Peter’s 75th Birthday – A Three Day Extravaganza!

Three Days — Eleven Locations, culminating with the Grand Opening of Pete’s Hobby Railway!

This is the story about how one little idea and a comment from Nicholas grew in to a massive Three Day Extravaganza!

  1. Visit to Wagga Rail Heritage Museum, including BBQ Lunch
  2. Visit to RAAF Base Wagga Heritage Centre
  3. Visit to Ladysmith Station, with afternoon tea
  4. An informal dinner at The Junee Hotel
  5. Brunch at the Junee Railway Station Cafe
  6. To Migurra, for a photo opportunity with the Melbourne bound XPT
  7. To Bethungra Spiral, for a photo opportunity of the Sydney bound XPT, with cold drinks
  8. Ilabo, for an impromptu stop on the way back from Bethungra
  9. Visit to Junee Roundhouse Museum, with afternoon tea
  10. Junee Ex-Services Memorial Club, for the official birthday dinner
  11. Pete’s Hobby Railway – The Grand Opening (on Peter’s actual birthday)

If only Nicholas had known what he was letting himself in for… but my guests and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and truth be told, so did Nicholas 🙂

Introductory Explanation…

This is the first article to be published on the website by a “guest author” – Nicholas Pyers. Nicholas has helped me edit and proofread the majority of the content on this site before he “page sets” then he publishes it online.

However, this time we have swapped roles! Nicholas wrote the bulk of the content for this article, page setting as he went. Then I edited and proofed it. Finally, Nicholas published the article online.

The rest of this article was written from Nicholas’ perspective and when you read pronouns like “I” or “myself” it is Nicholas speaking and when you see references to “his” that refers to Peter 🙂

Now, over the Nicholas to tell the story…

Pete’s Hobby Railway

Humble Beginnings

In October 2016, whilst emailing Peter about one of the posts going up on the website, I (Nicholas) had the thought that it would be nice for there to be a SIMPLE Opening Ceremony for Pete’s Hobby Railway.

One simple line in the email of “In fact, have you given any thought about what, if anything, you’ll do in the way of a Grand Opening Event???” from myself received the reply from Peter of “No thoughts given, but it COULD be combined with my 75th birthday on Monday, 6th February next.” and “Are you volunteering to take charge of a BBQ?!”

I then replied, in part “Actually, I’m volunteering to be the Function Co-ordinator for this event!!! It needs to be a bit better than “just a BBQ”… even if that is what we end up serving” and then the rest of the email contained what seems likes pages and pages of suggestions of what we could do for a Grand Opening Event… and so it ended up taking on a life of its own!

When the idea of combining the Grand Opening with Peter’s 75th Birthday celebrations, the original thought was to have a combined event on the Saturday or Sunday before his birthday (which was on Monday February 6th). This would allow many of his friends to travel down from Sydney or elsewhere, on the Friday or Saturday, then attend the Event and head home.

But unfortunately the local council had applied restrictions on the permissible operating hours over weekends, so we decided to hold the Grand Opening of Pete’s Hobby Railway on Peter’s actual birthday — Monday February 6, 2017. In order to make it a worthwhile trip for his friends coming down from Sydney and elsewhere, we’d visit one or two of the local rail-related attractions in, or around, Junee the day before, followed by a birthday dinner on the Sunday night.

This snowballed in to a massive three day extravaganza with over a 100km of road travel between all the destinations.

The Budget…

Early in the planning stages, Peter realised that a budget would have to be imposed to stop me going overboard and a figure was agreed upon. At the time it seemed overly generous and more than double what I was expecting… as it turns out there wasn’t much change left by the end of the Extravaganza, but it was worth every cent!

(Comment from Peter: Still haven’t seen the change!)
(My reply: It was spent on the Rhythm n Rail weekend)

At first, the only major expense was the food for the “Official Birthday Dinner” itself. Then that expanded to including a small bar tab for the evening.

Over time, the plans of the Grand Opening itself grew. It was soon realised that with everything else that the regular PHR volunteers had to do that day, we couldn’t handle the catering ourselves… so funds were set aside to have the Junee Lions Club come in and provide lunch for us on the Monday.

Then, realising that we were in for a couple of long days driving between a number of locations on potentially hot summer days, we needed to allow both time and money to provide cool drinks and perhaps a light afternoon snack on the Saturday and Sunday.

