Australian Railway Story: Chapter 14

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As the Users of Australian Railway Services Saw It

Love them or hate them over the years the hundreds of thousands of people that have travelled on Australian Railways with mix feelings. Some people have no alternative to using a train.. Others have alternatives but would travel in no other way to see the Australian Bush and country side Some feel the excitement offer by the daily trips to school or work to mix and socialise that is lost in a car journey, Others are turned of by the fact that are often no seats in peak hours and no trains at of peak times. .
Or As the Passengers see it: Transport service, social mixer -- how do we see those train journeys?

Three Years And A Train Trip

we are on a Sunday train
couples kiss along the route
a man in a woollen cap holds
a football radio to his ear
two old ladies talk of neighbours

(Steven Herrick (1994) in the Sound of Chopping Five Island Press

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A series of misfortunes

The day train from Sydney to Melbourne normally takes thirteen hours. Due to a
series of misfortunes our train was running three and a half hours behind time
(the Adelaide train was delayed). Our fifteen months old daughter ran up and
down the aisles and stared thoughtfully at people till they got twitchy and looked
away. Then she rifled their bags, and either ate or threw their possessions on
the floor. We were all covered in sour milk, squashed bananas, orange, hot tea,
etc. Any objections from us resulted in passive resistance or rage. She captured
the hearts of all with her lovely smile. We left the train at Cootamundra. At the
time she was busily poking out the eyes of an elderly lady who thought she was

(Colleen Z. Burke, from ‘She Moves Mountains’, Redress Press, Wild & Woolley, Sydney, 1984)


It's Saturday morning
and I'm waiting at Redfern
for the Penrith train where I'm to change
for a bus to Katoomba
as there's the usual weekend trackwork,
chaos on the Blue Mountains line.
To combat gusting winds and sleeting rain.
I'm rugged up in winter coat
hat, scarf and woolly gloves
but I'm still freezing to death.
Across from me
long, dark green tendrils,
lime tipped,
lift and rustle in frenetic winds.
The flourish of billowing fronds
totally transforms
the old brick wall at Redfern Station.
The train is late and I'll be late
but somehow now
it doesn't seem to matter at all.

(Colleen Z. Burke ©)

Girl On The Train
I fell in love with a girl on the train.
She fell for me too.
We met a seat apart
the desert outside.
we told railway stories
we noticed the same destination
the end of the line.

(Steven Herrick (1994) in the Sound of Chopping Five Island Press

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Train Journey

Glassed with cold sleep and dazzled by the moon,
out of the confused hammering dark of the train
I looked and saw under the moon's cold sheet
(Judith Wright, 1915 Train Journey in Australian Poetry in the 20th Century edited by Robert Gray and Geoffey Lehmann 1991, William Heinemann Australia 22 Salmon St Port Melbourne Victoria 3207)
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Werris Creek All Tickets Please

If you board the train at Tamworth and you’re feeling nearly dead
For nights and nights you haven’t felt the luxury of the bed
And you strike an empty carriage and settle at your ease
They’re sure to mess it up with, ‘Werris Creek, all tickets please!’

If with some long blighter you should chance to share a side
And he gives you just six inches on which to park your hide
When from underneath your chin at last he shifts his skinny knees
You settle down and go to sleep, its “Werris Creek, all tickets please!”
When you’re running short of “Xs” and you don’t know what to do
And you sit up in the train all night to save a bob or two
And the night is cold and frosty, and you damn near do a freeze
They don’t make it any warmer with, “Werris Creek, all tickets please!”
When up among the cow ding on the coast you’ve chanced to roam
And you get back to the ‘Creek’ again, it’s just like coming home
When in the ‘Ref Room’ you polish off the biscuits and cheese
Through the doorway comes the echo, “Werris Creek, all tickets please!”

When you make the last long journey away from mother earth
And you need no empty carriage, nor need of sleeping berth,
Saint Peter at the door will yell, as he jangles with his keys
Just to make you feel less homesick, “Werris Creek, all tickets please!”


A Nightmare Journey To Work
In peak hours find the seat
In off-peak hours find the train
What a crowded train this is!
Travelling on it’s far from bliss
In fact, the nearest thing to hell
In daily life, that I can tell.
Human beings in the mass,
Jammed toe to toe and ass to ass.
Minister for Transport Morris
Is never one of us, of course,
Neither is McMahon, M.P.,
No suffering commuter he.

