Having left school in Geelong at the start of Year 11 (and since completed Certificate III in earthmoving, truck driving and an electrical pre-apprenticeship), Matthew found himself quite quickly drawn to life at the Bellarine Railway. Volunteering at the local railway seven days a week, Matthew left behind the structured days of school, filling his time instead performing odd jobs here and there around the station. As the weeks rolled on, Matthew found himself progress to the more complex jobs of restoring the locos and trains at the railway and performing general maintenance where needed.
In a society where our lives circle around technology, many of us can no longer use our own two hands, relying on machines, such as dishwashers, to perform generally simple tasks. Matthew, using hammers and his own hands to fix the train tracks as opposed to machines, continues the tradition of hands-on labour. Spending tiring days in the sun, he claims it was the regular tea breaks that kept him going.
With each day bringing a variety of new jobs to be done, from working in the shop to administration tasks, it was being the fireman for the locos that kept Matthew on his toes. Having to light the fire for the steam engines at 7 am each and every morning, Matthew was required to keep the fire up until the first journey of the day at 11 am. Some days Matthew also had to oil and wash the trains, such strenuous tasks certainly kept him alert. The physical requirements though were always balanced with the unique social happenings of the railway. With a strong sense of community, Matthew ended most of his days at the pub, spending his evening chatting with the station’s 40+ volunteers.
Now undertaking a double degree at RMIT of Electrical Engineering and Business Management, Matthew reflects upon his year spent at the railway. Telling of how when he worked on the train he always needed to keep thinking a few kilometres in advance, Matthew certainly understands the value of looking ahead; one should not expect the tracks to be always smooth, hills will always appear and it is not their height that matters, but our determination to come over and out the other side.