In our regular course of general errands and our various on-going projects, we often visited Bunnings in Wagga. On one of these visits, I spotted some Gazebos that I wanted for use in front of the station platform at PHR to help keep our guests at the Grand Opening out of the summer sun… so one was added to our trolley – one of many “unexpected” expenses to come.

IMG_2083: Gazebo setup as a trial in the week leading up to the Grand Opening

IMG_2083: Gazebo setup as a trial in the week leading up to the Grand Opening
Photo by Rhys Harrison

A discussion started about a proposed booklet I had planned to produce and hand out to guests at the Grand Opening. Peter and Ben already had good black and white laser printers, so the original plan was to just produce the booklets on these, but as the cover was a magnificent photo of the Hunslet performing a blow-down, so lots of steam, I felt the full effect was been lost without colour. After some quick research, I came up with a short list of two models that were available at Officeworks. When we visited Officeworks to collect some stationery on the Friday, I put forward a proposal to purchase a colour laser printer, which was initially met with some (read a lot) of resistance from Peter. But eventually we purchased the said colour laser printer and the booklets, along with menus for the Birthday dinner and various signs used on the day were all printed in full colour.

(Comment from Pete: Still haven’t seen it after the Event!)
(My Reply: You can see it anytime you visit my place 🙂)

There was much discussion about having a uniform for the main volunteers to wear at the Grand Opening and other future Operational Days at Pete’s Hobby Railway. Rhys and I pushed quite strongly for this. Plans changed and evolved over time, but in the end we all agreed we needed, at least, a shirt of some kind, ideally with a PHR Logo or wording on them and eventually we ended up with orange and blue hi-vis polo shirts with PHR emblazoned on the back. Rhys, Ben and myself all got a wide-brimmed hat with PHR on them too. Peter wanted to stay with his old-trusty but comfortable (dirty) Bushmans army-style soft Hat and could not be convinced to swap to the brimmed hat even for just one day. [In the end, I purchased (with my own money) a brand new blue Bushman’s hat that I gave to Peter as his birthday present]. Special dark blue work trousers were also purchased for Ben, Rhys and Peter.

P1230699: Ben oiling the Hunslet, wearing the new  PHR Uniform of Hi-vis polo shirt with PHR logo, blue trousers and blue brimmed hat

P1230699: Ben oiling the Hunslet, wearing the new PHR Uniform of Hi-vis polo shirt with PHR logo, blue trousers and blue brimmed hat. Photo by John Garaty

Over the course of planning different things, Peter and myself could often be heard having “light-hearted disagreements” over which budget certain items would come out of… the colour laser printer ended up coming out of the Event Co-ordinator’s budget, but the uniforms came out of the “PHR Operations Budget” (not that such a budget actually exists — it comes straight from Peter’s wallet or credit card!).

It was also an interesting exercise trying to conceal certain expenses from Peter… for example unbeknown to Peter, I had arranged for TWO birthday cakes to be purchased — one for serving at the offical Birthday Dinner on the Sunday evening and a second cake to be used on Peter’s actual Birthday on Monday at the Grand Opening. These were listed in the running spreadsheet for tracking our expenses as “C1 & C2” and the candles for them were listed as “C1/2 Lite”

Plenty of time… or so you’d think!!!

Deciding, way back in mid-October 2016, to hold an event during the “second week” of February 2017, you’d think that there was plenty of time to organise everything… Well there should have been!!!

But we (Peter, Ben and myself) effectively lost a month in the middle of this period…

First, we lost a week with the Christmas/New Year shut down for many businesses and organisations we were dealing with.

Then on Monday January 2nd, 2017 we caught the XPT to Sydney, stayed overnight and flew to Perth where we stayed for five nights before boarding the cruise ship Sun Princess for a 14 night cruise from Fremantle, going over the top of Australia visiting Geraldton, Broome, The Kimberly’s, Darwin, Port Douglas, Airlie Beach and finally arriving at Brisbane. We then flew back from Brisbane to Sydney on the afternoon of Sunday January 22nd and arrived back in Junee on the XPT at 2:20am Monday January 23rd… This had all been arranged some twelve months earlier following a previous cruise cancellation, however that is another story!

With just eleven days before the Birthday Extravaganza commenced and dozens, if not hundreds, of tasks still requiring attention!

