This page has news of Keirunga members Mike and Dale Hartle's travels in New Zealand and Australia.
Keirunga members check out Queensland Rail
Keirunga members Mike and Dale Hartle recently visited Queensland in October 2014 riding on five different railways and visiting two rail museums. Here's their story and photos.
The Tilt Train from Brisbane to Rockhampton and return allowed a weekend stopover to enjoy the sights and sounds of Rockhampton. The train can travel up to 160 kilometres an hour through the Australian bush and sugar cane fields of Bundaberg and Gladstone, and was a very pleasant six hour trip. The cafe served food at your seat, and the drinks service was regular. And of course, the train "tilted" as it went around the corners - which is the whole point!
Mike and Dale at the Tilt Train in Rockhampton.
Interior view of the Tilt Train.
Archer Park Rail Museum in Rockhampton is the home of the world's only working Purrey Steam Tram. Built in Bordeaux in France, a fleet of nine trams and six trailers made up Rockhampton's original public transport system. The trams ran from 1909 to 1939 and in that time transported over 40 million passengers. The Station itself was originally opened for rail traffic in December 1899 and is now heritage-listed.
Exterior view of historic Archer Park station.
Mike standing in front of the Brown Bomber - C17 988.
The Purrey Steam Tram.
Archer Park volunteer enthusiasts.
A static display of life at Archer Park railway station.
DownsSteam tourist railway and museum in Toowoomba is a community based volunteer facility which has the "Pride of Toowoomba" currently being refurbished, as well as a "Dreamtime" carriage of Aboriginal art. Mike visited the vast engine shed known as "The Shed" and was shown the current works in progress.
Mike and Dale at DownsSteam tourist railway and museum.
A Robey Portable Steam Engine, built in Lincoln, England, 1910.
Refurbishing an old carriage.
A ride on the new G: was a must - this is the new Gold Coast Tram which runs from Griffith University at the North End to Broadbeach, near Jupiters Casino, with several stops along the way. It was a very smooth and quiet ride along the main drag in the Gold Coast.
The Gold Coast G.
Interior of the Gold Coast G: Tram.
Mike and grandson saying goodbye to driver on Gold Coast G.
They also found a 7.25 railway at Mango Hills which was being built around a private home, and made friends with John and Edith Buchanan, who promised to visit Keirunga when they next come to New Zealand.
Entrance way to private railway at Mango Hills.
And back in Rockhampton, they snapped this bizzare shot of the rail equivalent of a judder bar!
Railway bridge in Rockhampton.
And in the Rockhampton Railway Station, this old restored rail bus was on display.
Rockhampton rail bus on display at railway station.
Queensland Rail celebrates 150 years
In 2015, rail in Queensland will celebrate 150 years of continuous operation, and there will be a range of events and excursions. You can depart from Brisbane travelling by one of Queensland Rail's beautifully preserved steam locomotives hauling a set of historic wooden carriages from 15 January 2015. You can go on the whole journey, or select any sector, between Brisbane and Cairns. Check out Queensland Rail's website for more information.
Travelling the main trunk line
Mike and Dale Hartle took a long Queen's Birthday 2014 break and travelled from Paraparaumu to Auckland on KiwiRail's Northern Explorer taking advantage of the special winter fare. They had previously only ever done the night-time trip many years ago, so took the opportunity to enjoy a day-time trip through the sunny green North Island. The carriages are very spacious and quiet, and the food service superb. A great way to travel if you have the time.
The trip was largely uneventful except for the swapping of locos at Palmerston North which caused a slight delay, and on arrival in Auckland, the discovery of a hawk lodged on the front of the loco, as you can see from the photo below.
The best parts of the trip was after Ohakune when the new driver put the hammer down and was just about airborne over the Makatote Viaduct. That was followed by the slow but steady traversing of the Rarimu Spiral.
Saturday in Auckland involved visiting the Auckland Museum World War I and II exhibitions, then a bus ride over to MOTAT to the Aviation Museum. A quick tram ride followed, over to the other side of MOTAT and a look at the shiny black locomotive K900 on display at Western Springs, along with the Last Tram.
