Allan and Marian all aboard with move from Steel City to Sunshine Coast
Halcyon Lakeside homeowner Allan Williams has landed a sweet job at what is possibly Queensland’s most iconic and beloved landmark – The Big Pineapple.
Once a week, Allan drives the heritage-listed pineapple train that takes visitors on the state’s biggest, curviest and steepest climbing track through the landmark attraction, which is being revived by new owners.
Allan is delighted to have landed the plum frontline gig at the resurgent Sunshine Coast icon after working for BHP in Newcastle for almost 40 years.
“I love it - what little boy doesn’t love driving a train,” Allan laughed.
“I ran a department for BHP and I had 300 people under me, but I missed the interaction.
“Now I get that every Wednesday because it’s a very interactive job. I love the school holidays and I love the interaction with the people.”
Allan said the train takes passengers down through rainforest, orchids, bamboo forest and past the animals at Wildlife HQ – a zoo that has been established on the site with animals from the former Alma Park Zoo.
“People can get up close and personal with the animals,” he said.
“There are 250 species of animals and the largest number of bears in Australia.”
Working at The Big Pineapple was an unintended but happy consequence of Allan and his wife Marian moving to the Sunshine Coast after 65 years in Newcastle.
The job popped up while they were waiting to move into their new home at Halcyon Lakeside.
“We were staying in a caravan park and the man who lived next door works at The Big Pineapple,” Allan said.
“He mentioned there was a job going – I didn’t want to work but I went and had a look.”
The rest, as they say, is history, and the born-and-bred Novocastrian now finds himself a part of The Big Pineapple’s journey to restore itself as a major tourism destination.
Meanwhile, Marian is enjoying being able to join in on the mah-jong and jewellery making, craft groups on their doorstep at Halcyon Lakeside.
“When you’ve got your own interests so close at hand, it’s so easy to get to know people who have the same interests,” she said.
“I’m learning a lot about art and craft from people here who have a lot of expertise. It’s great to be able to pick that up.”
Reflecting on their big move north, Marian said it was made easier by the Sunshine Coast’s inviting sub-tropical climate and the fact she could say goodbye to all those stairs in her three-level home.
“We shocked a lot of people but we just up and did it,” she said.
“It’s a big change to make but it’s not that hard to do if you’re ready for it.”
Allan said they from the start that Halcyon Lakeside was perfect for them.
“When we walked in the front gate, we thought: ‘This is where we’re coming to live’,” he said.
“The atmosphere, the way the place looked and felt, it was home.”
He’s also finding lots to do at Halcyon Lakeside on his six days off, with movies, cards, tenpin bowling and learning to play lawn bowls.
“It’s very hectic,” he said.
“There are plenty of classes here, you can be out every day of the week. I find that there are not enough days in the week, I can’t fit everything in. What a great problem to have though. I think you do stay younger by being interested and doing things.”
The couple said they’ve felt a part of the Halcyon Lakeside community from day one.
“In our first week here, the neighbours from our street took us out for tea,” Allan said.
“It was very unexpected, but they’re just lovely people.
“We fitted into the community and it was very easy to do.
“The best part of it is that we’re all like-minded, we’ve all done the hard yards and now it’s time to sit back and do what we want to do. We’re both enjoying interests that we always wanted, and we have the time to do them.”
Marian sums it up this way: “It’s the perfect place to retire; you’ve got what you want around you and you’ve got people around you.”
“We have a really beautiful place to live.”