The first all-Mary Valley Heritage Rail crew to man the famous Valley Rattler steam train is (from left) Ted Mitchell, Neville Caldwell, Roger Stierli, Tony Hallam, Peter Alder
The first all-Mary Valley Heritage Rail crew to man the famous Valley Rattler steam train is (from left) Ted Mitchell, Neville Caldwell, Roger Stierli, Tony Hallam, Peter Alder Renee Pilcher

Rattler finally has a full crew

THE Mary Valley Rattler reached a milestone earlier this month when, after 12 years of operation, it was manned by the first all-MVHR crew.

Until then, the train crews on the Valley Rattler had included volunteers with previous rail experience.

Over the last 12 years of operation, these railway workers brought a wealth of experience and knowledge gained from many decades of dedication to their respective jobs in the railway.

Many of the retired railway workers had thought they had worked their last shift with a steam engine many years ago, but through volunteering at the Valley Rattler, had a chance to not only relive their younger days but play a vital role in passing on their expertise to a younger generation.

It has been almost 10 years since Peter Alder volunteered at the MVHR, starting as a carriage attendant and over the years progressing through the ranks, qualifying as guard, fireman and then becoming the first MVHR trained and MVHR qualified steam engine driver.

“Ten years ago, if you had said to me you will be driving a steam engine one day, I wouldn’t have believed you,” said Peter.

“It certainly is a privilege to be at the controls of something as special as the Valley Rattler and is certainly not something to be taken lightly. A lot of people think we just play trains but it is serious stuff. We are up there as one of the largest operating heritage and tourist railways in Australia.”

For local teacher and MVHR president, Tony Hallam, it has taken six years to qualify as guard and fireman.

“I come from a railway family,” Tony said this week.

“My childhood dream has been to learn how to drive a steam locomotive and then pass on my skills to future generations,” he said.

“I enjoy working with a dedicated and professional organisation, while securing the heritage of Queensland and Gympie.”

Roger Stierli commenced volunteering 15 months ago.

His background is in aviation and electronics, but through his commitment with MVHR, he is a qualified guard and is keen to become a trainee fireman.

“I really appreciate that our retired railway drivers are willing to pass on their railway knowledge and experience,” he said.

Gympie Times


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