Special visit ignites memories of Indian-Pacific stop-over in Port Pirie

Kevin Walsh followed the tracks of the legendary Indian-Pacific passenger train – and it led to Trax-FM in Port Pirie.

With his sidekick Rod Thomas, the much-loved announcer hosted Good Morning Country on the community radio station operating out of Phoenix Park.

Walsh had not expected a chance meeting with a former train colleague Neville Maynard, 81, of Port Pirie.

Mr Maynard was at the studio for a barbecue breakfast to promote the guest spots by Walsh and Thomas who have a country-music cult following around Australia.

Turning back the clock, the local man said he was head waiter on the iconic train for 35 years until 1992 and probably knew Walsh in those bygone days.

He and Walsh think their paths may have crossed on the Indian-Pacific about 46 years ago in Port Pirie where Walsh, who also worked on the trains, ended his journey from New South Wales and Mr Maynard took up his tenure travelling west.

“I used to spend every second Friday night in Port Pirie. I must confess a lot of it was a blur,” Walsh said.

Mr Maynard said: “I probably met Kevin and said ‘good-day’. We would get on the train and they would get off and they were in a hurry to get to the pub. 

“They would bring the train from Sydney to Port Pirie. We would take the train across to Kalgoorlie.

“I worked up to 17 hours a day for six days a week.”

Walsh recalled that he and his workmates “played a lot of cards” on their trips. He spent only a year with the railways, but can still remember how to make “baby omelettes”. 

Mr Maynard praised Walsh and Thomas for their on-air roles today.

“You enhance our lives,” he said.

Visitor Thomas praised our “wonderful city”.

“It is lovely to hear of a rural town developing. There are a swag of towns around Australia that are slowly dying, but Port Pirie seems to be going ahead,” he said.

“I saw a lovely sunrise today.”

One of the station’s announcers, Jan Stockdale, who presents Golden Oldies and three other shows, enjoyed the breakfast.

Another announcer Graham Bell, who has links to the city’s brass band, went on air to read the 9 o’clock weather bulletin.

Mayor John Rohde and Independent Frome MP and Cabinet Minister Geoff Brock joined the festivities.

Good Morning Country was heard around the nation from Port Pirie on two days.