Category Archives: Regional South Australia

Silent Sentinels

Just back from a weekend camping up on the banks of the River Murray and thought I’d quickly post some images.

The Murray River is today a highly regulated river system with a series of weir and locks along its length.  Other than during flood events, the river level upstream of each lock is carefully managed to keep pool heights constant for both irrigation and navigation purposes. Unfortunately, this has been to the detriment of thousand upon thousands of river red gums lining the banks of the river and its flood plains.  These magnificent trees need periodic flooding over their root systems (once very few years is fine – they get by in between), but constant immersion leads to their slow death.  The river today has many patches of gums drowned by the higher and unvarying river levels that came with the locks – silent sentinels looking down upon a now disturbed ecological balance.

Drowned river red gums on the River Murray, Australia

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SteamRanger Cockle Train (Revisited)

Back in March I posted a photo essay of the SteamRanger historic railway featuring photos of the largest of the steam engines currently in service, the Duke of Edinburgh.  You can find that post here.

SteamRanger is a volunteer run society operating a number of tourist railway services on the now isolated Mt Barker to Victor Harbor broad gauge line. The Cockle Train service runs along the Goolwa to Victor Harbor section of the track, along the edge of the Southern Ocean, for a distance of around 12 miles. Cockles, a local shellfish prolific near the mouth of the Murray River, provide the name for this service that runs regularly on weekends and school holidays. This section of line is the oldest in South Australia and was established in 1854 as a horse drawn railway to move freight from Goolwa (the lowest river port on the Murray-Darling river system) to nearby ocean ports (initially Port Elliott and later Victor Harbor). The railway allowed the mouth of the Murray River to be bypassed as it was unsafe for navigation, being shallow and directly facing the treacherous Southern Ocean swell.  The line was rebuilt for steam in 1856.

A number of different rolling stock units are used to operate the service. Last weekend I drove down to Goolwa and followed the Sunday morning train from Goolwa to Victor Harbor and back.   This service was operated by a former South Australian Railways 500 class diesel locomotive, No 507.

The 500 class was introduced in the 1960’s as shunters in marshalling yards across the State, replacing steam locomotives used to that time.  Ultimately, as trains became longer and heavier, they became obsolete.  Most were scrapped in the 1990’s, but a few remain in service.  I can recall seeing these locos working in Adelaide’s Mile End good yards in the 1960’s and 70’s, along with the last few steam tank engines.

The 500 class was built locally at South Australian Railways’ Islington workshop.  They were diesel-electric with English Electric 500hp motors, and a mix of standard and broad gauge examples were produced.  SteamRanger uses No 507 to run the the Cockle Train on quieter services where the cost of running steam is too high.

We commence the pictures at Goolwa station shortly before the train set off for Victor Harbor.
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Classic Planes (Part 2)

This is the second half of my Jamestown Air Spectacular photo set.  I’ve broken the set into two posts to keep page load speeds reasonable for viewers with slower Internet connections.  If you’ve just arrived here, maybe go back to Part 1 first by clicking on this link.

But if you’ve just come from Part 1, well, let’s get on with it.<!–more–>

I’ll resume with another aerobatic aircraft.  This time, the Pitts Special ‘Super Stinker’ of Chris Sperou.  Chris is a South Aussie local and an aerobatics legend in Australia.  I have seen him a number of times over the years, and I thought the display he put on at Jamestown was as good, if not better, than any I have seen.

Jamestown_Air_Spectacular

Accelerating down the runway, about to get airborne. For Chris, that means going near vertical within moments of the wheels clearing the tarmac.  What I hadn’t previously noticed until posting this photo was the amount of bracing used on the tail-fin and horizontal stabilisers.

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Classic Planes (Part 1)

Last spring, a classic aircraft airshow, the Jamestown Air Spectacular, was held in South Australia’s mid north.  Jamestown is a modest sized rural town approximately a three hour 200km drive north of Adelaide, and located in prime cropping country.  I day-tripped up from Adelaide, making a long but enjoyable day.

Jamestown airport has a single 1350 metre runway which was sealed in 2009 as the result of a lot of fundraising by the local aviation club and with support from the local council and businesses.  The airshow is held once every three years.

For an event held far from a capital city, it received wonderful spectator support and showed off a good blend of enthusiast aircraft types.

All the photos in this post were taken with my Pentax K-x dSLR using a Pentax DA 55-300 zoom lens.  While there were a few photo opportunities that would have benefited from a shorter focal length lens, there was a reasonable amount of dust in the air which I did not want entering the camera body while changing lenses.  My sensor already had a few blotches of gunk on it and I had no desire to add more!  So, I just stuck with the 55-300.

I used a monopod extensively to reduce camera shake.  A welcome side benefit was relieving me of the need to hold the camera and lens up for the many hours of photo opportunities that the Spectacular provided. I really recommend a monopod when using longer focal length lenses – much more portable and convenient that a tripod while still offering a considerable camera steadying benefits.  I own a Manfrotto 776YB aluminium monopod fitted with a 234RC tilt head. The 234RC is fitted with a convenient quick release plate. The same quick release plate is used on my tripod, keeping life pretty simple.

Throughout the day I roamed the general admission area, but for keen attendees, there was also a premium viewing option which was situated by the aircraft hard standing area.  Some accredited photographers were out on the airfield itself, enjoying close up, obstruction free viewing.  Lucky devils.

It was a great day both for flying and photography – a light northerly breeze running straight down the runway and a clear cloudless sky.

So, onto the planes.

As we were walking into the spectator area, this little number was just finishing its routine and in my first photo of the day was photographed  returning to its parking area.

Jamestown_Air_Spectacular-041

DR107 aerobatic special. Built by the owner from 50 blueprint plans. Capable of eye-popping +10 to -10G turns, and a complete 360 degree roll in under one second. Finished in stunning metallic blue paint.

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Steamranger Cockle Train

A few month’ back, I found myself armed with a camera down on Adelaide’s South Coast region. I was finishing up a couple of hours of filming, taking photos of nothing in particular when I heard a steam engine whistle in the distance. And just happened to be in the exact spot for a great photo. Some days just want to turn out well!

The train concerned is the Cockle Train, run by the SteamRanger Historical Society. The volunteer run society operates a number of services on a now isolated section of the former Mt Barker to Victor Harbor broad gauge line. The Cockle Train runs from Goolwa to Victor Harbor, along the edge of the Southern Ocean, for a distance of around 12 miles. Cockles, a local shellfish prolific near the mouth of the Murray River, provide the name for this service that runs regularly on weekends and school holidays. A number of different rolling stock units are used to operate the service, including some heritage rail cars. This day I struck lucky, as the Duke of Edinburgh, the largest of the SteamRanger locos currently in service was pulling the Cockle Train.

Enough of the intro, onto the photos. All shot with a Pentax K-x dSLR with a Tamron 17-50 lens mounted, and with a UV filter and Hoya CPL on the front to combat the extremely strong sun and high UV (we’d hit 45C (113F) two days earlier in Adelaide).

First, the obligatory occ health and safety advisory…

Signage at Victor Harbor Railway Station

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