Thursday, June 25, 2009

This and that. . .

  • Rough day for us baby-boomers. First, Farrah Fawcett loses her battle with anal cancer. This really makes me feel old. I'm old enough to remember her from the days of the original "Charlie's Angels" as well as the iconic red-swimsuit-with-nipples poster--I think that was the all-time best-selling poster of all time, and I'm sure it caused lots of teenage boys to later require eyeglasses as a result of excessive viewage.
  • As if to top Farrah in the Celebrity Death of the Day, Michael Jackson went ahead and dropped dead of a heart-attack. Los Angeles police say he was found face-down in an eight-year-old. Wait, that part wasn't true. Amazing how quickly the media had rounded up "experts" in entertainment law, pop culture, etc., to dissect the body before it was even cold. Can you name the other members of the Jackson Five, though? And with Jackson dead, who now is the "King of Pop"? George Michael? Wayne Newton? The world awaits the decision. . .
  • And condolences to the family of Ed McMahon, announcer extraordinaire, who kept his house from foreclosure, but, alas, died this week. He was in his 80s. Amazing to me that few folks under the age of 20 have any recollection of him as Johnny Carson's sidekick. Oh, but I sure do. He was the guy who fed Johnny the Carnak questions. He was the prototype for a late-night sidekick before the age of self-loathing, irony, and "Hey Now" Hank Kingsley. Some might have called Ed's schitk syncophantic: question--what makes Ed McMahon laugh at all of Johnny Carson's jokes? Oh, $3 million a year. I'm sure that Jackson's death has bumped McMahon of the cover of next week's "People" magazine, since he was no-doubt barely hanging in there with the "small corner photo" earlier in the morning with the announcement of Fawcett's death.
  • Oh, and just to see who reads this blog, I wonder if Chris P. would be as interested in this story once he reads beyond the headline. I know I quickly lost interest. Sounds like the Phillipines is a pretty dangerous place to go MILF-hunting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Aussie Miscellany Part I

A collage of the great railway logos and emblems we came across. Can you name them all?

The Land of Variety. . .

Not one to keep statistics, but looking back at the photos, we'd seen 33 classes of locomotives (AN, B, BL, CLP, DL, EL, G, GL, GM, MZ, NR, PL, RL, S, T, VL, X, 43, 44, 45, 47, 48, 49, 73, 80, 81, 82, 90, 92, 421, 423, 442, 5000). We'd only missed seeing the CLF, LDP, and 600 class of those regularly found in NSW. These locomotives were found in 24 distinct paint schemes. Try doing that in the US these days!

A B-double petrol tanker in Goulburn. . .

Cool Trucks!

Aussies love their truckkies. No wonder railways are having such a tough time getting a good foothold on freight traffic! The variety of these brawny semi-trucks is amazing; we didn't get far enough out in the bush to encounter the "Road Train" in its 300' glory, but we got plenty of opportunities to view the nearly-as-impressive "B-Doubles", a semi-tractor pulling a fifth-wheel equipped three-axle trailer allowing a second three-axle trailer in tow behind it. These combinations are eating the freight railway's lunch. And almost all the tractors have impressive "'roo guards" up front to slap away creatures (and smaller vehicles) that dare get in their way!

Livestock B-double at Maitland. Love that Roo Bar!

And, they love the Ute!

For a country predominantly rural in its land area, you'd think there'd be more pick-up trucks in Australia. But we sure didn't see a lot of them. US-style pickup trucks are uncommon enough in Australia that Charlie Harris pointed out a Dodge pickup pulling a box-trailer on the Hume Highway near Yass one morning. "Reminds you the states, eh?" he remarked, but it took a minute for his comment to sink in. Big American-style pickup trucks are few and far between in Australia. . .if you need a bed on your vehicle to haul stuff, it's more likely you'll turn to a "Ute."

Sweet-looking Holden in Bathurst. I'd bet these would sell well in the States. . .

