Memories of the steam train era

Video: Train passengers relive glory days of rail

LOUD, bubbly excitement filled the air from as children who were eagerly looked looking forward to a fun their trip out on the visiting heritage steam train.

But it was some of the quieter passengers who were reminiscing of days gone by, whether they worked on the train lines or rode them when they were children, who were telling the stories.

With two fully booked-out trips between Gladstone and Benaraby yesterday - a total 700 tickets were sold with at family friendly prices - The Observer caught up with some of the 'big kids' taking a trip down memory lane.

Viv Duckham rode Bety, the heritage steam train.
Viv Duckham rode Bety, the heritage steam train. Mike Richards GLA210115TRAN

Viv Duckham: I don't miss the coal dust in my eyes

I RETIRED in 99, and went down to Brisbane. I spent 39 years working for the rail - I pulled out 12 months early.

It was (an amazing time) and the fact that I worked in rail in Rocky. It's nothing now.

There was 2000 there when I worked. There's only 200 now.

Some of the apprentices I had are still working there.

Some of them are nearly 60 and they want them to do apprenticeships.

I used to travel on this to pick my mother-in-law up.

I don't miss the coal dust in the eyes. My father worked for the railway too.

He worked the coal stage in Rocky. It was a big thing where they'd fill up the engine, out in the open.

It was a lot of hard work, particularly the blokes doing all the tracks.

Voila Christensen and Alan Symmons rode Bety, the heritage steam train.
Voila Christensen and Alan Symmons rode Bety, the heritage steam train. Mike Richards GLA210115TRAN

Voila Christensen: First trip during the war took 13 hours

IT was 1943. We went from north-western New South Wales to Sydney and I think it took 13 hours.

It was a box carriage with a door when you walk in, and seats.

One lifted up and you opened the door to go to the loo and this was of course during the war.

A young soldier got on and there was nowhere to sit so he put his kit back down on the floor and sat on that.

There were nine of us in that little box and it just seemed so long.

I enjoyed it in a way, but it was scary too because there you were so close (to everyone else). During the war they'd travel standing up.

The seats were all taken out and they were standing for hours. I was only about 12.

Greg and Kathy Wakefield rode Bety, the heritage steam train.
Greg and Kathy Wakefield rode Bety, the heritage steam train. Mike Richards GLA210115TRAN

Greg Wakefield: Memories come flooding back

I'M enjoying it because I used to work in Rosedale and my brother used to work on the train line there.

I used to take the timber from the sawmill and load it on to the old wagons, so I wanted to come back on the old train and bring a few memories back.

I live in Gladstone. I'm so grateful we got a ticket to be able to enjoy the trip out to Benaraby on it.

It was mainly timber and my brother would replace the sleepers along the line.

He asked me to do it. We used to cut the sleepers for the line as well.

There's a big difference (how the trains have changed).

It's still nice to come back and hop in something like this.

Bill Malcom rode Bety, the heritage steam train.
Bill Malcom rode Bety, the heritage steam train. Mike Richards GLA210115TRAN

Bill Malcom: Great to see one of my old trains

I WAS a fireman, as well as a driver. I was an acting driver in those days on the passenger trains between Ipswich and Brisbane.

I've probably been on this locomotive more times than the driver up there.

I joined the locomotive section of the railway in 1955 and then I went to Charleville as a fireman and then I got passed as a driver to Cloncurry.

I got back to here (Gladstone) on the way back to Ipswich and I liked it here so I've been here for 40 years.

It was a good career; I thoroughly enjoyed it all my life.



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