Somehow, we got there!

Friday, February 3rd

We knew a number of Guests would be arriving on in Junee sometime on the Friday, but we didn’t plan anything for them as the entire PHR Volunteer Team were pre-occupied with last minute tasks up at Peter’s property getting things ready for Monday.

But we did suggest that anyone arriving in town early enough could visit places like the Junee Licorice & Chocolate Factory, Gasworks Garage (vintage cars collection), Monte Cristo (a local landmark – haunted house) and/or the Broadway Museum.

Saturday, February 4th

We had an early meeting time of 9:30am adjacent to Junee station yard, with all the guests carpooling into about half a dozen vehicles and heading off to the first of our four stops for the day.

  • Wagga Rail Heritage Museum, including BBQ Lunch
  • RAAF Base Wagga Heritage Centre
  • Ladysmith Station, with Afternoon Tea
  • The Junee Hotel, for an informal dinner

Wagga Rail Heritage Museum, including BBQ Lunch
The volunteers of the Wagga Rail Heritage Museum kindly opened the museum an hour earlier to allow our group of about 20 people to have a private showing of the main museum located on the main Wagga Wagga station platform.

Next, we headed across to the other side of the tracks where we had a special preview of the new trike shed display, that wasn’t yet open to the general public.

Then made our way to the former barracks building where the Museum team put on a simple, yet most enjoyable, BBQ lunch for our guests.

Just after lunch concluded the Sydney-bound XPT service pulled into Wagga Wagga Station – many guests took the opportunity to grab a couple of photos of it.

All up, Peter and his guests, spent about two hours at the various Museum buildings, but Jan and I snuck away early to do some secret errands in Wagga Wagga!

Image 2017-1328: Peter's Guests having various exhibits at Wagga Wagga Rail Heritage Station Museum explained to them.

Image 2017-1328: Peter’s Guests having various exhibits at Wagga Wagga Rail Heritage Station Museum explained to them. Photo by Peter Neve

Image P1230402: Peter and his guests enjoying the BBQ lunch provided by the Wagga Wagga Rail Heritage Station Museum volunteers

Image P1230402: Peter and his guests enjoying the BBQ lunch provided by the Wagga Wagga Rail Heritage Station Museum volunteers. Photo by John Garaty

RAAF Base Wagga Heritage Centre
The original plan was just to pull in to the car park of the RAAF Base Wagga Heritage Centre at Forest Hill to allow any stragglers in the car convoy to catch up and for people to grab a photo or two of the planes on display out on the lawn. However, as we had some spare time up our sleeves, we took the opportunity to actually duck into the Heritage Centre itself to learn about the history of the RAAF in Wagga and the Riverina area during WWII.

Image 2017-1346: A F-111 jet fighter on display at RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre

Image 2017-1346: A F-111 jet fighter on display at RAAF Wagga Heritage Centre. Photo by Peter Neve

Ladysmith Station, with Afternoon Tea
We then progressed to Ladysmith Station where the Tumba Rail group proudly showed off their trikes and the restored station precinct. Despite the total absence of electric power at the station (it was never connected!), they were also able put on a most enjoyable light afternoon tea for us.

Image P1230477: Peter inspecting Tumba Rail's trike at Ladysmith Station

Image P1230477: Peter inspecting Tumba Rail’s trike at Ladysmith Station
Photo by John Garaty

The Junee Hotel, for an informal dinner
We finally made our way back to Junee, meeting up again, along with some extra guests and volunteers who hadn’t been with us during the day, at the Junee Hotel for an informal dinner.

Some of us called it an early night after dinner was cleared… or so we said, but actually ended up at Peter’s to work on more tasks… Rhys and I were still busy painting and restoring under portable flood lights a carriage that needed to operational by the Monday! (see Progress Report 24 for more information on this)

Others, including Peter, stayed on at the Hotel for a while longer, enjoying a nice social evening.

Image 2017-1379: Guests enjoying an informal dinner at the Junee Hotel

Image 2017-1379: Guests enjoying an informal dinner at the Junee Hotel
Photo by Ben O’Malley, using Peter Neve’s camera

Sunday, February 5th

Thankfully, Sunday started with a later commencement time where we all met at the Junee Railway Station Cafe at 11:00am for a brunch, before moving on to a couple of photo opportunities with the rail XPT train services. A couple of impromptu photo stops occurred on the way back to the Junee Roundhouse, who hosted us for a fantastic afternoon tea and private tours of the facilities before we ultimately arrived at the Junee Ex-Services Club for Peter’s Offical 75th Birthday Celebrations.

