Gulflander to Croydon

On Wednesday we were off to Croydon on the Gulflander. This is a 5 hour journey on a rail motor with one carriage and covers the 140k or so to Croydon from Normanton. We left at 8.30 am. The train was full, probably 40 or so people, most going the full distance and some getting off after about 40k  at a place called Critter’s camp to rejoin their bus trip. During the dry season the trip is very popular and the Gulflander runs on a number of days for tours etc. The trip we were on was the regular weekly run to Croydon and then back the next day to Normanton.  It started operations to Croydon  in 1891 using steam locomotives, the boilers were fired with wood not coal, with wood in short supply in the Gulf country rail motors replaced the steam locomotives in 1929.

 

Stopped at the Black Bull siding. We had some morning tea here. Not sure why it is called the Black Bull siding, should have asked.

Stopped at the Black Bull siding. We had some morning tea here. Not sure why it is called the Black Bull siding, should have asked.

Doing the Titanic thing on the Gulflander at the Black Bull siding, about 80k out of Normanton, a bit over half way to Croydon.

Doing the Titanic thing on the Gulflander at the Black Bull siding, about 80k out of Normanton, a bit over half way to Croydon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The rail motor we were on RM 93 commenced its life on the line  in 1982,  built-in 1950 and has been reworked and refurbished a few times since then. Its 6 cylinder diesel engine though is 69 years old, the whole thing works like a truck except on tracks.  The train runs on hollow steel sleepers that are set in the ground, there is no ballast or embankments on the track where the line is flood affected. Floods apparently just flow across the line and do little if any damage. 90% of the sleepers and track are original and have been in place for 120 years. A couple of sections have recently been replaced due to rust finally taking hold in an area where acid from old mining operations has leached through the soil and damaged the sleepers.

 

The Gulflander's drivers eat, showing all the implements. The gears are not synchro meshed, 4 forward one reverse of the crash through type.

The Gulflander’s drivers eat, showing all the implements. The gears are not synchro-meshed, 4 forward one reverse of the crash through type.

 

The Gulflander is one of Australia's last mail trains. We droppped off some mail at the Haydon property. This is a weekly ritual. Mrs Haydon has 3 very young children and they just love the train. So the driver told us.

The Gulflander is one of Australia’s last mail trains. We dropped off some mail at the Haydon property. This is a weekly ritual. Mrs Haydon has 3 very young children and they just love the train. So the driver told us.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the train rattles along,  the driver  who is also the station master and ticket seller, gives a running commentary on the history of the line, the environment through which it passes and the communities that used to  line its track  (these are long gone).

Picture of a picture. A steam loco crossing the Norman River in 1902.

Picture of a picture. A steam loco crossing the Norman River in 1902.

This post is a flood level marker. The top one is the devastating 1974 flood. There must have been an enormous amount of water, it is pretty flat here for miles. Normanton was evacuated.

This post is a flood level marker. The top one is the devastating 1974 flood. There must have been an enormous amount of water, it is pretty flat here for miles. Normanton was evacuated.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On the previous Monday we had done a short trip on another rail motor RM 60 which had been built-in 1931. This travelled about 4 miles to the 4 mile, curious that! There is only one track all the way to Croydon with some triangular turnarounds at various places to allow the train to change direction and head back to Normanton. This little rail motor has been fully restored and rattles along at about 30k an hour.

This is the old 1931 Rail motor RM 60,

This is the old 1931 Rail motor RM 60,

RM 60 needs to be cranked to get her going

RM 60 needs to be cranked to get her going

 

 

The Gulflander arrives in Croydon  at 1.30 pm in time for lunch at the Club Hotel and a short wander around town. We chose to return by a bus service to Normanton at 3.30 and arrived back at 5.30, to pick up the car which we had left at the station. It was still there. Other passengers were staying overnight in Croydon, returning on the Gulflander the next day to Normanton. It was great day out for nostalgia lovers!

About allthegobro

I am a retired accountant who does a bit of consulting work from time to time. Leanne and I enjoy travelling around seeing the world and we are now going to have some fun recording our experiences in this blog

Posted on May 8, 2014, in Kakadu. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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