Visiting New South Wales (Late May-June, 2019)

 
  NorthWest Locomotive Fireman

Hello,
I'm planning a visit from the States to Australia in May and June, and am trying to figure out how to maximize my railfanning time. From my research, it looks like the best/most popular spots are:

-The Maitland area in the Hunter Valley

-The South Sydney Freight Line in Leightonfield and surrounds,

-Meadowbank and nearby stations on the Main North

-The Picton-Moss Vale Area

-Some spots in on the Main South in rural NSW (Cullerin, Junee, Cootamandura, the Bethungra Spiral, etc).

Any other places or suggestions? I'd like to catch as much as I can. I won't have a car, but I'm hoping to make it to as many spots as is practical. Is there a good spot in the Blue Mountains that isn't too treed in?

Is 4497 still out on the Qube Harefield Shuttle, and where's the best place to get it if so? I'd really love to get a bunch of Alcos; there aren't that many around here!

Thanks for any insights!

Sponsored advertisement

  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

Hello,
I'm planning a visit from the States to Australia in May and June, and am trying to figure out how to maximize my railfanning time.
I'd like to catch as much as I can. I won't have a car, but I'm hoping to make it to as many spots as is practical.
NorthWest
If you won’t have a car, how are you hoping to get to your locations?

eg Cullerin and Bethungra Spiral are ONLY accessible by car – there is no public transport nearby.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Hello,
I'm planning a visit from the States to Australia in May and June, and am trying to figure out how to maximize my railfanning time.
I'd like to catch as much as I can. I won't have a car, but I'm hoping to make it to as many spots as is practical.
If you won’t have a car, how are you hoping to get to your locations?

eg Cullerin and Bethungra Spiral are ONLY accessible by car – there is no public transport nearby.
NSWRcars

It's about 18 miles from Cootamundra to Bethungra, and no bus service. Perhaps a bike from Cootamundra...but the nights are frosty and clear.
There appears to be a nice old pub at Bethungra and I've seen it from the train.

The Melbourne XPT will stop at Gunning on request...6 miles from Cullerin, however though the railway there would be good for images, Cullerin exists of three farm houses only.

Mike.
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

It's about 18 miles from Cootamundra to Bethungra, and no bus service.
The Vinelander
Much the same could be said for many rural NSW locations. For those areas the only viable option may be to have a local contact drive you around.

If you are travelling independently then Maitland area is doable, as would be Sydney area locations.

I don’t wish to discourage you, but if you are hoping to “get a bunch of Alcos” you may be disappointed, and once again I would suggest seeking the help of a local contact to guide you.
  a6et Minister for Railways

I live in the Maitland area, and much will depend on the day you come, by June there will be less light and getting favourable spots with the sun in the right direction can be an issue.  Mostly you will see coal trains, with Loco's that all look basically the same, and primarily in 3 different colours and company ownerships.  The can be some interstate freight, also some other traffic such as containerised ore traffic, but that train runs on odd days.

2 car suburban trains run every 30 minutes in the off peak day hours, and one skips some stations while the other one is all stations from Maitland to Wickham.  You could use these trains to go to a different station and photo from there, many stations are near bridges in easy walking distances.
  Travelling Hooker Locomotive Fireman

Location: Follows the weather up and down the coast
Decent sized towns like Bowral (with good public transport links to Sydney and lots of accommodation) are good spots to see a wide variety of traffic.

Tarana pub is a great little country pub next to the Central West line where you can stay, eat and drink and watch the trains passing by. It’s a pretty part of the world.

Brooklyn up on the Hawkesbury for lots of main north traffic - easy access to Sydney.
  neillfarmer Chief Train Controller

As far as I know the 44 class have been replaced on the Harefield shuttle for a few months now. I think a return is unlikely because when it was there it seemed to be trailing loco only.
Traffic on the Western Line beyond Lithgow and the main South beyond Tallong can be sparse and I would not go there 'on spec', it could be a long wait between trains.
For heavy traffic the coal lines west from Sandgate out to Maitland offer the greatest concentration of trains, albeit many are very similar but the frequency matches the UP east of North Platte back in the coal boom years. There is a reasonable local passenger service to all stations along this stretch and it is possible to hop along stopping at all stations for variety. You will require a prepaid smart card for this which I think can be obtained at any Station.
The ARTC publish freight timetables that can be down loaded and these are reasonably accurate although trains long into their journeys may be well off the schedule.
The hotel at Bethungra was a high priced B&B which was up for sale the last time I was there.
There are a few other 'tricks of the trade' that rail photographers living closer to the action know, hopefully you may be able to correspond with one of these for more immediate information.
You will find station staff are generally helpful if you just let them know what you are doing. Otherwise suspicious movements may bring a visit from officialdom (potential suicides, terrorists etc).
Hope this helps.
  NorthWest Locomotive Fireman

Thanks, all.

