Australian Railway Story: Chapter13

Chapters: • 1 • 2 • 3 • 4 • 5 • 6 • 7 • 8 • 9 • 10 • 11 • 12 • 13 • 14 • 15 • 16 • 17 • 18 •

Trains Trains Trains

From the very first railway services in Australia trains and what occurred to them and on them have stood out in Australians’ minds. Many trains were given special ‘nicknames’ that related to the function they performed. Names like the “Fish and Chips” (the two special trains that brought passengers to the city to work from the Blue Mountains in NSW), the Comet (The Broken Hill diesel service) and The Sprite (short for the Spirit of Progress used between Melbourne and Albury) crept into everyday use in the Australian language.

The operation of special purpose trains like the funeral trains that ran from Central Sydney to the Rookwood Cemetery and the special prison trains that relayed convicted prisoners to notorious jails like Grafton were closely observed by poets and song writers.

A favourite of outback children was the circus trains that were travelling Zoos of performing circus animals, clowns and brass bands. These trains were the basis of many Australian suburban and railways myths, like the story that all elephants had to travel in the guard vans of the train to prevent them drinking the locomotive tenders dry and escaping. Another well-known story put about by railway boilermakers concerned the railway clerk who was eaten by a lion from the Wirth’s Circus train and was not missed for several weeks, as he did nothing in the workplace other than write ‘Bungs’.

Below we look at a number of the observations made by poets, songwriters and storytellers of trains and related events that have contributed to the Australian Railway Story.

A Slow Train

A lady waited four hours at a way station, the train came along, and she got aboard. The hours dragged by, and at each toot of the whistle she asked if it was Topeka. Finally the conductor became irritated:
‘Don’t worry, madam, I’ll let you know when we reach Topeka.’
‘But, I’ve been on the road now all day.’
‘Well, madam, I’ve been on the road three years, and I’m not worrying’.
‘Poor man, she retorted, ‘you must have started at the next station beyond mine.’
(Australian Railway Gazette, 1922)

Melbourne-Adelaide Express (1903)

A passenger on the Melbourne-Adelaide express was reported as showing symptoms of the plague. In due time the doctors met the train, and discovered that, though there was considerable swelling, there was no cause for alarm, and they reported as follows:

‘The passenger reported
As a case that was suspicious
Was suffering from malady
That wasn’t very vicious.

‘Tis true he had a swelling,
A dangerous one ‘twas said;
But the ailment’s purely local,
Twas swelling of the head.’

(The Western Australian Gazette, 1903)

The Transcontinental
There’s a train that leaves the city
With its passengers and freight,
Going on its eastward journey,
And it seldom travels late;
Thro’ the Darling Range it passes
Where the grades are long and steep
Where flood waters, down the gullies
Over stony ridges leap

2 more verses then:

There’s the ‘Continental’ waiting
Near the platform, long and broad,
Ready for the eastern journey,
Takes the travellers aboard,
Soon is heard the tat ta tat ta
As the iron wheels pass o’er
Gleaming metals that go stretching
On the plains of the Nullarbor

Speeding on to distant cities,
Across the hot dry desert sands
Where some lonely camel driver,
Greets the train with wave of hand,
And an Abo’ of the region
Gazes on with wond’ring eyes,
And a broad grin lights his face,
As the engine rumbles by.

And the mirage in the distance
Shows a lake-land faintly brood
And the Emu shyly wanders
In the haunting solitude.
Beyond spinifex to southward,
Distant Willies blow land bare
Like old Blacks at their boras
Spirits dwell forever there.

By a solitary station,
Where the bound’ry riders ride
From the dawn to silver twilight,
With their dreams unsatisfied
When they spy the railroad crossing
Gliding smoothly over the plain
Hope within them awakens,
And they dream of home again.

Speeding through the lonesome land
Out towards the border-line
By the fettlers’ lonely out-camp
And the Tarcoola’s failing mine
Onward to the stately cities,
With its passengers content,
Speeds the great ‘Transcontinental’
Out across the continent.
((Wade S.J., 1936; The Railway and Tramway Magazine. Perth W.A. Railway Institute)

The Train

The lines of steel and strength, cragged, they began to quiver,
Stretching, trying to free themselves.
From a long way off came the high-pitched whine.
The speck approached. Quickly it grew, faster, faster.
The diesel careered past,
Casting crazy and mysterious shadows
Over the rugged ground.
The smell of oil,
The feeling of heat, then,
Onwards to the horizon.
(Alan Hinton, POETS CORNER Station Master Peterborough)


(Tune ‘The Lachlan Tiger’)

A lot of Glenbrook Tiger
It’s plain to see we are
Hark to the ticket inspector
As he elbows down the car
‘Tickets please’ calls one
And quickly the evader flies
‘And get your feet down off that seat’
Another loudly cries.


The Crookwell Railway Line

‘The Goods’, ‘the Mixed,’ ‘the Passenger’, ‘the Pape’ and ‘Express’;
The men upon the engine -‘ Baldwin’ or ‘Black Bess,’
The brave Australian drivers - stalwarts of the land -
The firemen, guards, and porters and the noisy Tramway band;
May their runs be merry, through Traffic’s storm or shine,
Their ‘attitude’ be jolly, though on or off the line:
And may Australia’s railways as the winds of progress blow
Remain the People’s Asset, and grow stronger as they grow.

(From Old Pioneers- Free selecting days)

A Popular Theme – ‘Save Public Transport’.

The North Coast Mail

So you can’t afford the airfare north and your eyes, they brim with tears,
The shiny motorail is booked, ahead for twenty years,
And Cobb & Co and Pioneer, insist you see Queensland,
But it’s ok the SRA has got the job in hand.
(by Barry Mannall ‘Tallowood’)

Currently the Railway Story is in the process of seeking permission to display the full content of this song or poem or to have a copy linked via the web to this research document

Queensland Railways have inspired many a poem and a song. With long distances between strangely named stations, a 3 foot 6 inch track and what were seen by many as toy locomotives, Queensland writers have produced material with a sense of humor all its own.

On The Queensland Railway Lines

On the Queensland railway lines
There are stations where one dines,
Private individuals
Also run refreshment stalls.

Bogan-Tungan, Rollingstone,
Mungar, Murgon, Marathon(e),
Guthalungra, Pinkenba,
Wanko, Yaamba, - ha, ha, ha !

Males and females, high and dry,
Hang around at Durikai,
Boora-Mugga, Djarawong,
Giligulgul, Wonglepong.

Pies and coffee, baths and showers
Are supplied at Charters Towers:
At Mackay the rule prevails
Of restricted showers to males.

Iron rations come in handy
On the way to Dirranbandi,
Passengers have died of hunger
During halts at Garradunga.

Let us toast, before we part,
Those who travel, stout of heart,
Drunk or sober, rain or shine,
On the Queensland railway line.

(German folk tune. Words by Brisbane Realist Writers’ Group.)

