Hunter Valley Steamfest 2014 is a week away, on the weekend of April 12th & 13th, and for those of you planning some Steamfest photography here are some locations that give you a good view of the tracks and the trains on them.
Not sure what Steamfest is about then check out my previous article Steamfest, a weekend of great photography opportunities and the Hunter Valley Steamfest page. It’s a great event for photography, with steam and vintage diesel locomotives, penny farthing races, vintage engines and equipment and the people visiting it all.
In almost all cases below, if you click on the location title it will open Google Maps to that location for you to easily find the area I am talking about, and the location images were all shot with an iPhone and have not been cropped.
First, some rules that I hope most of us would follow regardless of me listing them.
- Don’t trespass. Respect private and state rail property. Don’t go on to private property without the owners permission, and don’t go on to state rail property outside the public access areas, such as station platforms and footbridges.
- Don’t block access. Platforms, footpaths, footbridges etc, are public areas and in normal use during Steamfest. Don’t block access to those that are trying pass by. Don’t setup a tripod when that will leave no room for people to pass.
- Be polite. Others around you are trying to enjoy the day and look at the same trains as you. There is plenty of space and plenty of time, enjoy the day, and don’t make it a bad day for someone else.
- Be safe. Don’t do things that will endanger yourself or the others around you.
Metford Rd. travels under the rail line between the intersections with Raymond Terrace Road and Fieldsend St. There is no street parking on this road so you will have to park around the Fieldsend oval if available or on the streets a little further back. You can walk under the rail lines, as there is a pedestrian walkway, but guard rails will probably restrict your view of trains passing over the bridge.
You may be able to get up the embankment on the north side of the line however it is badly overgrown at the moment and at the top is the ever present chain link fence that you will have to shoot through. The images of this site will show this area on the other side of the tracks.
On the opposite side of Metford Rd. to Fieldsend St. is a turn in towards the brick works. This short road will get you up at the same level as the tracks, and runs right up to the rail line. There is a 5′ chain link fence which you could shoot over with a little height. Some positions will have you easily shooting over the fence. There are some trees blocking the view further down the track to the east.
There is a grass area at the corner of Turton & Young Streets, near P & H MinePro Services, that doesn’t appear to be private property. This area gives a fairly good view of the rail lines, although it is not as close to the lines as some would like.
The footbridge and platform could be good vantage points for some images. This station is generally more busy with commuters than the nearby East Maitland station. The car park on the south side of the line is bigger and easier to use, and there is also an area along the fence that may give some good views, although you may end up having to shoot through the fencing at that level.
This section of one way street running from High St. to George St. is fairly quiet and has a footpath along the rail line fence. Its not a very high fence, and at this location you are well above the track and trains if you are after a view from above. While the High St and George St road bridges do have footpaths, they are not very wide and offer no protection on the vehicle side of the path. I would stick to footbridges or this section of Day St. for views from above.
Anzac park does run along side the rail lines, but the view is obstructed by bushes and the high chain link fence. Down towards the courthouse there is a car park, as well as a wide footbridge. This footbridge offers views over East Maitland Station and back to the curve towards Victoria Street Station. It’s well worth a look, and also while you are in that area take some images of the court house or go for a tour of Maitland Gaol.
Car parking spaces at East Maitland station are limited this year with construction works taking up more than half the car park. There is still some nearby street parking and the court house parking areas, which will only mean a short walk to the station.
This station is accessed via tunnels underneath, so there is no footbridge over the rails to shoot from. This does make it a more picturesque station to shoot around though. There are some locations, from the car park, that will get you good shots of the lines from a slightly lower angle, although as only one line passes the station on this side, if the train is on any of the other lines this vantage point will not work.
Melbourne St Field
If you look from the East Maitland Station car park across Melbourne St. you will see an open field. This field gives you a view of trains as they cross over a bridge at that same area. The grass is not recently mown and it can be a little boggy after rain. Be careful crossing the road if you intend to investigate this spot.
At the end of this road, near Blakemore N&M, is a footpath up to the new bridge over the rail line. The bridge itself has a high fence that you would have to shoot through, but before actually getting on the bridge there is a short area that may provide some good shots.
Pass the football fields on your left, and continue on to the RC car track and you can get right up to a short fence along the rail lines. Some of the areas are clear all the way to the fence line, and these offer a good level view on to the tracks as they lead back to East Maitland as well as under the High St. road bridge.
Please be careful at the High St & New England Highway lights. I have heard of many accidents at these lights, with vehicles on the highway not seeing (or obeying?) a red signal. I’ve been right next to a car that turned on to the highway and was promptly run through by a semi trailer. Look before driving on a green light.
There is not a great deal of parking here, so you may have to park nearby and walk. There is a footbridge that crosses over the rail lines and the highway which will offer some good vantage points, as well as the platform itself.
A walk further up along Abbott St. – Athel Dombrain Drv. will get you to another footbridge that crosses both the rail and highway.
This is the focus of most if not all the events. This platform will be busy, but you can still get on the platform for some shots, although getting them without to many other visitors may be impossible. Its a definite must to see the rest of the exhibits, but they will have the bridge and car parks taken up. Dont expect to be able to park close by.
I hope you find the above locations useful for your own steamfest photography, and I hope that you all enjoy the day and create some great images.