As I had resided in the Sydney metropolitan area of Loftus for over 50 years, the majority of my long-time friends and acquaintances also reside in the Greater Sydney area. Now I reside some 480 rail kilometres from Sydney, it is only occasionally that we are able to get together face-to-face rather than by way of the internet. The last major occasion was for my 75th birthday in 2017.
However, in recent weeks, I have been able to briefly entertain two groups of Sydney friends at Pete’s Hobby Railway. Volunteer Phil Burke has put the proverbial pen to paper for one report, while I have compiled the other.
Monday November 16, 2020 saw a brief visit by motor vehicle GUNZEL 412. It had just taken part in a three day “Beyond Bitumen Rally” organised to raise funds for Beyond Blue, a charity working to reduce the impact of anxiety, depression and suicide in the community by raising awareness and understanding, empowering people to seek help, and supporting recovery, management and resilience. Each participant motor vehicle was required to pay a $675 non-refundable entry fee, together with what-ever sponsorships could be gained – normally a minimum of $1,500… however, because of Covid-19, there was no minimal amount for this year.
Vehicle entrant GUNZEL 412 had three passengers, Lindsay Lucas, Paul Hogan and Phil Howcho — all well-known NSW railway enthusiasts of long standing –- in fact, two of whom I had known since they were members of the NSW School Railway Clubs last century! I’m sure that most followers of the Pete’s Hobby Railway web and/or Facebook pages would be aware of the meaning of GUNZEL 412. If not, drop a post to the Facebook page and I’m sure that someone will fill you in.
The Rally had commenced in Goulburn on the previous Friday morning, travelling basically over dirt roads (ie, “beyond bitumen”!) through Braidwood and Nimmitabel for the first overnight stop at Jindabyne. The next day saw the participants back-track to Tharwa in Canberra, thence over the Brindabella Ranges to Tumut, overnighting in Wagga Wagga. Sunday was a tour of the Riverina – with brief stop-overs in Coolamon, Narrandera, Walla Walla and Burrumbuttock, with the final night’s stay being at the Ettamogah Pub Museum on the outskirts of Albury. The final morning saw a quick visit to the Murray River at Jingellic, before finishing the Rally at Tumbarumba at lunch time. Certainly one method to see out-of-the-way railway locations past and present, of which GUNZEL 412 took full advantage, including the visit to myself and of course, Pete’s Hobby Railway.
Vehicle GUNZEL 412 arrived at Pete’s Hobby Railway late on the afternoon on Monday 16/11, having made the journey from Tumbarumba. PHR had the Ruston, flat wagon and three carriages already waiting at Loftus platform for their arrival. GUNZEL 412 was ushered into a suitable location for the obligatory photographs, after which the crew joined to the train for a sedate ride around to the Storage Shed.
The overcast weather conditions made it easy for photos of the Hunslet, which was pulled out for display in the open at each end of the Shed. Following an inspection of PHR’s prides-of-joy – the turntable and the Shed, the party walked down back to Loftus station, viewing the Perry loco and Fowler boiler on the way.
All too soon, the visit was finished. That evening, we all met up for dinner and more conversation at the local Commercial Hotel. Next morning, GUNZEL 412 was photographing at the Junee Roundhouse, also at Cootamundra, before a hasty journey back to their various abodes.
Phil Burke reports…
On Wednesday 25th of November 2020 Pete’s Hobby Railway received a visit from Pete’s long-time friends and railway enthusiasts Bob Gallagher OAM, Max Burke, Ian Thorpe (no, not that one) and Es Davies whilst on one of their train chasing journeys.
Bob is a recipient of the Order of Australia Medal for service to rail transport modelling. He is a former editor of the Australian Model Railway Magazine and still remains heavily involved in railway publications.
Max, Ian and Es along with others have assisted in researching, photographing and writing articles for the magazine and other publications. Over decades of travelling the country side on fact finding missions their biggest enjoyment is their mateship, spinning yarns and catching up with other rail enthusiasts. The talents of these three have seen the productions of detailed scratch-built locomotives, rolling stock and railway associated buildings. Their train layouts are extensively detailed. All four of them were part of a group which saw the construction and display of the original exhibition train layout ‘Menangle’ (a railway station located on the Main Southern Railway line in New South Wales).
Max is the father and grandfather of PHR volunteers Phil and Josh, providing three generations of train enthusiasts in one family.
With the assistance of Phil and Josh, Pete was able to start their tour of PHR at Loftus station and with a ride behind the Ruston we progressed to the top of the hill to the newly built loco shed, turn table and loco depot, followed by a cuppa and an extended chat.
Their company was great and with the sun shining on a glorious spring morning it made for a very pleasant visit.
It seems that Bob and his group couldn’t get away from Junee as next day, they were to found enjoying the pleasures of the Railway Refreshment Rooms, otherwise known now as the Junee Railway Café. Hopefully, more of my friends can make the journey to Junee and the Riverina to soak up a little PHR hospitality.