Recently I had a chance to visit the museum in the imposing old station at Werris Ck, NSW.

It’s not the usual railway museum with locomotives and royal carriages but concentrates more on the people who operated and maintained the whole system. The main part of the museum is in the former refreshment room where hundreds of hungry people would arrive late in the night for the famous (so we are told) pies and coffee. I could now reveal to you the secret of making real railway coffee, but I will spare you. There are many fascinating relics, like models to teach staff how to load and lash down bags of wheat on a wagon, and watches and lamps and telegraph gear.

We were lucky enough to be shown some not yet complete exhibits upstairs by a volunteer.

Apart from a HO model train layout based on the local tracks, the exhibit that really intrigued me was the controller’s desk for the Sydney North area (ie everywhere in NSW north of Sydney).

Apparently it operated from 1934 to 1991. The controller used a giant position/time graph that covered the whole desk to schedule train movements and arrange where they ‘cross’ ie potentially are at the same place at the same time. He could contact stations and signal boxes by hands-free telephone using a special clockwork speed dialling knob for each one.

If you are travelling down the New England Highway it’s an easy detour between Tamworth and Willow Tree to visit Werris Creek.