In the States, we've had El Caminos and Rancheros (and Subaru gave us a Brat), but these have come and gone without much traction on the buying public. But maybe it's time US Automakers should think about reintroducing the concept here. They'd certainly have better fuel economy, and the utes from Holden and Ford are certainly stylish enough and offer a big variety of rear beds, from a flatbed to a tilting bed to a traditional pickup bed with tonneau cover. Even Mitsubishi offers them, with a crew-cab configuration. What does Detroit have to lose? If a Ford Falcon Ute were offered in the US, I'd certainly consider it! But it's just American culture, I guess, that equates rugged individualism to owning a truck. . that's why Ford sold, for example, over 900,000 F-series trucks in 2006 alone.

Here's a Ford Falcon with a flat bed for hauling. . .

. . and a bright red Holden as well.

Buy Your Gasoline on Tuesday!
Most of the time in Australia, fuel was around $1.30 a litre. . .except on Tuesdays, when it dropped to $1.10 or so. . .then went back to $1.30 the next day. What's with that? Why does fuel drop so precipitiously on Tuesday only? Here's what Caltex's website says:
The price of petrol generally goes up on the same day each week because of competitive discounting over the previous week. Because discounting increases sales for a short period until competitors react, some service stations will continually move prices downwards in small steps. It takes about a week to reach the point where petrol is being sold close to or below cost, which is unsustainable. Consequently, at different times on Wednesday or sometimes Thursday, other petrol retailers independently increase their prices at some or all of the sites where they control the price. Competitors are carefully watched and if their prices don’t increase to similar levels, retailers may reconsider their price increases. Price increases are not timed to coincide with pension or pay day.
Makes no sense to me. Why not just keep the price low all week and preclude gas lines on Tuesday nights? But I'm glad they don't increase prices on pension or pay day.
Would you lick Nicole's backside? And pay 55 cents to do so?

The Land of Mel and Nicole
Found it strange that Australia Post has a stamp featuring Nicole Kidman on it. Guess you don't have to be dead to be on a stamp in Australia, but I know one Canberra resident who so dislikes Kidman that the thought of flipping her stamp over and licking its backside is particularly unpleasant! To be equitable, stamps also featuring Russell Crowe, Geoffrey Rush, and Kate Blanchett were released at the same time. I wonder what a Russell Crowe stamp tastes like?
And front page news during our visit was Mel Gibson's divorce, with wonderful detail about just what his beleagured wife was asking for in the divorce settlement and lots of juicy gossip about the Russian models Mel has cheated with over the years. Aussie's are just as celebrity crazy as we are in the states, so obsessing about the trivial when there are so many serious topics to be concerned about is not strictly an American thing. I'd imagine if you visited Sierra Leone, the newspapers would be filled with gossip about Sierra Leone's most famous celebrity (though, to be fair, I was unable to find the name of one using Google). I wonder if they have Sierra Leone's Got Talent! on their television?

Fun While It Lasted. ..

So much for "The First-Place Texas Rangers."

After a blistering hot May, our beloved ballclub has slipped into the deepest of slumps. Hell, did I hear that in the past couple of weeks only the Washington Nationals have a worse offensive production than the Rangers? How bad? Let T.R. Sullivan tell you.

For the past month or so, the Rangers have been in sole-possession of first place in the American League West. No more. Having lost five straight, the Rangers go into tonight's game in Phoenix, tied with the LA Angeles for first. I suspect it won't be long until they're a good five or six games up before heading into the All-Star break.

Who woulda thunk it'd be the Rangers' pitching that has kept them atop the division for so long? And who woulda thunk it'd be the offensive production--or lack of--that has pulled them down.

It's not just Chris Davis, whose batting average has now slipped below that of Carlos Zambrano--a PITCHER, for God's Sake! The whole team is in an epic slump. Team average has slumped from .274 in May to a tepid .219 in June. Only two starters, Mike Young and Marlon Byrd, are still hitting above that .274 figure.

