Steam & Safaris Eternal Hills Tour Photos and Report
27 May 2001 Bloemfontein to Kimberley and return
Sunday morning 27th May, Jean Dulez and I were out at Immigrant before sunrise, waiting for 23 3300 and the Union Limited. The grass and bushes were gilded with frost, the few minutes at sunrise were beautiful, the sunlight bathing everything in gold. Unfortunately there was no train. It seems that they did their sunrise shots near De Brug somewhere. A while later we heard the hardworking beat of the 23 and saw it crest the hill beyond the station, coasting down to stop in the yard. This worked to our advantage in a big way, because when they left they really opened up. It was still only about 3 degrees and the tower of steam erupting from the stack was most impressive. We were about a kilometer out of the station, so when the 23 passed us it was going at a good clip and still working hard.

We lost the race to Petrusburg so we headed into Perdeberg for the bridge shot. Got a reasonable shot and they stopped for a run past. David Benn and I went up river to the reflection shot which was quite overgrown. A bit of slashing improved this slightly but not much, had to use the reeds in the shot. Stuffed up the video here though, I didn't press the button hard enough so I got the rear coach crossing the bridge and David Benn slashing the reeds (see below)! No loss, the shot on video was very limited...

A few record shots out to Kimberley, lighting a bit harsh by this stage. On arrival there, Jean Dulez boarded the train , and Tony Attwell left the train. A shed bash at Beaconsfield followed, not much had changed there. Peter Odell was there selling SteamNet 2000 souvenirs and videos etc. It seems that their 25NC 3482 (?) is in running order but can't run at the moment due to other problems... 

3511, 858 and a 24 were in the shed, oily 3501 was dumped in the yard. I don't know what 3501 needs to run again? The rest of the NC's were still standing dumped around the shed and coal stage. Took a few pictures of the diesel shed, I guess this will shrink later in the year when the wires are energized to De Aar. They will only have diesels there for the Bloemfontein line (most of which operate from Bloemfontein) and the Botswana line - anywhere else?

Tony and I left there for KFC then Perdeberg on the S-bend. The light was a bit harsh and my pan was ruined by a bug flying into my ear halfway through. T he buzzing in my ear drum was too much to ignore so I had to abandon the sequence for a minute to get the bug out. I think I just squished it! A dash then to Petrusburg where 3410 was attached to the front. A runpast on the tree curve there was excellent, then got a lovely going away shot as they departed. Back to Immigrant then, and a fantastic backlit shot of them hurtling out of the station.

A final run past was held up the hill, much to the disappointment of the passengers. The classic glints had to be missed due to the scheduled cross with the Diamond at Olienhoutplaat. We dashed off to De Brug in the hope of getting some ourselves but it was not to be. The train was about 500m out of De Brug as we got to the turnoff so we wouldn't have made it in there. I think they ended up stopping there for a minute or two anyway but we didn't know that!

So we sped on to Driekloof (Hi Charl!) and drove back down towards De Brug on the service "road". We could hear the train coming but at the same time the sun slipped over the horizon and the glint was gone. There was still enough light to make the western sky golden, so shooting "wrong" side on a long zoom as they came around the bend was very nice. A zoom back as they approached and thrashed past, then the drifting smoke and yellow sky after they had passed...

A very nice shot when I wasn't really expecting anything much. A great weekend - well done to the S&S guys for some excellent action!

- Trevor (Pictures copyright 2001 Trevor Staats)

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