Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Railway archaeology geeks

John Oates, a retired Maths teacher, and railway nut
No better way to spend an autumn Saturday than traipsing through disused railway tunnels. We piled into an inter-city train from Central to Helensburg with John Oates who is a great bloke from the NSW Railway Heritage Society. As we chugged the 45 minute journey, John pointed out all the "dives", crossovers, branch lines and quadruplication lines along the way.

Top Left: The gang coming out of Tunnel #3; Top Right: Looking into Tunnel #4 from the old raiway siding
Center Left: looking back along Tunnel #3; Centre Right: Looking through the Wilson Creek culvert
Bottom left: The current Helensburgh station looking back toward Sydney
Bottom Right: The present Sydney to Wollongong line looking toward the 'Gong.
The line from Waterfall to Helebsburgh opened in March 1886. Over time, lines have been relocated to avoid some of the 1 in 40 gradients faced by some of the Sydney bound locomotives. Using solid boots, becoming headwear and chunky torches, we trudged through two tunnels and a culvert. The Helensburg Tunnel (Tunnel #3) is 80 metres in length. The Metropolitan Tunnel (Tunnel #4) is 624 metres in length. The old Helensburgh platform is 60 metres long and was opened in January 1889.

When we turned our torches off in the Metropolian Tunnel (where a family used to have a mushroom farm) and once it had been pitch black for a few minutes, the walls of the tunnel came alive with glowworms. A wonderful way for active "oldies" to spend a Saturday morning. John is working up sessions and excursions on the abandoned railways of the state of NSW.

Bring . it . on!

See ... I was not the only female on the excursion!

26 comments:

Joan Elizabeth said...

You found a glowworm tunnel too! Love the photos of the oldies on excursion, looks like fun but I'm not sure I'm that interested in "dives", crossovers, branch lines and quadruprication lines though. However, I can see you soaking in all the detail.

Naturedigital said...

Great story and beautiful photographs..

Luis Gomez said...

Great images Julie, sounds like a wonderful day-trip.

Janet said...

Makes me think of the Railway Children! Lovely excursion!

Serge Cornillet said...

Where is Indi??? Thanks to share this excursion with us. I like the perspective of Tunnel.
Serge

James said...

That sounds like fun! I'd love to do something like that. Last week I tried my own little excursion to an old abandoned industrial building that was down a dirt road and hidden with trees and vines. I only snapped a few pictures before the caretaker chased my and called the police. Maybe it's because I wanted to be an archeologist when I was a boy but I always look for hidden ruins and abandoned places.
Great post Julie!

Lois said...

This looks like a lot of fun Julie! I wouldn't mind taking my grandson along on an excursion like this. By the way, I'm finally done with wedding stuff and trying to get back to normal. Posted a few wedding pics today!

Dina said...

What a great opportunity. Good on ya for shlepping through glowworm "infested" tunnels.
Hope they offer that tour next time I'm in Australia.
Fun pictures.

Clytie said...

Beautiful photographs, wonderful descriptions. I love the glow worm tunnel - wish I could find one!!!

Jo said...

Brilliant post and excursion, Julie. We've just spent a night at a now-defunct railway siding. I love your tunnel photos and the company looks fun too.

brattcat said...

I loved this post, Julie. You bet I would have been in that intrepid group if I'd been anywhere near the neighborhood. I can't decide which I like best, the portraits (wonderful!!!) or those tunnel shots! And a glow worm tunnel...how cool was that!?!

Dimple said...

Sounds like a lot of fun to me! There is a major raid building project going on near me, and the local paper did a story about the archaeological finds associated with the earth moving. It was neat to read about the early days of the town (they were digging through the original town site), which was established in the 1880's.

J Bar said...

I've heard about these expeditions before and they sound great. Wouldn't mind doing it myself someday.
Sydney - City and Suburbs

Julie said...

Serge, Indi meaning Indiana-Jones? Now there is a thought. When I was a kid (well before the days of Harrison Ford!) my brothers and I would play in road culverts and we became intrepid adventurers. It did not occur to me to do that during this adventure. I will get into that mode next time. Promise!

James, that puts a dampener on things when you are accosted like that. It does not happen much to me, mainly in shops or in railway stations. Abandoned places are my favourites. Aw, heck - they're ALL my favourites!

Rinkly Rimes said...

I love the Green Tunnel shots! (May I purloin one for a poem? Giving you credit, of course!) We're spending three days in Sydney next week but your excursion, though rewarding, looks too energetic for us!

Bruce Caspersonn said...

Aw wow! I am green with envy...

Jayne said...

Ahhh, sounds like complete bliss!
Wish they'd do something similar here in Vic :)

Marka said...

Neato! That must've been much fun!

Peter said...

julie
there is a great term in NSW for a rail enthusiast "gunzel".

Julie said...

Good heavens! You are right! How did I ever doubt it!!

From Wiki:
Believed to be a derivation of the American slang gunsel, meaning a gangster or hoodlum who uses a gun, popularised in books such as The Maltese Falcon. In these books the implication was that a gunsel was somewhat foolish and reckless. The word gunzel originated from the Sydney Tramway Museum in the 1960s as a term for foolish or reckless railfans who shot at things with cameras. Usage was originally confined to south eastern states, it has since spread to the whole of Australia and parts of New Zealand. May be used to refer to a specific interest, e.g. "freight gunzel", "tram gunzel".

I've checked the date and it isn't 1st April for another week yet, so I am taking this as true.

mimbles said...

This looks brilliant! I must remember to show this post to my mum when she gets back from her walking tour of the mid-north coast - it's just the sort of thing she'd be into :-)

diane said...

Its a wonder Bill hasn't commented yet. He loves anything to do with trains. As you know I grew up not far from there and I actually visited a tunnel there when it was a mushroom farm. I had a friend who lived at Otford the next sop after Helensburg. You are an adventurer in retirement. Go Girl!

Shelle said...

thought these were the glow worm tunnels for a moment....what a sweet ride!

Marla said...

What an incredible day!!

Bill said...

Wow what a great experience. I would have loved to come along on that one. Diane is right, I love trains.

Steffe said...

Must have been a fun day!