The Wild Beaudesert Train

Some bards have sung the isles of Greece and some the summer rain,
Fill high the cup with wine! I sing the wild Beaudesert train!
Some sing the gees and Ascot course and some the spring’s sweet reign;
But I, in keenest wine, I pledge the wild Beaudesert train.

Behind us drops the smoky town, the pubs, the City Tower.
We thunder out to Dutton Park in under half an hour.
Tonight we seek no amber ale, nor cause to boil the billy
As limned in fire and black with smoke we rear through Yeerongpilly.

And now we yank the throttles wide, the furnace fires gleam
As Cooper’s Plains goes flashing past a phantom in a dream;
The metals sing an angry song, the clanking pistons strain,
And cowering people cry, ‘Behold! The wild Beaudesert train!’

We take on corn at Waterford and logs at Logan Village,
Lord knows what at Cedar Grove, and crops of Woodhill tillage.
Now wilder, wilder grows the pace as drunk with speed and power
We thunder round the Veresoak Bend at seven miles an hour.

Black smoke leaps belching from our stack, a roar affrights the ear
And far across the blue-gum flats pale farmers blanch with fear.
And darkies sing their babes to sleep with threatening refrain,
‘By Cripes! He come and gobble you, that wild Beaudesert train!’

But crowd on canvas! Stock her up! For winged Gods are here;
We pass the sawmill like a streak, a sort of smoky bear,
The wheels fly off, the boiler tubes are busted up and broke,
We dash into Beaudesert town a storm of flame and smoke.

And still the grey-beards tell the tale, and swear by all the powers
We made the run from Melbourne Street in under seven hours!
Yea down the years they hand the yarn and chant the wild refrain,
‘By George, those days ‘twas hard to beat the wild Beaudesert train!’

The Passing Of The ‘Goat’

There's a train that goes through Loadstone,
To Border Hill remote,
It is short and black and noisy,
And it's called the Mountain Goat

It belches steam and sooty smoke.
And cinders to the skies,
And they run the engine backwards,
To deceive the Russian spies.

Through the fires of dry October,
Or the lash of cyclone rain,
You will hear the squealing whistle,
Of the little mountain train.

It takes the Mummas shopping
And brings their parcels back,
And groceries for ‘Tickies’,*
Far off the beaten track.

And many a can of cookies' cream.
And many a timber tree.
And many a dried out fettler,
A'heading for a spree.

It takes the kiddies off to school.
And brings along the mail.
And feeds the folk up Grady's Creek.
Come thunder, rain or hail.

There's beef from old Casino.
To swell the butcher's bill.
And feed the hungry workers.
From the Loop to Fairy Hill.

Now there's sadness on the Border,
For the Powers down below,
Have got their heads together,
And decreed the ‘Goat’ must go.

‘We've got to cut the schedule’.
So spoke the Sydney boss.
‘There's no future in the business,
She's running at a loss’.

So the boys have got together.
And just for old times sake,
They're getting a nine gallon,
To give the ‘Goat’ a wake.

In a final celebration.
Though it cost their last half note,
And they'll stand and drink in silence,
To the passing of the ‘Goat’.

But in the nights a coming,
When the wild Southeasters blow,
You'll hear her slip through Cougal
And see the phantom glow

Of a phosphorescent headlight,
In the blur of falling rain,
And the ghosts of long dead fettlers,
'A riding home again.

And through the spiral tunnels,
With an eerie frightening roar,
The spirit of the Mountain Goat.
That climbs the range no more.
(Bernard O’Reilly, 1957)

* ‘Tickies’ manned the compulsory cattle-tick dips at remote state border crossings.
The ‘Goat’ had to negotiate the gradients, tortuous bends and switchback tunnels beneath the Border Ranges between NSW and Queensland.

The Walton Water Train

Way out west at Walton,
Where it very seldom rains,
We get out drinking water
From the Central Railway trains.
For long months now at Walton
The dam has been stone-dry,
For water conservation
No one will care, or try.
Of course, it is no wonder
Why the public do complain,
To see a repetition
Of the Walton Water Train.

The leaking gins spray water
Along the railway track.
Forty miles to get it,
Forty miles to bring it back.
Where are all the leaders
Who plan and talk and shout?
Why don’t they get some tractors
And have the dam scooped out?
No time for wishful thinking,
Work and conserve the rain.
Avoid a repetition
Of the Walton Water train.

Home On The Comet

There’s a train heading out of the station
And it’s bound for town where I was born
Across the shunting track,
Through the city black

The cramped compartment stretches wide and gives a view.

Now we’ve reached the mountains and we slow for another stop,
A pie with sauce, and a drink at the railway shop.
Close your eyes
As the engine steams and sighs
Glance at the girls on the platform, who smile with eyes forlorn.

Settle back, hear the railway whistle blowing
See your reflection in the rising of the dawn

Then it’s out of the hills and into the plains beyond,
Stations that you wink and you blink and they are gone.
Emus running, bush ballerinas
Flounce their skirts, as we go by.
Old man Kangaroo, he’s advancing too
Watch his legs now, across the sky.

Then it’s the town, just past the railway tank,
Three kids and a dog, five houses a pub and a bank.
Willow, Peppertree, Mulga, Coolabah
Salvation Jane on the salt bush plain
Everlasting wink, May Mitchell’s drink,
The bush is soft and still, in the morning rain.

The cows drift on by like clouds across the sky,
I close my book, that I’ve read all day.
The hills of home are near
My eyes are wide and clear,
There’s the creek, where I used to play.

There’s a Train, heading into the station,
Into the town where I was born.
There’s my Mum & Dad
Come to meet their son,
A kiss and a hug, and I’m home once more.

(John Broomhall 1/3/84)

The Northern Mail

The Northern Mail is moving fast
With seven hundred souls;
Though many vow this ride's their last,
The fireman shovels coal.

Who knows the drama buried here
Within this lurching throng?
Who knows what tales of love and fear—
Who knows who's right—or wrong?

There's cutters, shearers, spielers, thugs,
Commercials with cigars
With town-men, bushmen, bad men, mugs,
They jostle through the cars.

The Northern Mail goes roaring on,
A comet through the night;
The sun goes down, the bush has gone,
The farm-lamps fly from sight.

And some arrange, with weary hand,
A bundle in the rack;
Only the bush can understand
Their fate—along the track....

And some for health and pleasure go,
And some go riding free,
And some sleep now who do not know
Where their next bed will be.

God knows what's in those trunks and ports,
Or where they've been—and why;
The whistle screams, the head-lamp glows,
The Northern Mail flies by.

There are sleepers restless of the roar,
But few of them recall,
For some can sleep upon the floor;
And some don't sleep at all.

Some day, perhaps, I'll put down roots,
Hear no more ‘Tickets please’
And bid farewell to smoke and soot,
Farewell to cramp and fleas.

