By Jessica Micallef
What is your connection to Sunbury and/or the Macedon Ranges?
The wife and I moved to Bullengarook 44 years ago just after we were married. We lived in Bullengarook for 37 years. We both still worked in Melbourne in those days. I also was a CFA member for that amount of time as well. Then we moved to Riddells Creek where we bought a shed with a nice house attached. I needed more room to build my railway locomotive which I mean to run – hopefully soon at the Gisborne Steam Park track.
What are you passionate about?
Miniature railways and building and running steam engines. When I was a small kid in Sunshine, we lived about 100 metres from the railway station so I worked part time at the railways and when my father got home from work, my mother would be at the front gate to tell him I was gone again. So he would have to go over and find me on the locomotive with the engine drivers.
How did you become involved with the Gisborne Vintage Machinery Society?
When we were living at Bullengarook my neighbour Mal Grant came over to ask if I was interested in steam engines. I think he already had an inkling that I was. That was when the society was first started in 1978 under the Gisborne Ambulance Society’s Banner for about three years.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the group?
Being involved in running the miniature railway at the Gisborne Steam Park every first Sunday of the month for the enjoyment of the kids of all ages, repairing the railway track together, building my steam locomotive with my mates, the friendship, doing things together, being part of an interesting organisation that is slowly getting a good name for itself. The Steam Park is open to anybody during the week to walk the dog or just walk and it’s a beautiful, peaceful place with a huge view of the marshland and the Mount. If members are there working on the large model train layout, come in for a chat.
What are some of your favourite local spots to get a bite to eat?
Subway, Ferguson Plaire’s, Canteena and Riddells Creek Pub
What would people be most surprised to know about you?
I was head gardener at Flint Hill in Woodend for 27 years for Lady and Sir Roderick. The garden area was about 14 acres and before that I worked at Hascombe on Alton Road for Sir Tom Ramsay on Mount Macedon and at Sefton for a number of years for Elders IXL after the Ash Wednesdays fires.
If you could change one thing about the area what would it be?
Larger house blocks, more trees and leave the trees we have in the ground. And keep the European trees the early settlers planted to give us shade. They’re our history. It’s our town and we like it the way it is. I think the way it’s going, there will be no open space left soon. I’ve planted over 250 trees on Steam Park over the years and am still planting more trees.