(A commuter. In Hatfield. H (1972) “The facts on the Rail Crisis’,

Train Trip To Guildford

Waiting, waiting for the twenty past four to arrive;
Mate, the twenty past four doesn’t run any more,
The next train’s the quarter past five.

Time means money, they say,
And I must get to Guildford today
Did he say platform nine for the Liverpool line?
Do I have to change trains on the way?

Indicator, please won’t you indicate soon
With your little round light that this platform is right;
I’ve been waiting at Central since noon.

This old fellow here next to me
Caught the bus up from Circular Quay;
He scratches his arse with his pensioner’s pass
But he’s on the wrong line for Narwee.

Waiting, waiting, for the twenty past four to arrive;
Mate, the twenty past four doesn’t run any more,
The next train’s the quarter past five.

Come on you timetable mob,
I’m desperately short of a bob,
I’m in my good gear and I’m right off the beer
And at Guildford they say there’s a job.

Indicator, please won’t you indicate soon
With your little round light that this platform is right;
I’ve been waiting at Central since noon.

The service is worse than a fraud
And the fare’s more than I can afford
But I’ll never complain - here comes the train to Guildford
And now I’m aboard.

But it’s Wentworthville, Pendle Hill;
We’re rattling towards Emu Plains.
I should have got out when I heard someone shout
At Granville, “You have to change trains.”

Waiting, waiting for the twenty past eight to go back,
But the twenty past eight is half hour late
And I think I’ll lie down on the track.

(John Dengate)

On The Night Train

Have you seen the Bush by moonlight, from the train, go running by,
Here a patch of glassy water, there a glimpse of mystic sky?
Have you heard the still voice calling, yet so warm, and yet so cold:
‘I'm the Mother Bush that bore you! Come to me when you are old?’

Did you see the bush below you sweeping darkly to the range,
All unchanged and all unchanging, yet so very old and strange!
Did you hear the Bush a-calling, when your heart was young and bold:
‘I'm the Mother-Bush that nursed you! Come to me when you are old?’

Through the long vociferous cutting as the night train swiftly sped,
Did you hear the grey Bush calling from the pine-ridge overhead:
‘You have seen the seas and cities; all seems done, and all seems told;
I'm the Mother Bush that loves you! Come to me, now you are old?’

(Henry Lawson)

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 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 – bugger 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)

Locomotion, Much Commotion

Central Station, jubilation, leaving on a train.
Early morning, day is dawning, waking once again.
People shuffled, clothes are ruffled, walking in their sleep.
Take a seat, their friends to meet, and, dates, to keep.

Lights are glowing, cars are slowing, traffic barely crawls.
Crude graffiti, not done neatly, sprayed upon the walls.
Sydney choking, chimney's smoking, clouding up the sky.
I won't grieve, it's time to leave, and ,say, good-bye.

Silver streaming, carriage gleaming, hurtles on its way.
Light is breaking, journey taking, 12 hours of the day.
Time to travel, tracks unravel, over mountain's crest.
Sights to see, of this country, as, I head, west.

Green slopes pitching, grasses twitching, rolling out of sight.
Hills and gullies, rise and scurry, to the land's delight-
Tracks and furrows, scar and burrow, running up the hill.
Cattle slow, then start to low, and, stand, there still.

Trees and branches, felled by glances, lying in the dust.
Burnt and blackened, charred and flattened, singed by fire’s lust.
Branches wiggly, lithe and squiggly, hover in the air.
Falling leaves, now play the breeze, with-out, a care.

Purple patches. Autumn hatches, poppies in the field.
Crops are rising, not surprising, hoping for a yield.
Wheat and cotton, not forgotten, chequerboard the hills.
Tractor's reap, their yearly keep, to, waiting, mills.

Storm clouds brewing, hail spewing, ice cubes to the ground.
Heavens bulging, their divulging, droplets by the pound.
Moist and flowing, raindrops sowing, succour to the soil.
Fanning hands now tend their lands, with, heavy, toil.

Tin shed leaning, age demeaning, rusting in the sun.
Timber rutted, white ants gutted, history's race is won.
Bent at angles, awning dangles, blinking like an eye.
Shearer's ghosts, now only hosts, to, open, sky.

Chimney straining, bricks explaining, where the house had been.
Walls demolished, worn and polished, seasons past have seen.
Cottage broken, stories spoken, only by the past.
All the dreams, have gone it seems, they, did, not, last.

