Walhalla Goldfields Railway have released a DVD through Rob Murphy Productions entitled "7A at Walhalla Trainspotting". The DVD was produced to commemerate Puffing Billy Railway's 7A visit to Walhalla in May 2010 and is described to appeal to the railfan.
I purchased my copy from PBR Belgrave shop and found to my amusement that with my member discount it was still 20 cents more than the advertised price from Walhalla rail that came out as an insert to the PBR Society Narrow Gauge magazine. The DVD is advertised at $25 but for some reason at PBR it is $28! Someone at PBR might want to check this - the insert doesn't say anything about a members only price.
Remembering my involvement there and the bloody awful weather during the event I was hoping that out of the four days 7A was at Walhalla that they might have got enough footage to fill the DVD without rain. For the most part they have, and to my amazement have even managed to minimise the intrusion of the sea of garish hi vis safety wear everyone was forced to wear.
The DVD lives up to its name with footage from what I assume is the first lightup on Thursday morning through to the final run on Sunday afternoon. While it is only 35 minutes long you don't feel that you needed to see more - there is a good selection of material from the first tentative slow run down the hill with volunteers pacing the locomotive on foot watching clearances and the behaviour of the running gear on the track through the load trials and then the public running. You should hear the wheels and frame groan as 7A rounds the sharp turns near Happy Creek.
The footage has been selected carefully. Most scenes are without rain (or at least heavy rain) but a few such as the last run on Sunday are simply drenched. I do get the impression that there might be a later offering of a longer documentary as there are many scenes that I know were filmed that are missing such as the loading and unloading of the locomotive. We can hope.
The video quality is standard definition PAL and looks fine on my big screen TV. I also watched it on my computer where the video quality was challenged a little as it was upscaled to more than five times normal TV resolution. The sound quality is excellent throughout with the exception of some places where rain drops are hitting the microphone. Remembering how hard it was for me to stay dry that weekend I feel this is easily forgiven. I'm impressed with the video quality especially because of the pouring rain - the crews were working in trying conditions. I was very pleased that the DVD does not have any of that awful low cost music backing track so common to railfan videos - there is nothing but the sounds of the gorge, Stringers Creek, the railway, the locomotive, the rolling stock and the people.
The camera crews have done a reasonable job of creating scenes as 7A progresses from one diarama like setting to the next. The viewer is rewarded with the sound of 7A battling up the steep grade with plenty of slipping. 7A's bark echoes off the surrounding hills as does the twin whistles it carried, that of 7A and G42 - I could only imagine what 8A or even G42 might sound like in the gorge pounding their way up the hill.
For those that did not attend, don't be surprised when 9A, the first locomotive to run on the line in 1910 makes a sneaky appearance from the grave (Walhalla is famous for ghosts afterall) then 7A takes centre stage for the final day of running fitting as it was the last locomotive to visit Walhalla before the Platina - Walhalla section was closed in 1954.
Overall I'm happy with the production for the price and would recommend you obtain a copy if you wish some memories of the event or you could not get there and are interested in what went on.
The DVD is available from Walhalla & Thomson stations on the WGR and from Belgrave on PBR and online from http://www.walhallarail.com/site2/7a-walhalla-dvd-order.html
Please note the photo in this article is one of mine, don't expect to find it on the DVD!