Tuesday, 3 March 2020

Favourite Australian Railway Stations

Celebrating the end of the line with my final railway book, Favourite Australian Railway Stations which is out now!

There's a lot of nostalgic sentiment flowing in my household this week. I have a new book out, and once again there is no official book launch party, pre-announced book tour, or even plans to do much in the way of promoting it. The culmination of what has been a ten year project to criss-cross as much of the country as was possible, and spending the past two years sifting through more than 10,000 photos, has instead left me relieved to finally announce the release of the book I always wanted to finish my writing career with.

Between looking back at all the wonderful old railway stations I had managed to photograph over the past decade, and sensing that the time had come to collate them all into a book of my personal favourites, its almost uncanny to realise I may have saved the best for last. A sojourn from novel number four that commenced back in 2014, has led me here, to the moment where I can both announce my new book Favourite Australian Railway Stations, and take a bow before leaving the stage for someone else to command. In a world where aspiring to become a fulltime writer becomes increasingly more difficult, and people's attention spans seem shortened each passing year with memes, Instagram and ten second YouTube clips, its nice to be able to sign-off with something that will prove more lasting. A timeless book about a timeless subject, and one that shall remain forever close to my heart... railway stations.

I first came up with the idea back in 2011, while on a book tour in Tasmania promoting my second novel. The two week family holiday we were able to schedule around the book tour dates called for driving a 6,197 km round trip from the Sunshine Coast to where the blacktop ran out in the deep south of Tasmania. I saw a lot of railway stations along the way in towns that I'd only heard of but never seen. So I stopped to take a photo. Then another, and another and I've been doing so ever since.

The only reason the book is limited to 72 pages and a little over 50 of my favourite railway stations is simply the cost. I originally had this book ready to go sometime last year at a hefty 192 pages. The price it would have commanded however, had me asking who was going to buy it at that price? So I thought, why not simply limit it to my favourites, and limit the book to a more affordable number of pages. Which is exactly what I did.

Producing a book of the best of your best work sets the bar pretty high. So I'm of the thought that this is as good a place as any to leave the railway books aside, (this marks my 9th such effort), and see if I manage to come up with another 10,000 photographs of railway stations in another 10 years time. Whether I manage to hit the road on a scope such as was required for this book however, remains to be seen.

72 pages 8x10" full colour hardback, softcover or eBook available through
  

The 90 plus photos within the book have taken me all over the place, from the tropical north of Cairns, to the remote south of Tasmania. From the hustle and bustle of Sydney, to the golden sunsets of the west over Fremantle, there's no way I could have covered every station on every railway line, yet I managed to record some brilliant images just the same. Each section of the book opens with its own preface, adding words to one of the places that I happened to visit, be it an abandoned station or just a lonely platform well after the last train has departed. The book's theme is of course Australian railway stations, and railway stations are all you will find between the covers. People looking for a book on trains will be disappointed. There are none.

With the arrival of the first copies came the end of an era. I looked through the pages with my wife Denise, who has been by my side when I'd taken all of the photos featured in the book. We laughed about the moments that made finding these railway stations in strange towns so memorable, and pondered over what adventures may come our way next, before sitting back to enjoy an episode of Michael Portillo's Great Australian Railway Journeys (on SBS On Demmand). Bubbles and a cheese platter at our side, and our son opposite us on the couch on his iPhone, probably looking at memes and watching ten second videos of people falling over.

With this blog already having slowed to a trickle this past year, I hope readers both old and new continue to find it in the years to come, and be delighted by the hundreds of stories, articles and adventures it leaves behind. Since 2011, it has served as my own independent platform to share my travels, and bang-on about where you could buy my books from. All that remains now, are the due announcements of when my own four novels will be re-released into print later this year, thus closing the chapter on what has been a long and at-times drawn out part of my life.

Wherever the wind blows both you and I in the years ahead, my heartfelt thanks go out to all who took the time to stop by my blog and see what I was all about. An even deeper gratitude goes out to those who actually supported me by purchasing my books. I leave you with one final book to remember me by. A book that just so happens to feature my favourite Australian railway stations.

Thank you all,
Phillip Overton 3/3/2020

Saturday, 17 August 2019

Lineside Liaisons #28 Donnybrook

One of the most beautifully restored old railway stations I've come across, Donnybrook, WA.

Every now and then I manage to be surprised by an old railway station that I wasn't expecting to find. Donnybrook Railway Station in Western Australia is one of them. Despite researching the routes of five different abandoned railway lines ahead of my trip west to collate the poems and photos needed for my book Last Train to Bunbury, I'd somehow missed seeing a single photo of Donnybrook's restored 1893 station until seeing it in person during a magical late afternoon highway stop in the summer of 2018. Donnybrook is an apple growing town located an easy half hour drive south of Bunbury along the South Western Highway, and the station still takes pride in a pleasant park-like setting in the heart of town. The town's 1890 English Oak trees inspired my poem Oak Trees and Apples, featured memorably inside my book Last Train to Bunbury.

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Lineside Liaisons #27 Busselton

The famous Busselton Jetty Train in south west Western Australia.

What holiday to the Margaret River Region of Western Australia would be complete without a train ride on the famous Busselton Jetty? Mine. Focussing too much on the photo angles I was after for my book Last Train to Bunbury when we arrived in this seaside mecca, I forgot to book tickets for my wife and I to travel along the 1.8 km long timber jetty. After being greeted with a sorry but we're fully booked for the remainder of the day when I finally ambled up to the ticket counter during the peak Christmas Holiday period of 2017, I had to settle for a long lunch in the adjoing restaurant that overlooks the train's departure point. I don't know when I'll next get back to this amazing part of the world, but it did provide me with all the inspiration I needed for my funny take on The Busselton Jetty Train in my book Last Train to Bunbury which you can preview for free here.

Saturday, 27 July 2019

Lineside Liaisons #26 Bridgetown

Abandoned Bridgetown Railway Station in Western Australia.

A little under 100 km by car south of Bunbury stands the abandoned railway station and goods yard of Bridgetown. Situated on the South Western Line to Northcliffe, the 1898 station building enjoyed a brief life as the local council Environment and Landcare Centre building until the discovery of asbestos in the walls. As you can see, the station building in the background was fenced off from the public during my visit in 2018. The town got its name from the two bridges that cross the Blackwood River at the southern end of town. One carried the now closed railway line, the other the South Western Highway. The above photo and my visit to this trendy stop on the highway inspired my poem Getting Down in Bridgetown, featured in my book Last Train to Bunbury.

Monday, 22 July 2019

Lineside Liaisons #25 Boyanup

The South West Western Australian town of Boyanup.

Venturing to the other side of the country over the summer of 2017/2018 enabled me to explore the abandoned railway lines of Western Australia's South West Region. The town of Boyanup a short 22 km drive by car south of Bunbury was once the junction point for the railway lines to Northcliffe and Flinders Bay. After the station was closed, a preservation group and museum was formed back in 1985, collecting bits and pieces of former WAGR rollingstock with the aim of seeing these old trains run once more. Today, the museum may be closed to the general public, but the South West Rail and Heritage Centre who now maintain the site schedule several 'open days' throughout the year to view their vintage collection.

Although my visit never coincided with one of these open days, standing on the forlorn platform of Boyanup's now bare station site did inspire the poem Junction of Broken Dreams, featured in my book Last Train to Bunbury, available direct here.