Given their performance in this current road trip to the west coast, it wouldn't be hard to argue that the batting slump is starting to pull down their defensive performance as well, with errors starting to pile up, culminating in last night's embarassing little-league oopsie where catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia threw a return pitch over the head of the pitcher, allowing a run to score. Not that it mattered. By then, the Rangers were losing 7-2 to the Arizona Diamondbacks, bottom dwellers of the NL West, and 11 games under .500.

It doesn't seem too far-fetched to think that at this rate, the Rangers will be in third in the division behind the Seattle Mariners. Perish the thought.
For a month, though, we sipped from the chalice of the Division Leader. At one point, we even had the best record in the American League. But no more. And I'm guessing we've reached the high water-mark of the season.

It was fun while it lasted, though. . .

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Happy Father's Day to all the dads. . .

My father, Lou, age 35, in 1961, with my sister Ronnie and one-year-old me. Park Forest, Illinois.
A father's day shout-out to my father, Lou, in Plano. He's 83-year-old, and has had some health setbacks in the past few months, but his spirit is strong and he hasn't lost his sense of humor. We're headed over to take him out to dinner tomorrow. We hope to have him around for many years to come, and that my sons will have a Grandpa to visit for a while yet. It's tough to accept your parents growing old before your eyes; harder still to lose a parent. It's easy to think that they'll always be around just the way you remember them, and often, before you realise it, the chance to tell you how you feel about them is gone. I'm cynical about "non-holiday" holidays such as Father's Day and such. Sure, I guess presents and cards and lousy ties are nice to get, but what means the most are four words:

"I love you, Dad. "

My dad and my sons, E. and I., June, 2009.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Oz Trip, day 13 (times two):Homecoming!

Worth coming home to: The Three Dudes, together again!

Thursday, April 23: The bad thing about flying TO Australia is that you lose a day of your life. The good thing about flying FROM Australia is that you get to live a day over again!

As much fun as we had Down Under, it really was great to get home to our own "reality." And nothing on the trip compared with the feeling of being greeted at the door by Mary and the boys. . .even I. was happy to see me again!

The dudes had worked hard to paint me a Welcome Home sign and greeted me with balloons, hugs, kisses and their big smiles. I did the same! Unpacking could wait--except to dig out the goodies I brought home for them!

I went back to work the following night. Reality set in. Back in the States, back at work. The jet lag was far worse coming back than going. . .it took me a couple of weeks before I'd re-adjusted my already whacked schedule to get my clock back onto a night shift. And then I caught some sort of cold/sinus infection than hung on for a month. There definately was a price to pay.

But it was worth it.

Making dad a welcoming poster. . .

Ready for the reunion. . .

Oz Day 13: Last Chance at Port Botany--and the flight home

A Quantas 747 departs Sydney: we'll be on the next one home!

Thursday, April 23: We were already packed and ready to go when we pulled out of the Formulae One in Enfield for the last time. Thank God! (I'll post some photos of our various accommodations in an upcoming entry so you can see how tiny this room was.)

Our flight home was scheduled for 130pm, so we had a few hours to kill before submitting ourselves to the check-in process. We didn't want to get too far from the airport, so naturally we opted for the Botany Bay goods line right across the street from the airport entrance. We parked the car in an area visited mostly by aircraft foamers and walked the couple hundred yards down a walking/biking trail along a canal, and under the railway bridge to the east side to wait.

940am: Lots of planes to see, but as yet, no trains. Here's an Atlas Air Freight 747-400F/BCF, one of three operated for Quantas Freight, landing low over the railway bridge. . .

948am: Here comes the first of the parade, the always-reliable T280 P&O Transport Australia shuttle from Yenorra, with the 4477/KL81. . .

. . and a Quantas 757 landing over the top of the train just a minute too late for both to be in the shot, however. . .

. . through the magic of Photoshop, no one's the wiser. . .