I'm well aware that most of the Main South shots are probably impractical for this trip, and there's a good chance I won't get  west of Moss Vale at all. Just trying to get a good overview of what's out there so I can make informed decisions on where to devote scarce resources. I'm going to try to nail down a good calendar pretty quickly so I can be more specific.

Unfortunately, it seems what Alcos are left tend to run out where I'm unlikely to see them, but anything is different from what I usually catch here. I'd love to meet up with locals if schedules align.

Thanks again.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
I'm with Travelling Hooker...well metaphorically speaking only.. Smile

Tarana is a great spot to do some filming with the mountain backdrop, the ubiquitous NSWR curves and it's a delightful place to stay at the pub. A real spot of Australiana.

Tarana is also on the western line, just hop off the train at Tarana after a chat with the conductor.

Agree also with Brooklyn...just alight at Hawkesbury River.

Mike.
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller

Tarana may be a nice spot, but in daylight hours during May or June you could count the trains on one hand, even if you are missing a finger or two.
  LesS Train Controller

Location: Behind the Camera
Here are some easily accessible places when dependent on public transport.

Newcastle - Maitland. The best locations are at Beresfield station; from the platforms and overbridges. The coal trains can look repetitive but it is amazing the variations when both locomotive and wagons are almost black. There will be occasional interstate freights. A second location is East Maitland. At that time of the year it is best before noon. A third location is Maitland station.

Along the Central Coast line between Sydney and Newcastle. There are various places of mixed quality. Wyee, Fassifern, Teralba are generally good.

The South Coast line around Dapto or Shellharbour can be very rewarding.

There is little if any traffic during the day west of Lithgow. It is the same on the south. Tallong would be the limit on the south but there are very few train services through the area during daylight.

Long distance places like Cullerin & Bethungra are not possible without a car. The same applies to the North West.

I will be unable to provide much help at the time of your visit as I will be travelling in the US.
  a6et Minister for Railways

Here are some easily accessible places when dependent on public transport.

Newcastle - Maitland. The best locations are at Beresfield station; from the platforms and overbridges. The coal trains can look repetitive but it is amazing the variations when both locomotive and wagons are almost black. There will be occasional interstate freights. A second location is East Maitland. At that time of the year it is best before noon. A third location is Maitland station.

Along the Central Coast line between Sydney and Newcastle. There are various places of mixed quality. Wyee, Fassifern, Teralba are generally good.

The South Coast line around Dapto or Shellharbour can be very rewarding.

There is little if any traffic during the day west of Lithgow. It is the same on the south. Tallong would be the limit on the south but there are very few train services through the area during daylight.

Long distance places like Cullerin & Bethungra are not possible without a car. The same applies to the North West.

I will be unable to provide much help at the time of your visit as I will be travelling in the US.
LesS
There's other spots that can be rewarding with a bit of walking.  I would start at Sandgate, in the morning as it has the line to Kooragaong, up & down Mains, up and Down Coal Roads, and the Crawfords siding, the Botany train departs in the AM as well as they often have CFCL loco's on hire for shunting the place.

Next I would certainly go to Bersfield but as its all basically straight lines there, I would then head to East Maitland Station, walk to the road overbridge on Pinacree Road, has nice backgrounds with the turf flats.  Getting off at High St you get a nice look of Maitland Station in the background.

Thing our American mate needs to know and understand is that the vast majority of our railway lines are very much fenced off and going inside them is not on as you could be pulled up by police and trespassing.  Its very much a no no,
  NorthWest Locomotive Fireman

The planning is new done, and the trip is coming up soon. Thanks, all, for the advice.

I have just a couple of questions, mainly related to train count.

How busy are things on the North Coast Line between Hornsby and Newcastle, and on the Main South between Picton and Moss Vale? How many trains run in daylight over the Blue Mountains?

How often (if at all) do freights run to the quarry at Bombo?

