End of an era: The Pokataroo Branch

These are the last photos I took on film, with a craptacular Kodak camera. The old Pokataroo Branch of the north western railway in New South Wales terminated about five kilometres from where I used to live. The old railway station was opened in 1906 as Collarendabri, before being renamed to Collarendebri East, then finally Pokataroo in 1919. The line leading to Pokataroo station closed in 1974, after flood damage.

At the time these were taken, which I believe was 1998, the terminus was still visible. The buffer stop at the end of the line was still standing, the rural station platform rotted and leaning to one side. At the far end of the platform, the base of an old crane.

Close up of some rails and sleepers.
Close up of some rails and sleepers.

If you like, click "read more" for a couple of newer photos of the railroad remants around Pokataroo, including the crane base and the old rail bridge.

The old crane base near the Poktaroo platform.
The old crane base near the Poktaroo platform.
Looking back toward Pokataroo township (approximately four houses) from the station's location.
Looking back toward Pokataroo township (approximately four houses) from the station's location.
The old Pokataroo rail bridge.
The old Pokataroo rail bridge.
Looking toward Pokataroo atop the old rail bridge.
Looking toward Pokataroo atop the old rail bridge.

If you're into this kind of thing, you can find some information about the Pokataroo Branch on NSWrail.net. There're some cool photos if you click on the "photographs" tab, including some of the platform, and one from the '70s of the station building when it was still in-tact.

Also, I'm a nerd. Don't judge me.

Map of the history of Sydney's railways

This is a project that I started -- and kind of abandoned -- several years ago. The story is this: Once, during a trip to Melbourne, I picked up a cool poster showing the entire railway network of the city, complete with all of the stations and lines that had closed down over the years. I quite liked it. I decided to make one for Sydney. I stupidly underestimated the magnitude of this task.

So, I edited it, on-again-off-again, until I ended up with the final version, which I display here. Is it 100% accurate? Probably not. Is it educational? Undoubtedly. Should you always do further research when presented with information on the internet? Of course you should.

Thanks to all the folks at railpage.com.au's forums who helped all those years ago, without your assistance, I would never have had the impetus to continue with this thing. Thanks also to nswrail.net for being such a ludicrously awesome resource for New South Wales railway history, and a fantastic tool for clarifying a lot of the details that went into this map.

If you find any glaring errors, by all means, let me know. I probably won't make any changes, though, because this project has very much been and gone, and it's a huge undertaking to edit it.

Click here for the full, high-res (but heavily compressed) version if you want to read the text. (Warning: is gigantic, won't work in full-resolution on an iPad or iPhone without special software.)

'tis but a preview image. Click for big. (Really big.)

Various old "artworks", if you will

Most of these are terrifying, but I was young, so I'll forgive that. Most of these lack a certain level of contrast that I've come to apply to images, but I'll forgive that, too. I hardly touch 3D images any more. Not sure if that's a good thing, or not. Hit the jump for the gallery, 15 pics.

Sydney's "Tangara" train in Lego, kind of

Here's an attempt at designing Sydney's "Tangara" train as a Lego model, using some wing-ding Lego modelling software for the Mac. The colours are based on the current (2008) trend for all of the trains to be represented in yellow.

Choo, choo.

In hindsight, I could probably have made it eight studs wide, rather than six, to give a bit more detail. I tried to stick with Lego's standard of six studs for a train, though.

Tiny trains: HO scale Sydney railway station

I, uh, don't have a model railroad. But that didn't stop me from undertaking a weekend project to make a tiny railway station. I've made them in 3D before, but the real world is another story. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The various bits are cut from thick card, the kind that photographic prints are delivered with, to keep them from bending in the post.

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Hit the "Read More" linky-dinky to, uh, read more. There're a heap more pictures.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere's the superstructure of the building. The corners are reinforced with extra card to give them the illusion of columns of brickwork, to match the brick columns along each side. It was sheer luck that the card was the right thickness to look like added brickwork.

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I cheated with the exterior. The brick pattern is "texture mapped" by creating a brick pattern in Photoshop to the correct scale (HO, in this case, which is around 88:1). The folds are all scored so the thick photo paper bends nicely.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAll "textured". The pale blue wheelchair ramp box is popped out on a piece of card to give it depth. I built some fake shadows and staining into the texture map to give it some age and interest around the brick columns, doorways and windows. The network map and station signage is all to scale.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe platform is not exactly long enough to be true to scale, but as I don't have a model railroad to put it in, that's kind of a moot point. The surface of the platform was a fluke -- it's very fine grit wet-and-dry sandpaper which was used to sand some items that had been painted in black paint. The glossy black paint had worn into the paper, making darker, shiny patches. It looks exactly like a gravel-on-tar surface that's been in the hot sun, allowing the shiny black tar to seep through the gravel. If I was to ever make platforms for a model railroad, I'd deliberately use this approach.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA"Aerial" view, showing how remarkably decent the accidental platform surface turned out. The yellow lines are just strips of yellow paper cut very fine. The platform trim is white fine-grit sandpaper (no tricks, straight out of the packet) to give the illusion of texture, and the markings along the platform edge are made to scale in Photoshop and printed on photo paper. If I was to do this seriously, I'd have used matte photo paper for the things that really shouldn't be shiny.

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Daylight! The station is sitting on the roof of my car. The porch is made from matchsticks for support and some more of the same card I built the structure from. It's not beautiful, but it gets the job done. The lights are bits of bent wire with tiny blocks of card on the ends, painted silver. They don't light up, obviously.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore detail from the platform edge. A lesson learned from this is that it'd probably be best, if I made another, to "inlay" the paper layers, rather than just gluing them on top of each other. It'd reduce the buckling and generally look better. The "2" in the yellow block is a car marker, to indicate to the train driver where to stop the train, and a bit of a joke on my part, as it's only scaled to be a two-car platform. (Ordinarily, a station of this kind would have room for at least six cars, more likely eight.)

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I guess this would be the view from the "other" platform, but -- of course -- there isn't one.

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As an added bonus, here's a tiny tiny tiny version of the old manual timetable displays that appeared on the station platforms. The real ones have a dozen or so rotating blocks with station names, this one only has four. Usually it's Strathfield marked in red, as it's a big interchange for several lines. As a joke no one will get, I've marked it as "Redmyre", which was the original name of Strathfield's station. As another joke no one will get, I've named my station "Bresnahan".

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Here it is, with a coin. It's very small.