Sunday, August 15, 2010

Going... Going... Gone! - Don't Wait 'Til It's Too Late

I've been living up here at Woy Woy on the Central Coast of N.S.W for four and a half years now. Some people up here refer to it as God's country, which is odd, as I moved here from "The Shire" (Sutherland), which was also called God's Country. Maybe he holidays up here because unlike the Sutherland Shire you can actually use the beaches here without parking a suburb away. Anyway I digress.

So, being a train fan, I guess I have it not too bad really up here. I spend an hour and fifteen minutes each way commuting between Woy Woy and Central each week day, at the moment traveling on the old but very quiet and comfortable V-Sets. Talk is they are going to be replaced by the Oscars, which is something only those who don't actually catch the train seem to be happy about. The old V-Set seats are very plush, and seating only two per side of the carriage are quite wide and with enough leg room to actually sink down into the seat and get comfortable enough to sleep away the journey, on the 5am morning trip at least.

Part of the commute takes in the winding path around Mullet Creek, before crossing the Hawkesbury River over the very long Bridge, then Hawkesbury River station before ascending the Cowan Bank. In the steam era, Hawkesbury River was the scene of a great deal of activity. A Coal stage was used to keep the hungry beasts fed, bankers were stationed to help lift the freight up the steep and winding Cowan Bank, and the Newcastle Flyer typically with a 38 at the head would wind itself up as it headed for the steep climb ahead so as not to need a helping push.

These days it's a mere shadow of that former place of railway activity. The coal stage is gone as are most of the sidings on the eastern side of the station, the down refuge is gone, and apart from the odd freight train taking station on the up siding so as not to interfere with the commuter trains, nothing much happens there at all. All we now have to remind us of these items of interest are the photos and rare video footage taken by those who took the time and effort back in the day to record what was happening.

So, getting back to the topic at hand. Rarely does more than a few weeks go by without me finding myself over at Gosford, and for almost the whole four and a half years that I have been living here, I keep saying to myself I must go and take some pics of the turntable and water tower at the northern end of the station. In days gone by this would have been a very busy part of the northern line. Here the 59's, 35's and 36's, std goods and 38's would have replenished thier water supplies, and often been turned on the turntable to once again head off in the opposite direction with the freight of the day. Once electrification reached Gosford, the 38's on the Up Flyer would have handed the train over to the 46's which would handle the trip up the Cowan Bank and bring the train into Central, and likewise the down Flyer would be uncoupled from the 46's, where a freshly watered 38 would be waiting to speed it on to Newcastle on the flatter sections where it could really stretch it's legs.

These days turntable is rarely used and sits quietly, and the water tower stands somewhat un-kept behind a new black steel mesh fence which not only masks the lower section somewhat but looks totally out of place amongst the steam era relics it surrounds. Non the less I snapped a few simple pics which if nothing else will mean that no matter what, if the worst happens and the water tower and turntable are removed by those with no sense of history, there will at least be a few more pieces of evidence that they did exist at some point in time, and for those who may want to replicate them in miniature, at least there will be something to go off.

A small amount of effort, but well worth it if for no other reason than to record a small part of history that may one day no longer be there. Not only that, but the detail that you may later find in such photo's is almost irreplaceable. It wasn't until I began to look at the photo's that I noticed the way the tank had weathered, the different colours of rust, the stains on the concrete supports, the bold and bracket detail, and with the turntable the general look of the pit, the foliage growing, the colour of the sleepers etc. For the modeller, priceless information.

Of course today's technology makes capturing these pieces of history a snack compared to the old days of film which needed to be bought, a camera taken, and then any pictures taken developed. The cost factor also meant that you might only take a few snaps of an object unlike today where a hundred digital images costs nothing unless you want to print them. I took these pics with my new iPhone, and for the quality vs practicality of not even having to carry a camera around any more, there are no excuses not to take pics of anything I see.

So, if you too have been meaning to take some pics of that certain object that may one day face that same fate that the coal stage at Hawkesbury River, do it now, before it's too late!

1 comment:

Manfrensengen said...

Although you may not receive much feedback, rest assured that your efforts are, & will be, much appreciated by those who understand the importance of recording the detail of our fast-changing history.

Consider the amount of time we spend researching cases where details have not been recorded!

In modern industrial history, it seems there are 3 stages of interest/value:

1) Things are current, active & common.

2) Things have become obsolete, are still relatively common, & simply considered "old".

3)Things have become rare & only then are considered historically significant.

For preservation & information purposes, " 2)" is the danger period, & with accelerating pace of change, this window is getting shorter for each era.

As you say, current tools allow us to easily capture & publish a vast amount of detail about soon-to-be-extinct aspects of life & living.

It is people like yourself who take a moment to record the current landscape, who provide invaluable benefit to generations hence. Thank you !!!

We all tend to think "Too busy to stop & get it now, I'll do it next time", but please remember ... Today's 2) is tomorrow's 3).