ALL STEAMED UP: Prizewinner Ethan Fitzgerald tries his hand at shovelling coal on the Rattler and (in photos below) checks that all is well as he samples the driver's seat on the historic steam train, closely watched by engine drivers Roger Stierli and Bill Lipke.
ALL STEAMED UP: Prizewinner Ethan Fitzgerald tries his hand at shovelling coal on the Rattler and (in photos below) checks that all is well as he samples the driver's seat on the historic steam train, closely watched by engine drivers Roger Stierli and Bill Lipke. Arthur Gorrie

All steamed up over rail safety in Mary Valley

ETHAN Fitzgerald was the rail safety hero of the day at Old Gympie Railway Station yesterday, when his artistic and promotional skills won his school mates a day on the Mary Valley Rattler.

It was not exactly a day off school for the students from Imbil's Mary Valley State College, but it was a painless opportunity to think about four very important verbs that could help many of Ethan's friends reach a ripe old age.

ALL ABOARD: Mary Valley State College students pile aboard the Rattler for a day out, courtesy of their mate Ethan Fitzgerald, who won the Rattler's Rail Safety Week poster competition.
ALL ABOARD: Mary Valley State College students pile aboard the Rattler for a day out, courtesy of their mate Ethan Fitzgerald, who won the Rattler's Rail Safety Week poster competition. Arthur Gorrie

"Stop, look, listen and think” was the essence of what the Rattler people are trying to convey.

Ratter general manager Michael Green said it was important for any community with a railway service of any kind to keep safety front of mind.

Ethan Fitzgerald and train driver Bill Lipke.
Ethan Fitzgerald and train driver Bill Lipke. Arthur Gorrie

Ethan Fizgerald and the Rattler, with his proud mumAveryll Fitzgerald and Rattler safety manager Julia Avis at Old Gympie Railway Station.
Ethan Fizgerald with his winning entry, his proud mum Averyll Fitzgerald (centre) and Rattler safety manager Julia Avis at Old Gympie Railway Station. Arthur Gorrie

"Check it is safe to cross, obey all signs and signals and always ensure there is enough space for your vehicle on the other side of a level crossing before making the decision to cross,” he said.

Ethan won a safety poster competition held in several Gympie region schools.

Prize winner Ethan Fitzgerald checks that all is well as he samples the driver's seat on the Rattler, closely watched by engine drivers Roger Stierli and Bill Lipke.
Ethan in the driver's seat Arthur Gorrie

A man of few words, he said "Yes” when asked if he was excited, "Yes” when asked if his school mates were happy and "Good” when asked how it felt to have won.

He did however explain that he had built the poster on a map of Gympie, to show where the train tracks were running.

His favourite colour?

"Red,” he said, a preference that showed in his choice of hue for his picture of the Rattler and the "Warning” heading at the top.

Rail Safety Week is an initiative of the Australasian Railway Association, aiming to improve education and awareness of safety issues anywhere near the railway tracks.

"Don't try to beat a train,” Mr Green said.