All aboard! This steam train driver has ruled the rails for 60 years

All aboard! This steam train driver has ruled the rails for 60 years

Following in his dad's footsteps, Bob has been driving steam trains for 60 years. He started at 17.

Old Man
Beautiful News

The rolling hills of Australia sweep past, creating a collage of green hues. Swirls of fumes rise into the air as the train glides forward. Sitting up front is engine driver Robert ‘Bob’ Donovan. He’s been working the tracks for 60 years. “Sometimes I think I haven't got blood running through me,” he says, “I think I’ve got smoke and steam.” With his decades of wisdom, he’s now bringing the next generation on board. 

Donovan’s father showed him the locomotive ropes when he was a child. Continuing the family legacy, he joined the railway at 17. From shovelling coal, he worked his way up to the helm, ensuring the train zooms at a fitting speed and keeping the apparatuses in check. Although Donovan is now retired, he continues to drive the chugging machines with The Picnic Train, taking people on adventures across New South Wales. “I’m the oldest bloke still in the system,” he says. “Trains make me feel young.” 

The secret to Donovan’s success is his innate zeal and a healthy mind and body. Attending regular check-ups, he ensures he’s fit enough to rule the rails. Today, Donovan is training budding drivers in the profession. Passing down his valuable knowledge and years of experience, he’s preserving the timeless tradition. You’re never too old to embrace your passion and go full steam ahead. “Kid you not,” Donovan says, “I come out on top I do.”

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