A fascination for steam train photography may sound like a niche interest to some, but for Bathurst's Graham Palmer, it has driven his enthusiasm for steam locomotives for the past six decades.
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To mark the Beyer-Garratt 6029's visit to Bathurst over the June long weekend, Mr Palmer set up a stall in the Tremain's Mill precinct to promote the variety of photos he took of steam trains as a mid-teen in the 1960s, shortly before they were retired from mainstream service.
Mr Palmer's works resulted in the 160-page book Steam: Gone But Not Forgotten, and he said the idea of the stall was to engage with steam train enthusiasts in the vicinity for the Beyer-Garratt's visit.
"While I never managed to get a good quality photo of the 6029, I managed plenty of photos of Garratt trains, which were in large circulation at the time," he said.
"They were common around the Central West until around 1969, but they lingered around the Hunter Valley and Greater Sydney for a little longer."
Mr Palmer last set up his stall during the 3801's visit to Bathurst last year, and said it's an ideal opportunity to share his passion with the wider community.
"As a five-year-old growing up in Pennant Hills, I'd head into Sydney on trains [sometimes trams] with my mother, and that's where my interest really kicked off," he said.
"The steam engines in particular fascinated me- the smoke, the noises they made- it was a fascination I never really grew out of."
Mr Palmer said a number of visitors have expressed plenty of enthusiasm towards his photos, and were particularly eager to hear how he managed to amass such a collection.
"I spent every second weekend taking photos while I was in high school, and living in Pennant Hills made it easy to access trains," he said.
"It was easy to trek up to Gosford, out to Richmond or down to Campbelltown, but heading out to the Central West required more careful planning.
"We'd pack a sleeping bag with a tripod and food and would essentially hitch rides on trains to wherever they were heading, and the drivers were always happy to have us."
Mr Palmer said Bathurst's fascination with steam trains is not too surprising given their ability to entertain a multigenerational audience.
"The smell and noise of a steam engine is unlike any other experience, and it's great to see the Bathurst community continue to take a keen interest," he said.
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