Mark Tronson driving 42210 at Waterfall in 1977
Transferring from one Locomotive Depot to another was no small endeavour. In my case I transferred from Goulburn Locomotive Depot to Port Kembla depot in July 1969 for the sole purpose of promotion; this was an opportunity to advance in my chosen career.
At Goulburn Roundhouse, I would have had to wait for some two years for my fireman's appointment, whereas at Port Kembla it was almost immediate because it was difficult to retain acting fireman there.
Young men could be paid more handsomely at the nearby steelworks and subsidiary industries, whereas an acting fireman's wage was relatively small in comparison. This was not such a consideration in rural communities such as Goulburn.
However, I enjoyed my locomotive work so much, that I would have considered (as it's said) paying the New South Wales Government Railways for the opportunity to work on the footplate!
For an engineman, there were significant differences in the working conditions between Goulburn and Port Kembla: Goulburn enginemen work was almost exclusively to barracks. Crews taking trains to Junee, Sydney, Cooma or Canberra were required to take rest (including sleep) in the barracks for at least eight hours.
Goulburn enginemen were away from home at each sign-on from 20-28 hours, so they needed to take several meals in their 'Gladstone' bags or 'tucker box'.
Port Kembla had very little barracks’ working. Sydney steel trains and Bombo-Nowra blue metal trains were 8 hour return trips, while many Moss Vale limestone trips involved crew change-overs which completed an around an 8 hour return trip.
Possibly once or twice a fortnight a crew was rostered to barracks with Moss Vale limestone trains or Goulburn steel trains. This arrangement was far better for my social life, as I attended the Port Kembla Baptist Church youth group and had several sporting commitments.
Mark Tronson at the 422 Class doorway, 1975
There were also numerous other advantages for me, personally. Goulburn retained steam until 1971 whereas Port Kembla was exclusively diesel. The Illawarra coastal climate was warmer. I was able to undertake a Wollongong Uni course, part-time and was allowed to work passenger trains (Sydney-Nowra) in order to get to morning or evening classes.
In these years I played hockey at state level, won the triple jump in Brisbane for NSW, wrote the hockey articles for the Illawarra Mercury, qualified as an Acting Driver at 22 and obtained Driver's seniority qualification at 25.
I undertook a week long speech therapy course Uni of NSW, was accepted into theological college and became engaged to Delma 1976. In my case, transferring to Port Kembla depot proved to be a very providental move.
As I reflected on what it meant for me to transfer my allegiance from my community at Goulburn (which included work, hockey, athletics, church) to a new one at Port Kembla became 'an illustration' of what it meant to transfer my allegiance to Jesus Christ.
I had made a personal commitment to follow the Lord. I transferred the spiritual authority in my life from darkness through my repentance to what the New Testament refers to as the light. “May you proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light” 1 Peter chapter 2 verse 9.
Mark Tronson with a shunting engine 1971
Studies have listed a range of activities that create enormous stress in our lives. Moving house is on the list. Work restructures is another. Marriage is on the list. Divorce is way up there too. Start ups are on the list – business, purchasing a car, IT issues and the like.
The question is how do we make such changes work for us. There are two clues in the above 'Footplate Padre' story.
Create ways to make such re-directions work for you ensuring your heart sees them as being enjoyable. The Psalms are all over this, centreing upon the Lord and His grace in every situation.
The other is an asset in how the Scriptures can turn our hearts to the light rather than the darkness as this affects everything. Negativity and low self-esteem are huge dangers in our Christian walk, the walk of faith and trust in the Lord is the pathway to the light as in Pilgrim's Progress. This old story and remains true today.
Mark Tronson willing the triple jump in Qld, 1971 Winning
Dr Mark Tronson is a Baptist minister (retired) who served as the Australian cricket team chaplain for 17 years (2000 ret) and established Life After Cricket in 2001. He was recognised by the Olympic Ministry Medal in 2009 presented by Carl Lewis Olympian of the Century. He mentors young writers and has written 24 books, and enjoys writing. He is married to Delma, with four adult children and grand-children. Dr Tronson writes a daily article for Christian Today Australia (since 2008) and in November 2016 established Christian Today New Zealand.
Mark Tronson's archive of articles can be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/mark-tronson.html