At the foot of the climb up to the Southern Portal of the Woy Woy Tunnel sits the tiny station of Wondabyne, The setting is idyllic, the upper reaches of Mullet Creek on the one side and rugged heavily timbered hills and gullies on the other, only broken by a single house and sandstone quarry close to the line. Across the creek are several cottages, hugging the shoreline with their only access being by water. The station itself is connected to a small jetty or pontoon and normally one or several small craft are tied up there, one presumably belonging to the family in the lineside house and others possibly owned by people in the cottages across the water, or the occasional yacht moored in the creek.
Tens of thousands of people travel through here daily. Patronage coming from the commuter areas of the Central Coast and Southern Lake Macquarie, also Newcastle and the Hunter, with long distance XPT and Explorer trains serving centres beyond these places. Some of these people take in the beauty of the place as the trains twist and turn following the shoreline of the creek on their journey between the long tunnel and the mighty Hawkesbury River Bridge. Others don’t take any notice as they are absorbed in their newspapers, books, or electronic devices.
Most Fridays I travel this route to and from Sydney, catching a train that commences from the Newcastle interchange at 7.23 a.m. and is timed to stop at Woy Woy at 8.43 a.m. Several minutes later we encounter the long tunnel and on exiting drop down the grade towards the tiny Wondabyne Station.
Some months ago I noticed a mature aged gentleman standing on the down Wondabyne Platform with a small shopping cart of the type some people use to convey their groceries home from the shops, and it immediately aroused my interest. Firstly, as it is unusual to see anyone there and secondly, where would the man have come from. Most Fridays he is there alone with his trolley. Not long after we pass by we cross a northbound train which is obviously the one he is waiting for. My curiosity was aroused as to where this well dressed gentleman comes from, waiting for a train in such a remote location. Does he come from the lineside house? Or from one of the houses over the creek? Maybe from a boat? What would it be like to live in such a setting? I imagine it would be peaceful, tucked away from the hustle and bustle of urbanisation. If he was interested in railways it is a brilliant part of the world to observe them. It seems he is on his way for the weekly shop either in Woy Woy or Gosford and perhaps after that back to the solitude of life by the creek.
On two occasions he has been joined by other people, once another man and woman waited with him (three people make the platform look crowded) and a second time a lady with her own little trolley waited with him, so I imagine that across the creek there is a little community of people living in the handful of houses. If one looks closely you can see what appears to be a power line stretched across the creek and also some of the houses seem to have satellite dishes attached to them, so living there one can still access aspects of modern day living while residing in a unique environment.
So there is my little human interest story about something a bit unusual in the hurly burley of life today. As I said, most Fridays I catch that train and sit at a window seat on the right hand side upper deck of the first carriage and on leaving that long tunnel I look out for the man on that tiny platform. If you are that man and you read this, or someone tells you about it, give us a wave.