Archive for Q150 steam train

All Aboard Again

Posted in Q150 steam train with tags , , , , , , on August 17, 2009 by belindajeffrey

DSCF2052DSCF1964The second ‘Writers Train‘ component of the Q150 steamed off from Brisbane yesterday. This time it’s Kim Wilkins, Nick Earls, Kate Eltham and Hinemoana Baker who are choofing off on the leg from Brisbane to Toowomba. And Kim’s son, Luka, is also tagging along for the ride. Check out the links and see what they get up to.

There was a great article in the QWeekend on Sat 15th from Matt Condon detailing the the trip we took back in June. It had me chuckling and smiling all over again.



Riding The Writer’s Train

Posted in Q150 steam train with tags , , , , , on August 11, 2009 by belindajeffrey

I wrote this article after returning from the Q150 Train and it appeared in last month’s Avid Reader Newsletter.


I’m seated inbetween two award-winning authors on a flight from Brisbane to Townsville. We don’t know eath other yet, but by the end of the week, I will feel as if I’ve known Matt Condon and Greg Rogers forever. Spending anywhere from five to ten hours on a steam train across central Queensland country can do that. There’s a lot of time to talk, share stories, and sleep – if you can find a spare seat long enough in the conductor’s carriage.

My first experience of the historical steam train was on the second morning of the trip – we were ‘diesleled’ from Townsville to Charters Towers because the stea engine was broken. Matt leaned out the window and remarked how beautiful the steam was, pluming back across the carriage. I’d just applied lip gloss but, eager for the same sense of wonder, I stuck my head out the window and my lips were instantly covered with coal soot. Like dipping wet lips in biscuit crumbs. You don’t see those kinds of visceral details in nostalgic movies. Or that by the end of a day’s travel there’s soot all over the floor and through your hair.

Another reality of riding the steam train is lack of coffee. Yes, I’m talking real coffee. Avid Reader quality espresso coffee. It was a long two days without it before a brief stop at Julia Creek outside Cloncurry. There, across the road from the train tracks, was a huge hotel with a sign saying CAPPUCINO. I looked left and right – no conductors to stop my heist – and I ran across the tracks, across the road and into the pub. “Jeez,” says the man. “I haven’t been asked for a cappucino in fourteen months. I just can’t be bothered taking the sign down.” There were no meat pies, either. Though Greg managed to return with beer. We arrive back on the train – no one saw us leave, surely – and there was the conductor standing in the asile saying, “Hello, heard you couldn’t get a cappucino.” Hello, how the hell did he know that?

Cloncurry turned out to welcome the train in true country style. A school band played a competent, if not slightly unconventional, selection of music. Cloncurry may be the only place I ever hear ‘Shut-up-a-your-face played by a full brass band. But oh, the glory, oh, the delight when outside the train station were two men and a quality espresso machine.

The mayor came to Hughenden to welcome the train when we arrived. Hughenden differed from the other towns for us, in that they had managed to sell one of our rooms to someone else. “Well,” said the accomodation manager, “you know we have a steam train coming through.” But we needn’t have worried because the Mayor – on hearing our predicament – offered us his house. No, he insisted. “Watch out for the twenty green tree frogs in the outside toilet and here’s the key.” Campbell Newman, you have big Hughenden shoes to fill.

In Charters Towers, I won the State of Origin prize pack on Origin night at the Royal Hotel. We were an interesting threesome, us writers, that night. Matt the Origin fan (understatement), Greg the Origin virgin, and myslef, somewhere in the middle. Sure, I’m interested. I understand the passion, if not the rules, exactly. So when I pull out the winning ticket, the Hughenden locals – not to mention the woman who ran the train – were categorically unimpressed that a girly writer from Brisbane should be wearing the coveted jersey when she couldn’t even remember the final score.

The paradox of intimacy: you can live next to someone for years, share a fence, a wall, and never know their name. And you can live in areas of Queensland, where your nearest neighbor is a good half hour drive away, and know everything about them. Sometimes the further we travel, the closer we get.


