On Tuesday September 10th the VGR ran a special train. The idea was (of course) suggested by our Workshop Manager Mick and was conceived as a Driver Experience to say thank you to someone who has done a mountain of hours / days / weeks of volunteer work in the workshop over the last 7 or so years.
Mick is going to cover Pete’s contributions in more detail in an article for Branchline, the Victorian Goldfields Railway’s Member’s Newsletter so I won’t steal his thunder here. Suffice to say and as Mick himself said if it wasn’t for Pete we simply wouldn’t have been able to run some of the services that we have over that time. And as someone who knows Pete and has worked with him in the past at Maldon I can attest to the long hours and hard work he has put in.
Of course as anyone who knows Mick will attest he is no shrinking Violet. So how do you convince the powers that be to give away a Driver Experience? Well, you stand up at the Railway’s Annual General Meeting and suggest it to the Board of course! He had them over a (boiler) barrel we reckon!
Between the board agreeing to the train in August and the big day in September word spread among the regular workshop rats. Blokes who normally only come in on a Monday, a Wednesday running day or later in the week were suddenly available to come in on a Tuesday! And so the train became a mini celebration for a bunch of really hard working volunteers who spend a lot of time getting dirty but rarely if ever get to experience the fruits of their labour.
Posing for the photo below just prior to departure from Castlemaine we see Pete in the Driver’s seat with Mick to his right and some remarkably clean looking workshop volunteers in the front row.
Of course in order to run a Driver Experience for our motley crew of volunteers you need a train crew and Driver John and Fireman John on the footplate were ably assisted by Board Member Dave doing the Guard duties while fighting off the dreaded lurgy and VGR Young Volunteers Group member Adisson in the signal box. They were a great choice and the day was full of smiles and laughter so a big Thank You to you all.
Your blogger was called away from work to join in the fun and was able to catch J549 with Pete at the regulator as it crossed the Midland Highway on the Up with a good sized load above. Below we see Guard Dave watching the loco run around her train after being turned, his Hi Viz standing out against a Grey old Central Victorian day.
Above we have another shot of the loco running around while below Fireman John looks on as Pete eases the loco back to couple up to the train. And a very tidy job he made of it too!
After a break for lunch in the old VR Refreshment Room at Castlemaine it was back on board for the trip home to Maldon. I managed to get a quick shot of the train on the Down as the sun finally managed to show itself. As you can see from the earlier photo of the train on the Up she was pulling a decent load and Pete had her fair barking up the long grade out of Castlemaine after crossing the Winter’s Flat Trestle.
The first words out of Pete’s mouth after the first leg from Maldon to Castlemaine were “That is really hard work” and by the end of the day he was by his own admission exhausted so it was off home for a few celebratory beers followed by a very good nights sleep. Since then though he hasn’t stopped talking about his big day on the footplate. Don’t forget that you too can drive an ex Victorian Railways Locomotive, the VGR offers Driver Experience packages either Steam or Diesel on our branch line. See http://www.driveasteamtrain.com.au for details.
Well after a day of fun it’s back to work now for the volunteers. We’ll have an update of what they have been up to in the next couple of weeks. Until them remember that we are always looking for new volunteers in the workshop and you don’t need railway experience. We have volunteers from all walks of life and our latest recruit, a former motor mechanic, is finding heaps to do around the place. Get in touch with Mick or drop in for a chat, there are people around most weekdays.