Random Friday memory 24: riding the red rattler

Between 1955 and 1965 I rode the red rattler most weekdays from The Shire to Central, to school (1955-9), to university (1960-62, 1964-5) or to work (1963). Our family being somewhat nomadic, my starting point varied. First it was Sutherland, seen here in 1954 decorated for the Royal Visit: see Sixty years on – and mortality.

And, as a matter of interest, here is Sutherland Station well before my time – in 1920. Those carriages were still in use though on the South Coast line.


Between 1956 and 1958 my starting point was Kirrawee.


That sign is much more recent, but otherwise it looked the same in 1956 as that shot: even more recently the track has been duplicated.


That’s the kind of carriage I would have travelled in, though that one looks a touch derelict. You have to imagine all the seats occupied, even by Kirrawee and certainly by Sutherland on the 7.25 or 7.35 service to the city. We kids stood, or sat on the hard durable school cases we all had in those days.

From around 1957 through 1959 I would most mornings have been joined by three schoolmates getting on at Oatley – Geoff Timmins, John Robbins and Eddie Stone. (Hope I recall those correctly!) But the great feature of the trips in those years was Bert Triglone, who was always seated as he got on further down the line at Caringbah. He was not a schoolmate…

In fact he was in his eighties, still travelling to work as a compositor at the Sydney Morning Herald every day. He was a smallish man, but very dapper in his three piece suit with a rose in his lapel. Unusually too, when not deep in the latest Leslie Charteris “Saint” novel, he would chat to everyone around him, us teenagers included, telling stories of having a newspaper in Goulburn, being in Hawaii when Queen Liliuokalani was deposed, and being sent back from South Africa around 1900 with six months to live.

“And it’s been a bloody long six months!” that story always ended.