First Review

Posted in Q150 steam train with tags , , , , , on June 21, 2009 by belindajeffrey

My first review came out a few weeks ago on the last day of the Q150 steam train journey. I was in Mt Isa sitting next to Greg Rogers at the newly opened Coffee Club. Here’s the blog I wrote about it for the ABC pool website.IMG_0189

It’s Saturday morning and Greg is running his author talk in the library and I click on facebook to check my emails. There’s a reference to a book review for Brown Skin Blue in today’s courier Mail. I leave Greg to his task – he won’t miss me for a moment – and bolt off down the main street of Mt Isa to the newsagent. “Sorry. Papers don’t arrive till lunch, love.” Bugger.

When our sessions are over, Greg and I – we’ve said goodbye to Matt – make our way down to the Coffee Club for lunch, grabbing a CM on the way. I leaf through the pages of the etc section and there’s my book review. It takes a second or so before I realise that there, beside my book review, is a review of Greg’s book, too. “f#$@ I’m beside Greg Rogers.” I look up. I am literaly beside Greg Rogers. Greg looks at me and says what he’s been saying to me all week. “Spooky!”

Q150 Steam Train.

Posted in Q150 steam train with tags , , , , , on June 16, 2009 by belindajeffrey

DSCF1758IMG_0090A few weeks ago I was lucky enough to tag on the Q150 steam train from Townsville to Mt Isa as one of three writers. The writers component of the trip was to pay homage to the writers train that traveled through Queensland in the early 90’s with such writers as Nick Earls, Tim Winton, Thomas Kenelly and Thea Astley. It was a fantastic experience. You can read all about our adventures and check out some of the pictures on the AbC pool website, but I’ll post some of my train blogs here.

Hughenden and the State of Origin

To the great indignation of hardened and passionate maroon supporters, I  won the Royal Hotel State of Origin prize pack. Jersey, esky, ball, stubby holders. My interest in football is somewhere less than Matt’s devotion and Greg’s  general indifference. Matt had never missed a game, Greg had never seen one.

It was the company of my fellow writers and our new friends from the Q150 – and the promise of wine and lychee cruisers – that was my greatest lure to the pub last night. And I was damn hungry. Amongst early cheers of ‘Go the mighty maroons,’ I was cheering ‘Go the mighty buffet!’

It cannot be described as anything but mass outrage when I won the raffle. Bloody girly writer. From the city, no less! One bloke offered me $20 for the jersey after spending the entire night boasting how drinking one, two, three bottles of Grange Hermitage a night is nothing for him. So I declined his generous offer, but I’d have taken the grange, though.

I’m wearing the jersey now as I write, and I’m quite taken with the XL oversized shape it makes. And it kept me warm before the sun fully came up. The senior train conductor still can’t quite accept that a girl who thought the final score had been 24-18 was wearing the royal colours. On her train!! She’d decked out the train with red and white yesterday. In fact, balloons still swing above the tables in the dining carriage now. Sorry to one and all. You did try, but I scored. I’m keeping the shirt.

All Aboard

Posted in Q150 steam train with tags , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2009 by belindajeffrey

The last few weeks have been mad. Brown Skin Blue hits the bookstores Monday – yes that’s only two days away – and it’s damn exciting. I’ve been getting quite a bit of media coverage, too, which is fantastic. Here’s a link to the Brisbane News article.

My first review came out in Bookseller and Publisher a few weeks ago. You can check it out here

Home – BOOKSELLER+PUBLISHER Online – your gateway to the Australian book industry

I’m packing this weekend ready to get on board the Q150 steam train on Monday. I’ll be touring Townsville, Charters Towers, Hughenden, Cloncurry and Mt Isa with Gregory Rogers and Matthew Condon. We’ll have author talks, presentations and dinners in each place, and it’s set to be quite an adventure.

We’ll be blogging, snapping pictures and grabbing audio snippets along the way and posting them on the abc pool website. You can click on and check out what we get up to.

It’s all a little thrilling at the moment. But behind it all is the urge to finish my next project. I’ve still got three books on the go and I haven’t had all that much space to get to them. I think I’ll be back in the writing seat in a few weeks time. 

Oh – and my launch is on June 11th at Avid Reader. It’s being launched by literary guru, Nick Earls. If you’d like to come, just call Avid Reader and book a spot. 3846 3422 It’s free.