Photo courtesy of Michael Greenhill
Growing up in Emerald, Puffing Billy was bound to be an exciting part of any child’s life. Max is no exception! Max’s first memory of Puffing Billy happened when he was just four years old. In the year of 1998, he sat up high on his father’s shoulders and watched as the iconic steam train chuffed into Gembrook station for the first time in 45 years. The following year, the highlight of Max’s 5th birthday celebrations was a ride on Puffing Billy. However, it wasn’t until 10 years later, after a ride on Puffing Billy with a visiting Japanese exchange student, that Max decided to become a volunteer. From then on, Max began volunteering at Puffing Billy every Saturday. Max began his volunteer journey at Puffing Billy as a conductor. He didn’t even mind working the cold winter weekend shifts, even if he was the only conductor there those days.
Max’s parents had hoped that he would become an avid golf player, but he just wasn’t passionate about the sport. In fact, he was quite pleased with his weekend volunteering, as it also acted as a great excuse to get out of playing weekend golf! Max soon became Head Conductor and completed his Safeworking course in 2013. Since then, Max has also volunteered as a Guard and Signalman. As well as being heavily involved in the day-to-day activities of railway, he also sits on the Heritage Advisory Committee and the Publications Committee. Max has assisted various committees with graphic work and currently works with the Emerald Community House in liaising with the railway for the annual Emerald Funfest. So far, one of the biggest highlights of Max’s volunteering journey with Puffing Billy has been helping to organise the Young Sun Special 60th Anniversary with a committee made up entirely of volunteers younger than 35. Max somehow finds time to study architecture at the University of Melbourne alongside all his volunteer work. It has been 7 years since his first time volunteering with Puffing Billy, and Max is still as passionate about the railway as ever!