Incident at Heathcote Junction

an extract from NewsRail Victoria

One incident during the recent Aus Steam '88 festivities, which probably bears reporting, occurred on the morning of Thursday, 27th October at about 10:30, some 500 metres on the up side of Heathcote Junction.

There, some forty or fifty railfans, including a mini-bus load of Japanese visitors had formed an impromptu photo line and were generally indulging in good natured banter while trying to keep out of each other's way in a fairly cramped location.

Enter 'Phil', as we shall call him because it rhymes with 'd . . . ', who, having parked his car out on the road for a fast getaway proceeded to cross the tracks and position himself on the side of the cutting directly in front of one of the members of the Japanese party, stating loudly that he had to be there because he needed to get good shots for a book. When the Japanese gentleman objected, 'Phil' proceeded to argue with him as to whether the lens he was using would shoot past him or not. One assumes that 'Phil' believed the visitor was deaf, as each time he addressed him he raised his already loud voice by a number of decibels and indulged in a series of mimes that would have left Marcel Marceau rolling about in hysterical laughter.

'Phil' himself must have been using an exceedingly wide angled lens, as for the next twenty minutes he proceeded to abuse a group who were some 100 metres further down the track on the same side behind some bushes-, and to complain loudly about a group of cars parked a good thirty metres back from the line on the opposite side of the tracks.

As time progressed, 'Phil' became even more agitated about the parked cars and began to call loudly for the owners to move them. He then proceeded to go from group to group asking for the driver of the last car to come forward and demanding that he shift it. Having failed to get a response, 'Phil' decided to indulge in what is officially termed 'illegal use of a motor vehicle' and shift it himself.

He was already in the car with the engine running, when the breathless owner arrived, the owner having dashed from further up the hill to eject him. Judging by the comments of the onlookers he was fortunate that the owner of the car was a mild mannered person who merely remonstrated with him rather than follow some of the other suggestions that were being made.

Believe it or not, 'Phil' then recrossed the tracks and resumed his place on the side of the cutting. It was then that he discovered that he had mislaid his own car keys during his dashing about. Undaunted, he then climbed down again onto the tracks of the North East line and proceeded to spend the next ten minutes stamping about in the ballast of all three tracks looking for his keys, to the accompaniment of various 'encouraging' remarks from the assembled throng.

Indeed it was not until 1210 and 3112 and their train could be clearly heard approaching and carious people had told him to 'get out of it' that 'Phil' left the tracks and found his keys in the grass at the top of the cutting, before dashing back to his place to get his photos.

The New South Wales train had barely passed before 'Phil' again slithered down to the tracks and sprinted across the broad gauge line on which K153 was due to come along, before leaping into his car to dash off to his next vantage point.

Congratulations, 'Phil'. Not only have you redefined that famous term 'gunzel', but you have also made an invaluable contribution to Australian-Japanese relations, while creating at the same time an indelible impression of interstate railfans on your Victorian compatriots and the general public. That is of course apart from the fact that you broke the law, endangered your life three or four times, abused the president of the Victorian, division of the ARHS and a life member of the New South Wales division and generally got up the noses of everyone present. We hope you live long enough to publish your book so that we can have the pleasure of not buying it.

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