Friday, 8 August 2014

Nambucca Heads: great looking railway station!

Nambucca Heads is one of those perfect Mid North Coast New South Wales getaways, located 565 kms from Sydney's Central Railway Station, and easily accessible by train courtesy of six daily XPT services. But it's railway station really has to be seen to be believed.

Opened in 1923, 8 years after the North Coast Line had already passed through town on its way north to the then terminus of South Grafton, the original railway station sadly burned down and was replaced with the station building you see today. Built in 1945, it was constructed in a style different to any previous railway stations that had been built for the New South Wales Government Railways. The distinct interwar style became known as 'stripped functionalist', and today the railway station building maintains its line-side position on the edge of town completely surrounded by the spectacular bush land of the Nambucca State Forrest.

A piece of the past in the present. Older style railway station signs such as this one still adorn the platform at Nambucca Heads Railway Station.

I first visited Nambucca Heads as a young child in the late 1970's. A two week family camping trip to a caravan park near the mouth of the Nambucca River was in those days a big deal. You loaded up the family station wagon with enough equipment to last throughout the school holidays, and made the 500 km drive north from Gosford in about ten and a half hours. Those were the days when the train stopped at every station, including those that are now sadly ghosts of the past, and still arrived in around the same time as navigating the winding two lane goat track of road they called the Pacific Highway. Fast forward to 2014, and the train leaving Central Station in the heart of Sydney gets you to Nambucca Heads Railway Station in a little over 8 hours, that's 7 hours time if you're comparing the trip from Gosford.

The NSW XPT in the classic Countrylink livery it wore throughout the 1990's and early 2000's. I shot this photo at Nambucca Heads Railway Station in 2007.

The 1945 Nambucca Heads Railway Station has changed little over the years apart from its fresh coat of paint. Although Nambucca Heads Railway Station today consists of only a passing loop on the single track North Coast Line, the general area of the railway station still maintains its charm thanks to its location in a pocket of the Nambucca State Forrest. Passengers on the train won't realise when they look out the window of their carriage, that the station also once boasted a water tower (removed in 1984), a five tonne gantry crane, de-ashing plant, fettler's cottage, tool shed and a station masters residence. When the railway station was closed in 1989, it re-opened as a Countrylink stop for the XPT train service between Sydney and Brisbane. Today the town of 6,137 can still catch a train to Sydney, and the residents should be proud that they still have their railway station. For its a damn fine looking railway station at that!

Nambucca Heads is one of the window seat highlights in my book Train Tripping Eastern Australia. My self-guided railway adventure is the perfect travelling companion for the train journey between Brisbane and Sydney. Whether you're boarding the train in Sydney, Brisbane or even Nambucca Heads, then download my book onto your tablet, iPhone or iPad before boarding the train to turn your trip into a funny, yet informative adventure.

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