The Northern Mail comes panting by,
We rattle round the bend;
For some, new roads of life begin,
For others, old ones end.


Two Up And Eleven Down

Two Up and Eleven Down we are,
Old champions of the road.
Not bred for speed like Goff's ‘tin hare’,
But tigers with a load.

To the West we are essential,
They run us every day.
While other trains may cancelled be
We're on the sheet to stay.

A rose by any other name
Is the same to me and you.
They scratched Two Up on Mondays,
But renamed it ‘Fifty-Two’.

On Saturdays no Eleven Down;
You must catch One-Two-Seven,
But by the time the latter leaves,
It might as well be Eleven!

Therefore we say we run each day
Though clerks make other numbers.
The trains must run, the work be done,
So hang the clerks and blunders!

We have aboard all kinds of wares,
From ploughs to flour and beer.
The cocky and his wife must work;
We bring the food and cheer.

We have Peters Ice and film cans,
So changing guards beware!
Who fail to put these prized goods on
Must many ‘blueys’ fear.

Our speed on banks is criticised:
We're not disturbed at that.
We groan 'tis true but so would you,
But watch us on the flat!

A-shimmering down the bank to Miles
You'd think it was "8S."
We pass some cars whose drivers glare;
Such speed they'd never guess.

We may be fifty late at times,
For this we take no blame.
With 459 roadside galore.
'Twill always be the same.

Chinchilla every day we meet
To bid the time of day,
And then refreshed by coal and crews
We wander on our way.

So it's ‘Right Away’ from Roma town
With ten tons o'er the load.
We've empty K's for Bungil,
And a shunt for every road.

We've bread and beef and cream cans,
And wool and all the rest.
Though table times we scarce regard,
We're life blood to the West.

It is uncertain who wrote this, but it is thought to have been the late Bill "Bluey" Chambers. Two Up and Eleven Down were the daily mixed trains, steam hauled, which shunted and loaded and unloaded foods all the way from Toowoomba to Roma. A ‘tin hare’ was a rail motor and ‘8S’ was the biweekly passenger train. The poem and this explanation were supplied by Ernie Hills.

Train Of Thought

I meditate, as thunders by
The last steam train from sea-kissed coast,
And lingering clear on mountain air
The whistle's plaintive sweet Last Post
Sounds Requiem for Stephenson
And for his work-horse, sturdy, strong,
Which day and night, through all these years
Has hauled the East-West trains along.

It tribute pays to Vulcan's men
Who made the steam to turn the wheel
By furnace glow, 'neath billowing smoke,
With rhythmic ring of steel on steel,
And drivers, keen eyes strained ahead
Through darkness deep and sleety rain,
Delivering freight and passengers
O'er gruelling grade and pleasant plain.

What cared the honeymooners for
The ‘Midnight Horror's’ jolt and sway?
No more than sheep and cattle bound
For Cannon Hill and Doboy way!
And laughing children, pleasure-bent
For beach or picnic at Spring Bluff,
Found fresh fun forming fancied phrase
Pulsations to proud ‘Putter's’ chuff!

Tales told by men whose youth is gone
Bring memories of adventures past,
But Progress rolls forever on
With heavier loads and schedules fast.
New skills have displaced muscled might
On automatons that burn no coal,
Yet romance, too, has taken flight-
Electric and diesels have no soul!

(Ernie Hills)

All Along The Belgrave Line

Every morning at the station, you will see them, rain or shine
People on the platforms waiting, all along the Belgrave line
Men and women dressed for business, uni students acting cool
Supervisors, sales assistants, children on their way to school

Board the train at Ferntree Gully, stopping all stations to Box Hill
Everybody's in a hurry, express after Camberwell
Rushing, rushing to the station, running hard to catch that train
Got to reach my destination, missed out on a seat again!

Move up closer that's the caper, rubbing shoulders, bums and knees
Someone's trying to read the paper, mind your elbows if you please
Billboards past the windows flying, schools and houses, cemet'ries
Veggie gardens, washing drying and the mighty MCG

Now I've reached my destination, grab my bag and find my feet
Join the rush to leave the station spilling out into the street
Every morning at the station, you will see them, rain or shine
People on the platforms waiting, all along the Belgrave line
Every morning at the station, you will see them, rain or shine
People on the platforms waiting, all along the Belgrave line

(© Rob Fairbaim 1989and 2000)

Roger’s Version

Queensland Railway Lines

On the Queensland Railway Lines you’ll be lucky if you can find
Locomotives large or small – in fact any trains at all!

If you’re waiting on a train then your wait is all in vain -
‘Cos the 7.35 was that bus just passing by

Bogantungan Rollingstone Munga Murgon Marathon
Guthalungra Kagaru, Wanko Yamba - Boo Hoo Hoo!

They’re pulling up the tracks and there’s no turning back
Hear the locomotives sigh - it’s the end of the ride.

If you want to catch a train there’s one rusting in the rain
You can ride it every day in the park where children play.

You could hear the locos roar through a thousand towns or more
Once upon a better time on the Queensland Railway Lines.

Based on the song “On The Queensland Railway Lines” (Brisbane Realist Writers) new verses & verse melody: Roger Ilott
© 1997 Restless Music

The Injune Railway

60 miles to Roma, it takes you half a day,
It took four years to build, but they’re closin’ it today

Cattle, sheep, wool & timber, cream & pumpkins, people too,
For years the locos hauled the trains, at 20 miles an hour they flew!
Traveling with the season’s produce - 9 bob is what you pay
Over five hours to Roma on the Injune Railway

Out through Komine and Kooragan, stop at half a dozen gates
Fireman opens, guard’ll close’em - every time the train just waits.
Slow across the timber bridges - Gum Gully’s many spans.
60 miles of railway line, four years work for many hands.

Over creeks and over gullies crossing roads and stations too
The track was laid by 1920 - 300 in the crew.
Up and down the track from Roma with freight of different kinds
The steam trains ran on the Injune branch line.


New Year’s Eve, ’66, as the last train pulls away.
Nearly 50 years they ran … there’ll be no train on New Year’s Day.
Goodbye Minka, Ona Ona, Alicker and Yingerbay,
Goodbye Kingull, Blue Lagoon … goodbye Injune railway.


Words: Penny Davies, Music: Roger Ilott
© 2001 Restless Music

Coal Train

When you're on a triple header from Blackwater or from Bluff,
In by Dingo and Rockhampton, and the tracks are pretty rough,
For a showery rail's a greasy rail, it makes the drivers slip,
So you never get the chance to open up and let her rip.
You've got no brakes, you've got no power, you're nearly out of sand,
And the hundred hoppers on your tail keep getting out of hand,
So you're edging down the cutting, watching hard for fallen rocks,
You say a prayer and cross yourself, and trust the Jesus Box,
Trust the Jesus Box.