  • Junee Railway Station Cafe, for brunch
  • Migurra, for a photo opportunity of the Melbourne bound XPT
  • Bethungra Spiral, for a photo opportunity of the Sydney bound XPT, with cold drinks
  • Ilabo, an impromptu stop on the way back from Bethungra
  • Junee Roundhouse Museum, with Afternoon Tea
  • Junee Ex-Services Memorial Club, for the official birthday dinner

Junee Railway Station Cafe, for brunch
Although we had a strict deadline before we had to be on the road in order to make it to our first photo opportunity of day, we were still able to have a nice leisurely brunch at the Junee Railway Station Cafe.

Image 2017-1391: Peter and his guests enjoying Sunday brunch at the Junee Station Railway Cafe

Image 2017-1391: Peter and his guests enjoying Sunday brunch at the Junee Station Railway Cafe.
Photo by Rhys Harrison using Peter’s camera

Migurra, for a photo opportunity of the Melbourne-bound XPT
We weren’t sure if were going to be able to make it to Migurra in time to photograph the XPT as it passed through this scenic location since there were major roadworks between the township of Bethrunga and Migurra. These were controlled by unattended temporary time-based traffic lights over a stretch of road that condensed traffic to a single lane covering both directions for a couple of kilometres, that could see delays of up to 20 minutes, depending on traffic.

Fortunately, we finished brunch with ample time, so we were able to make it to Migurra with plenty of time to spare. Our Gunzels in the wild managed to grab a number of great shots here, and not only of the XPT!

Image 2017-1400: Gunzel's in their natural habitat photographing the Melbourne-bound XPT at Migurra

Image 2017-1400: Gunzels in their natural habitat photographing the Melbourne-bound XPT at Migurra.
Photo by Peter Neve

Bethungra Spiral, for a photo opportunity of the Sydney bound XPT, with cold drinks
After leaving Migurra, we headed back to Bethungra Spiral for our second photo stop for the day. Again in the days leading up to the weekend there had been some doubt if we’d be able to gain access to our preferred location as there was roadworks machinery and portable buildings stored at this spot. There were concerns that it may have been blocked off over the weekend. Again our luck held and we didn’t need to resort to one of our secondary locales.

Bethungra Spiral is the largest example of a 360 degree spiral in Australia and provides a unique photo opportunity of been able to capture trains two or three times as they work their way up the spiral.

As there was a fair wait for the Sydney-bound XPT to arrive, I had a couple of tubs full of icy cold soft drinks in the boot of my car help cool Peter and his guests down. (As you can guess, weather conditions were rather warm!)

2017-1406: Gunzels again in the wild. This time photographing the Sydney-bound XPT climbing the Bethungra Spiral.

Image 2017-1406: Gunzels again in the wild. This time photographing the Sydney-bound XPT climbing the Bethungra Spiral. Photo by Peter Neve

Ilabo, an impromptu stop on the way back from Bethungra

Image 2017-1407: An impromptu stop at Illabo.

Image 2017-1407: An impromptu stop at Illabo.
Photo by Ben O’Malley using Peter Neve’s camera

Whilst Rhys and I raced to Junee back to deposit the undrunk cans off and to deliver some supplies to our secret decorating team at the Club, the rest of the convoy made an unscheduled stop off at Illabo for a quick photo in front of the old Illabo railway station sign, now relocated to the frond yard of the local primary school.

As Rhys and I got closer to Junee, we noticed that a north-bound steel train was almost upon Illabo, so Rhys quickly rang Peter (who was a passenger in his own car, with Ben driving). They had just left the Illabo school site but were able to make a quick U-turn and managed to grab a few shots of the steel train as it passed them at the Illabo showground level crossing. A bit of excitement when of the party noted a partly shifted load in one of the wagons – there was an emergency phone number on the level crossing relay hut, allowing advice to be given to the ARTC Control Centre at Junee – we never heard what happened after that!

