Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Lineside Liaisons #21 Byron Bay

Storm clouds in the slumber... Byron Bay Railway Station in the summer of 2014/15.

Byron Bay remains one of the most talked about holiday destinations on the New South Wales north coast. An alternative hamlet by the sea, the most easterly point on the Australian mainland, a playground for the rich and famous... while all of these things remain true, catching a train to Byron has not been possible since the last XPT pulled out on the 16th May 2004. For many train-going holidaymakers on their way to Murwillumbah, the town of Byron was a noisy, well populated town that slipped by the train window in the dark of night.

So what became of the former railway station after the last train left town? Well it is still there, and the former railway refreshment rooms on the station's platform are still just as noisy and vibrant as the day that they were leased to a local publican, long before plans were mooted to close the former Murwillumbah Line. While a short section of track to the north of town has now been re-purposed for use by a eco-friendly, solar powered rail car known as the Byron Bay Train, (where else would you find such a thing?), The Byron Bay that I remembered was forever captured in my poem 'Drums and diesel hums' in my book Last Train to Grafton. A photographic and poetic romp through the abandoned lines of northern New South Wales, the 56 page premium colour book is a tribute to the memories of our not-so-distant railway past, and is available now through the links on my Books page.

See also; Byron Bay: cold beer, no trains!

Tuesday, 3 April 2018

Lineside Liaisons #20 Mullumbimby

Mullumbimby railway station, a decade after the last train had left town.

The North Coast of New South Wales is home to some of Australia's best beaches. Back before the Pacific Highway upgrade turned a horrible stretch of highway into a short hop across the border from Queensland, most visitors made their way north of Sydney by train aboard the Gold Coast Motorail Express. Today, the Murwillumbah Line including the station at Mullumbimby lies dormant, a stretch of rusting railway nestled well back from the coastline at the foot of the Burringbar Range. Memories of the train pulling up at a crowded platform in the late evening while headed south on the overnight XPT to Sydney still flood back every time I see the above picture. I'm glad I had the opportunity to retrace my steps more than a decade after the last train had left town, and capture this photo to which I set the words of the poem The Train to Mullumbimby. And just as thankful to have captured many of the other remaining relics from our railway past that lie forgotten on the North Coast for my book Last Train to Grafton.

I don't know how many more places such as this that I will be able to afford to travel to and record the ghosts of our railway past before they too disappear, which makes Last Train to Grafton such a special collection of haunting railway photography set to Australian bush poetry.

See also; Mullumbimby: Iggy Azalea's Hometown Station

Sunday, 18 February 2018

Lineside Liaisons #19 Dunbible

Abandoned railway bridge on the Murwillumbah railway line at Dunbible.

This photo of Dunbible Creek Railway Bridge on the old Murwillumbah Line is just one of the double page portraits featured in my latest book Last Train to Grafton. The 1894 Murwillumbah railway line on the North Coast of New South Wales remains somewhat of an enigma to railfans Down Under. Closed in May 2004, the line has generated a lot of conjecture over whether it should or shouldn't have been closed. The photos that I had taken over the 10 years that followed the closure of this line inspired the railway bush poetry that is featured within Last Train to Grafton, such as the poem Letters From Stokers Siding which was a former railway station located only a short distance south of the attractive old wrought iron bridge over Dunbible Creek.

See also; Dunbible Creek Railway Bridge and Stokers Siding: A little railway art

Friday, 9 February 2018

Lineside Liaisons #18 The Risk

The Risk, the riskiest train watching location in New South Wales.

Believe it or not, this was once a station. In fact, this was once a small village located off the Summerland Way in the far north of New South Wales known as The Risk. Google Maps still has it marked as a locality. In fact, Google Maps still has the Old Risk Road marked as a road. Another fact; it isn't! It's a muddied two-tyre cow track that crosses an electric cattle grid on its way to a solitary farmhouse. I almost got our sedan bogged while taking this photo, and our party of four stranded more than 6 km from the nearest town of Wiangaree, and we won't mention the wheel alignment our car needed after crossing the old timber bridge that was missing a plank after recent flooding. Ah, the places writers find themselves stuck in search of inspiration. It turned out the drive was all the inspiration I needed for the Australian bush poem The Old Risk Road that accompanies the above photo in my book Last Train to Grafton. I do hope you at least enjoy the photo. Its gone down as the most expensive photo I have ever taken!

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Lineside Liaisons #17 Glenapp

Paradise in Border Country. Glenapp, Queensland.

Tucked away in the hills of Queensland's and New South Wales's Border Country, is the tiny signal hut located at Glenapp. Just off the Lions Tourist Road that cuts from Rathdowney on the Queensland side of the border, over the hills and past the Cougal Spiral to the New South Wales town of Wiangaree on the Summerland Way, stands this little signal hut that dates back to 1930. The year of course was when the South Brisbane Interstate Line opened north of Kyogle. Today, the line is simply known as the North Coast Line, and is the only railway line in use between Sydney and Brisbane. When word got around that the decommissioned hut was to be bulldozed, brothers Dennis and Rob Sibson sought permission to restore this little beauty to the attractive state that can be seen above. The Boys From Glenapp is not only one of the poems featured in my latest offering Last Train to Grafton, but the Glenapp Boys also have their own following on Facebook, www.facebook.com/GlenappRailwayStationFriends.