Old jalopies, bent and floppy, motors couldn't start.
Windows shattered, tyres tattered, souvenired for parts.
Squashed and mangled, old and tangled, sitting in a heap.
Now too weak, to honk or bleat, or, even, beep.

Locomotion, much commotion, screaming though the scrub.
Gums and wattle, at full throttle, tiny outback pubs.
Isolation, deprivation. Shires in decline.
Wide streets yawn, the shops forlorn, and, past, their, prime.

Celebration, with elation, people waving hands-
To timetable, if they're able, waiting there as planned.
Wives and mothers, sons and brothers, keen to say hello.
There's a cheer, as we appear, and, start, to, slow.

Federation, Country Station, showing "Olde Worlde" charm.
Greens and yellows, sandstone mellowed, so serene and calm.
Station Master, whistle blaster, greets the weary crew.
Here I stand, with bags in hand, to start, a-new.

(Copyright © Graeme Johnson West Ryde NSW 2114(1999))

Ridin’ On The Fruit Train

When I was young I used to wait down by the railway gates,
And when the fruit train came along I’d jump on with me mates.
The drivers knew our faces, and they’d let us shovel coal,
But the coal would end up on the plate – we’d miss the firebox hole.

Cottonvale, Fleurbaix, Pozieres, Bullecourt and Passchendaele,
Baupaume, Messines and Amiens on the 42 pound rail,
For 12 miles and 25 chains through orchards, scrub and pines,
Ridin’ on the fruit train on the Amiens branch line.

We’d pass the golden orchards, and we’d whistle through the pines.
There used to be six sidings, but now they’ve closed the line.

There’s not a trace of track from Amiens to Cottonvale,
But I remember golden days on the 42 pound rail.


(Words: Penny Davies, Music: Roger Ilott
© 1997 Restless Music)

Train To Lidcombe
Tune: Garden where the praties grow.

1st verse and Chorus:
You can talk of Matthew Flinders, you can talk of Captain Sturt,
You can rave about explorers till your throat begins to hurt.
Yes, I know they crossed the oceans and they travelled tough terrain
But there's none of them could face a trip to Lidcombe on the train.

'Twas a blazing day in January, Nineteen Eighty-two,
They were praying for a Southerly from Lithgow to the 'Loo;
I cooked from Glebe to Central like a lobster or a crab;
Paid the sweating taxi driver and alighted from the cab.

Platform Eighteen? Platform Nineteen? There's an element of doubt
But you've always got the indicator there to help you out.
And a fellow with a microphone dispensing wisdom free,
But his information and the indicators don't agree.

Well the train crawls out of Central to a soft ironic cheer,
I'd sell my mother's wedding ring for half a glass of beer.
I'm hot and in the horrors and my thirst is looming large
And I fear that every pub we pass is only a mirage.

Faces to the westward, we are sizzling on the grill
We have to wait for half an hour at Summer bloody Hill,
We stop and start like Murphy's cart - my temper's turning sour -
And near Flemington we have to wait another half an hour.

I stagger out at Lidcombe contemplating suicide;
My compass it has melted and my camels they have died.
My fevered brain surrounds the train with breweries and stills,
And bleaching on the platform are the bones of Burke and Wills.

(John Dengate)

North Shore Girls Get Off

Well I'm waiting here at Central
With the boys all heading westwards
Homewards from a Magpies-Manly game,
Well their team has copped a hiding
Or they're carrying a mate too drunk to walk,
Or let alone recall his name.

Then the train pulls in after winding its way down
Through Wahroonga, Turramurra to the heart of Sydney town,
As the doors beep their song,
All the north shore girls get off and the C-Town boys get on,
All the north shore girls get off and the Blacktown boys get on.

Now the following commotion at this home of locomotion
Is as telling and as desperate as a war,
The boys offer their compliments,
Yeah invitations too are sent,
Still as hopeless as the football score.

But the girls fight back with the bluest tongues of all
In accents they have cultured at the private schools up north,
There are battles to be won,
As the north shore girls get off and the Blacktown boys get on,
As the north shore girls get off and the Fairfield boys get on.

To smash through the class barrier the train must gather speed,
The western suburbs of a city that calls itself east,
Where migrant hands are branded numb by fish 'n chip shop oil,
And home repairers scrape de facto women from the walls.

The Western Suburbs Magpies just got hammered once again
By the Manly team that bought up all their stars,
But compensation's easily found in a battle with the girls
Who look like they've just landed here from Mars.

