2010 First Trip – We’re Back Early!

As mentioned in the previous post, we only had track as far as Almaden this week, and Mike and Matt crewed the first train for the truncated journey. The trip was shortened to a two day journey, with an overnight stop at Almaden for the train, and Chillagoe for the crew.  The first part of the trip was purely a staff run, where our ‘occasional’ drivers came along to re-familiarise themselves with operations and procedures. At Mareeba, we got rid of the surplus staff, and picked up our first passengers for the year, a local couple taking advantage of the short trip for a quick overnighter to Almaden. There was also a group of senior citizens out for a day excursion and luncheon at Almaden. For this, they took advantage of our DDA Facilities in car 2053. Matt was interviewed by a local reporter, as this was being done as a low cost community service for the old people. We’ve not seen the article yet, but it must have been published, because we received a query from an Atherton based aged care centre for a similar trip for their residents, on the morning of publication.

At this time of year, the wet season is in full swing on the coast, and coming to an end out west, but the effect of a bit of moisture is well and truly evident in the lush covering of grasses that cover the tracks in many places. This is not good for progress, because the grass gets crushed under the train wheels, and oozes a greasy mess that causes the drive wheels to slip. What has made things worse is that the weed spraying truck that normally sorts this out before our season had broken down with a couple of engine failures in quick succession, and the resulting backlog has put our line way down the list.

Lappa and Almaden, normally very dry and barren locations, are looking a treat, as is the rest of the countryside this time of year. Some photos of these places were taken because it won’t take long for them to return back to their normal appearance, once the rain stops.

Being early in the season, it was very quiet in Chillagoe, and wit the sun set, a quiet calm descended over the town. The soft light made for some interesting photos, so in the gallery are some pictures of the Post Office hotel, and the Post Office Guest House, which was my accommodation for the night.

There were only two passengers on the return trip the next day, and while they were admiring some grevillias at Koorboora, I spotted an old fashioned ‘look out for train’ sign nearby, and grabbed a couple of pictures of it. After Mareeba, it was just the traincrew, and with the altered timetable, we were able to slip down the Kuranda Range between the two tourist trains. Some photos were also taken at Stoney Creek where we had to stop and wait for the train ahead of us to clear beyond Redlynch.

The short runs will be repeated for the next couple of weeks and providing the weather holds, we are hoping to do our first full run on the trip departing March 24. In the meantime, the photo gallery for this post contains some pictures from the first trip. Enjoy!