Zig-Zag Railway

Linda Stewart

If noise, loud noise, steam and smoke, swaying rhythm and adventure capture your imagination chances are you’ve taken a few train trips.  My love affair with trains started as a youngster when I travelled home with friends for school holidays.  That was in the 1960s.  When trains steamed along billowing smoke and clack-clacked at sedate pace as we chuffed towards a school vacation on the farm of my friend’s parents.  We boarded the train late afternoon with our brown-bagged dinner and breakfast and duffle bags.  Six convent girls piled into the second class sleeper, unsupervised.

SAR Train 1960s

Since then my preferred travel option is always a train journey but alas these are becoming more expensive than other modes of transport.  Progressive technology and design may be more efficient but they lack the romance and exhilaration of pending adventure than the trains of my youth.

And then we found the Zig Zag Railway 10kms east of Lithgow.

The Zig Zag Railway, was built at Clarence, to freight produce from the prosperous farming areas beyond the Blue Mountains to Sydney.  It was a major transport connection for people travelling from the main city to the countryside that was being opened up to mining ventures.  The railway was regarded as one of the wonders of the Victorian age, taking three years to complete (1866 – 1869).

Zig Zag Railway

Trains offer a certain freedom – and a degree of acceptable oddballness – that other public transport doesn’t permit.   We’re not fidgeting in our seats, or vying for elbow room on the armrests, or trying to press the backs of our heads into the seat behind so as not to have the derriere of our neighbour in our face as they clamber over our toes to get to the toilet.

Train travel is so  much more sociable.   You can move about freely, chat to others, get up and wander to the food carriage or take photos from the open carriage as you suck in the steamy coaled fumes of the rickety-racked steam train.   

The capped-personality in the photo above regaled the platform audience with chicken and turkey impersonations until we could no longer stand straight.  His motivation?  Who knows but we enjoyed his inhibition and exhibitionism.  Perhaps he understood the healing properties of a good belly laugh and who knows there would have been souls in need of healing from whatever ailed them.

Zig Zag Railway

Located 10 km east of Lithgow, at Clarence, the Zig Zag Railway, passes over three wonderful sandstone viaducts and through two hand-hewn tunnels plus a cutting.  The views over the surrounding countryside are stunning.

Thanks to a group of train enthusiasts the tracks, damaged during the second world war were rebuilt.  The Zig Zag Railway Cooperative owns and operates the railway and it has become an excellent tourist attraction.  Not often are you able to learn the history of a piece of machinery and then have the experience of being transported as people of long ago were.

As we waiting for our train to depart we spent time chatting with the train driver who was simultaneously shovelling coal into the furnace and delivering a history lesson to interested bystanders.

The small village of Clarence is located near the Blue Mountains in New South Wales, Australia and a visit to the Zig Zag Railway was an excellent choice as an afternoon’s sight seeing.

Posted as part of the 2015 A – Z Challenge


6 thoughts on “Zig-Zag Railway

  1. Old trains are great! Reading this post I thought about an old train which also starts with a Z, it is Zillertalbahn in Austria, which like the Zigzag railway works on coals.


  2. I wish trains were still like this everywhere, even the interiors were so much nicer than they are now. I travelled on a train from the East to the West coast of America and that was a wonderful way to do it, and it was definitely sociable as you say. Unfortunately the same cannot be said for travelling by train in England, especially not here in London :-S

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Whenever I think of trains romanticized I think of the journey of my dreams on the Orient Express. I did go as far as checking prices once and it was enormously expensive. A lovely idea though, one of these days maybe. Thanks for stopping by.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. In my mind there is a romance to traveling by train as well as the other advantages you mentioned. I’ve taken only two short train trips, neither being overnight. I loved them, but they left me wanting more. Maybe someday.


    • Listening to the cliquey-clack of the train wheels, being tucked into bed with a good book and knowing one is being carried to faraway places is, well, exciting. I thoroughly recommend it. Having said that it has been a while since my last overnighter.


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