Monday, 26 January 2015

Mullumbimby: Iggy Azalea's Hometown Station

Mullumbimby lies 898 km by train from Sydney's Central Railway Station. The only problem is, that trains haven't called at Mullumbimby Railway Station since the last train pulled away from Mullumbimby Railway Station on Sunday 16th May, 2004. As for Mullumbimby's most famous export, rapper Iggy Azalea, she would have been just 10 when I snapped the above photo of a train arriving at Mullumbimby in the year 2000.

The connecting bus service with the Casino XPT arrives at Mullumbimby Railway Station, 2014.

Born with the real name Amethyst Amelia Kelly, Iggy Azalea moved to the tiny Northern New South Wales town from Sydney with her parents while she was still an infant. And while Iggy Azalea is now slaying the music charts in the USA with her brash style of hip-hop music, the tiny railway station in her former hometown of Mullum' (as the locals refer to it), has been sitting idle for the past decade. Instead of the once obligatory Murwillumbah XPT train calling at Mullumbimby Railway Station each night, a connecting bus service now transports Mullumbimby locals 77 km to the nearest railway station at Casino, from where they can board a train to Sydney. Located only 20 minutes from the shores of Byron Bay, Mullumbimby has a thriving alternate lifestyle community that attracts artists of all kinds. Perhaps that was what attracted Iggy's father, painter and comic artists Brendan Kelly to move to Mullumbimby in 1990. But while Mullimbimby left an impression on Iggy Azalea to the point she took her stage name from the name of the family dog "Iggy" and the street she grew up on as a child, Azalea Street, Mullumbimby's railway station itself was nothing "fancy".

An old 35mm shot I came across of Mullumbimby Railway Station that I photographed way back in 1993.

Originally opened in 1894 when the original North Coast Line was built between the river towns of Murwillumbah and Lismore, the station building was replaced in the Inter-war years with the 1930's style brick building that still stands idle beside the former Murwillumbah Line more than a decade after the line closed. I had the pleasure of travelling this line to Sydney onboard the XPT many times during the 1990's to early 2000's, and often would call in to photograph the station, passing trains and banana wagons waiting to be loaded in the sidings. By the time the line had closed however, the banana sidings had long been removed. When I called into Mullumbimby to photograph the station in December 2014, only a simple passing loop remained beside the station platform while a modern corrugated steel and concrete office building facing Station Street stands opposite the station where bananas were once loaded by the train load for the markets in Sydney.

A very quiet Mullumbimby Railway Station, ten years after the last train left town, 2014.

While Mullumbimby Railway Station is still standing, waiting for word on whether or not it is to be revitalised as a part of any heritage rail trail project, it is impossible for me not to reminisce about the times I would pass through town in the dark of night onboard the Sydney bound XPT. Which makes me wonder if a young Iggy Azalea would also have traveled to Sydney with her parents onboard the train in the not-so-distant days when the XPT once stopped at Mullumbimby. Who knows, I may have once shared a carriage with an International hip-hop star.

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