Then the train pulls out to begin its journey west,
Through Granville on to Liverpool,
The home of Sydney's rest,

Where the fight goes on...
All the north shore girls get off and the C-Town boys get on,
All the north shore girls get off and the Blacktown boys get on,
And the north shore girls get off.

(Copyright David Beniuk 1993.)

Medlow Bath

Yes. I remember Medlow Bath -
The name, because one clear, cold afternoon
The express-train drew up there
Unwontedly. It was late June.

Denis Rice (January 2000),

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Going For A Ride

Travelling on a journey
Travelling far away
Little boys and little girls
Sitting on a train
See the engine driver
What a lovely job
Can we go up front, oh
Can we take the dog?

And it's toot, toot, yeah
Toot, toot, yeah
Toot, toot, wheeeah
Going for a ride
And it's choo, choo, yeah
Choo, choo, yeah
Choo, choo, wheeeah
Going for a ride

Running up to daddy
Running up to mum
Hey, give us money
We're looking for some fun
Little trains, big trains
Rattle, bump and whoosh
Waving at the windows
Throwing out the trash

And how many carriages do you see?
Five or six or twenty-three?
The train goes fast
The train goes slow
But, oh, we're going to get there
We know

What if the seats are
Hard and torn?
What, if the food is
Just luke warm?
A little sticky here
A little smelly there
But what a story when we
Get there

Bridge 2:

And when it comes to Christmas
We buy
Thomas and the Brio
Hornby and the Lego
Videos, t-shirts
Hats and books
Trains on everything
That we see
And now we have to pay


(By Carolyn Cerexhe)

Railway Corporation 2000

The trains are running out of order and late
The last one was a while ago
In this hi-tech. supersonic age and state
Why must they run so slow?

(C. Neumann, 2000)

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That Ol’ Love Train

I can see her smiling now
looks at me with her high tanned brow
and it takes me away to another time
the ol carriage chugging on down the line
and slips away

(Sean Mc Loughlin © 2000)

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Gas flaring on the yellow platform; voices running up and down;
Milk-tins in cold dented silver; half-awake I stare,
Pull up the blind, blink out—all sounds are drugged;
The slow blowing of passengers asleep;
Engines yawning; water in heavy drips;
Black, sinister travellers, lumbering up the station,
One moment in the window, hooked over bags;
Hurrying, unknown faces—boxes with strange labels—
All groping clumsily to mysterious ends,
Out of the gaslight, dragged by private Fates.
Their echoes die. The dark train shakes and plunges;
Bells cry out; the night-ride starts again.
Soon I shall look out into nothing but blackness,
Pale, windy fields. The old roar and knock of the rails
Melts in dull fury. Pull down the blind. Sleep. Sleep.
Nothing but grey, rushing rivers of bush outside.
Gaslight and milk-cans. Of Rapptown I recall nothing else.

Kenneth Slessor 1901

The gift

Sitting on Newtown station
waiting for the next train to the city.
Just missed the last one by a minute
so I'll be late for work -
my last class of the year.
But suddenly a melodious voice
soars high riffling the overcast sky -

The strangers came and fried to teach us their way
And they scorned us just for being what we are
but they might as well go chasing after moonbeams
Or light a penny candle from a star

As pigeons fluttered, roosting on the old tramsheds
the words of the song swirled over the station
and smiling self-consciously
people turned towards the singer.

"He's got a good voice,"
said the man sitting next to me,
"but he's mad - a good voice, but. . ."
As the last notes of "Galway Bay" faded away
spontaneous clapping slowly spread along the platform
gathering in momentum and volume.
The train was late but no-one seemed to care.
The singer had given us a gift - a tranquil moment,
an Irish lilt in Sydney's pre-Xmas mania.

© Colleen Z Burke

The Away-Bound Train
For Con Kiriloff

I stand in a house of trees, and it is evening:
at the foot of the stairs, a creek runs grey with sand.

A rocking, unending dim sound,
a racket as if of a train,
wears through my sleep, and I wake
to find it late afternoon

at which I sit up, rub my eyes -
beneath us, the carriage-wheels moan
on their winter-wet, wind-polished rails,
but the train hurries on, hurries on.

The loco horn beams out its admonition
at a weatherboard village standing on the fields.

The near hills rise steeply and fall,
the hills farther off settle down:
I light up a cigarette, wipe
my breath from the cold window-pane.

