I am a middle-aged rail fan – ‘the trains that were murdered’

“This train don’t carry no con men, this train;
This train don’t carry no con men, this train;
This train don’t carry no con men,
No wheeler dealers, here and gone men,
This train don’t carry no con men, this train.” — Woody Guthrie

Recently friends and I went to Ballarat for the Eureka celebrations organised by Joe Toscano from the Anarchist Media Institute in Melbourne. Joe took us on ‘the stations of the Southern Cross’.

Firstly, the Eureka Stockade where the diggers and the Eureka women took a stand against the tyrannous gold licence laws.

Then to Bakery Hill where the rebels swore the oath of allegiance:

“We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties.”

Joe gave out the 2010 awards to little known but deserving community workers and union militants.

From there we marched to Town Hall to raise the rebel flag and then on to the Ballarat Cemetry where the diggers shot by the soldiers were laid to rest… hopefully this will be the subject of a film on YouTube when I get around to editing it. But in the meantime there is another interesting tale from our trip that explains the photos of trains (shown).

Afterwards we went to the Ballarat Botanic gardens and Peter Bruce (shown) took us along the shore of Lake Wendourie in an old tram like those I used to ride in Brisbane as a boy.

Peter Bruce on tram at Botanic Gardens, Ballarat

As a teenager, Peter Bruce, went roaming with a Bell & Howell camera and shot some wonderfull black and white photos of the railways in Queensland and elsewhere. On his travels Peter made sure ‘he had one good meal per day to keep his energy up’.

Here is a except from his blog – I was a teenage rail fan

“… the Queensland Railways in the early ’60s were far from modern, in common with all the government railways in Australia they had been starved of funds for most of their existence and ravaged by the Great Depression and then the massive traffic and minimal maintenance of the second war.

In the post-war years there was a huge demand for both catch up money and new money for housing and various infrastructure and our railways mostly just made do.

From later in the ’60s to the present day the railways in Queensland have benefitted from very large and continuing coal projects and are almost unrecognisable from the primitive organisation shown here…”

One of my favourites, it is one of central station in Brisbane in the early 1960s (shown above). I remember taking the steam train through Central on my way to school back then. In those days there was no Sheraton hotel above the station and light spilled down through the trees up on Wickham Terrace. When riding the train you would occasionally get a cinder or soot in your eye especially in the tunnel from Roma Street or in the cutting on the way to Fortitude Valley.

People outside Queensland may not be aware how the Labor government sold off Queensland Rail this year (2010) by corporatising the passenger section (for future sale?) and floating the freight section on the stock market. A crying shame. The government said it was to retire debt accumulated during the GFC but a lot of people got richer from the sale and jobs and services will suffer as a result. QR provided larger revenues than any other publicly owned railway in the the Southern Hemishpere (see Queensland Rail in the Public Debt )

One union here in Queensland, the Electrical Trades Union, has taken a principled stand against the sale, but to no avail. The Premier Anna Bliigh has threatened to expel the union from the labor party – and this for sticking up for their members who will lose their jobs at QR.

Anyway, here are some photos from Peter Bruce’s collection to illustrate what QR was in the 1960s.

For mine, QR was built up through the years by workers sweat only to be sold out by a bunch of mad economic rationalists and profit-mongering stock brokers.

Apart from the ETU I don’t know what others think about all this?

Why did Peter Bruce take these photos of Queensland Rail back in the day? Since he was a toddler Peter was fascinated by trains.

In his own words, here is a little of what he discovered on his journey:

“G’day all, I’m not too clear about the location of the various sugar mills around Bundaberg or about the distinction between the Bingera and Watawa Mills other than knowing that somehow or other there was a connection. Perhaps someone can put me right. I’m pleased that No.6 makes another appearance in the background of the shot of the ex QGR B13 because it has occurred to me that it made it’s first appearance on Queensland rails just 41 years after Stephenson’s “Rocket” first hauled passengers on a public railway, the Stockton&Darlington in the north of England. To put that into some sort of perspective I took these photos nearly 50 years ago, No.6 was born about the same time as my paternal grandfather. That thought brings home to me how rapidly the world was changed by industrialization and the self propelled vehicle on its ever extending rails, each of course dependent on the other…

“At the Watawa Mill near Bundaberg we found No.6, almost 100 years older, built by Nielsons of Glasgow in 1865 and just for a bit more contrast parked right next to it was a 1964 XM Falcon…”

“(Here is the) Shay at Moreton Mill in late 1963. It was out of service by this time unfortunately and that was a pity, seeing a geared loco in action is really something…..a lot of noise, smoke and steam and very slow progress.

This link will take you to further information and photos of all the mill’s locos. (See http://www.starfieldobservatory.com/MapletonTramway/29Where.htm )

See http://teenagerailfan.blogspot.com for more of Peter Bruce’s wonderful 1960s Queensland Rail photos.

One response to “I am a middle-aged rail fan – ‘the trains that were murdered’

  1. The Yank, 221A, is hauling a coal train just north of Ipswich I think, that looks like a road bridge under construction in the background and in the foreground the track gang is leaning on their shovels while the train passes…..it’s always a good idea to stand well clear of passing coal trains, big lumps of coal are apt to fall off!

    Peter Bruce: The Yank, 221A, is hauling a coal train just north of Ipswich I think, that looks like a road bridge under construction in the background and in the foreground the track gang is leaning on their shovels while the train passes.....it's always a good idea to stand well clear of passing coal trains, big lumps of coal are apt to fall off!

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