Almost one month ago, 27 September 2015 the iconic Sydney Central Railway station caught fire from a Hungry Jack's kitchen and the imagery in News.com saw great leaps of fire out through the classic building's edifices.
The imagery of Sydney Central Railway station on fire is a focus for several generations of Australians as Central is one of the great icons of an earlier era where the grand old trains of yesteryear from interstate Melbourne and Brisbane let alone the country trains.
These intrastate train destinations are as long as 'your arm' – such places as Grafton, Parkes, Albury, Wollongong, Nowra, Goulburn, Newcastle, Moss Vale, Tamworth, Armidale, Gosford, Bathurst, Lithgow and more besides.
Central was it – the central hub for many generations and my late mother would tell us that the place to meet people was under the big clock in Central Station. There were many such stories before the war in the 1930's where she worshipped with many other young people, Central Baptist Church.
Central Baptist Church was a short walk from Sydney's Central Railway Station and the 'friends many' would all congregate under the big clock at Sydney Central Station and then, like young people, together as a group, make their way to Central Baptist.
An era past
As WWII was coming to an end and the girls who en-mass had joined the Land Army as did my late mother, assigned to Batlow and Tumut (orchards and fruit picking) when travelling back to Sydney by rail, again it was Central Station under the big clock where her friends would be waiting.
But it wasn't only under the big clock friends and family met, many would be waiting on the Sydney Central platforms as the master passenger trains arrived and there they would meet their loved ones and friends as they alighted out of their carriages.
In my years as a locomotive engineman stationed at Port Kembla and Wollongong depots when studying at Wollongong University part time, I was assigned into Wollongong depot on the passenger trains into Sydney Central.
There was always a sense of passion and majestic expression as the huge diesel slowly crawled its way into the platform at Sydney Central and draw to a stop on the buffers. This took some train management with the brakes to get it right.
It was a constant of interest watching the people alight from the carriages and move toward their destinations and or meeting friends. Eventually when everyone was off, the carriages would be detached from the diesel and one clear of the side track, we would be given the okay to head back to Eveleigh Locomotive depot or be assigned to attach to another set of passenger carriages.
On trains departing from Sydney Central Railway Station many people would walk to the locomotive and have a chat, it was not uncommon to invite them into the cabin to have a look see. This happened to me as a 14 year old when returning from Queensland on the Brisbane Limited and we were heading back home to Canberra. The locomotive driver invited my father and I into the cabin of the 40 Class. It was magic to a young lad.
On the south side of the country platforms are the many suburban train platforms which are through platforms without dead ends. Trains would continue on through the Sydney Circle or to either the north line or to Bondi, and travelling south, to the Illawarra line, the South, West and North lines where at Strathfield the lines separated to the south, west or north.
Changing trains became second nature at Sydney Central Suburban platforms as it was indeed the hub.
But there was nothing more grand watching the great 38 Class steam locomotives entering majestically Sydney Central and moving along the platforms to the buffers. In later year is was the great diesels. Watching so many people greet their families and friends was such a bountiful sight.
So too in the Scriptures says the Footplate Padre where in Paul's Letters to the churches and in the Epistles, there are wonderful expressions of greetings to their fellow Christians. This is timeless.
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html