Friday, October 23, 2009


It's darned hard to take a photograph at a railway station these days. For a start, there are some rather nebulous laws that seemingly only railway employees know about, which are to prevent people from taking pictures, thereby avoiding acts of terrorism. Secondly, because of high voltage electric wires, railway stations these days have so much in the way of steel bars and protective wire mesh to prevent people from hurting themselves, either intentionally or unintentionally, that taking pictures is almost impossible. In fact, any terrorist needing a photograph of a suburban railway station would resort to Google Earth anyway. Here is my recent photograph of suburban Wooloowin railway station. I do try to make my photos as attractive as possible - honestly I do. But this scenario was just about impossible.
(Photo: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

I wanted to photograph the station in a similar way to today's historical photo (below), which shows Wooloowin Railway Station on 23rd March, 1909. People dressed in their "going-out" clothes are waiting to board a steam train that is pulling into the platform.
(Photo: State Lbrary of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #APO-034-0001-0028)

There is something about trains that appeals to little boys, and big boys too. I wanted to be an engine driver when I was a kid, and I asked Santa for an electric train set for many years without success. Not because I was a naughty boy (although I'm sure I had my moments!), but because a large family living on one wage in a housing commission home couldn't afford such luxuries. However, I did actually get to play trains - I was able to build real trains on the school holidays prior to my last year at school. Diesel-electric trains used to be built by a company called English Electric in the Brisbane suburb of Rocklea, and I helped to build them. All right, if you want the truth, I had a menial labouring job in the paint division, where one was getting its final paint job while I was there. Here is a couple of photographs of it, taken with my first camera.
(Photos: © 2009 the foto fanatic)

Yes, that spindly youth leaning nonchalantly on the side of the train is yours truly, aged sixteen. The notations made in my schoolboy handwriting on the back of the Ferraniacolor slides (a little known film brand that disappeared eons ago) say "19-1-66; 201/K". That translates as the date - 19th January 1966, and the number of the diesel locomotive - "K" series, number 201. You can see from the name on the front of the locomotive that it is bound for Western Australia.

The internet is an amazing resource. With a little bit of on-line sleuthing, I was able to track down the history of this locomotive. A site called carried the information that the loco was purchased by the West Australian Government, then onsold to Goldsworthy Mining. Goldsworthy Mining was taken over by BHP, and my train was sent to BHP at Port Kembla. (Details from

Subsequent to that, the engine was retired, and apparently lives in peaceful seclusion at a museum rail yard at South Dynon in Melbourne. Here is the evidence - a photo of the loco (although the paintwork has changed from the way I left it in 1966!) showing its serial number K 201 under the front platform - click the photo to see a larger image.
(Photo: Courtesy wongm's rail gallery at

So, the poor old thing looks a little rough around the edges and in desperate need of a face lift - much like me really :-) That's the end of our trainspotting - I'm putting the anorak back in the cupboard.

Click here for a Google Map.


Comfort for coppers


  1. I am not a train spotter, but I do love your 1909 photo of Wooloowin Railway Station. The station building isn't cheap and nasty; it looks as if it was designed for elegance, shade and comfort. And as you noted, the would-be travellers look dressed up as well.

    Where was Wooloowin? Was train transport very important to that town's good citizens?

  2. Wooloowin is a near northern suburb, about 5km from the CBD. If you click on the Google Map link in my post and zoom out, you can get an idea of where it is in relation to the city.

    And, although trams were running by then, the tram line was a couple of km away.

  3. Those technicolour shots from the 60s are fantastic. I know what you mean about the photo-fascists. They're everywhere. I got moved on by 2 blokes in a ute for taking a photo of the cicada in South Bank... and then by a security guard in the City Library for taking a photo of the conveyor belt with the returned books on it. He even stood there and made me delete my pictures!
    There's a piece of graffiti on the wall that you can see from the end of one of the platforms on Central station. I'm guessing to get that shot I'm going to have to fashion some sort of inconspicuous bag with a hole cut out.

  4. Yep. The really annoying thing, to me at least, is the automatic assumption these days that anyone with a camera is either a terrorist or a pervert.

  5. Nice post - steam train pictures ..Keep Posting

    steam train pictures

  6. Wow! that is amazing to find that engine all those years later. I was rather chuffed to find, courtesy of Google, an old 1969 railway timetable of the old Sydney Brisbane service. I had commented recently to DH that I remembered that 2 trains left Brisbane bound for Sydney each day. He was adamant that there was only 1. The old timetable showed I was right :-) Brisbane Express (old carriages and slow) and the Brisbane Limited Express which was newer. I've found a few pics online to illustrate a post on my early interstate train travels as an
    18 y o.


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