My trip to see my Dad in 2008 started off with the proverbial bang.  We had arrived in Cootamundra at around 4pm on Monday evening, and although I was atrociously tired, I forced myself to stay awake, as I had heard that there would be an early morning train the next day, and I would want to make sure it would be relatively painless to get up for it.  My wife unfortunately succumbed to the sleep fairy and was virtually unconscious for the next 36 hours or so.

Tuesday morning began with a knock on the bedroom door.  I’m a bit of an insomniac, so that was enough to rouse me from slumber.  About fifteen minutes later we had dressed, grabbed the cameras and departed the house, heading north to Jindalee.  The sun wasn’t yet over the horizon, and there was a fine foggy haze to the morning, as you sometimes get in the Riverina on a crisp winter’s morning.

Dad has said that the train wouldn’t be wasting any time, consisting of empty container flats heading for Parkes.  He’s also mentioned that the motive power would be provided by Southern Short Haul (or SSR as they are also known), a “hook-and-pull” contractor in Australia.  We pulled the car off the Olympic Highway at one of the local farm grade crossings, knowing that the morning’s quarry wouldn’t be too far away.

Less than five minutes later we began to hear what sounded like a train approaching.  At Jindalee, southbounds make very little noise as they coast down the grade toward Cootamundra from Morrison’s Hill, and we didn’t hear the locos in this case, but the rattling of the empty cars.  Around the corner it came, and at this stage all we could really make out was a headlight.  By the looks of it, it was at least one “bulldog” on the head-end.  As it came closer, we could see it was the “Auscision Models” B class leading an SSR S class.

Auscision Models is an Australian model railroad company, who is partially owned by owner of Southern Short Haul, and as a marketing ploy, a recently overhauled B class was painted to represent a proposed paint scheme that would be introduced on a new Auscision model… thus making it the only time a real life loco was painted to represent a model, rather than the other way around.

The sun was getting closer to coming out, but it was still very weak by the time we took the shot at Jindalee.  We knew that they’d have to slow to activate the manual crossing gates at Cootamundra West before heading across on the link-line between “Coota West” and Parkes, so that would be a good chance to not only try again, but also hopefully get ahead of the train before it reached Stockinbingal, another popular railfanning spot in the area.  We got back in the car and took off for Cootamundra West station, where we stopped to grab a few more shots.  It seemed that this would also be the place where the crew change would also be performed, so this would allow us a few more minutes.

The great shots of the trip would come later in the day, and even more so later in the trip, but I always look back at this shot, taken at Jack Manning Drive in Cootamundra West, not because it’s a great shot as such, but to me it signifies a beginning.  Much like the sun in the photo, the best photography would be coming soon, but it shows a hint of promise at this stage.

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