The upland farms are all bare,
except where dark, storm-matted fern
has found its way down from the heights,
or landslides have brought down raw stone

for, outside, it's silent July,
when wet rocks stare from the hills
and thistles grow, and the rain
walks with the wind through the fields —

and this is my country, passing by me forever:
beyond these hills and paddocks lies the world.

Outside, it is timeless July,
when horses' hoofs puncture the chill
green ground, mud dogging their steps,
and summer's plough sleeps in the barn,

when rabbits camp up in the mouths
of flooded burrows, and dogs
under creekbanks wince at the thump
of a gun fired close to the earth. ,

The cold dme, the season of clouds
beyond the end of the year,
when boxwood chunks glare in the stove —
but that is the past. I am here.

I look across the clear, receding landscape:
from a distant ridge, a horseman eyes the train.

The train never slackens its speed:
an iron bridge echoes, is gone,
on the far bank, twilit and tall,
the green timber gathers us in.

And we dash through the forest, my face,
reflected, wanders and sways
on the glass of the windowpane, and
I press my nose to my nose ...

the loco horn sounds far across the uplands:
a man with no past has all too many futures.

I take out a book, read a phrase
five times — and put the book down.
The window-sash chatters. My mind
trails far in the wake of the train

where, away in the left-behind hills,
through paddock and cattlecamp I
go drifting down valleys towards
the peopled country of sleep ...

I wait in the house. It is raining in the forest.
If I move or speak, the house will not be there.

Les Murray
1999 In a Return To Poetry – Ten Australians choose ten of their favourite poems Choosen by Geoffrey and Lehmann- Duffy and Snellgrove Sydney Po Box 177 Potts Point NSW 1335 P111

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The process starts—
on the rails pigs' blood,
lambs' blood in the trees

With a red tail
through the slab-white sky
the blood bird flies

This man beside me
is offering friendly
sandwiches of speech:

he's slaughtered twenty pigs
this morning—
he takes away
the sins of the word

I can smell his jacket,
it's tripe-coloured,
old tripe,
drained-out, veteran tripe
that has digested the world

I shut my eyes on
his lullaby of tripe

and the blood goes back to bed

(Someone's got to do it
and I'm grateful
and my neighbour's grateful
and we say so,
but thank God it's only
fourteen minutes to Shrewsbury)

Fourteen minutes to consider
the girl reading Scott Fitzgerald—
she has a red cashmere top
bright as a butcher's window

Shut out the sun and the cameras—
I want to talk to a doctor
about Circe's magic circle—
‘you see, it was on the woman herself
the bristles sprang
and the truffle-hunting tongue'

What is it makes my penis
hot blood—
enough of it, in the right place

With such red cheeks
my interlocutor from the abattoirs
must have hypertension

On his knees he has
a lumpish parcel, well-knotted
with white string—
it makes all the difference
when you know it's really fresh

At one time our species
always had it fresh;
one time there were no cashmere tops
or butcher's shops

It consoles me that poems
bring nothing about,
it hurts me that poems
do so little

I was born after
man invented meat
and a shepherd invented poetry

At a time when there are only
fourteen killing minutes
between Wellington and Shrewsbury.

Peter Poter On a Train Between Wellington and Shrewbury


An Australian, who! had been making a trip
through the West, got off the train at a quiet
country station called " Hustler." He found it
to consist of the station-house and two cabins,
and one of the cabins was tenantless,
“Is this the town of Hustler?" he asked of the
“Yes sir”
"Is this all of the town!"
"It is."
"Why, I read that it was a growing place."
"It has grown one house this year."
" I was told that it had great prospects."
" Lots of chances here, sir."
"But there is no town here—literally nothing
to speak of?"

" They nil have to begin, you know."

" Can I get anything to eat here?"
"No, sir."
" What time does the next train pass?”
" Seven hours to wait."
" Will you tell me -who named this town ?'
" Yes, sir. It was the man who moved out of
that cabin."
" What induced him to call it Hustler"
" Because he knew that everybody would hustle
to get out of it. Sit down on the platform and
make yourself at home while you. have to wait."
The Western Australian Railway Gazette