What's in it is a mystery, you hope it's working right,
As you snake ‘em easy round the curves and the tail is out of sight.
Another shower comes along just when the rail gets right,
So you ease again for safety as you peer out in the night.
You hope all level crossing's clear, you'd never make 'er prop
It'd take three miles of careful brakes to bring ‘er to a stop.
So meantime with your nerves on edge and your heart down in your socks,
You say a prayer and cross yourself, and trust the Jesus Box,
Trust the Jesus Box.

An hour late at Westwood then in through Rockhampton town,
Across the highway slowly as the dawn comes brightly down,
Past paddocks, houses, hillsides, and the clouds are opening wide,
As she swings towards Point Barney where the great bulk loaders ride.
You drop the load for shunting and greet the rising sun,
With another trip behind you and another job well done,
You take ’em to the engine shed and set the brakes and locks,
And bless the great creator of the wondrous Jesus Box,
The wondrous Jesus Box.

Words: Bill Scott, Music: Roger Ilott
© 1997 Restless Music

Cane Train

Midnight shift on a Monday evening - hurry from the barracks to the loco shed,
Pouring rain and black as treacle, wish that I could stay in bed.
Past the arc lights down by the sand shed, down by the ash pits waiting in the rain,
Afternoon shift running late, boys, listen to the rattle of the old cane train.
Listen to the noise of a distant loco rattle over paddocks like a Gatling gun,
Number 6 coming over the river, boys, pounding in the cutting with a hundred ton.

In through the mill-yards slowing for the weigh bridge, drops a load coals up & then
Fills the tender up with water - home go the afternoon shift men.
Off to the yard to pick up empties, counting trucks in the pouring rain,
Hurricane lamp on the end of the rake then back to the engine of the old cane train.
Listen to the noise of a distant loco rattle in the dark like a Gatling gun,
Number 6 with a rake of empties heads for the river and the Daradgee run.

Out from the mill yard, slow at the crossing, open the regulator, stretch her out,
Tender first through the soaking darkness, safety hissing while the drivers shout.
Over the river bridge, through the cuttings, eyes all squinted at the driving rain,
Shovelling coal in the white-hot firebox - flying along on the old cane train.
Listen to the hiss of the old cane loco, shunts a load, gets ready and then
Leaves the rest of the rake in the loop line – thirty seven empties down to Portion 10.

Back to the main line, pulling out full trucks, rain so thick you can hardly see,
Dump ‘em in the loop and pick up the empties, then head north for Daradgee.
Past the blacked out farms and barracks, Victory Creek and the Milky Pine,
Listen to the beat of the old cane loco hauling trucks on the Daradgee Line.
Hear the roar of the old cane loco battle through the rain down the Daradgee track,
Clang! as the fireman shovels on the coal now - rattle of the drivers and the steam valves clack.

Stop for the crossing at the pub at Garradunga, catch points over the Government line,
Shunt the loop, deliver the empties, watery glare where the street lamps shine.
Homeward bound with a load of cane trucks, picking up the rest of the rakes as we go,
Over the bridge, across the water, open her out and listen to her go!
Hear the thunder of the old steam loco waking the echoes as she hammers up the hill
Over the crossing, round the schoolhouse, bringing back the cane to the Goondi Mill -
Bringing back the cane to the Goondi Mill.

Well, no more steam, they're using diesels, no more firebox - white hot glare,
No more water in the joggling gauge glass, no more smoke on the morning air.
Yet I bet some nights the shift men waiting hear that ghostly whistle sound,
Hear the beat of the racing drivers pounding over the sodden ground.
Hear the sound of the old steam loco, faint and far like a distant gun,
As the old time steamies echo in the memory - bringing home the cane from the Daradgee run,
Bringing home the cane from the Daradgee run.

Words & Music: Bill Scott
© 1990 Restless Music

The Western Mail

As the city fades behind us and the rails stretch out before us,
Twin ribbons reaching towards the setting sun,
Past the neon lights a-gleaming and the ceaseless traffic streaming,
The Western Mail begins another run.

By suburban backyards flashing and across the bridges dashing,
The mighty C-16 goes powering on,
Winding through the hills and bushland and the greening Lockyer farmland,
The Western Mail is on her outback run.

Western Mail, Western Mail,
The Western Mail is on her outback run.

Through Murphy’s Creek and Ballard she goes surging on and upward,
Winding up the range towards the mountain crest,
And the Garden City’s bright lights, then it’s off beneath the moonlight,
Across the endless plains towards the west.

On to Dalby and Chinchilla, Miles, Dulacca, Wallumbilla,
The big wheels span the miles along the line,
Dashing past the camps of fettlers and the lonely homes of settlers,
The Western Mail is running right on time. (making real good time!!!)

Western Mail, Western Mail,
The Western Mail is running right on time.

Near Roma day is dawning and she stops to greet the morning,
Then to Mitchell by the Maranoa’s side,
Womalilla, Mungallala, Dulbydilla, Angellala,
Through the bushland stretching far on either side.

Then she breasts the Nine-Mile Hill for the run to Charleville,
Where the people waiting know she’ll be on time,
Round one more sweeping bend and she’s nearing journey’s end,
The Western Mail – pride of the Western Line.

Western Mail, Western Mail,
The Western Mail – pride of the Western Line.

Repeat chorus:
Western Mail, Western Mail,
So long old friend, we’ll miss the Western Mail.

Words: Arthur Copeland, Music: Roger Ilott
© 2002 Restless Music

Ghost Train In The Sky

In those nights when sleep’s denied me, there are memories to tide me-
Memories of happy days gone by;
There’s a locomotive pounding, and a plaintive whistle sounding-
The whistle of a ghost train in the sky.

The firebox is glowing and a misty head-wind blowing,
And there’s still a notch of power in reserve.
I can hear the bogies clatter with their everlasting chatter,
And a grinding of the buffers on the curve.

There’s a headlamp softly gleaming, and it’s One Two Seven steaming-
Speeding with the regulator wide-
The engine wildly tossing, speeding for the Barron crossing,
And the two-mile Kairi bank, the other side.

And as the train approaches, I can see the lighted coaches,
And the faces of old friends who’ve said goodbye;
Railway workers of their sections, who have broken Earth’s connections,
For the whistle of the ghost train in the sky.

At last, with sleep embracing, still my heart goes ever tracing,
The curves, and hills and valleys that I knew,
Where ran the Iron Horses, and their rough majestic courses,
To the terminal where Millaa comes in view.

At the dawn a fog is drifting from the creeks and slowly lifting,
And it quietens the rumble of a train-
It is One Two Six up pacing like a spectre and it’s tracing
A track no other train will run again.

When the rising mists are spreading, into them the train is heading.
And its whistle in the fog, is but a sigh;
Very few there’ll be to hear it, where no memories endear it –
The whistle of the ghost train in the sky.

(Claude Morris)

The Poison Train

This old town has had its day, all the people moved away,
And the houses standing empty in the dry and dusty day.
No-one cares for this old town, now the money's not around
And the railway lines are rusty
And the station's falling down.