Back into town on the bus and up the Skytower for sunset.
On Monday, Mike and Dale took the train to Onehunga and then a taxi to Manukau Live Steamers for their open day. Mike got to drive the club loco for a few circuits of the park before they packed up for the weekend.
Visiting Queensland 2013
Keirunga members Mike and Dale Hartle visited Brisbane in Queensland in October 2013. First up was a visit to The Workshops Rail Museum in Ipswich. No visit to Brisbane is complete for a train buff unless you have been to The Workshops Rail Museum, so make sure you take your camera.
Above: A shot of a loco in the workshops taken during our tour. View the video for an idea what the Workshops Tour has in store for you if you have never been there before.
Above: A shot of the unique A7V Sturmpanzerwagen known as Mephisto, a World War I armoured tank captured by the Australian Battalion and currently on display. You can still see bullet holes in the armoured plate on the sides!
And if you are in Brisbane on the first Sunday of the month, sign up for a Steam Train Sunday excursion. We travelled through Brisbane on an historic steam train and relived the splendour of a bygone era aboard vintage carriages.
The Steam Train arriving at Roma Station.
The Hartle clan hanging out of one of the vintage carriages ready for their ride.
Mike and Dale Hartle at Roma Station.
Next up is a shot of the new Gold Coast Light Rail tramcars, a 13-kilometre dedicated light rail corridor from Griffith University to Broadbeach, passing through the key activity centres of Southport and Surfers Paradise. It's a $1 billion world-class public transport system for the Gold Coast that is scheduled to commence operations in 2014. We caught a glimpse of the new cars out for a test run and this shot is captured through the window as it glided past us while we were stopped at the traffic lights.
Above: Gold Coast Light Rail tram on a test run.
These next shots show the route the billion dollar tramway is taking through the Gold Coast, taken from the top of the Q1 Skypoint tower.
View from the Q1 tower showing the tramway route.
View from Q1 tower showing the tramway route snaking through Surfers Paradise.
View from Q1 tower looking south showing the tramway route.
A new attraction is the Wheel of Brisbane at South Bank, and we timed our visit to perfection, arriving just as the sun was setting. We saw the city go from being bathed in golden sunlight to darkness. It only costs $15 and you spend about 15 minutes and four circuits of the wheel. It's high, but what a great view from the top! The giant observation wheel offers a spectacular 360 degree panoramic view of Brisbane City from the heart of Brisbane’s cultural, lifestyle and entertainment precinct, The Parklands, South Bank. Unrivalled for its view, a ride on the Wheel of Brisbane is an uplifting experience that will take you almost 60 metres above the ground in the safety and comfort of a fully enclosed air-conditioned capsule. Not for the faint-hearted, but well worth the time and money, and four revolutions is still not enough time to see everything! And if you want to pop the question or celebrate a special event, there's even a VIP car with all the trimmings!
Visiting Australia 2012
Keirunga members Mike and Dale Hartle spent 3 weeks training around Australia in October 2012 (See photos below story.)
First stop was the Ghan Preservation Museum in Alice Springs where they inspected an old Ghan locomotive and carriages, and spotted a 7-1/4 inch railway in the process of being built in the museum grounds. Wandering around the museum inspecting the myriad of displays showing the history of The Ghan and building of the railway line was fascinating and gave a real insight to the hardships and problems the workers of the day endured.
Next was a 24 hour overnight ride on The Ghan from Alice Springs to Adelaide. This train was so long you couldn't see the front nor the back, with over 35 carriages. Squeezing in to the tiny cabin in bunks at bedtime was hilarious, and when Dale woke up at one stage during the night on the moving train, she thought it was an earthquake (being from Wellington!)
In Adelaide, a lovely Sunday was spent on the Steam Ranger ride from Mount Barker to Victor Harbour and back with a real steam train at the front, and hundreds of tourists and locals enjoying the day out.
