Australian Railwayman by Ron Fitch Soft Cover 2006 248 Pages

Australian Railwayman by Ron Fitch Soft Cover 2006 248 Pages

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Australian Railwayman by Ron Fitch Soft Cover 2006 248 Pages
 
Australian Railwayman by Ron Fitch Soft Cover 2006 248 Pages
On 20 February 2003 I had the honour of being guest speaker at the Annual Dinner of the South Australian Division of the Institution of Engineers Australia, where I outlined the experiences and objectives which, in my opinion, resulted in my working life being one of unforgettable pleasure and pride. Those objectives included the following:
Do not let them break your spirit, no matter what.
Tell the truth as you see it, irrespective of its palatability or likely acceptance by those to whom it is directed.
Learn to live and work under harsh conditions, and to respect the men and women who are prepared to accept such a challenge, at times in some of the most inhospitable environment on earth.
Get to know your staff and treat them as one of the team. After all, the man at the coal face is equally entitled to our regard.
Always do your homework.
Don't talk down to anyone, however humble.
In retrospect - and thanks to my parents; to my two sisters and brother, who subjugated their personal desires to the whims of their younger sibling; to my wife Doreen, with whom I shared 60 wondrous years and who, through marriage, became what one of my colleagues described as a 'dedicated railwayman'; to our family of whom we were both immeasurably proud; and to a number of people in many places and of many callings my entire life did in fact become both unforgettable and a source of pride.
My 46 years' long railway career - which consisted of 27 rewarding years literally on the wallaby, working in the field, at times under primitive conditions, and of 19 as an administrator with its managerial and political overtones would have been somewhat unique in the Australian context, and almost incredible in the wider one. Indeed, after having learned something. of my working life, Geoffrey Kichenside, Railway Books Editor for David & Charles, said, 'It is really railroading at its wildest', a description deemed appropriate for the title of my second book.
It started in Western Australia in February 1927 and ended in South Australia in March 1973. It encompassed three railway systems totalling 16,267 route kilometres or over 38 percent of Australia's mainland routes, and extended from the Indian Ocean in the west to the New South Wales and Victoria borders in the east, and north to the Red Centre, as well as the isolated systems from WA's Port Hedland to Marble Bar, South Australia's Eyre Peninsula, and the Northern Territory's Top End.
Climatically, it contrasted between persistent summer temperatures as high as 48 degrees and winter ones near freezing point; and between areas with an annual rainfall of 1500 mm (where one became adept at sheltering in the nearest hollow log or burnt-out tree trunk when out on surveys) and those with as little as 180 mm, all of which might be precipitated in a matter of minutes.
It was a career that involved 21 different postings -17 of them by direction and only four by choice - and which necessitated 26 changes of domicile, 13 of them after our marriage in 1936. Indeed, in the nine years to 1945 we shifted house 11 times, the individual occupancies varying from three days to two years.

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