As a little boy growing up in Melbourne’s East with a passion for steam trains, Puffing Billy was the place that Ian Campbell wanted to be. So in 1966 at the young age of 13 he approached the railway, putting his hand up to volunteer. Puffing Billy was happy to have him, and he was trained to be a Junior Train Officer – a position that the railway no longer has. Ian would travel to Belgrave every weekend to sweep the platform, check passenger tickets, and to sell refreshments from the traditional Usherette Trays, and he loved every minute of it! Ian was also responsible for ensuring specific carriages were clean, and that the windows were opened and closed as the weather changed.The next year, at age 14, Ian helped out with track maintenance. This included replacing sleepers and rails, and assisting with any other repairs or maintenance that the track required. When Ian turned 15, he was finally old enough to begin training to become an Engine Cleaner. During his time as an Engine Cleaner, Ian learnt a lot about steam trains and knew that he wanted to work in the railway industry. In 1969, Ian began a career with Victorian Railways as a Broad Gauge Train Driver. One of the highlights of his career was the opportunity to travel to Perth in 1973 to work on board the mining trains.
Eleven years after beginning his volunteer journey, Ian became the very first volunteer Fireman and Guard for Puffing Billy, a position in which he continued to volunteer for the next decade. In 1987, Ian completed his training and became a volunteer Engine Driver. In 2006 the board made Ian the Locomotive Enginemen Examining Officer, a role in which he was responsible for training and examining all volunteers wanting to become Firemen and Drivers.
Ian was an active volunteer for more than 50 years and passed on his passion for the Railway to his grandson.
Zac has been visiting Puffing Billy since he was just five years old. His grandfather Ian having been a volunteer for most of his life would bring young Zac along to the railway with him when he came to volunteer. Zac loved the trains, and when he was just 17, he became a volunteer himself, alongside his grandfather. In the past seven years as volunteer at Puffing Billy, Zac has participated in many areas of the Railway. He is a qualified Guard and Signalman, Engine Cleaner and Fireman. He has also assisted with track maintenance and is the Secretary to the Young Volunteers Representatives Team. In 2014, Zac was the Committee Chairman for the 60th anniversary of the Young Sun Specials. The original Young Sun special trains were used to offer rides on Puffing Billy for children in the 1950s. Zac's participation at Puffing Billy has contributed to finishing his apprenticeship and he now works casually in engineering.