1004am: A Pacific National rock train pulled out of the gravel yard at Cooks River, across the bridge, then backed over the bridge on Mascot loop. Though not overly huge locomotives by US standards, that burly 81 class IS an impressive locomotive. We really should be turning the rental in, but we certainly didn't want our last shots in Australia to be of such a common EMD product. So, we waited. . .

1016am: Worth waiting for! The EL from yesterday's T182 has been replaced by CFCLA's 44204 Alco teamed with Southern Shorthaul's GM22. . .

. . Lance (and I) get one final shot, and then it's off to the airport. Farewell, Australia! You've certainly been worth the trip to get to know!
The check-in gave me pause. Lance was gracious enough to allocate some of his suitcase space (and more importantly, weight) to some of the stuff I'd purchased on the trip--namely, the big bunch of detail parts, decals, and car kits from Casula. Since owner Joe had already deducted the GST from my purchase, these could be in checked baggage. GST is refunded to foreign travelers at the airport, but only on items carried on planes, which made my packing creative: we jammed as many of the books we'd purchased, along with the Eureka 620/720 railmotor I'd bought via mail order but sent to Ray Pilgram's address, into our carry on bags. Even so, I held my breath when I hoisted my checked bag onto to scale at the Qantas counter.
THIRTY FIVE KILOGRAMS? That's around 74 pounds!
I was three Kilos over the alloted weight for my big bag, and faced a $150 over-weight fee. The ticket agent, though, bless her heart, mentioned that my second piece of checked luggage, a tripod in a soft bag, barely weighed three kilos. "I'll just split the difference; hopefully nobody says anything," she said. "You're my last customer of the day, and I think we'll probably get away with it." I couldn't imagine this happening with the bastards of American Airlines!
We used up the rest of our Australian money in the duty-free shops. I bought a flag for E. and a couple of t-shirts for the boys; Mary got a necklace and earrings with gen-u-wine Cooby Pedy opals.
And then we were off. The flight home seemed much quicker--actually, 2 hours faster due to tailwinds--and after dinner and a movie and ice cream and another movie and two Xanax, I was fast asleep, and didn't wake up until we were ready to land in LA. I actually don't remember much of the trip home--it was so anti-climactic after our Aussie adventure that I can't recall any of the flight from LA to Dallas.
I couldn't wait to walk through our front door!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Oz Day 12(c): Exploring Central Station with Bob

Nerve Center for Sydney Metro railways: The Rail Management Centre at Sydney Central station.

Wednesday, April 22: Parking was non-existent around Sydney Central, so Lance dropped me off to find a place to park while I went inside to meet Bob Stack. Bob is the guy who assembles the TOC Manual data for CityRail and is an expert draftsman and fine model railroader and has an exceptionally sharp sense of humour as well.

Bob met me at the ARHS bookstore, where I promptly dropped $90 on old modeling magazines, and was threatening to spend even more until Lance showed up. We went outside to wait at a non-descript, unmarked door where we were soon met by the fellow who is the top-dog manager for RailCorp's Rail Management Centre We rode an elevator to the third floor and entered a large conference room where CityRail and RailCorp managers meet to plan "incident recovery" (at BNSF, we'd call it a "war room," but our host reminded us that in Australia, such terminology is not welcomed--yet another fundamental difference between War-loving Americans and Peace-loving Aussies).

The room featured a large display of RailCorp's network and a group of PC monitors that could view any closed circuit camera (there are over 8300 of them) at CityRail stations. We then entered the control centre itself through a large rotating cylindrical security door--just like the ones installed at our BNSF dispatching center following 9/11. Once inside, it was impossible to miss the overview display of the CityRail network that took up an entire wall. Our host informed us that CityRail operates a couple thousand trains a day and handles more than a million passengers. All this is dispatched by only a half-dozen controllers, who each manage several switch towers and signalmen among the many routes in and out of the Metro area--dispatchers who don't control or direct, but don't give any actualy authority to train or maintenance crews!