Junee Roundhouse Museum, with Afternoon Tea
Everyone arrives at the Junee Roundhouse Museum where a huge spread of scones with jam and cream and a selection of other afternoon tea delights was ready for us. Some of the group decided that they’d like to start the tour of the Roundhouse first, but Peter and a few others instead commenced to devour the goodies as well as several cups of tea before the others returned!

I had decided to take a seat in the main Museum room, chatting to fellow guest, and they started to discuss the storm that had just broken out above them. That lead to a discussion of how we’d handle potential rain the next day during the Grand Opening. I suddenly exclaimed “Oh!!! F***! I forgot we have to collect the Gazebos we were borrowing for the Grand Opening from the Crossing Motel and T-Line Steel and the tables and chairs from St Luke’s Church”

So I quickly grabbed Ben and Rhys and we head off with Peter’s car to go grab the trailer and to collect the equipment whilst the rest of guests enjoy their tour and afternoon tea.

P1230535: A model representation of a railway turntable and roundhouse, on display at the Junee Roundhouse Museum

Image P1230535: A model representation of a railway turntable and roundhouse, on display at the Junee Roundhouse Museum. Photo by John Garaty

P1230580: The actual turntable and part of the Roundhouse building at the Junee Roundhouse Museum

Image P1230580: The actual turntable and part of the Roundhouse building at the Junee Roundhouse Museum. Photo by John Garaty

Junee Ex-Services Memorial Club, for the official birthday dinner
After allowing some time for people to head back to their lodgings to freshen up, everyone made their way to the Junee Ex-Services Memorial Club for Peter’s Official Birthday Dinner.

A fun night was had by all as we enjoyed a huge selection of pre-dinner nibbles and then a roast dinner, followed by dessert and drinks (with the bar tab most generously met by Peter).

IMG_2260: Peter and his guests at Peter's Offical 75th Birthday Dinner

IMG_2260: Peter and his guests at Peter’s Offical 75th Birthday Dinner. Photo by Rhys Harrison

Chris Harding’s Speech

Chris gave the first speech at Peter’s Birthday Dinner.

Good evening.
and part time tour guide for SCOTT McGREGOR’S GREAT RAILWAY ADVENTURES.

If my voice is familiar you may have heard me on 2GB or ABC who often have me as a guest to talk about railways.

Tonight, I’d like to talk with my ARHS hat on.

I’ve known Peter for some time, as no doubt have most of you.

Peter tells me that his first connection with trains was as a young lad in the early 1950s when he was living in Cronulla; he would ride down on his scooter to watch the suburban trains being prepared for the morning peak.

Electric trains in those days had half cabs for the drivers and seating went right up to the front next to the driver’s cab. For a young man that was the best seat on the train – and it even had its own steering wheel to play with (the manual brakewheel was in the passenger compartment outside the small driver’s cab in those days).

The most memorable part of a journey to the city for Peter was the seemingly hundreds of locomotives at Eveleigh. Remember that aroma of coal smoke Pete?

In August 1955, at the tender age of 13 and a half, Peter joined the Australian Railway Historical Society’s NSW Division. That was quite an early age to join, and some of the older hands wondered whether Peter had the interest required to be a member. How wrong they were!

Pretty soon Peter had encouraged a number of his young friends to join – George Gettens (now a past President of the Society), Geoff Lillico (who managed our first retail shop at Railway Square, was an integral part of 3801 Limited; and is still active with our RRC), and Ray Pickard (also still active with our RRC)

I might mention that Peter, Geoff, Ray and me – are products of Canterbury Boys High School. Possibly a good reason to recommend another school for your children and grandchildren!

In 1956, along with Bob Wright, Peter founded the Canterbury Boys High School Railway Club and was instrumental in forming Railway Clubs in other schools, co-ordinating them into the NSW School Railway Clubs Association.

While he was at Canterbury, Peter started a little stencilled single page bulletin of current happenings on the railways; this was to eventually grow into “THE RAILWAY NEWS” – a publication we are all very familiar with.

It was Peter who, in late 1962/early 1963 wrote to the Society’s General Secretary suggesting that it might be possible to produce a monthly magazine along the lines of The Railway News for up to date information on NSW Railways – and so DIGEST was born.

I think that had Peter realised that the next 15 years preparing the LOCOMOTIVE AND TRAFFIC REPORTS would be such an onerous and exacting task, he might have had second thoughts. But, I don’t think he would have changed a thing.

