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Chris Gillings
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Username: chrisg

Post Number: 23
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Saturday, 06 March, 2004 - 08:43 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Whilst the main 2004 RR Centennial Tour is working its way down the east coast of Australia, a small band of pre-war RR owners are following an inland rural route to the tours' common destination - the "Praeclarum" Rally in Melbourne next week.

Today SG 1492 and PII 147GN joined up with the 20-Ghost tour at Mudgee, in the mid-west of New South Wales. The weather turned quite wet as we left Sydney and became positively arctic as we crossed the mountains in fog and rain. Perfect Ghost weather! 1492's new wheels are making the going very light and easy, though she has yet to really come into her own as she usually does on long tours. Give a day or two and she'll be champing at the bit.

A quick count around the car park tonight reveals thirteen Silver Ghosts, a New Phantom and a Phantom II. The oldest Ghost is chassis number 1122 ("Quicksilver"), which has only recently been restored after almost forty years in bits. I'm told it's thoroughly enjoying its first outing and is climbing hills like a mountain goat whilst returning 16mpg.

Tomorrow we head for Blackheath in the Blue Mountains. The road is not perfect but the traffic tends to be quite light as far as Lithgow. Hopefully the weather won't be too warm.

Update tomorrow (time permitting).
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Chris Gillings
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Username: chrisg

Post Number: 24
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Sunday, 07 March, 2004 - 10:00 pm:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Today we visited the Zig-Zag Railway near Lithgow. This is an ex-coal train line that literally "zig-zags" down the mountains from the coal mine to the power station in Lithgow. Now it's superseded by trucks and conveyors but it's come into its own as a very popular tourist attraction.

ZigZaG

Unfortunately I was unable to spare the time to ride on the Zig-Zag, as I had to be in Blackheath in time to chauffeur for a wedding. It seems my brother and his partner had been planning for a while to spring their wedding on us, so all of a sudden I found myself as chauffeur of the Phantom II, as well as groomsman for his wedding!

It was a great surprise all 'round and we spent the rest of the day dealing with their nuptials, finishing with a slap-up meal at the Hydro-Majestic Hotel near Blackheath.

The upshot is that they are now going to be spending their honeymoon on the tour. Some people sure are strange...
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David Gore
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Username: david_gore

Post Number: 222
Registered: 4-2003
Posted on Monday, 08 March, 2004 - 03:43 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Hi Chris,

Thanks for the information on the Ghost Tour and the great photo from Clarence station - I am a steam engine fanatic from way back. The R-R vehicles and steam engine combination is perfect!!

One small correction, the Zig-Zag was never a coal transport railway - it was the main railway route from Sydney to Western NSW and is one of the engineering wonders of the world. The problems encountered in finding a suitable rail route across the Blue Mountains took a long time to solve. The escarpments on each side of the range did not provide a "ramp" to allow the trains to climb over the range in each direction and tunnelling technology was not capable of economically building long enough tunnels in the sandstone to provide the necessary gradients for crossing the range. There were two zig-zags, the smaller one was at Lapstone to bring the railway from the Sydney plain to the top of the range [this is still accessible as a walking trail] and the bigger one was at Lithgow to bring the line down to the Western plains. The engineer for both projects was John Whitton and major problems with construction had to be solved - workers had to be suspended in bosun's chairs on the vertical cliff faces to start excavating the cuttings for the railway line and the sandstone viaducts are both an engineering and visual masterpiece. Unfortunately, the zig-zags became a hindrance to economic train operation as the railway was extended and usage increased. Trains could not use the zig-zags as a single unit due to the grades and they had to be split into several units at the beginning and recombined at the end - this was a slow process due to the shunting necessary to move the engine from one end of each unit to the other on the three levels of the zig-zags. The Zig-Zag was replaced by a series of 10 tunnels and a long deviation in the early 1900's - the current tourist railway is a "must-see" for any railway enthusiast/steam engine fanatic from both the scenic and technological aspects.
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Chris Gillings
Moderator
Username: chrisg

Post Number: 25
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Wednesday, 10 March, 2004 - 07:07 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Monday 8th March - Blackheath

Monday was a non-driving "rest" day. I spent it rummaging through several of the many second-hand bookstores in the area. (I didn't find much of interest, other than an old motoring encyclopaedia and a few slide rules.) Others - particularly our overseas guests - did the whole Blue Mountains bit: visiting the many lookouts and grand old 19th-century establishments you find up there.

A magnificently restored Springfield Ghost joined us yesterday afternoon; S353LF ("The Duchess") now hails from South Australia after being found in a shed in Massachusetts in 1993 where it had been stored unused since 1963. Two more cars joined us today: a 25/30 HP ("The Mistress") from South Australia, and a newly restored 20 HP Barker-bodied "Carosserie" on its first long-distance outing after a complete nuts-and-bolts restoration. It looks absolutely beautiful and is a credit to its owner and restorer. This time he didn't take almost thirty years to complete the job, as he did with his previous car!
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Chris Gillings
Moderator
Username: chrisg

Post Number: 26
Registered: 5-2001
Posted on Wednesday, 10 March, 2004 - 07:10 am:   Edit PostDelete PostView Post/Check IP

Tuesday 9th March - Blackheath to Cootamundra

We travelled from the mountains down through Lithgow, Bathurst, Cowra and Young to Cootamundra at the edge of the Riverina today. There was a hot westerly blowing across the plains, which buffeted and desiccated those in open cars, and on occasions reduced my speed in 1492 by as much as 10 km/h.

Arriving at the motel in Cootamundra, we were greeted by yet another Ghost, which takes the number of pre-war cars on this tour to eighteen (if my counting isn't out). This 1925 Ghost, chassis number 122EU, is the youngest known Ghost built in Derby, England. (There are three younger Derby Ghosts on record but no-one knows where they are or even if they still exist.)

Today my family did something that we've been meaning to do for years. Our Ghost (1492) was originally delivered in Australia to the Whitney family of "Cooming Park" near Carcoar. Today we happened to pass this property, so we took the opportunity to drive in and photograph 1492 outside the house where it spent its first ten years or so in Australia.

SG 1492 outside "Cooming Park"


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