G'day all, I count myself very lucky to have been born in the mid 1940s and into the relative prosperity of Australia in the immediate post war period. My parents were able to provide us with a pretty secure and comfortable upbringing and a good education with just a bit of help from the government of the day. At the time I didn't really appreciate my good fortune but I did put it to good use from about 1962 on along with my new found independence. Along with others of my age I witnessed the end of the steam age in Australia. Talk about lucky!!
Enough reflecting on my good fortune. The photo attached is as good an illustration of that as I can find.
Tuesday 24th of January 1964, Junee, New South Wales just after 11am and the "Riverina Express" will depart for Sydney at 11.21 led by 3823.
On a Tuesday the "Riv" originated from Griffith and I had travelled up from Albury behind 3801 with just a couple of cars behind its tender to connect with the train pictured here, having camped in the Waiting Room at Albury overnight.
3823 had come up from the Junee roundhouse with a shed crew and the Goulburn men are leaning on the platform railing waiting for departure time.
I took this photo and headed back to the cars, I wanted to ask for a cab ride but I chickened out and pretty soon we belted out of Junee in that inimitable and unique NSWGR way with me back in the cars reproaching my fainthearted self. Needless to say before we drew up to a stand at Cootamundra I was at the steps of the cab asking for a ride up front.
"Yeah righto son, up you get, you OK with the shovel?"
So I got to fire a 38 up Morrison's Hill and I've gotta say I managed pretty well, the 38s rode well and the firedoor was air operated by a treadle and of course the driver and fireman kept an eye on me.
I went back to the cars at Yass Junction, the crew didn't want to risk taking me into Goulburn, too many bosses there.
An unforgetable experience, the planets lined up for me that day. And since that day just before my 20th birthday I've always counted my lucky stars.
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