There's a light down the line.
Let it shine, shine, let it shine.
There's a camp down the way.
All the fettlers will be coming home today.

When the railway opened here, all the gutters flowed with beer
And the people stood beside the line to watch and wave and cheer.
All the speeches that were made, when the bosses smiled and said
The good times are just beginning,
follow us and you'll go ahead.

Well they built the street so wide, it would be a thing of pride
To walk across it drunk or throw a stone to the other side.
And the building grew so tall, you would tremble at their fall,
But they just dried out and you'd never know
there was any one there at all.

I can hear the tall man say to the children at their play
You'd better go home early and you'd better stay away.
Stay away from the line, can't you hear the railway humming,
The grass has grown too tall
and the poison train is coming.

You feel sorry for the grass, all it did was grow too fast
All the weapons raised against it, it was never made to last
And the man and his offsider are all dressed in black
As the poison train goes through the town
and blisters all the track.

Well it never lasted long, half the town was packed and gone,
And everybody was afraid to be left there alone.
All the people stayed away, and there was no celebration,
And nobody made a speech
the day they closed down the railway.


The Night Train

There are trips we make for pleasure,
And long voyages of toil.
While the engines chants a measure,
As they a-swing in steam and oil.
But the song-that never changes
Is the song the pistons lead.
As the night mail breaks the rangers,
At the utmost roaring speed.
Oh the miles that lie before us
Must be conquered ere we “rest”-
Loud they shout and stamp their chorus
On the rail that ring uproarious
By the bush clad mountain crest.

As he tears past swaying wattle,
There are steady eyes that watch,
And a calm hand on the throttle
As, it opens notch by notch.
And she, roar across the river,
With a: turn of speed to spare.
Where the lanky bridges quiver
There’s a light tough on the “air.”
But the townships darkly sleeping
Seldom see the Night Malls go through
With their shining side rods sweeping,
And their eager pilots leaping ,
And their furnaces aglow.

When you're tucked in your sleeper,
And the carriage lights are dimmed:
Then your Driver is your keeper,
In his cab, a shadow limned.
By the lights the smoke half smothers,
Burning out through clinkered bars-
Oh! the miles and he are brothers,
Of the bush and stars.
With his starring mates behind him,
Through a rocking world he reels,
And the distances deride him,
As they lead him on and hide him,
With the Time God at his heels.

(Will Lawson, The Locomotive Journal, August 28th 1930)

The Song Of The Old Rail-Motor

Do you ever feel the song that the old rail-motor sings?
The song of an opening flower, from her mighty axle rings.

No, I didn't say, ‘Do you hear the song?’ for the outer ear alone
Distinguishes little music in her rattle, clank and groan
But the listening soul detects the beat of the nation's sturdy heart.
In the rise of our land to nationhood, the railways bore a part.
Through the thirsty anthill country, those noisy clanking wheels
Have borne industrious settlers to where the brolga reels
His strange exultant jig beside the meandering stream
To verdant, fertile valleys that comprise the settler's dream.

'Twas here they built the township; 'twas here they built the mill
And tractors brought the virgin land to adequately till.
What an enchanting song, the old railmotor sings to me-
She sings of a phase now passing, of the great vitality
Of past generation's farmers; how they cleared their blocks of land
With nary a bulldozer to lend a helping hand;
Of the buckboards at the station, where quiet horses learned to wait
For master to unload the cream inside the railway gate.

‘The opening bloom of Australia’ is the old rail-motor's song.
It makes my pulse's quicken; 'tis the land where I belong.
Could better comparison be made, than to call this land a tree,
Swift-growing, bursting into bloom with youth's virility;
A sturdy tree with branches reaching to the Kimberleys,
And through Cape York Peninsula an eager tendril weaves.
The golden flower opens wide, revealing a Red Centre
That stalwart folk, like seeking bees, forborne and health may enter.

(Author Unknown)

The Last Rail-Motor Out

She stood there old, brown and dejected,
Where the glittering lines swung away,
We clustered around her in silence,
For this was her farewell day.
Here all Mount Perry had gathered,
Of their feelings, there wasn't a doubt,
Their life-line was gone,
And they wished they were on,
The last rail-motor out.

Dear old motor, how often to Bundy,
With our ports and blankets we'd go,
We don't all have cars in Mount Perry,
Nor our pockets all filled with dough,
Now these times are finished forever,
No more will you take us about,
Our life-line has gone
We wish we were on,
The last rail-motor out.

They talk of decentralisation,
And all the good things it will do,
Then they shut the line down,
And force us to town,
Does that seem consistent to you?

So we'll gather together on Monday,
In spite of the fires and drought,
We'll miss you like Hell,
But will bid you farewell,
Dear last rail-motor out.
(Mrs V.I Robinson, ARHS Bulletin No 282 April 1961)

Block Trains

Big wheels turning, turning night and day,
Big wheels rolling polling on their way,
To the southern seaboard with the golden grain;
Moving the seasons harvest with our big block trains.

There was movement in the Mallee it was harvest time again,
The country silo's filled with nature’s golden grain,
The Block Trains they were moving, the empties on the go,
The big diesels they were ready to move the overflow,

From the silos at Donelly down to the flour mills,
Big wheels they were rolling, the ‘Cockies’ dream is fulfilled
With orders for the Orient to go on to Hong Kong,
Then onward ever onward to the bulk head at Geelong.

There were movements at the dockside it was shipping time again
The City's silos emptied of nature’s golden grain,
The big diesels they were moving, the empties on the go,
The Block Trains were returning, they'd moved the overflow.

(Les Denton)

Vale South Brisbane Interstate

There was fear at the station,
For the word had got around,
Joh's Expo is the new creation;
Raze South Brisbane to the ground.

Each time there is a loud noise
All employees freeze with fear;
We hear the cry ‘Get out quick: boys
The Dean Brothers are here.’

So much for Joh's Expo 88
With temporary buildings so grand;
Foreigners if you like our Great State
We'll sell you our remaining land.

And when the fun fair is over,
It will certainly be no surprise
To find some gentry on clover
The champions of free enterprise.

Joh's plans so great and auspicious,
Strike a very familiar chord;
One can't help being suspicious,
In view of his track record.

We all remember well 1962,
The same government of the day
Closed the Southport line for me and you
And gave road transport right of way.

They said ‘This line is losing money
So lets run the very last train.
Road hauliers here's your milk and honey
We’ll never need this line again.’

Two decades since have passed us by;
Now we hear a fairy tale,
‘Joh Joh’ Big Russ wants to cry,
The coast needs a monorail.

‘It'll be good news for the South Coast
We'll cart people, goods and figs,
We’ll make it pay, that's my boast,
Railing my trotters and pigs.’

So you, the proud South Brisbane-ite,
It's really now all up to you,
To see that you vote right,
The day October 22.

