Drivers thank grandmother of the Indian Pacific
When the Indian Pacific headed off on its maiden voyage in 1970, Kathleen stood on the platform waving the Australian flag to her father who was making the special journey. It was the beginning of a lifelong dedication to welcoming and farewelling the passengers and crew of the iconic train.
For 44 years, Kathleen walked to Croyden Station to wave at the Indian Pacific as it arrived and left the platform. At aged 87, Kathleen was treated to a very special surprise as she waved the train off again on its journey.
Julie Puttock, Loco Division organiser, tells the story of Kathleen – the woman who kept a smile on the faces of passengers and crew of the Indian Pacific for over four decades.
About 7 months ago, train driver Denise Sclater decided to try and track down the lady who would stand at Croydon Station waving an Australian flag at the Indian Pacific. She was there when the train would come to Sydney from Perth, and was there again when it would leave on its journey back to Western Australia.
I know all the railway family would remember this beautiful soul and she would bring a smile onto our face when we would blow our whistle to her when entering the station. She would smile and wave her flag for us even though we were not on the Indian. After a lot of phone calls and visits to Croydon to try to find our beautiful flag waver, Denise finally found her. Here is her story.
Her name is Kathleen and she is 87 years young. She has lived in Croydon since the 1950’s. Kathleen started to wave her Australian flag in memory of her father, who was on the Indian Pacific’s maiden journey, and had continued to do so until just recently.
She would ring Lithgow and ask if her train was on time, and then would make her way to the station and wait for the Indian to come through.
Eventually some people complained about her being on the station, but it didn’t phase Kathleen. She just started stopping in to see the station manager to make sure everything was ok, and to let him know she was here, and then headed onto the platform to wait for her train to come through.
When her grandson was young she would take him along with her to welcome the train – until one day when he was nine and said, “I think I’m getting a little too old to be doing this nan”.
It didn’t stop Kathleen though, and she continued to make the journey to Croyden station with her flag to make sure she was there when the Indian came through.
The Indian Pacific left Sydney for the last time on a Saturday recently, and a special surprise had been organised for Kathleen to mark the occasion – it was arranged for Kathleen to come into Sydney and wave it out from there instead of her usual perch at Croydon.
Kathleen’s son John organised to have lunch with her in town and the suggestion was made to go and see the Indian leave from Sydney, but due to track work over the weekend there were no trains between Stathfield and Parramatta which meant that the Indian had to go via East hills.
When they finally made it to the right place, Kathleen was met by a reporter and a photographer who has done a feature in the local paper about her story and then we met Kathleen and she had some pictures taken in front of the train. We also presented her with some flowers and a gift from one of the loco drivers as a thanks from great southern railway. Kathleen was there to wave the train away.
But that wasn’t all. Denise had organised for the 15:45 to Wyong to make a additional stop at Croydon to let Kathleen off. There was a change on the indicator board, Croydon was added in and there was an announcement by the guard to saying that a stop would be made for a very special customer. It was really nice to hear.
Once the train arrived at Croydon we got off the train and there was a special presentation made by Denise. She had organised a special banner to thank Kathleen and gave her even more flowers and another gift of thanks. She was very surprised by all the fuss that had been made over her, but it was done to show her just how appreciative all the drivers and guards have been for all the smiles that she had given all of us over the years.
Denise did a very good job organising the surprise and put in a lot of hard work to make the day happen. Even the cookie cakes that were made were a hit.
Have you got a memory of Kathleen?