The role involved working to tight deadlines with long phone conversations to the editor-in-chief, tying together the numerous submissions from contributors and putting them into an interesting and accurate report for our ardent readers. – and this was in the BC DAYS – Before Computers.

I have to say that convincing the Society to produce two monthly magazines was an accomplishment in itself. The success of RAILWAY DIGEST is a statement to Pete’s foresightedness.

In 1980 When Peter finally retired from these hectic duties, the Society awarded him with the highest honour the it can offer – a Life Membership.

During this period, Peter found time to contribute articles to the Bulletin- today’s AUSTRALIAN RAILWAY HISTORY.

His first article in May 1964 was a three page article on the C34 Class locomotives; followed by a history of the Anzac Rifle Range branch from Liverpool. Peter reckons that these articles look rudimentary by today’s standards, but the access to research material back then is not what it is today. Now, with the internet, and our fabulous Railway Resource Centre, a wealth of information is readily available for contributors.

Peter’s most recent effort was an in-depth article on the operational history of the 900 Class DEB Set railcars – it extended over two issues of ARH – October and November 2012.

Because of his incredible knowledge and long association with the Society’s publications, Peter was at times called upon to assist in peer-reviewing articles submitted to ARH.

In June Last Year, Peter was awarded the MEDAL OF THE ORDER OF AUSTRALIA for services to the preservation of Australian Rail Heritage.


Of course, during all this time Peter had to earn a crust.

In his final Christmas-New Year school holidays, he took on the part time role of messenger, running between Darling Harbour Goods Yard and Admin headquarters at 509 Pitt Street and Central Station. In those days, there was no OH&S, so over the tracks he would go through the very busy freight terminal.

When he left school, Peter naturally joined the railways. He commenced fulltime employment in November 1959 in the Administration side of their Legal Branch, followed by many years in Property Management. In this later work, he was involved in the drawing up of Agreements for various railway preservation groups. – I mean…who else?

Peter recently told me how, on the day of David Hill’s retirement as Chief Executive in 1986, word came down from the Boss that he wanted the Large Erecting Shop made available for the use of the consortium 3801 Limited. 3801 was David’s baby. He wanted the Agreement drawn up and signed by the end of the day.
The necessary licence was prepared in time – Pete recommended a one off payment of $38.01 to formally complete the Agreement. (David later told me it cost the department $500 to process the payment).

In 1993 Peter scored the job most of us would dream of having – Railway Heritage Officer, responsible for rolling stock and train operations. Much of this work involved disposal of redundant rollingstock to rail preservation groups. (Funny how most of this was suddenly unfit for operation).

With the break up of the SRA in 1999 into separate groups to numerous to name, Peter’s job was considered redundant. His financial advisor looked at Peter’s superannuation payout and asked him what are you working for????

With the SRA breakup, it lost its corporate memory. Peter’s railway heritage knowledge was recognised by the new department, so he was taken on as a part time consultant.

For the next 12 years or so he was the Heritage Store Supervisor at the former Carriage Works site at Eveleigh; he also provided briefing notes when required to the new breed of rail heritage professionals.

Unfortunately, Pete’s health hasn’t been the best lately, and he has spent several periods in hospital, including in intensive care and Isolation. Contagious?

He received an offer to good to refuse for his Loftus residence with its commanding view of the “park” opposite; and took his cash to relocate here in Junee where he has the acreage to run his much loved 2 foot gauge railway.

Did I mention Pete’s 2 foot gauge railway?? Back in the early 60s Peter “discovered” the canefield railways of Qld. It was love at first sight. But instead of modelling it like any sane person would, in 1975 Pete commenced collecting old locomotives from parks where they were considered eyesores and safety hazards.

The deal was so good, that the most expensive part of the transactions was the transport to his WEAVERING LIGHT RAILWAY at Loftus. Thankfully this was in the days before red tape would have prevented him from achieving his goal.

Tomorrow we celebrate Peter’s 75th birthday; and the grand opening of stage one of PETE’S HOBBY RAILWAY. Wishing him all the best for this next stage in his life –
I’d like to read the sentiments from one of the many cards he has received:

IMG_2270: Chris Harding giving his speech at Peter's 75th Birthday Dinner

IMG_2270: Chris Harding giving his speech at Peter’s 75th Birthday Dinner. Photo by Rhys Harrison

Ben O’Malley’s Speech

Ben started his speech with

We are gathered here to mourn Peter’s passing…
Sorry, Wrong Speech

Guests, and Peter, laughed as he screwed the sheet of paper up and throwing it away, before commencing with the “proper” speech.

