WELCOME: Acting lad porter Pat McGovern and acting station master Ralph Hickey help to ensure everyone remembers their visit to Spring Bluff Railway Station
WELCOME: Acting lad porter Pat McGovern and acting station master Ralph Hickey help to ensure everyone remembers their visit to Spring Bluff Railway Station

Be swept away by the romance of the Spring Bluff railway

IF YOUR heart doesn't feel a little lighter after you meet Spring Bluff Railway Station's acting station master Ralph Hickey, there's something wrong.

Together with his right-hand man and fellow 86-year-old, acting lad porter Pat McGovern, he welcomes passengers off the train each year at Toowoomba Carnival of Flowers time with a song and dance to the tune of "Hey Ho, Come to the Fair".

Their aim is for people to arrive happy, and leave happier.

"It's the highlight of my year," said Mr Hickey, who readily admits to being "a bit of an old song and dance man".

The love of music and dance, not to mention having been blessed with the gift of the blarney, may have been inherited from his Irish parents, but Mr Hickey says he just can't help himself.

While he's never been a professional performer, his entertaining began as a child raising funds towards the war effort for the Red Cross and other organisations during the Second World War.

After the war, when everyone was jiving and jitterbugging, he became a bit of a hit with the girls, but he admits that when he was married with four kids, "they didn't see it as high on my list of assets".

These days, he's back entertaining and loving it - including singing and dancing at the local old people's home.

"I know all the songs they know, and I think I'm a bit of a curiosity to them that I'm still prancing and dancing at 86," Mr Hickey said.

"I'm so privileged to do what I can do.

"It's only 3.5 years till I'll be 90, so I'm hell-bent on squeezing as much out of life as I can."

And while he admits he may be "a bit of a fraud", having never actually worked on the railways, his father did, and Mr Hickey has definitely been caught up by the romance of Spring Bluff Railway Station and its history, and sharing it with all the generations.

As for his "partner in crime", Mr McGovern, the retired radiographer loves talking trains with visitors, sells souvenirs and makes sure the station platform is spick and span.

While he lives in Dalby, he travels to Toowoomba each year to spread the word about Spring Bluff. He says helping others is what keeps him young.

You can meet both gents at Spring Bluff Railway Station from September 18-24. Find out more at springbluff.com.au.


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