Even though you may never have heard of her name, 87-year-old Kathleen Payne is Australia’s oldest trainspotter and a national icon. Known as the Croydon Flag Lady, she’s a breath of fresh air for Sydney railfans.
Kathleen Payne has inspired thousands of train riders who have made the 4,362 kilometer journey across Australia on the famous Indian Pacific train. This train apparently holds a special place in Kathleen’s heart because her late father Edward was aboard that same train on its maiden journey back in 1970.
She has been greeting the transcontinental Indian Pacific train with a wave of a full-sized Australian flag as the train rushes through the inner Sydney station of Croydon for decades. The friendly crew of the luxury train knows she’ll be there, and provide advance warning of horn and headlights, to let her get in position. It can’t be seen in the video, but both driver and second man give a familial wave.
Chris Myles, an old Aussie friend of mine, has been in the transportation industry for over 20 years and was interviewed in the Today Show segment – he sent me a link to the national story captured on film.
Below is a shorter video I found on YouTube of someone who caught her in action in 2010.
The top photo, Kathleen received a souvenir from Maurice Bezzina. Photo credit by DAMIAN SHAW. Second photo is a screen grab from the Today Show video.