Welcome everyone, tonight we are here to mark and celebrate the 75th anniversary of the life of Peter Neve.

Way back when I first met Peter over 20 years ago he was a spritely wee lad, manning the New South Wales School Railway Clubs Association stand at a model railway exhibition. Little did I know that I would be here so many years later giving this speech.

Over the years I have known him, I have come to class him as a true friend, one that will openly help others and I think everyone in this room would think the same. I have come to know most of you here through the years, because of him and without his friendship, none of you would be here.

Peter would be amongst one of the most well known railway historians in N.S.W, let alone Australia. For this reason and his devotion to his hobby, he has been awarded an O.A.M.

His love of trains was spiked when he was little by having a small model railway layout in the barn of his childhood home. After school, he went straight into the railways employment and stayed there his entire working life. Even upon his retirement, the railways couldn’t do without him and retained him in a advisory role for over a decade.

Afterwards, he pottered around his humble abode in Loftus where he was known as the man with trains in his front yard, for here he thought he would live out his years. As age crept up on him, he found himself to be in ailing health and after several stints in hospital he decided he needed a change as the pace of life in Sydney was just too hectic and decided the time was right to make the move to Junee where he could enjoy a much slower pace, while at the same time further enjoying his hobby.

May I ask you to raise your glasses and toast Peter.

IMG_2271: Ben O'Malley giving the second speech of the evening.

IMG_2271: Ben O’Malley giving the second speech of the evening. Photo by Rhys Harrison

Behind the Scenes

A number of Peter’s friends decided not to join the rest of us on the various tours during the Saturday and Sunday days, although they joined us for dinner both nights. Instead they stayed behind in Junee working on last minute touches to Pete’s Hobby Railway so it would be ready for the Grand Opening on Monday. Thanks Mario, Claude, Lenny, Josh and Phil for all your hard work whilst the rest were of enjoying themselves.

Monday, February 6th – The Grand Opening and Peter’s actual 75th Birthday

For the main report about the Grand Opening of Pete’s Hobby Railway, you can read Progress Report #25.

Many Thanks!

Peter’s Birthday Celebration Extravaganza could not have gone so smoothly with out the assistance of a number of people and organisations

  • Peter, Himself: For placing his trust me for managing this event and for providing me with a very generous budget to pull it all off and for agreeing to some extra purchases that weren’t even considered at the beginning of planning the events!
  • Ben O’Malley: Acting as my 2IC, especially when I had to “sneak off” during the events to arrange other things without Peter’s knowledge.
  • Rhys Harrison: Affectionally known to us as “The Flunky” and he performed this task amazingly well. He ran left, right and centre, having been called on by myself, Peter or Ben – often by all three of us at once with conflicting demands.
  • Chris Harding: Working quietly behind the scenes without been asked, performing a number of menial but highly important tasks that I had planned on doing late at night, but suddenly no longer had to worry about!
  • Josh and Phil Burke: Ben, Rhys, Peter and myself were absolutely exhausted after the hectic pace of the prior week, so when they just quietly and efficiently packed up all the marquees, tables and chairs and gathered all the rubbish after all the guests had gone home I could have hugged them, plus Josh also raked out the ashpan of the Hunslet when no one else had the energy.
  • Jan Harrison: My Secret Decorating Co-ordinator and Errand Runner she helped me pull off a couple of surprises for Peter, which was a lot harder to achieve then I’d have thought!
  • Bronte Harrison and Joanna Doran: Who helped Jan (and Rhys) with all the decorations for the Birthday Dinner.

Plus the teams at;

Thank you from Peter

I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Nick for all the hard work that went into planning the events, managing to get us all to the right places at the proper times and for making my 75th birthday celebrations such a huge success. And, of course, to ALL the others involved.

We’ll just have to wait to see what Nick pulls off in five years time for my 80th!


Slideshow of Extra Photos

Between all the guests there were hundreds of photos taken over the three day Extravaganza. Here’s a random selection of some of the images submitted to us for inclusion on the PHR website.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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