Steam Loco Safari Tours Photos and Report
Porterville Branch 20th June 2002
|There seemed to be a popular consensus that the Porterville
branch is somewhat boring, but I would disagree with that. We
arrived at Hermon to see 19D 3334 and a short mixed train preparing
for the run to Porterville. We found a handy service road and
located a likely spot for a picture. Warwick found that the shot
would be better from a more elevated position, so we built a huge
pile of tree branches on which to stand to take our pics - The
Gricing Grandstand... Unfortunately the train stopped for runpasts
near the river bridge, which were very nice with the mountain
backdrop. As the train headed further up the line we were able to
utilise our grandstand to great effect...
Another couple of runpasts were held a bit further up, as we carried on to Riebeek-Kasteel. The local primary school was at break so the entire population lined the fence to observed the train's passing, all screaming louldy of course! A little further on at Riebeek-Wes a pair of 35's with a cement train waited to cross the 19D. A few runpasts later, the Dolly duly arrived and the diesels could continue along their way.
We managed to drive the service road to the Berg River bridge for a shot but the road was a little rough... A shot a little further on was notable for a little black kitten scooting across the track just a few metres in front of the loco! Is is bad luck when a black cat crosses in front of a black loco?!
Time for lunch so we checked out the culinary delights of Porterville, settling on a steak pie from the local Spar. Not bad. They do a mean lemon meringue pie as well! The train passengers enjoyed lunch at a local winery. Meanwhile the train had arrived, shunted and turned.
There's a nice shot on a curve leaving Porterville opposite the Monte Bertha suburb with the Groot Winterhoekberge in the background. Trouble is it needed some gardening. So with a slasher and a pocket knife we set about removing some trees and an old telegraph pole. To no avail, but at least it kept us busy for a while! The shot was okay anyway. The train stopped for a runpast near the garbage dump before heading off towards Halfmanshof.
One of the gents linesiding was complaining bitterly about the &*#! mountains that seemed to appear in every shot, and lamented the severe lack of cathedrals, castles, arch viaducts and tunnels in the area, as would be found in the European Alps.... I pointed out that we had photographed the Kasteelberg earlier in the day, and that the previous day I had passed many castles on the Caledon branch. I passed a Castle to Warwick, one to David, one to Dick etc. He didn't seem to get it. Unfortunately for him the mountain scenery persisted and they appeared in many shots!
We managed some fantastic shots south of Halfmanshof, but in a gricing blunder we headed the wrong way near Leliedam and missed the final runpasts! Oh well, the day was still fantastic. I left the JHB gricers to carry on towards George for the weekend's action and headed back to Hermon. A final shot of 3334 arriving, and the passengers detrained and embarked on the Union Limited, 25NC 3422 patiently waiting at the head of the train.
I hear that Montagu on the Friday was brilliant, but the fire risk caused problems on Saturday. Sunday on the narrow gauge was also quite good I hear. Oh, yes and I did contribute some money for linesiding!
All pictures Copyright © 2002 Trevor Staats
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