Change For The Richmond Line

So! You don't remember!?
All these dusty brown trains.
Those squeaky, creaky, wooden carnages.
you can't recall?
Those sombre steel-black engines,
their vast mysterious numbers,
all bold and brassy on the sides
of their windy open cabs
and bright red buffer beams.

You must recall!
Those freezing winter mornings,
when the grateful gums along the line, bathed
in the billowing white-hot fog,
and the frosted weeds beside the track, snuggled
in fluffy beds of sweet steam trailed behind.
The late-night, mile-long, seething Cumulus cloud:
its back, silvered in the moonlight;
its belly, warmed in the orange-yellow glow
flickering from the open firebox-door.

Remember those secure smells of well-worn leather,
and tarnished wood, varnished deep and dark,
fresh newspapers and stale ashtrays,
raincoats and fish ‘n chips,
scorched raw iron and warm oil,
and years of toi1 -
a million miles and more of struggling up, drifting down,
coasting, clattering, puffing out of breath to a stop.
Loud air hissing, buffers kissing, couplers clinking,
metal ringing from the clash and clamour
of timeless years of service.

Remember that familiar siding,
where the air was always thick
with sheep and sulphurous smoke -
So much smoke!
So thick you could climb up it!
Sc ordinary it blocked the view,
like tears spilling from young eyes stinging
from cinders swirling in
on empty window-seats, laps, knees, elbows,
arms of striped semaphore signals,
poised, ready to fall, their dim red lamps blinking
at impatient heads shoved out in the rain,
in the mist, in the blinding midday sun,
in the hot shade of the black cloud
erupting from just another engine.

And don t forget those crazy kids:
riding outside on end-loading cars,
or in the empty Guard's compartment,
up front, leaning out, peering round
swaying tenders, sloshing tanks;
gazing down from sooty footbridges,
rivetted in the scented black fog,
engulfed in the blinding, deafening, white warmth
at the end of the icy platform, standing spellbound
on sleepers soaked in spent oil and rail gripping sand,
studying breathless, beaming air-pumps, scrutinizing cranks,
analysing eccentrics and long fluted rods,
connecting, coupling, touching creamy crossheads.
still lathered from the 'last run.

Young hearts whistled to the whir
of humming turbo-generators,
Jumped to the roar of bursting safety-valves,
thumped at the sudden bark of these chained monsters,
shackled only by soft white hands on hard stiff handles,
burnished bright by the daily use of lifetimes,
by generations of clue-clad men
whose oi1y rituals and routine incantations
were lost beneath the awesome screams and spitting hiss,
leaked away in bleeding drops, trickling on, dribbling off
grease glistened rods, slippery shafts,
anointed tangled tendons whirled and thrust
on heels of wheels and ribbons of rails
and the rust and dust of countless journeys,
You don't remember??
Ash caked, coal raked -so much coal!
Dull and dusty, cracked and crusty,
camped down, hosed sparkling,
washed from necks, slaked from throats,
shovelled forward, short handle, thick scoop,
slid gritty, worn sharp on the shovel-plate,
scraped shiny, dragged -full-flung
ringing on the flame-licked firehole;
Scrape-a-twang, scrape-a-twang, so many shovelfuls:
Scrape-a-twang, scrape-a-twang,
one in each corner and down the middle,
down the platform, rod-clank,
you must remember rod-clank!?
Clank-clank, clonk-clank,
hold her at the water tank!
Go on fireman build up the bank,
more rock, swing it on, scrape-a-twang, come on!
Back corners, under the door, fill the box a tittle more,
sweat running, pump thumping,
valves sizzling, rain crizzling,
injector growling, blower hissing,
come on give us a green, give us the road!
Give us a breeze - a breath of air!
Only another ton and we'll be home again.
Scrape-scratch-clang, ‘Right-away Driver!’
Our smoke tints the sad sunset.
So many sad sunsets.
So many men and miles.
So much oil and toil, and steel and scrap, and rust and dust
So what!
So you don't remember?

(©Colin Steele 1978)


Let me tell you this tale of some ways of travel,
There's cars and there's planes and by way of the camel,
Some take to the road and some like to sail,
But there is nothing so grand as to travel by rail, travel by rail travel by rail there's nothing so grand as to travel by rail.

We'll carry your livestock your cattle and sheep,
We'll move all your oats and we'll move all your wheat,
We'll carry your wool and we'll carry the mail,
For the wealth of our country still rides on the rail.

They've sold up their car they won't need it again,
With the high rise in petrol they can't stand the strain,
As the ‘Great Northern Limited’ pulls out from the Maine,
It's pleasing to see that they're travelling by train, travelling by train, it's pleasing to see that they're travelling by train.

We'll carry your livestock your cattle and sheep,
We'll carry your hay and well move all your wheat,
We'll carry the fuel and we'll carry the ale,
For the wealth of our country still rides on the rail.

The rich and the poor, they all use their brain,
The retired and the worker they travel by train,
On the ‘Daylight Express’ or on the ‘South Mail’,
They think it's just great to travel Vicrail, travel Vicrail, travel Vicrail,
For the wealth of our country still travels Vicrail.
(Les Denton)

The Ghost Of 1954

(The Glenreagh to Dorrigo Railway line opened in the 1920s and closed in the 1970s. 1954 was the number of a steam locomotive used extensively on this line during the time of steam.)

And in the fading twilight I could see the railway lines
As they snaked around the corner, overgrown with weeds and vines.
So I pegged out my old lean-to and my lonely bed did make,
barely got to sleep when I was rudely shocked awake.

© Bill Kearns

Currently the Railway Story is in the process of seeking permission to display the full content of this song or poem or to have a copy linked via the web to this research document
three years and a train trip- Steven Herrick


Luis, Luigi and Mary Lou
Tom Dick and Harriet Dimitri too
Standing on the platform in the Melbourne rain
Waiting to join the Pickers’ Train
Cuban crisis Bay of Pigs
Dimitri’s handing out the cigs
Anything’s better than the old dole queue
Says Luis to Mary Lou

Hit Mildura in the early morn
15 nations in the bleary morn
Sign language in the station yard
Striking a deal was not too hard
Year after year the same pickers came
Blockies called out their family names
Batista Marotta how you going old son
Hands were shaken and a deal was done

Pietro sat me on his knee
He taught me the Italian for 1,2,3
His wife was sick they wouldn’t let her go
So she and the kids were in Palermo
Pietro taught me to ride a bike
He taught me what true friendship’s like
Picking and spending that time with me
Meant cash to send to his family

Rita lived on the picking trail
She’d follow the harvest around by rail
She could pick faster than any man could
So Rick fetched the buckets like a good man should
Who’ll forget the day their child was born
Rita was picking next day at dawn
The baby’s in a cradle at the end of the row
She’d feed the kid and then on she’d go

Saturday night and the picking’s done
Time for a dance and a bit of fun
Waltzing kissing rock and roll
Until the drinking took its toll
Then it’s back to Melbourne for another year
Say Goodbye maybe shed a tear
Arrange to meet same place again
See you next year on The Pickers’ Train

To Morrow

I started on a journey, last year it was sometime,
To a little town called Morrow, on a Queensland country line.
Now I've never been much of a traveller, and I really didn't know
That Morrow is the hardest place a bloke can try to go.