Cheating At Cards
" Are you aware, sir," said the testy, but emi-
nent judge, to the man-sitting opposite him in the
train,” that this is not a, non smoking carriage.''
Yes said the stranger coolly; but lie continued
to puff at his particularly evil-smelling
"Then sir, pressed his lordship, "allow me to
say that I think you guilty of a great piece of '
impertinence ill breaking the company’s rule., as
you have done, Perhaps you think you can flout
me with impunity, sir : but I'll allow you that,
you cannot. Here is my card, sir."
A minutes more and the train pulled up
at a small station, and his lordship the judge
pounced on the guard and insisted that the
stranger's name and address be taken.
“0h,don't worry. send the Stranger, " here's
my card guard I’m getting out here."
The guard, to the judge's surprise, touched his
hat to the impudent one as he walked away, and
the judge was furious.
At the end of his journey he took the, guard
seriously to task for not dealing more severely
with the offender.
"Very sorry, sir," said the guard, "but I dare
not make a fuss—see who he was," And he
handed the judge the card which the man had
given him.
And the judge's astonishment when he saw
that the impudent fellow had given the guard his
(the judge's) card was wonderful to see.

The Western Australian Railway Gazette June 15 1909 page 7


Where water falls on weeping rocks,
And trees are hazy in the water mist
And bush tracks meander endlessly,
I spent my holidays as a kid.

In a steam-powered train with the windows up,
Cinders in our eyes, we’d make plans non-stop,
We’d climb from the plains up the mountainside –
Two engines needed to get to the top.

Oh, the mountain air,
Oh, the mountains where I never can be blue.

With the first rays of winter light
Leap up to the sound of the early bird
In our woollens we’d wander far and wide –
A family together in a peaceful earth.

From Wentworth Falls down the National Pass,
From Orphan Rock to Leura Falls
Through the Jamieson and Megalong
We’d walk from morning till nightfall.

Some nights we’d walk in the bracing air
Arm in arm we’d sing out loud,
The stars at night were big and bright
As we tramped along the mountain road.

We’d collect the wood for the open fire,
Play scrabble, cards or Monopoly,
Then watch the fire as it died away.
And the mist rising over the trees

On the train going home the colours would change
From green and brown to a smoky grey.
I’d look back at the mountains blue -
In another year we’d be there again

Words & Music: ROGER ILOTT
© 1986/2006 Restless Music APRA/AMCOS
ABN: 70 896 996 877

From the albums:
“Birchgrove Quay” – PENNY DAVIES & ROGER ILOTT (Restless RM012, 1986)
& “Railway Tracks” – ROGER ILOTT (Restless RM049, 1997)

Restless Music

Down the Line
Words and Music Donald .J. Morrison (Music Score available)

Pardre with the eyes of patience.
Riding on a down hill train
Maybe faster many be slower,
Gliding without any pain
Through a land with endless stories,
From Blackheath to Emu –less

Down the line things could be brighter
Down the line the mist could clear
Through a land of countless changes
Drifting without any fear

If I meet you in the carriage
Any secret's safe with me
Tell me of your hopes and visions
Anything you yearn to be
Tell me of your dreams and longings
We can share a fantasy.

Children with the eyes of wonder
Riding off to claim the night
Playing out their secret drama
Growing in the fading light
Anywhere could end my journey
Any station feels all right


Nestled to the north of Gosford, overlooking Carey Bay,
is a scene of distant childhood, out of step with life today.
Fassifern was where it started. Steam and mist were rising high
as the crowded train departed, smoke confounding velvet sky.

Through the wooded hills and scenery, cradled by the solid rails,
sleepers flowed from luscious greenery to a lake of billowed sails.
Memory shows Toronto station - rustic buildings, platform clean,
peaceful change from education keeping youthful hearts serene.

Days beside the placid water, fishing, swimming, walking slow,
later watching bricks and mortar help to make a building grow.
Nights of playing cards and laughter over stories brave and bold,
nights that are more precious after many years of growing old.

Now, as I re-visit history, rails are rusting by the sea,
disconnecton such a mystery, like a past that's haunting me,
half-remembered dreams alighting to a platform clean and swept,
pie aroma so inviting from a counter neatly kept.

Yet at every turn I'm shaken by what's modern yet grotesque,
ghostly half-words as a kraken grappling with the picturesque -
youth misguided by their ego making random patterns hold,
like a sullen impetigo on a palace lined with gold.

Distant seems that ancient hour when, as children, we were keen.
What has turned the dreaming sour - what's the lesson still to glean?
Should the winter wind be sleety, hands of God will sprinkle snow,
cover this unkind graffiti in a cool and simple glow.

Words that stumble out of weakness show distortion's mirror cracked,
drown my heartstrings in a bleakness that denies a carriage packed,
yet a memory can endure, as the thought is turned around.
Time will cover what's impure, as a station falls to ground.

Brian Bell

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