Available: Printed edition out of print; ebook still available
Ron Fitch was born in 1910 into a railway family. He began his career as a 16-year-old engineering cadet and completed it, 46 years later, having worked at various times for two state railways and the Commonwealth, as Commissioner of South Australian Railways. In this book Fitch gives a vivid account not only of a career but of the camaraderie of the greater railway community, often experienced in the most trying of conditions. For almost three decades Fitch was 'on the wallaby', with postings scattered over half a continent, and as often as not living rough.
This book gives an account of all this and more -- of laying track and the remarkable breed of men who do so, of advances in line-building techniques, of derailments and floods and washaways, of wrangles over attempts to implement standard gauge, of the politics of railways.
Ron Fitch is uniquely placed to write a book for all train enthusiasts, in which he celebrates both the men and the machinery, the toil and the technology, that opened up a vast and sparsely populated continent.
Nor has retirement dulled his spirit or his interest in railways. In 2002 he earned recognition from Guinness Book World Records when his thesis on South Australian railways made him the oldest recipient of a PhD.