It’s little wonder Phyllis McKey, of Garran, remembers the waiting room at Jincumbilly Siding (A Challenge with Altitude: Surf to Snow in a Day, July 27, 2012) between Dalgety and Bombala so well, for she ‘‘lived most of her life a mile away’’.
Phyllis especially recalls the importance of the remote siding during World War II. “All supplies came and went by goods trains, due to petrol rationing. Further, during the war, the men who enlisted left on the steam train, and those who returned were announced by the train tooting a ‘cock-a-doodle-doo’ all the way from Holts Flat siding.’’
Even 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.’’ However, one of the most vivid memories for Phyllis was in the winter of 1949 when Monaro had two unusually heavy snow falls about 10 days apart.‘‘Roads cut, stock buried and everything was in crisis.
However, the reliable steam train continued until 1st August when...it was lost. Yes, lost! It was jammed in a huge snowdrift near the top of a long climb through Clovelly, our property,’’ exclaims Phyllis.
‘‘The locals arrived to help with a huge digging job on their hands.’’ What could have been a disaster thankfully had a happy ending.
‘‘The Bombala end of the rail sent a fettler’s bogie to rescue the passengers, luggage and mail etc from the goods van at the back of the train and all arrived in Bombala and the passengers were installed in one of the local hotels. I have seen a photo years ago and all [that was] visible was the top of the engine and the smoke stack.’’
While I haven’t been able to track down the exact photo Phyllis refers to, these photos from the Dave Goodyer Collection of images from the Bombala district captures the extent of the August 1949 snow drift.