Lastly, does anyone know if this Wondabyne/Brisbane Water shot is still accessible?
https://www.railpictures.net/photoexif/424454/

Thanks.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

I'm with Travelling Hooker...well metaphorically speaking only.. Smile

Tarana is a great spot to do some filming with the mountain backdrop, the ubiquitous NSWR curves and it's a delightful place to stay at the pub. A real spot of Australiana.

Tarana is also on the western line, just hop off the train at Tarana after a chat with the conductor.

Agree also with Brooklyn...just alight at Hawkesbury River.

Mike.
The Vinelander

I don't know where you got your information from vinelander but there is no train that stops at Tarana. The bullet doesn't stop there and from what I understand neither does the western XPT / Xplorer service. If you want to go to Tarana you are going to need someone to drive you there. The pub is nice and has great food.
  NSWRcars Chief Train Controller


I don't know where you got your information from vinelander but there is no train that stops at Tarana.
simstrain
Wrong, Sims. Rydal and Tarana have always been on-request stops for the XPT, and can be booked online.

Regarding Blue Mountains trains, apart from hourly V-set services, there are very few other trains in daylight hours. On a typical day, one westbound XPT (morning), perhaps one freight during the day, and 1 or 2 coal trains. Wednesdays you have the Indian Pacific each way, and on Monday mornings there’s the Broken Hill XPL. Most other traffic is at night.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

In any case I still wouldn't rely on using a train to get you to Tarana since even if you did take the XPT you would be stuck there for probably 8 hours or so until the XPT is on the way back from Dubbo to Sydney.
  ANR Assistant Commissioner

In any case I still wouldn't rely on using a train to get you to Tarana since even if you did take the XPT you would be stuck there for probably 8 hours or so until the XPT is on the way back from Dubbo to Sydney.
simstrain

Some of us would love to be stuck in Tarana or Rydal for 8 hours.... I can think of worse places...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kX-bHcph7o
  bingley hall Minister for Railways

Location: Last train to Skaville
The planning is new done, and the trip is coming up soon. Thanks, all, for the advice.

I have just a couple of questions, mainly related to train count.

How busy are things on the North Coast Line between Hornsby and Newcastle, and on the Main South between Picton and Moss Vale? How many trains run in daylight over the Blue Mountains?

How often (if at all) do freights run to the quarry at Bombo?

Lastly, does anyone know if this Wondabyne/Brisbane Water shot is still accessible?
https://www.railpictures.net/photoexif/424454/

Thanks.
NorthWest
Hornsby to Newcastle sees a reasonable number of freights in the off-peak (say after 0830), but of course then can be long waits inbetween. If you can get a short distance beyond Newcastle as suggested earlier to somewhere like Maitland, you'll have freights (mainly coal) coming at you at suburban train frequencies.

Same applies for Picton to Moss Vale, probably with one or two more freights, but fewer passenger services.

Bombo quarry no longer used.

No idea about the Wondabyne pic, other than to say tree growth probably makes it harder now.
  wobert Chief Commissioner

Location: Half way between Propodolla and Kinimakatka
I'm with Travelling Hooker...well metaphorically speaking only.. Smile
The Vinelander
Cripes that made me laugh
  LesS Train Controller

Location: Behind the Camera
The biggest mistake visitors make is to underestimate the distances involved in this country.

The Central Coast line (Sydney-Newcastle) is the busiest in the country. I travelled up to Maitland & back today. Between 10 & 11am we passed 4 southbound freight trains; that was in addition to the half hourly passenger services in each direction. For photographs Wyee station is good most of the day although there are no services nearby; otherwise Hawkesbury River or Fassifern in the afternoon for southbound trains. For just observing, Wyong station and surrounding area is as good as anywhere otherwise Hawkesbury River.

For the coal traffic go to any of Beresfield, Victoria St., East Maitland, Maitland stations. There are overbridges easily accessible.

On the South, Bowral station is the best. Most lineside locations present their own difficulties. The Rail Museum at Thirlmere is worth a visit. Access by public transport on weekdays is possible but we will need to give you directions.

All of the above are easily available by train.

The Wondabyne location is available. I would not attempt to access it myself. It means climbing a steep hill, several hundred feet at least and through very rough vegetation.

Other areas are difficult on public transport if at all and many lines have few trains in daylight hours.

Enjoy your visit.
  a6et Minister for Railways

The biggest mistake visitors make is to underestimate the distances involved in this country.

