We don’t really do spontaneity very well. We plan, we research, we stick to a schedule of sorts. But true spontaneity we don’t do well.
We set off on a squeezed in but premeditated 2400km round trip to visit my grandparents interstate. We knew we needed to visit, we saw a gap in the calendar, we packed Cranky, put children and dog in the car and off we went.
This trip is not one done lightly. Straight roads, emus, a sky that doesn’t quite go on forever but, just might. Our boys are ‘broken in’ to long haul car trips. But this one is a challenge. We have an arsenal of survival tricks that will feature another day.
On the way home, with approximately 1700kms under our tyres we slowed to 50km/hour in order to safely bisect the next tinpot town we encountered. From the corner of my eye I saw movement. I spotted a train line. Not the ordinary train line we had been running parallel to for the previous kilometres but, a miniature train line on the edge of town.
The trains were running.
I looked at DHB, ‘ Did you see what I saw?’
‘Miniature T.R.A.I.N.S. ‘ I spelt out. It was spot on midday on a Sunday. We had only been driving an hour since our last stop and we had at least four and a half hours of driving to get to tonights stop. We are passing through a little town. Should we stop? Do we have time to stop?
DHB slowed a little more. We came to a stop at the 80km/hour sign on the opposite edge of town. If we stop, what is the worst that will happen? A hour or so late getting into our stop for the night. If I ring ahead, we can get a drive through site and essentially stay hooked up. We can set up in the dark if we have to. But what could go right?
We stopped. We turned Cranky around (almost running over a nun in the process). We paid closer attention to the bakery, cafe and Pubs that were open. The Nursery and Olde Wares Emporium spilling onto the footpath. The super wide streets and gold rush style architecture. A real train station, a Vintage Farm Machinery Display. Welcome to Elmore, home of the Elmore Field Days. Wikipedia doesn’t even mention the miniature railway.
When we walked across the highway, DSX spotted the little trains. The delight and the spring in his step vindicated our stop. DSS and J-Dog were just happy to be out of the car. We waited for the miniature M70 Diesel engine and driver to come back from its 1 kilometre route. Three little trains were running today. Two diesel engines, one being the works truck, and a passenger train. The gents had a warming fire bucket going and the thermos was flowing.
What a 1 kilometre route it was. Alongside the real track, past great grain silos, around bends, over no less than four bridges, past a ballast dump, a pond, the sheds and foundry. With a toot and a whistle, we rattled around. We were in for a treat. As we came parallel with the ‘real’ train track, Toooooooot rang out. The real train zoomed past acknowledging the 1/10th size passenger train to its right. The work the volunteers put in to the engineering and maintenance was impressive.
The gents who provide their time, energy and experience to keep little local activities like this going are priceless. Each of the gents had a tale to tell. The farmer who retired to town and needed something to do with his time. The chap who still works part time but, enjoys doing his little bit for his community. The our driver for the day who seemed to have a depth of knowledge about these little trains that suggests a lifetime of trainspotting or, a working history with the railways. Meeting these fellows is a treat.
We had fun. We all had fun. We stopped our journey to have a laugh and engage our inner child with boys. Ask DSX what his highlight of the trip was and, yes, it was the miniature trains.
Who knew how brisk the breeze in your ears could be when generated by a Honda 2-Stroke motor being driven by a bearded, flannelette wearing Santa-esque retiree, grinning just as much as us at the joy on the DSX face?
A spontaneous, unplanned, piece of play for young, old and furry.