I went down to the station, to get my ticket there
For the next train to Morrow - I didn't have a care.
Said I, ‘My friend, I'd like to go to Morrow and return
Not later than tomorrow, for I haven't time to burn’.

Said he to me, ‘Now let me see if I have heard you right.
You'd like to go to Morrow and return tomorrow night.
You should have gone to Morrow yesterday, and back today,
For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way.

‘If you had gone to Morrow yesterday - now don't you see -
You could have gone to Morrow and got back today at Three,
For the train today to Morrow (if the schedule is right)
Today it goes to Morrow and returns tomorrow night.’

Said I, ‘Now, hang on - hold it there - can we wind that back?
There is a town called Morrow on the line, now tell me that.’
‘There is’, said he, ‘But take from me a quiet little tip,
To go from here to Morrow is a fourteen hour trip.

‘The train today to Morrow leaves today at Eight Thirty-five,
And half past Ten tomorrow is the time it should arrive.
Now travellers yesterday to Morrow - who get to Morrow today
They come back again tomorrow (that is, if they don't stay)’.

‘OK, mate’, I said, ‘You know it all. But kindly tell me, pray,
How can I get to Morrow if I leave this town today?’
Said he, ‘You cannot go to Morrow any more today
For the train that goes to Morrow is a mile upon its way!’

I was getting rather aggro. I commenced to curse and swear.
The train had gone to Morrow and had left me standing there.
I decided then that - bother it! - I loathed the Queensland scrub,
And I would not go to Morrow. I went back to the pub.

(Adapted by Keith McKenry from a song by Bob Gibson)


As kids we travelled everywhere by bus and tram and train
Waiting at the station there in sun & wind & rain.
It seemed we'd never, ever, ever reach our destination
Incessantly I'd pester mum, "Is this next one our station?"

'Cause our family never owned a car, there never was a need.
We travelled light went anywhere. We'd go at our own speed.
For holidays we'd pack the old brown leather suitcase tight.
Then jump on to the train & try to stay awake all night.

Clicketty clack along the track the rattling rails would ring.
As to the rhythm of the train this silly song we'd sing.....
Hiney-monoosh, hiney-monoosh to this insane refrain
The sound of the song as we rattled along kept us entertained.
Hiney-monoosh, hiney-monoosh, for hours on end we'd sing.
Hiney-minoosh, hiney-monoosh, the train kept answering
Hiney-monoosh..... Hiney-monoosh.... Hiney-monoosh.... Hiney-monoosh.....2x ...fade

Excitement of the speeding train, hair flying wild and free.
Soldiers packed the corridors on their way home on leave.
Big family, we'd stretch out on the seat, that was our bed.
A sleeping car'd cost too, slept on the seat instead.

Next morning when we woke up cold and hungry stiff and sore.
Mum said I spent half the night sprawled on the carriage floor.
Coal dust grit stuck in our eyes, my face all sooty grime
No air-conditioning left the windows open all the time.

Finally we'd pull in at the station, it was long.
Stomachs empty, sandwiches that mum had packed were gone.
Refreshment room was smelling good, with yummy things to eat.
If we're lucky get a railway pie, a special treat.

© Margaret Bradford

Authors Notes (I DID travel on trains a lot as a kid. These stories are from real life experiences)

The Old Clicketty Clack

I travel to town by train, my friend
A daily chore - mundane, my friend
But far be it to complain, my friend
'cept to say that all's not looking well.
Commuters condensed midship, again
Rail yard and rubbish courtship, again
Graffiti to blight my trip, again
Though the present is not where I dwell.

Trains arrive by the backdoor, it seems
To grey on greyish decor, it seems
Where stations lack staff galore, it seems,
As I muse on those proud days of Steam.
More friendly way to commute, of course
That lively 'foot, toot, foot', of course
Those gangs of fettlers en route, of course
A lost era that lives in my dream.

I loved Steam trains - romantic, I s'pose
Their power and strength - gigantic, I s'pose
A part of history - authentic I s'pose
They were there when this nation was cast.
For they pioneered our rail, yer know
Lines west and north - grand scale, yer know
With passengers, freight and mail, yer know.
But they've long gone. It's all in the past.

I miss the clicketty clack - it's gone
Their shunting from track to track - it's gone
Locomotives front to back - it's gone
And the carriages surely have changed.
Grafted timber and leather - no more
Windows 'bang'to untether- no more
Shiny brass overhead racks - no more.
It's so sad when the past is estranged.

The carriage was full of ash, no doubt
Pollution control slapdash, no doubt
And their speed was not too flash, no doubt
They were window air-conditioned.
Most doors were hard to unlock, sometimes
The carriages used to rock, sometimes
And braking techniques ad hoc, sometimes
- but I cried when decommissioned.

I travel to town by train, my friend.
I've steam and soot in my veins, my friend.
What I feel I cannot feign, my friend
A romantic who lives in a dream.
I'm living in the past, for sure
With Steam I've been die-cast, for sure
So I simply am aghast, for sure
That we've lost what we'll never redeem.

(© Greg Young)

Train Song

(Taken from real live experiences of kids on trains and a particular little boy who does have‘trains on the brain’)

‘Stand Clear! Doors Closing! Next stop Parramatta!
(to the rhythm of the train)

I got trains on the brain... Mummy daddy let me explain
I just want to ride on a train…got trains on the brain.

I want to go for a ride on the train. I want to go for a ride on the train.
Roll along the railway track to the countryside & back. I want to....

Hey! We're going for a ride on the train. Hey! We're going for a ride on the train
Won't you come along with me. There's so many things to see when we're going for ...

Oh! We're waiting at the station for the train. Oh! We're waiting at the station for the train.
Got our tickets we're on time. Wait behind the yellow line. Oh! We're....

Now we're moving from the station on the train. Now we're moving from the station on the train
See us fly along the track all the way to town & back. Now we're moving.....

I want to get a window seat on the train. I want to get a window seat on the train.
Keep our head and hands inside and we'll have a safer ride. I want.....

Oh! It's safe and clean and cool on the train and there's lots of room to move on the train.
Far away from noisy roads where the smells get up your nose. It's safe and .....

It'll be a quicker trip on the train. In the car we stop & go & stop & go &stop & etc.......again

The traffic is so slow. We have to wait till green says GO! It'll be a.......

Hey! We're climbing up the hill on the train. We're climbing up the hill on the train.
We're climbing up the hill. Just like Jack and Jill. We're climbing up the hill on the train.
We're flying down the hill on the train. We're flying down the hill on the train
Trees and houses zooming past. Hey! this train can go so fast. We're flying....

