Abandoned Railway Sidings of the Monaro

Jincumbilly Close Angle

Jincumbilly Siding, Bombala Line: Opened 21st November, 1921/Closed 9th March, 1975

Limited Edition print available here

An alternate route to the Snowy Mountains through the Monaro region is via Cooma, Nimmitabel and the Snowy River Way to Dalgety and Jindabyne. I have taken this route a few times to photograph the remote abandoned rail sidings. Located in the rain shadow of the Snowy Mountains, the Monaro region is characterised by rolling, largely treeless hills. Too cold for reliable crops this is classic grazing country for cattle and sheep. These abandoned rail sidings pay testament to the remote and difficult life the settlers of the area endured.

Jincumbilly rail siding features a 120m platform with a small well preserved waiting room designed as a shelter from the howling gales that can whip across these plains. The remains of two passenger wagons have been moved to the neighbouring property.

This remote siding was of great importance during World War II. All supplies came and went by goods trains, due to petrol rationing. The men who enlisted left on the steam train, and those who returned were announced by the train tooting all the way from Holts Flat siding.

Outside of the war years the train was the lifeblood for the small farming communities scattered around Monaro. Goods trains took provisions to Bombala and Delegate, such as superphosphate, tractors and harvesters, and on the return journey they hauled local produce, predominantly wool, to market.

During the winter of 1949, Monaro had two unusually heavy snow falls about 10 days apart. Roads were cut, stock buried and everything was in crisis. The reliable steam train continued until the 1st August when it was lost in a huge snow drift. The locals arrived to help dig the train out. The Bombala end of the rail sent a fettler’s bogie to rescue the passengers, luggage and mail from the goods van at the back of the train.


Jincumbilly Dig

Steam Train being dug from the snow near Jincumbilly Siding in the big snow fall of August 1949 Photo: Dave Goodyer Collection


Holts Siding 2

Holts Flat Siding, Bombala Line: Opened 21st November, 1921/Closed 9th March, 1975

Limited Edition print available here 

The 88m platform and shelter stand on the up side of the line, opposite a loop siding. The truncated platform and small building are in poor condition and of need of restoration. The area is sometimes used for grazing, and as a result the yard is not badly overgrown.

Ground Blizzard, Ramshead Range

Ramshead Ground Blizzard 1600px

Camera/Lens: Nikon D800E, Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8@ 24mm

After a beautiful day ski touring around the Ramshead area near Thredbo, the wind started to pick up while returning to my camp. The natural phenomenon of sastrugi forms small ridges of packed snow from consistent winds. I thought the late afternoon light combined with the windblown snow and the sun low on the horizon would make for a nice image highlighting the sastrugi in the foreground. Little was I to know that the winds would increase ten fold and almost bury my tent with windblown snow during the night. Only shovelling every few hours throughout the night prevented the tent from being completely buried. I made a quick escape at first light in bad visibility and flat light, negotiating  sheet ice and invisible snow drifts on the plateau before reaching Thredbo Top station and the refuge of Eagles Nest.


Mike Banks Snow Gum 2 sRGB 1600px V2

Camera/Lens: Canon S95, 28-105mm f2-8.0

Theres something special about early morning in the high alpine in winter. The stillness and quietness is soul cleansing and a fresh blanket of snow gives a sense of newness and fragility. Theres nothing like clipping into your skis and making your own tracks in the pristine snow.

On this occasion a few centremetes of snow overnight along with the thaw from above zero temperatures the day before covered the snowgums with a thin layer of ice. It was a stunning scene when we peered out of the tent in the morning. Travelling light, I only had my little point and shoot Canon S95. It’s a wonderful little camera that shoots 10 Megapixel Raw images and has a minimum aperture of f2. It fits easily into a pocket so it is with me almost always – great to shoot anything from the kids to landscapes.