Monday, 14 July 2014

Nana Glen: Orara Valley train watching

Nana Glen is a small, out-of-the-way town nestled in the Orara Valley on the north coast of New South Wales. Located 639 km from Sydney, Nana Glen's railway station first opened in 1922, seven years after the North Coast Line had already reached Grafton. Today the railway station no longer exists. It was closed in 1974, exactly 40 years before my visit in July of 2014. All that remains at the former station site is a small signal relay box for a passing loop located half a kilometre to the north. While trains no longer stop in this picturesque country town, one person who has stopped in town, long enough to call the place his home, is Oscar winning actor Russell Crowe.

Now if you're looking for the place where Nana Glen Railway Station once stood, you'll firstly have to be travelling on the Orara Valley Way between Grafton and Coffs Harbour. Turn into Grafton Street and follow it for about a kilometre out of town until you get to the T-junction at Morrows Road, the dusty, gravel road to the former railway station site is on your right immediately after you cross the bridge spanning the railway line.

The Morrows Road railway bridge opposite the Nana Glen Sportsgrounds, looking south towards the road overpass in the distance, July 2014.

Now before you go bumpety-bumping your family hatchback down the rocky 4WD railway access road that takes you to the former station site, swing down Morrows Road and take a look at the railway bridge near the Nana Glen Sportsground. The location for the passing loop on this single track stretch of mainline is located immediately north of the bridge, and aside from the cluster of trees growing along the creek below, makes for a great photo opportunity.

A south bound Brisbane XPT approaching the railway bridge opposite Nana Glen Sportsground, July 2014.

For a much better photo opportunity however, park your car at the former station access road entrance beside the railway overpass for an unobstructed view of trains approaching from the north and south. You'll have plenty of time to snap some photos of trains as they approach the railway overpass before hurrying to the other side of the road to snap some more as the train trails away into the distance. If you really want to check-out the former railway station site, walk the 400 metres down the access road and save yourself the price of a wheel alignment on your car!

The trailing end of the Sydney bound Brisbane XPT racing through Nana Glen, NSW makes for a clearer shot than when it was approaching on the other side of the railway overpass. There's no bright headlight to mess up my camera settings.

The Orara Valley Way from Coffs Harbour to Glenreagh makes for an interesting half-day drive when combined with a side-trip to the towns of Lowanna and Ulong on the former Dorrigo branch line. Despite the cafe I'd circled on the map as a must-do on our drive through Nana Glen being closed at the time of our visit, it was still a great opportunity to photograph trains. As for the whereabouts of Russell Crowe's Nana Glen property? After all the generosity that the Hollywood superstar has displayed towards his local community, I decided to take a leaf out of the locals book and simply give the guy his space. Let the trains be the star of this story, the man's well and truly deserved it.

Although the XPT simply rushes through Nana Glenn on its daily sojourn to Sydney, you can still appreciate all that the North Coast of New South Wales has to offer by reading my book Train Tripping Eastern Australia. Alternatively, Nana Glen was also one of the many locations featured in my book 30 Years Chasing Trains.

Available now through my Books page

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