THE Centenary of Rail celebrations was marked by special celebrations at Taree and Wingham over the weekend of May 12 and 13, 2013.
Among the special guests at both Taree and Wingham celebrations were politicians Rob Oakeshott, David Gillespie and NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell, Greater Taree City mayor Paul Hogan and Wingham's senior statesman Alan Skinner.
The event sparked fond memories for many who remember the earlier days of rail
Aggie McClutchey (nee Neal) of Taree, recalled how life revolved around the movement of the trains and how important many of the sidings were.
"The railway line went through our family farm at Kolodong, so I have many childhood memories which include trains.
"Many farms depended on those sidings. As youngsters if we wanted a day in town we would catch the morning goods train into Taree and get the evening train home," Aggie said.
Kolodong was the nearest station to the Neal family farm and Aggie remembers the railway line literally became a lifeline during the Great Depression and during World War II.
During the Depression, Aggie said it was an everyday occurrence to see men walking the line and stopping at farms along the way, to enquire after work.
"There were men of all calibre - even highly educated men, looking for work at that time. Sometimes they'd sleep at the station.
"Mum would cook a huge pot of soup, filled with chook legs, dumplings and vegetables. They would come with their billycans and take some," Aggie recalled.
During the war the train line was vital for transporting troops, and equipment.
"I always thought the white trains were sad. They were the Red Cross trains and during war time they would go north empty and return south full of wounded soldiers.
"They (the soldiers) would sometimes throw out their addresses to us to write to them," Aggie said.
Aggie treasures an old family photo (pictured) taken in 1938, before her brothers Clancy and Albert went to war.
"Clancy was a Spitfire pilot in France and was brought down. We thought he'd been lost but he survived. They both did," Aggie said.
Aggie also recalls the old Kolodong Post Office, which was situated at the top end of Kolodong.
"It was a beautiful home. Two old maids, Del and Daisy, lived there. Every morning they walked one mile to collect the mail off the passenger train. Then later, we'd see them walking back to put the mail onto the afternoon train. Everything revolved around the trains in those days."
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