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Monday Walkabout Typical light flatbottom track details.

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Its the first time I have been out and about since before the March lockdown, combination of the blues and miserable weather since travel restrictions were lifted.

I originally planned to go on a bush walk but decided to check out the top end of the Glen Afton Branch line instead and see if the Bush Tramway Club had made any progress. http://www.bushtramwayclub.com/

The line was built to open up the coal fields west of Huntly and the section of line west of Rotowaro (lake of coal or burning embers) was closed in the early 1970s. The modern Rotawaro terminal both receives and dispatches train load coal but that's another story.

The line west of Rotowaro was handed over to the Bush Tramway Club who operated a 5km section of the line as a Hertiage Railway from a base at Pukemiro Junction, while gradually restoring the line towards Glen Afton

Glen Afton Station Site


Glen Afton station shortly after closure.


Station site from a similar view point today. Despite the rural appearance the station served the Glen Afton Coal Company Mine complete with its own locomotive. 


The railway line is in  the cutting behind the post box.


The end of the line! Drainage system restored, sleepers replaced track ballasted rails most likely left in place since closure.

Trains operate top and tail usually with a steamer at the up hill end and a diesel a the rear, the railway is planning to build a station so Glen Afton can once again become a destination.


Looking down the hill line re-sleepered with rectangular hardwood sleepers, fangbolts and baseplates at joints, otherwise fangbolts direct to sleepers,



Bit further down the line rails spiked to half round sleepers with every 3rd sleeper rectanglar with fangbolt fixing and baseplates.

This was fairly typical of Irish Branch and Secondary lines including the SLNCR, though half round sleepers were gradually phased out as they became due for replacement.


Halfround sleepers in closeup. Probably used for economy the Bush Tramway has approx once monthly outside of the summer/autumn months when the risk of fire is high.


An other bit further down the line.


The line climbs continuously from Rotowaro to Glen Afton steam sound effects are good.


An earlier encounter with the Bush Tramway locos are fitted with smoke deflectors for a reason


Some interesting equipment including the local A J Price version of a Climax B



Diesel rail trucks


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The upper section of the Glen Afton Branch was severed from the main line system and the Rotowaro Township removed with the development of open cast coal mining in the Rotowaro area during the 1970s.


Rotowaro late 2005 at a time when locos in matching colour schemes were extremely rare. Toll an Australian logistics company had recently acquired the operating assets of the railway from the former owners Tranzrail, the Government later bought out Tolls rail operating assets as the Government and Toll Rail were unable to reach agreement for the funding for marginal and loss making rail operations and investment.

The Rotowaro terminal despatches up to two trainloads daily to a steel mill near Auckland and receives imported coal as required for use in a nearby power station.


The Bush Tramway operates using a mixture of small ex-mail line and industrial locos.

185 is basically the NZR equivalent of the CIE J15 the standard motive power for mixed traffic duties until replaced by larger locomotives, several survived in industrial use until the mid 1960s.

Mixed traffic 4-6-2 and 4-8-0 locos were the standard steam power in the branch in later years, with General Motors standard G8 export A1A A1A (NZR DB) taking over passenger and freight duties during the branches final years.


Drewry 0-4-0 diesel mechanical tailing the const. The loco is basically a smaller version of the British Railways 04 class diesel shunter.



Pukemiro Junction the operating base of the line and in 2005 home of an interesting collection of un-restored locos and stock. 

Pukemiro was the junction with a private railway serving a local coal mine and the only feasible site for an operating and engineering base for a railway.


The loco is on the main line reversing back onto the train after coaling, the line on the left is the connecting line to the former mine branch.


Climax B 1650 from a former logging line. The Climax and Heisler were popular logging Locomotives (Bush Lokies) a local manufacturer AJ Price developing close copies of Climax & Heisler locos and later industrial diesels.

The Climax is currently under repair as a replacement for 185 which requires major boiler work.


And now for something completely different a Bush Jigger or rail truck converted for carrying men and equipment on logging lines.

This and a similar Jigger No 1 have been restored to working order since I took the photo in 2005.



Recent restored Pukemiro Coal Company Peckett 1630 coaling at the Junction in 2014, this loco spent its working life shuttling wagons between the Junction and its namesake mine before taking up passenger duties on the Glen Afton Line.

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