Right next to the controllers, CityRail security managers dispatched and managed several hundred railway police officers as well as monitored station cameras. The cameras were monitored by the rail control managers as well--one thing Lance and I hadn't considered before is what a different beast a large commuter operation is than a freight railway: it was important for controllers to be able to meter the flow of trains through stations depending upon passenger loads and crowds that could present hazardous situations. It isn't unheard of for passengers on crowded platforms to accidentally fall into the paths of trains; unfortunately, it is not an uncommon event for the folks at CityRail to deal with suicides.

Sandstone clock tower of the 1906 Sydney Central station. At least a couple hundred feet tall, and we were about to climb all the way up. . .

From the RMC, Bob had arranged a very special treat for us: a chance to climb up, up, up inside the clock tower of Central Station. It was our version of the Sydney Harbour Bridge walk, and we didn't have to suit up in special grey and black outfits, wear communications headsets, or pay $180 bucks, either! Through a door, up a small flight of stairs, and then look straight up: there ya go, a narrow stairway around the walls of the tower, 174 steps to where the stairs end. But that wasn't all: through another narrow doorway, and up another small set of stairs. This opened out onto a floor with a view down onto the railway and city below. To the east, the skyscrapers of downtown formed a narrow canyon; to the west, a maze of trackage converged on the station, with a half-dozen trains moving in and out at any one time. Now, up a spiral staircase and through another door; and through one more door and we were at clock level, not much of a view of the city, but a great look at the innerworkings of the four-faced clock millions of commuters glance at as they dash to their trains. Up another set of spiral stairs, and one more open floor with an even better view of the city and trains below. Above that, yet one more set of stairs that open into the top dome (no view here). It was an exhilirating view, and an even moreso exhilirating walk back down. . .around 300 steps back to where we started.

Great view of the west end of Central Station's approach. . .

Almost to the top, on the veranda above the clock faces. . .

And coming back down, down, down--what i'd imagine the inside of St. Paul's Cathedral in London to look like.

Hot and sweaty in the humid, sometimes rainy air, we returned to the concourse of the station to grab a train one stop west, to Redfern, where we'd detrain and walk a couple of blocks to visit Sydney signal box, which controls movements through Central station. First, a bottle of water, and while I waiting in line at Hungry Jack's near the concourse, I noticed a beautiful, stylish series of murals depicting the New South Wales railways in the 1950s--heroic in scope, with massive Garratts bringing in trainloads of wheat from the countryside to the city silos. I wonder how many passengers through Central pay these any notice?

Heroic depictions of NSWGR above the station doors. . .

Hustle-and-bustle of Central approaching Rush Hour. . .

. . .and a quiet moment reading the paper next to a venerable clock. . .

Inside the Sydney signal box: controlled mayhem. . .

We spent around 45" watching a quartet of signalmen line signals, communicate to trains, other towers, and the controller slipping dozens of trains in and out of several converging lines amazingly complex in their layout. But they made it look easy, and had time to chat with us about our own rail jobs in the states (of highest interest: days off, holidays, and of course, pay). The signal board was a huge slate-grey fronted board much like I'd seen a dozen years ago at the Kansas City Terminal--and it was obsolete then. With a strictly analog display, the signalmen kept track of trains by a day-specific timetable in a three-ring binder before them. As trains departed from adjacent tower districts, the train number would appear on a digital display adjacent to the route it was traveling. For these guys, it was all old-hat; I was confused, though, with the big display of moving lights and "enter-exit" buttons--all manually controlled. Well, some of it manually controlled. Seems a computer is programmed to run some of the routes, but it isn't too reliable, so the signalmen usually put the board in manual.

Change is coming to this box and others in the CityRail system, as a CRT-displayed, mouse-operated replacement is being phased in. By the next time we visit Sydney, the big grey monster in the middle of the room will probably be replaced by a couple of desks with several computer monitors.

Analogue display at the signal tower. . .

The platform flagman prepares to signal a departure from Central. . .

