Thousands of Illawarra residents will get to ride into history on a steam train this June long weekend because of the tireless work of a group of volunteers who live and breathe the railways.
And they're calling on fellow train buffs to join their ranks.
After selling out in 2019, the Picnic Train's one-hour Wollongong to Scarborough return trips are back, with all but a handful of the 4500 seats nabbed in the fortnight they've been on sale.
A highly skilled crew will work 12-hour days without pay on June 12 and 13 to ensure former NSW Government locomotive 5917 has a seamless journey through the northern suburbs.
"We enjoy being around steam engines, it's a rare thing, there's only so many of them left," said Samuel Roach, a qualified driver who has been volunteering on trains since he was 15.
"It's probably a little bit of craziness too - for a lot of us it becomes life-consuming."
One of these rail devotees is Simone de Beuzeville, the state's only female steam train driver.
As a child, Simone would wait for the whistle to blow before racing to the platform of Lithgow's historic Zig Zag Railway, located directly in front of her childhood home, to ask the driver for a ride.
"They used to put me up on their knee and let me have a go," she said. "So I've always loved steam, ever since I was a little girl - I love the smell of it, love the sound of it."
She grew up to become both a school teacher and a steam train driver, giving up teaching - but not the steam trains - when she started a family. She even named her five children Gemalla, Beyer, Locksley, Tascott and Macallan after various train parts and railway locations.
For the past 10 years she has been driving coal trains for a living and continues to help out with the Picnic Train any chance she gets.
"I really enjoy the camaraderie, I love being with the people I'm with," she said.
"It's just good fun to operate trains, there's a real sense of achievement at the end of the day - and it's the sun in your face and the wind in your hair."
Simone's daughter Gemalla has just become a fireman (there are no plans to give the role a gender neutral title) and she is hoping more women will join their ranks.
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The Picnic Train has an intensive training program for those who would rather travel upfront in the crew compartment than behind the engine in a carriage.
Newcomers start off as passenger attendants before completing "steam school" to become a trainee fireman and work their way up.
"We're looking for volunteers of any sort of capabilities. From people with no trade skills who are happy to be carriage attendants to fitter machinists who can prepare parts of the steam engine," Samuel said.
"You can come off the street and work your way up the ranks to becoming a fireman over a period of a couple of years.
"Most people get involved because they like steam engines, they like riding behind them, some are happy to ride in the carriages and be behind them, some turn up with a deadset goal they want to be up on the footplate as much as they humanly can be.
"As much as they put in, we can entertain that and always look after everyone."
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