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The Cockatoo Run to Robertson

Day 13 - Thursday 10 July 2014

When Jan suggested we do a train trip on the Cockatoo Run operated by 3801 Limited from Sydney to Moss Vale we naively imagined a steam train hauled by the famous NSW Railways steam engine No 3801. For steam buffs 3801 is up there with the Flying Scotsman, the Mallard, and the Orient Express. Engine 3801 was built in 1943 and hauled the Newcastle Flyer and the Melbourne Express. In 1964 engine 3801 made a non-stop run from Sydney to Newcastle that just failed to break the 2 hour barrier, however the time remains the fastest rail trip from Sydney to Newcastle.

3801 with Newcastle Flyer

3801 with Newcastle Flyer

Our trip today - the Cockatoo Run by the Illawarra Tree Top Flier was from Sydney Central Station to Moss Vale. We had arranged to leave the train at Robertson to give us time to have lunch at the Robertson Inn. The Illawarra Line from Sydney to Newcastle was commenced in 1884 and completed in 1888, but it was not until 1932 that a connection was provided between the Illawarra Line and the Main Southern Line at Moss Vale. The line includes a 17 km continuous grade of 1 in 30 from Unanderra to Summit Tank. In the days of steam two additional steam engines were used to push the trains up the grade, where they were re-watered for the trip back down to assist the next train.

Our train today comprised a diesel engine and three carriages - a First Class carriage, a Second Class carriage and a Buffet Car. Apparently three carriages is the limit for a single diesel engine on the 1 to 30 grade, and a second diesel would be required for a 4th carriage. The line from Sydney to Moss vale was a significant engineering feet with a large number of tunnels, deep cuttings, snow sheds and steep grades. The Coal Cliff Tunnel is 999 metres in length.

Our train stopped at Summit Tank to take in the views from the lookout before continuing on to Robertson where we disembarked for lunch. We had about two and a half hours before the train returned from Moss Vale to pick us up for the return trip to Sydney. The Robertson Inn was about 1 km from the station and provided us with an excellent lunch. Most of the return journey was done in fading light and darkness. We left Sydney at 9:12 am and arrived back at about 6:30 pm.

The Illawarra Tree Top Flyer

The Illawarra Tree Top Flyer

Engine 4198

Engine 4198

Shunting the engine to the front of the train

Shunting the engine to the front of the train

Jan waiting for the train to leave

Jan waiting for the train to leave

3801 Limited with Gas Heating and Fan Air Conditioning

3801 Limited with Gas Heating and Fan Air Conditioning

Quarantine site for Horses brought to the Sydney Olympics

Quarantine site for Horses brought to the Sydney Olympics

Stanwell Park

Stanwell Park

Surf's up at Stanwell Park

Surf's up at Stanwell Park

Coal Cliff

Coal Cliff

Greek Orthodox Church not completed after 10 years

Greek Orthodox Church not completed after 10 years

Diesel engine working hard as we climb to Summit Tank

Diesel engine working hard as we climb to Summit Tank

Kids racing the train on trail bikes

Kids racing the train on trail bikes

Waterfall beside the track

Waterfall beside the track

Summit Tank

Summit Tank

Port Kembla from the Summit

Port Kembla from the Summit

Our first class carriage

Our first class carriage

Robertson Station

Robertson Station

Andy heading for the Robertson Inn for lunch

Andy heading for the Robertson Inn for lunch

A snooze on the way back to Sydney

A snooze on the way back to Sydney

Back at Central Station

Back at Central Station

Posted by TwoAces 04:23

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