Sunday, December 18, 2011

Basalt Railway Trek

From my old blog January 2008

I was going to use my mum's photo's for this story but they are old colour photo's from 1976 ( before Gwen Dundon's photos ) and are not really scanable ( did I just invent a new word ? ) So I decided to go get some updated digi pics and set off on a small hike up Woy Woy Tip last Sunday morning.
Packed a small pack with supplies : water , map , mobile phone , knife , 2 x Chomps ( sugar hits ) , body parts bag ( hey you don't know what you may find ) , digital camera and a lighter.
Headed to Woy Woy tip and parked outside of gates and notified garbage guy at the weighbridge of my intentions and possible return time , then set off up the track to Dillions Farm , once you hit the first corner just go along a bit and look over the right side and start looking for the raised soil that was the foundation for the small gauge railway that ran from the top of the tip ( the old loco shed site is now buried under tonnes of landfill )
Once you are on this raised path you will get familiar with it's shape and you will hit the first creek crossing soon after , here it's just a small bridge with some retaining stones still there and a concrete foundation , also some nice red yabbies and some kind of lizard that can hold it's breath longer than my patience !
About 30 metres further through some really dense and scratchy bushes you will come to the best bit which is the big trestle bridge that crosses a creek , here there are several foundation blocks and 2 large piers made of concrete spanning across the sandstone creek bed ( you can see this from Google Earth ) I then climbed up the other side and continued to follow the raised path again through some spectacular bushland as it wound its way round the mountain curves.
Another couple of small creek crossings and after about 15 minutes I was at the end of the top line at the crusher chute site , here you can see the old remains of the crusher chute which ran down a 45 degree slope to the crusher bin just near the sewerage treatment works ponds , I bit the bullet and headed down the steep incline ( knowing I had to come back up argh ) and checked out the crusher bin site , the cutting for the lower line and the other big trestle bridge site , here it is thick with lantana so take a machete ! As I was heading back I went down a different path and found the last remaining piece of rolling stock left , an old skip car - the same one my mum had pics of , so a took a few piccies and headed back up that bloody hill !

Skip car at bottom of incline

Then off to part 2 of the mission - to investigate an alleged ammo dump from WW2 that the NPWS mention in a tour brochure , heading down and across another valley I came to the top of the tunnel and began to work my way down when I came round a corner into a large cave on the hill overlooking the railway line, the first thing I see is an army ammunition box ! geez talk about bingo I thinks before seeing the rest of the cave contents - it was obviously an old hobo's home and from the items around I'd say he was living there around 10 years ago, the ammo box was from 1953 and had a newspaper from 1998 in side so that discounted it being WW2 vintage , I scratched around in the dirt on the floor and found a Halfpenny from bloody 1942 to confuse things even more !


I then set off to look at the intended area , a small tunnel directly above Woy Woy Tunnel , here I took more pics to send off to Pete from who I annoy every now and again and who was interested in seeing it as there were actual plans to blow certain tunnels and bridges in WW2 if the Japs ever landed.
By now the old legs were getting like jelly so I headed back along my original path and stopped for a breather at the first trestle bridge , sat in the creek with my feet in the ice cold water and had a Chomp , filled my water bottle up with new cold spring water and hit the scrubby bit on the way back , all the time being circled by evil looking crows
I was back by about 1.30 so it was about a 5 hour journey and without the tunnel detour you could just do the railway walk in under 3 hours if you wanted to , just be careful to get out before they shut the tip gates at 4pm !

Woy Woy Files article on the Basalt Quarries Ltd railway here
Blog entry on the WW2 Woy Woy Tunnel Demolition plan  here