We caught a train back into Central and waited for an express out to Hornsby, on the far northern end of the Suburban Service (CityRail also operates Interurban services as far north as Newcastle). Bob lives a bit beyond Hornsby, at Mount Kuring-Gai, but his wife Deanne was going to meet us at Hornsby for dinner at the RSL club. Bob's position at RailCorp got us into the driver's compartment of our V-set electric train for the one-stop trip to Hornsby.

Climbing onto the V-set for the trip to Hornsby. . .

A few things about the ride north proved interesting: first, the amazing amount on infrastructure needed to run this network. Multiple mainlines, for each direction as well as class of service (commuter and suburban), with numerous stations with island platforms. Several times we met three trains at once, and we really enjoyed one memorable burst of running where we paced a commuter service running right alongside us. And second, the lack of headlights used at night. With the ambient city lighting and number of trains being met in close quarters on the first few miles out of Central, this was understandable; but north of Strathfield, on the double track, it was quite eerie rolling along at speed in the dark, guided only by signal indication and hoping that the points were lined correctly and that no hooligans had placed an old washing machine on the tracks.
We ease into Strathfield for our only express stop. . .

Freaky: streaking through the night with no headlight, only the station platforms at Rhodes Station light our way as we fly northward towards Hornsby. . .
Deanne met us at the RSL in Hornsby and we had another delightful RSL dinner. This club was DELUXE! Dinner was swell and a treat from the Stack's (thanks again!). We finished our visit with some dessert at Bob and Deanne's and checked out Bob's South Coast Rail model railroad in the building behind his house. Bob has a website that describes the layout better than I could. His back-to-back Trainorama 44 class and sound-equipped Eureka Garrett were quite memorable!

Bob drove us back to Sydney and Lance retrieved his car from the parking garage. $56 for parking! Fuckin' A! We squeezed back into our tiny Formulae One motel room and took turns using the minimal floor space to pack for the trip home. It was after 1am when we turned in. But we still had another morning of railfanning ahead of us. . .

Bob takes his new sound-equipped Garratt for a tour around the South Coast Layout. I'm envious!

Deanne and Bob Stack. Thanks for a great evening!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Oz Day 12(b): Being A Tourist

Proof we were in Sydney: Lance and Blair in front of the Opera House. A young woman was kind enough to photograph us here; I stood on the ledge above Sydney Harbour and leaped. Lance wasn't quite so free-spirited, though I'm sure the photo might've been better had a gust of wind blown me back into the water. . .
Wednesday, April 22: So, folks back home are asking, you go to Australia and spend two weeks looking at trains and visiting dispatching offices.

Really? How about the tourist shit that you're supposed to do when you travel to the other side of the world?

Okay, here it is. But this is all that there is, so you damn well better enjoy it:

My sister Julie, the world traveler, insisted that I ante up the $189 and climb across the top of the landmark Sydney Harbour Bridge. But: you aren't allowed to bring a camera with you, because you might drop it on a motorist below (and besides, that way they can sell you a photo as well). Not being the type to splurge on such experiences (and being cheap to boot), I stayed on the ground and let other celebrities like Miss Universe, Keith Urban and the Guy from Harry Potter have my place in line. The view IS spectacular, though. . .

So, instead of climbing the bridge, Lance took me to the Lord Nelson Brewery and Hotel in the Rocks district of Sydney, north of the Harbour bridge. The place claims to be the oldest continually licensed hotel in town, dating from 1831, and has some acclaim for its microbrews.

About a block away is this view of Darling Harbour, which 20 years ago was Sydney's main waterfront docks and rail-yard area. Now it's filled with pricey condos and tourist attractions. Too bad the rail yards aren't still there. . .

Anyways, we beat the lunch rush, since they didn't serve before 1115. The Lord Nelson looks like what you'd imagine a Pub should look like, all dark, comforting, polished wood, etc. ..

