Thursday, 18 April 2013

Narrabri: passing through by night

Narrabri Railway Station is located 569 kilometres by rail from Sydney along the North West line. Officially opened in 1897, the main station building was rebuilt in 1908 and is still in use today. Along with all the passing grain traffic that frequents the north-west of the state, Narrabri is also serviced by a daily passenger train to and from Sydney in the form of theNorth West Xplorer that travels to Moree.

The entrance to Narrabri Railway Station in far north west New South Wales, 2011.

Narrabri once boasted three railway stations, Narrabri, Narrabri Junction and Narrabri West. Narrabri West was the first of these to open, way back in 1882. Of course Narrabri West was located on the line that continued west to Wee Waa and Burren Junction, the dividing point for the Walgett and Pokataroo branch lines. When a new line was built north to Moree in 1897, the new line left the existing railway just prior to Narrabri West Railway Station at Narrabri Junction and crossed the Namoi River into Narrabri where a new station was built. Today, Narrabri Railway Station remains as the only station still open for passengers to catch a train.

I love travelling overnight by car. I think its because there is a sense of excitement when the lights of an approaching town come into view over the horizon. That is especially the case if you are traveling on the Newell Highway. By day the road is flat, straight and monotonous. By night, each approaching town shines like the lights of a circus. And that was certainly the case with Narrabri. Spotting a McDonald's as we entered town from the north, it was the chance to stop for a coffee and some supper for the kids before they settled in the back seat for the night and left Dad to drive straight through to morning. There was just one more thing left for me to do before gunning it all night long on the highway. That's right, I had to find the railway station.

Narrabri Station slumbers in the night, 2011.

Don't ask me how, but I have a knack for finding railway stations in country towns that I've never been to before. Just ask my wife. Thankfully Narrabri railway station didn't prove hard to find, (thanks mostly to a well spotted sign on my wife's part). Maybe after all these years she has learnt to play along and speed up the process. A few moments later I was standing on the platform of Narrabri Railway Station with a hot cup of coffee and a camera in hand. There was nothing to see, but I saw it all anyway. For that one brief moment, I was the only person standing beneath that time-honoured awning, staring down at the timber sleepers that slumbered peacefully between the rails 114 years after the train first came to town. And just as quickly I was gone again, driving south into the night.

See also; Moree: north by north west

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