The Central Coast line (Sydney-Newcastle) is the busiest in the country. I travelled up to Maitland & back today. Between 10 & 11am we passed 4 southbound freight trains; that was in addition to the half hourly passenger services in each direction. For photographs Wyee station is good most of the day although there are no services nearby; otherwise Hawkesbury River or Fassifern in the afternoon for southbound trains. For just observing, Wyong station and surrounding area is as good as anywhere otherwise Hawkesbury River.

For the coal traffic go to any of Beresfield, Victoria St., East Maitland, Maitland stations. There are overbridges easily accessible.

On the South, Bowral station is the best. Most lineside locations present their own difficulties. The Rail Museum at Thirlmere is worth a visit. Access by public transport on weekdays is possible but we will need to give you directions.

All of the above are easily available by train.

The Wondabyne location is available. I would not attempt to access it myself. It means climbing a steep hill, several hundred feet at least and through very rough vegetation.

Other areas are difficult on public transport if at all and many lines have few trains in daylight hours.

Enjoy your visit.
LesS
There are new Commuter TT's introduced a short while ago, so would be a need to get hold of one of them, if they resemble anything like the older ones, there was only an hourly service between 1000 & 1500 weekdays between Wickham and Sydney, Trains still run to & from Wyong at half hourly intervals to and from there, at approx, 1/2 way between the Wickham trains.

As for accessibility for that high photo, the only way it could be accessible these days is one would need to be physically fit, and likely need to be a good climber and confident that they can climb to the height in order to capture the photo. One would also need to be aware that Phone reception is not that reliable in that area either.

Depending on what you want to get photo's of, I would suggest if you can afford a drone with quality photo capture capabilities, most these days come with fairly good quality  image capturing, and could be worth thinking of.  You could sit at the station and have a reasonable view looking towards Sydney of trains coming from that end, a more limited view of trains heading to Sydney though.
  NorthWest Locomotive Fireman

Thanks, all. I'm definitely spending a day in the Hunter Valley. There are days though where the 3+ hour trip from Sydney isn't feasible. For these, I'm looking at closer locations. I understand that the Wondabyne shot isn't something to attempt alone. Just wanted to see if it was feasible at this point (tree growth can cover up stuff pretty quickly; there's apparently now a bush blocking some of the curve at Koolewong but I'm probably going to shoot there anyway).

Best guess is I'm not headed west of Katoomba on the Main West. I am likely to try the Glenbrook Gorge shot and that's easier with more traffic. Just have to go out there and hope. (Am used to hiking several KM for shots.)

I will also be making it to the Thirlemere museum. There's only very sporadic bus service which makes it rather difficult to get there, though. I wonder if they'd see more people if they ran a dedicated shuttle from Picton or Tahmoor. It's a long walk or pricy taxi fare, apparently.

Thanks.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

In any case I still wouldn't rely on using a train to get you to Tarana since even if you did take the XPT you would be stuck there for probably 8 hours or so until the XPT is on the way back from Dubbo to Sydney.

Some of us would love to be stuck in Tarana or Rydal for 8 hours.... I can think of worse places...



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kX-bHcph7o
ANR

No doubt they are pretty little villages but I still don't want to be stuck at either place for 8 hours. I have been to them a couple of times with some friends but definitely not staying there for 8 hours with nothing to do.
  simstrain Chief Commissioner

Don't need a timetable. Just look at anytrip or apps like tripview to get train times. Also take a few battery banks for recharging phones and if you have a dslr make sure it is full charged overnight. Also we have 240v and not 115 like the US.
  Bevan Wall Deputy Commissioner

The planning is new done, and the trip is coming up soon. Thanks, all, for the advice.

I have just a couple of questions, mainly related to train count.

How busy are things on the North Coast Line between Hornsby and Newcastle, and on the Main South between Picton and Moss Vale? How many trains run in daylight over the Blue Mountains?

How often (if at all) do freights run to the quarry at Bombo?

Lastly, does anyone know if this Wondabyne/Brisbane Water shot is still accessible?
https://www.railpictures.net/photoexif/424454/

Thanks.
NorthWest
That "Wondabyne" shot is not actually near Wondabyne station. To  get to the foot of the climb you would have to walk back south from the station a couple of kilometres along the perway, which would involve trespassing. When I have accessed it I use a boat to an anchorage point. The actual climb itself takes about half an hour and is through dense scrub. The route is not marked and you have to know exactly where to go. Given your lack of "local knowledge" I would advise against attempting to get there.

Sponsored advertisement

Subscribers: a6et, LesS

Display from:   

Quick Reply

We've disabled Quick Reply for this thread as it was last updated more than six months ago.