Crystal Brook rail enthusiast Andrew Young set for new horizons

KEEN: Andrew Young displays The Recorder edition featuring a photograph of a derailed goods train on the collapsed bridge over Crystal Brook's creek in 1975.
KEEN: Andrew Young displays The Recorder edition featuring a photograph of a derailed goods train on the collapsed bridge over Crystal Brook's creek in 1975.

Like any good rail enthusiast, Andrew Young is on a journey.

He plans to pull out of Crystal Brook where his shop is a stone’s throw from the one-time location of the railway station, now long gone.

Next stop will be somewhere in New South Wales to pursue his love of watching trains.

“I have been a rail fan since I was two or three years old,” he said, standing in his memorabilia shop in Bowman Street. I can still remember my first little trains.”

He keeps posters, books and photographs, but the shop is not a money-making enterprise – just a form of heaven for like-minded souls.

He also has a model train layout at other premises.

Mr Young was born in Sydney and his father was a credit union manager with no interest whatsoever in railways. “My first train was a wind-up clockwork steam engine on a circular track when I was about three years old,” he said.

“I had a Triang Hornsby HO train when I was in first-year high school and had a layout in the house.

“With a friend, I would ride trains within New South Wales, photographing them. I have been all around Australia looking at trains.”

Mr Young, who became a book-keeper, moved to Crystal Brook in 2015 for a lifestyle change and because of the trains that converged there. “It is the major rail junction between Melbourne-Adelaide-Perth and Sydney-Perth-Darwin lines,” he said.

“This is the epicentre of the train-spotters. We have freight trains coming here all day long.

“We have double-stacked trains which you don’t see in NSW and Victoria – only between Adelaide, Perth and Darwin.”

He dusted off an edition of The Recorder from October 27, 1975, published after a train derailed on the Crystal Brook bridge.

“The creek flooded and the bridge fell apart as a double-header freight train went over it.” he said. Port Pirie’s Dr Johnson crawled along the twisted tracks to treat victims. The historic newspaper will be saved with other items when the shop moves its displays to the heritage centre, in Brandis Street.

“People come in here for a cup of tea and chat,” Mr Young said of his shop.

“The heritage centre also has a railway model room where you can shunt the trains on it.”

Mr Young will leave Crystal Brook for railway heritage boom towns such as Dubbo, Junee and Wagga Wagga.

But his train-spotting will continue as long as trains travel our great land.

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