I’m running downhill towards the railway station. I cock my wrist to see the time on my watch. It’s too close to 12:45pm for my liking. But I put my head down and keep running. I can hear my feet and my heart pounding as one. I slow down, get my student pass out. All the attendant sees is blue cardboard in a wallet as I run through the entrance.
It’s my fault for lingering over coffee with my friend that Saturday afternoon. But now I have to make a quick decision.
There are two trains at the platform to choose from. Both are rail motors : which look like ordinary carriages with a driver’s/guard’s compartment and cow-catchers at each end.
They both leave at exactly the same time : one for Kiama and one for Moss Vale. I jump on the first one. I hear the station master’s final call. In my relieved state, I know I’ve heard it right. I’m on the right train home. There are hardly any passengers with me but that’s not unusual.
The train started up. I’m at the front. I count down the stations home, Wollongong, Coniston and then Unanderra. After Unanderra, I heard the familiar clatter as the rail motor changes points. And then the train starts ascending. Up the Moss Vale line. Oh No! I’m on the wrong train.
I better do something now I thought. I rap the window of the train driver. I tell him I’m on the wrong train. I see but don’t hear him radio ahead. I think I’m going to Moss Vale and I’m not coming back. But he says something to me about Summit Tank.
I then wait and enjoy the view of the Illawarra escarpment. For now I’m on a slow ascent on a gentle slope. The coast is on my left and the mountains to the right. And it is like seeing a snapshot, then resetting the camera and taking another one. I’m so mesmerised I forget the train is about to stop.
The line reaches the top of the mountains, veers right and we disappear into the forest. Summit Tank.
The train stops and nearby is another train. A goods train.I’m escorted to the guard’s van. And we take the descent downwards. Two views for the price of none. Although you don’t see much out of a guard’s van.
Note: Only a few years later the Moss Vale service was cancelled. Now it was revamped as the Cockatoo Run.