Hey! Daddy! There's a freight train on the track, with eighty loaded coal trucks on its back.
Little engine must be strong to pull those heavy trucks along. Look Daddy there's a coal...
OoH! we're going through the tunnel on the train. We're going through the tunnel on the train.
Someone turned out the light. Everything's as black as night. We're going...
Eeeee! We're going across the bridge on the train. We're going across the bridge on the train
Lots of water under us

I don't want the ride to finish on the train. I don't want the ride to finish on the…
Mummy promised us we won't have to get the bus
I don't want the ride to finish on the train.

(© Margaret Bradford)


A few had gathered to say goodbye to an old mate
The last journey, delayed, didn't matter if it was late,
Had seen many a change, realised it's time had come,
Made many friends, always great pleasure to be welcome.

It's been a long journey, years, travelling a great distance
Dispensing, going along, hope and every day's sustenance,
There are those of us remembering when you were a novelty,
You were our only lifeline, out there, for keeping our sanity,

Sharing with people happy, sad, poignant moments in time,
But despite some setbacks, always coming down the line,
Travelling tough country, covered in bluebush, wattle scrub,
Knowing, with your passing, we did belong to unique club.

Slowly, on your last journey, moving as in years past,
Knowing, but not savouring, that this is really the last,
It was the realisation that soon it would be no more,
Becoming a part of history, remote Australian folklore.

Life was so much better with you on the Nullarbor Plain,
Where would we have been without you, Tea and Sugar Train,
Magic of many a moment, shared in our hearts, will never die,
This is the reality of progress, it's not easy to say "Goodbye".

Cas van Loon, Bush Poet

The Station Master or That Kiss on the Train
A Character Song.

My work, as you see, how it must worry me,
I'll sing you the source of my pain,
No matter who goes, the bucks or the does.
Will insist on a kiss at the train.
There's Mister De Hoodie, the silly ole noodle,
He married a maiden sixteen;
The dear, he will miss her,
Of course, he must kiss her,
Tho' often I step in between.

Take your seats, please, the train you will miss;
But they stand at their ease, an' they kiss, kiss,
They should do it at home, and this nuisance
Yes, when they’re, alone or the train will be late
There’s dear Sister Fannie,
She's been to see Granny,
Of dear little things she has nine—
So Grannv mugs Pollv, Nell. Teddy, an' Wolly,
Till I wish they were dead on the line.
But I never intrude on a masher or a or dude,
I’m always at hand quite prepared,
Foe how could I hinder a kiss through the
Though the guard often says 1 am squared.

Take your seats, please, the train you will miss;
But they stand at their ease, an' they kiss, kiss,
They should do it at home, and this nuisance
Yes, when they’re, alone or the train will be late

But how I m enraged by a couple engaged,
As close by the window they stand;
Tho' the guard blows a whistle,
Like thorns on a thistle,
They cling an they cuddle by hand.
And loud as I roar, they won't shut the door;
Its sweet love, be true love, to me.
Then I hear lips, but never feel tips,
So I hurries them up, don't you see.

Take your seats, please, the train you will miss;
But they stand at their ease, an' they kiss, kiss,
They should do it at home, and this nuisance
Yes, when they’re, alone or the train will be late


Station staff especially have always had to deal with the whims and foibles
of the travelling public. Although the Rules and Regulations Book prescrib-
ed strict work procedures, it offered no assistance for coping with those
situations which required considerable diplomacy and tact. The station
master's song focuses on one of the more delicate matters they frequently
were confronted with. Railway News, September 1904

Stella the SteamEngine

Tears rolled down Stella’s cold steel cheeks
It seemed like years. It seemed like weeks.
That they’d left her alone in this huge/dark old/gloomy museum.
No one to talk to just left with her dreams.

All the time in the world now to remember those days when she’d roar down the track.
Her cargo of children

Stella the Steam engine

Tears rolled down Stella's rusty, old, cold steel cheeks.
There she sat alone in this big, dark, gloomy museum day after day with nothing but her dreams and memories.
How her big powerful wheels had roared over miles and miles of railway track through crowded noisy cities and into the quiet countryside.

She loved it when the children came to visit the museum and climbed all over her fingering her fittings in the engine room and stomping across her 'verandah' between the carriages. It helped her to remember the days when her strong levers and pedals had controlled the whole train.

She often heard stories from the children that there were other bright shiny new trains with flash, fast engines that could carry bigger loads up steeper hills than she'd ever climbed in her life.

But how could they be as good as her when the drivers nowadays used something they called electricity. Of course the parents didn't understand Stella's conversation with the children. They were too old to know train language.

But in her long silent hours in the museum unable to move Stella could only dream of those halcyon days when the quiet bushland awoke to the roar and hiss of her gigantic, noisy steam engine as it shook the ground.
To Stella her dreams were so real that she knew the children shared them with her. Especially Meredith, a little girl of eight who would pester her mother to please take her to the museum.
Her mum would reply. "I really don't know why you want to visit the museum so often darling. So boring looking at old trains that never move. Come on we'll go for a ride in a real train. "

Margaret Bradford 2006


The sinking rays of the afternoon sun,
Fully the length of the platform run,
Where wait the parcels and brakevan there;
Inside them urgent goods, stowed by porters with care:
For the evening departure to Kewdale.

The shunters are busy in the railway yard,
Marshalling bogies, according to card,
Destinations will be recorded by guard
In order to make out his waybill.

They're making it up now, down on the main,
Putting together, the consist of train,
There's timber to go on Bolster Flat Top,
And wool in the Covereds, for the Co-op.
We've empty tankers for "Soundcem",
And with tarpaulins around them,
Containers on Flat Tops for "Kal."

When it's all set up and the shunters make good,
We see the porter busy getting some wood;
He's getting it for the stove in the Van;
There's no way of getting fuel on the run.
The mails are here and being checked,
Also, a fish consignment too, we daren't neglect:
Parcels, now, in the louvred van,
With space left for more,to be stowed if it can:
Picked up on the overnight journey.

The guard is here now, with lamp and books,
The loco too; on its coupling hooks,
Brake, with the needle at the top of the gauge;
If it wasn't, the examiner would be white with rage;
About a train unable to move.

The signal green, as a starting light,
Gives right of way, to the trains swift flight.
The driver has checked his time with the guard;
Now the train is ready to leave the yard,
A signal from brakevan to loco crew;
Then the train glides out, on a journey new:
Plume of smoke, as it crosses the road,
For it picks up speed, as it lifts the load.

It rushes thro' the night with the usual stops,
To pick up mailbags and for parcel drops.
Six trains to cross at untended sidings;
Also check and see, how the tonnage is riding:
Thus when the new day has come at last;
The timetable set out; shows how far and how fast:
This overnight freight train has
Made it!

No comments: