheer fluke rather than perfect timing. I visited Quirindi in May 2016 to photograph the historic railway station, and when the distant crossing bells sounded I knew something was headed my way. The resulting shot closed out my book 30 Years Chasing Trains, three decades to the week since I first picked up a camera as a 14 year old boy on a BMX bike to take my first train photo. 30 years later, and I have a 100 page full colour 8" x 10" book as a memento of my lifelong hobby.