He’s on right track

for all things coal has taken Wayne on life jour­ney

Central and North Burnett Times - - OVER 50S -

THE SMELL of burn­ing coal and a fas­ci­na­tion for steam holds Wayne Daw­son en­thralled.

The re­cently re­tired D9 dozer op­er­a­tor fell in love with steam as a young lad in Ber­a­jondo, vis­it­ing his grand­mother who lived on the rail­way track.

“Ev­ery time a steam train was com­ing, my brother Trevor and I were first down to watch the trains,” Mr Daw­son said.

With 10 or 11 trains a day,

Wayne Daw­son Ev­ery time a steam train was com­ing, my brother Trevor and I were first down to watch the trains.

some stop­ping at the truck­ing yards, he would “hop up and chat to the fel­las”.

Those chats set firm Mr Daw­son’s love for “the smell of coal, burn­ing coal” and a 10-year ca­reer work­ing in the Goonyella mines.

Op­er­at­ing a D9 dozer cater­pil­lar with a length of 35 feet was his first job, but he couldn’t see the blades.

Af­ter he was caught try­ing to flat­ten out a ridge in the earth by re­vers­ing or back grad­ing, he was given a few days to shape up – and passed.

“Best job I ever had (and) a big huge re­spon­si­bil­ity,” Mr Daw­son said.

With 14,000 horse­power in the two hand con­trols and an­other 6000 horse­power in the foot (or swing) con­trols, he said “if things go wrong, a lot can hap­pen”.

His worst ex­pe­ri­ence was 11pm one cold night.

“The ma­chine was sit­ting out on a bridge and one of the ramps had col­lapsed where they get the coal out,” he said.

He needed to throw the bucket right out to the side and let it land cor­rectly with­out twist­ing the ropes.

He re­mained at Goonyella for 10 years un­til the ex­tended strikes in 1982 when he moved back to Lai­d­ley with his fam­ily.

Af­ter a suc­cess­ful li­censed busi­ness in catch­ing and sell­ing fresh­wa­ter shrimp, they moved to Gayn­dah where he once again worked as a grader op­er­a­tor.

But the lure of coal re­mained strong and in­spired his per­sonal project – to op­er­ate his own nar­row gauge steam train.

Mr Daw­son pur­chased the steam en­gine Bliss, and two car­riages from a bloke in South Aus­tralia, and not quite one kilo­me­tre of 11inch gauge rail track from a friend in Bund­aberg.

He be­gan earth­works and post­ing for a bridge on his property, but none of the track was laid.

“I have started build­ing my own rail­way line up there, but stopped when the mis­sus died,” Mr Daw­son said.

With his re­cent re­tire­ment, he has found in­ter­ested friends in the Gayn­dah Her­itage Rail Trail group and de­light­edly showed them Bliss and her car­riages, Lit­tle Brother and Lit­tle Sis­ter.

Al­though ear­lier claim­ing “I hold all the tick­ets for ev­ery ma­chine avail­able”, he ad­mit­ted there’s just one more he needs – a steam train driver’s ticket.

PHOTO: SHIRLEY WAY

A LOVE OF STEAM: Wayne Daw­son's plans for re­tire­ment in­clude an op­er­a­tional nar­row gauge steam train ride on his property. Wayne (front) with Gayn­dah Her­itage Rail Trail mem­bers (from left) Bill Spry, Arthur Mar­shall and Mike Goebel pic­tured with the car­riages Lit­tle Brother and Lit­tle Sis­ter.

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