Next up was a trip to Glenelg in Adelaide on the modern trams, before boarding the Indian-Pacific for the 2-night 3-day trip to Perth. Sitting around talking and making new friends while enjoying the stunning outback scenery and sights and sounds of the Nullabor Plain, including two sunrises and sunsets, and a half-hour stopover at Cook, were highlights of the trip. Mike even got a 5 minute tiki-tour of the Indian-Pacific loco before departure.
At Kalgorlie a visit to view the super-pit at night was awe-inspiring. Those little moving lights 500 metres down in the pit were the huge earthmoving dump trucks, and we heard that drivers can earn over $1,600 a week driving a truck around and around and up and down a huge hole in the ground!
Then, just as the Indian-Pacific was scheduled to arrive in Perth on time at 9 am on the Saturday morning, someone forgot to tell the commuter track maintenance gang the train was due. They had pulled up a section of track and the arrival was delayed by two hours while they quickly relaid the track so the train could complete its journey into East Perth railway station. The announcement of the trip was something along the lines of: "Ladies and Gentlemen, yay! We're moving again! I wish I could open the windows so you could let the track gang know your feelings on the delay..." So we all lined up at the windows and waved to them anyway!
Perth revealed some hidden train secrets, and a visit to the Hotham Valley railway included a trip down the valley through bush from Dwellingup in the Darling Ranges to the Isandra siding on the flat and back, this time with a diesel locomotive on the front as it was too dangerous for steam to operate, having caused a fire recently because it was so dry. There were also some old relics on show in the park grounds at the station. And the local car club turned up on their weekend rally drive, so that added to the lunchtime viewing interest with about a hundred vintage and veteran cars lining up in the park adjacent to the station.
A visit to Perth wouldn't be complete without visiting Castledare 7-1/4 inch railway track for a ride, and finding a 2 foot gauge light industrial track at Whitemans Park, along with an operational tram, was a bonus. We just had to have a ride on those too!
Finding a disused track at Perth Zoo rounded out the trip, so Mike was busy plotting how he could get his loco over there to reinstate the popular Perth Zoo train ride.
So that's seven train rides in three weeks just in case you weren't counting!
Here's some photos of our trip:
Mike at the entrance to the Ghan Museum, Alice Springs.
Mike inspecting an old Ghan locomotive.
Pile of new track waiting to be laid at Ghan Museum.
Strip of new track after laying at Ghan Museum.
Strip of track ready for laying at Ghan Museum.
Loco and carriage ready for use at Ghan Museum.
Mike ready to board The Ghan, Alice Springs.
The Ghan loco, Alice Springs Railway Station.
The Steam Ranger in Victor Harbour, South Australia.
Mike outside the Steam Ranger carriage, Mount Barker, South Australia.
Mike and Dale boarding the Indian Pacific, Adelaide.
Indian Pacific stopped at Cook, Nullabor Plains, South Australia for refuelling.
Inside the day lounge, Indian Pacific.
Hotham Valley Railway, Dwellingup, Western Australia.
Hotham Valley Railway, Dwellingup, Western Australia.
Mike inspecting an old Hotham Valley loco, Hotham Valley Railway, Dwellingup, Western Australia.
Mike at the Castledare station, Perth, Western Australia.
Mike on the loco at Whitemans Park, Perth, Western Australia.
Mike found the Perth Zoo sign, but no train in sight!
Riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway
Mike and Dale Hartle visited north Queensland in 2010 and spent a day riding the Kuranda Scenic Railway and Skyrail. The 12 carriage Kuranda train is pulled by two brightly painted locos from Cairns to Kuranda via the Barron Gorge.
Dale and Mike on board the Kuranda scenic railway.
The Kuranda train at Horseshoe Bend, heading up the incline.
View inside a Kuranda carriage.
Kuranda railway locos.
They also found an operational loco at Ravenshoe which travels up to Toumolin on weekend excursions, and a decommissioned loco at Atherton, which used to run to the tin mines at Herberton.
Loco at Ravenshoe.
