I woke up hours earlier than usual on Saturday morning. Tired and bleary eyed I stumbled for the espresso machine. I could hardly function. These however, were mere physical ailments, underneath I was brimming with excitement.
Today was the day... the day the 'Downs Dasher' would take to the track.
At the Warwick Train Station early, this little blogger was there to greet the first passenger. At least an hour early, she shared her memories of the trains of old as we waited in the shadow of the station's impressive entrance for passengers to descend. And descend they did, approaching across the car park like explorers across a vast desert, eager eyes fixed on the station. As I ticked off names and handed over tickets the passengers peeped past me, impatient to head onto the platform.
Not only passengers but onlookers, photographers and excited children were all eager enough to be earlier than the train! The train was full and the whistle was soon to sound and there was still plenty on the platform to wave them off.
As the whistle sounded the same excitement as your team winning at a football match or the last 100m of the Melbourne Cup seemed to be alive on the platform ... there certainly is something about steam trains.
Travelling by rail is an experience, you suddenly see the country differently, views hidden from the road are extended and romanticized when accompanied by the smell of soot and the sound of the whistle.
The day really was one for the books - what with the sweltering heat and plenty of potential hiccups to upset the coal cart, the day ended for me finally riding the 'Downs Dasher' home from Hendon, hot, tired but happy the day had been a success and wondering how it had ended so soon.
Thanks to the many Steam Train buffs from across the country and all their fabulous feedback, my 'Downs Dasher' experience proved to be much more than a ticket to ride!
Here's to a long and fruitful career for the 'Downs Dasher'.