Lance and his wife Emily visited the Nelson a couple years earlier after seeing it featured on a cable TV food show, highlighting its pub specialty, a blob of mashed potatoes topped with a meat pie and gravy and capped with a scoop of "mushy peas." Well, okay. I like all those elements individually, so armed with a beer to wash it down, I face the specialty of the house. . .

. . which was actually quite tasty. The pie was nice and flakey, and peas had just the right texture. Here's the "bon appetit' photo shoot portrait of the concoction. . .
After that, it was time to walk it off, with a three-mile stroll under the bridge, past Circular Quay, out to the Opera House, and back to the car. Here's the sail-like sections of the Opera House roof. Constructed in 1973, it has been named a "World Heritage Site" by the United Nations as one of the world's most recognizable stuctures.
By now, it was getting on to 130pm, and we had an appointment with Bob Stack at Sydney Central at 2pm, so we had to get movin. . .

OZ, Day 12(a): Another morning on the Goods Line

915am: Just as the day before, and on the same schedule, the P&OTA T280 trip train throttles up as it charges eastward out of Enfield, again with the 4477 and KL81 for power. . .

Wednesday, April 22: After a busy and long previous day, we were right back after it the next morning. This day was going to be even longer: another morning photographing freight trains on the Goods Line, then the obligatory "tourist look-see" on Sydney Harbour, and in the afternoon hooking up with Bob Stack for a tour of the CityRail operations and a trip out to his place in the north suburbs for dinner. A long day, indeed--this day will be split up into three posts.

Our morning vantage point for the procession of freight wasn't too far from the luxury of our Formulae One motel--actually, less than a mile away, on the Burwood Road overpass at the south (east) end of the large Enfield/Chullora yard complex. The Metropolitian Goods Line is a freight-only rail line between Flemington/Sefton on the north and Sydenham on the east. From Campsie, just east of our overpass, to Sydenham, the Goods Line parallels the Cabramatta-Marrickville "Bankstown Passenger Line" (it all makes more sense when you look at a map of the area). It serves as a bypass for freight traffic off the busy passenger rail lines in Sydney, and served as the connection to Sydney's original harbour rail port at Darling Harbour and Rozelle unitl Darling Harbour's freight yards closed in the 1980s and container export traffic expanded through Port Botany, east of Sydenham.

932am: Here comes the Pacific National Manildra-Bombaderry flour train, hauling processed grains from Manildra, near Parkes in the west, down to a Manildra Flour processing plant at Bombaderry, south of Wollongong on the coast. Power is the usual set of twin-81 Class.

1015am: After a bit of a lull, and empty container flat train (we'd call 'em "baretables" in the states) with a PacNational 81 Class, likely bound for Port Botany. . .

1022am: Coming off the South Coast and bound for coal mines north of Lithgow, east of the Blue Mountains is an empty led by an 82 Class and a pair of BL double-ended boxcab EMD's. . .

1033am: Next up, a return IRA service from Port Botany with Helga 1440 on the head end. . .

. . and 1437 on the rear. Skirting the south side of Enfield, this train is likely bound for Minto and will rejoin the Bankstown line at Sefton, proceeding to Cabramatta where it will continue south on the mainline from Granville to Campbelltown to the MIST terminal for unloading.

1035am: T250, IRA's Minto-Botany service, heads east behind HVRT-owned 4461 and. . .

. . .on the rear, LVR 4703 in push-pull.

1040am: Westbound out of Campsie comes this container train ex-Port Botany with matched PacNational 81 class 8151/8157. Could this be the same PatrickPortlink trip train we saw the day before with matched DL's?

1043am: We'd hoped for matched GM's again on the Southern Shorthaul trip train T182 from Sandown, but GM27 apparently crapped out and was replaced by CFCLA EL-class EL58.
It was now getting towards lunchtime, and Lance had a special little out-of-the-way place he wanted to show me in The Rocks on the north side of downtown. Lunchour traffic can be horrible, so with threatening skies above, we headed out to be tourists for the next couple of hours. . .