Loco at Atherton.
At Townsville, they found a 7.25 gauge railway, and looked at their historic railway station from Oonoonba. This track operates on the 4th Sunday of the month. In the grounds of the park was another old loco on display.
Historic Oonoonba station at the Townsville DSME park.
Loco at TDSME park.
Keirunga member Mike Hartle and his wife Dale rode the Zig Zag Railway in New South Wales in September 2009. The steam train descends the steep gradient from Clarence to Bottom Points, through historic tunnels and over sandstone viaducts, revealing the engineering brilliance of the Zig Zag and the impressive Blue Mountains scenery. The return journey takes about 1.5 hours.
Mike and Dale arrived at the Zig Zag Bottom Points station on the CityLink train from Katoomba, and waited for the train to come down the incline with a full load of passengers. During the wait, Mike inspected the loco storage sheds and yard.
When it arrived, the loco (a Queensland DD17) was reversed and attached to the front of the train facing backwards, and after a 20 minute break, all the passengers climbed on board for the ride up the Zig Zag incline.
At the mid way point (Top Points), the train stops and the loco changes ends, then pulls the train up to the Clarence railway station, now facing the right way again. This was the return point for most passengers, and the starting point for a new load.
Once again the loco changes ends, and after a lunch and photo stop, the train begins the trip back down the incline to Bottom Points. Luckily Mike was offered a ride in the cab from Top Points down to Bottom Points, an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.
On arrival at Bottom Points, Mike and Dale caught the CityLink train back to Katoomba.
About the Zig Zag Railway
The Zig Zag is a full size, narrow gauge tourist railway located at Clarence, ten km east of Lithgow in the Blue Mountains of New South Wales, Australia. Built in the 1860s, the line was constructed to transport people and produce from the western plains of NSW to Sydney. It was replaced in 1910 by a 10 tunnel deviation. The trains, track and rollingstock are maintained and operated by the Zig Zag Railway Co-op Ltd, a voluntary, 'not for profit' co-operative. Visit the Zig Zag Railway website for more information.
Heritage Rail NSW - The Pay Bus and Cash on Tracks Exhibition
While in Sydney in September, Mike and Dale Hartle also inspected the Pay Bus and Cash on Tracks Exhibition at the Sydney Central Railway Station.
The Cash on Track exhibition charts the history of the unique railway pay buses (c1937). The pay buses operated across the state until the mid 1980s, delivering staff cash wages.
The Exhibition features stories from staff past and present, acknowledgements of the role of our apprentices in both heritage restoration projects and in the future of rail, and it also features the very first rail bus FP1 - the only surviving one.
The restored heritage rail pay bus FP1 is on show until May 2010. It has been beautifully restored to its original condition by a team of 16 RailCorp apprentices who were taught a combination of modern skills and heritage techniques during the 13 month project.
The Pay Bus Story
In 1937 the NSW Department of Railways introduced six rail buses to its fleet as an economical form of passenger transport on small branch lines. The concept derived from passenger rail motors, introduced in 1919, which used a traditional timber railway carriage mounted on a converted road truck chassis and drive train. Rail buses took the concept one step further and adapted road vehicle styling, coach-building and technology for rail use. Within a year of their introduction, they were withdrawn for economic reasons, having failed to attract sufficient passenger numbers to make the services viable.
By June 1939, five of the rail buses had been relaunched as mobile pay cars, while the sixth remained a rail bus until some time later.
For almost fifty years, the vehicles were used to move cash on NSW rail lines to pay employees at stations and maintenance gangs working on the tracks. The vehicles were a familiar sight on the network as they made the fortnightly pay runs and were affectionately known as 'pay buses'.
Today, they are no longer in operation, having been replaced by electronic banking. The sole survivorof the first fleet of pay buses, FP1, is today recognised as a significant item of rail heritage. Itvhas recently been restored by a dedicated group of apprentices as part of RailCorp's Apprentice Training Program in collaboration with RailCorp's Office of Rail Heritage, Training Division and Rollingstock Division.
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