Puffing Billy Railway's 14A thunders across the Monbulk Creek trestle bridge with a train for Gembrook.

Presented in partnership by the Australian Tourist and Heritage Rail Association and Puffing Billy Railway Board

Held at the Puffing Billy Lakeside Visitor Centre in the picturesque Dandenong Ranges.

Friday 21 July 2023

Keynote: Get an international perspective of the challenges, successes and risks occurring around the world of Tourist Railways

Stefano Benazzo

Stefano Benazzo, President WATTRAIN

  • Ambassador of Italy (ret.)
  • President of the World Alliance of Tourist Trams & Trains (Wattrain)
  • Born 1949. Italian citizen. Lives in Todi, Italy
  • 1971-1972 | Military Service as Mountain Troops Officer, Lieutenant

ABOUT STEFANO BENAZZO | During his diplomatic career (1974-2012), Stefano served at the Embassies of Italy in: Bonn, Washington DC, Moscow. Deputy Diplomatic Counselor to the President of the Republic of Italy. Inspector of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Ambassador of Italy in Belarus and in Bulgaria. Retired Dec. 31, 2012.

Artistic activity: more than 50 personal exhibitions in Italy and abroad, participation to 40 collective exhibitions, 8 catalogues, more than 320 articles on Italian and international media.

Stefano published four books on photos of stranded wrecks in Italian, English, and French. As a photographer of stranded wrecks, he photographed more than 450 wrecks in 20 countries in 4 continents over 50 years.

As a sculptor (figurative and non-figurative), he works in wood, marble, alabaster, bronze.

Stefano also builds architectural models (churches, mosques, synagogues, monuments civils, etc.), models of boats and ships, cars, and motorcycles.

Stefano speaks Italian, French, English, German, and Spanish.

Keynote: The value of collective voice

Steve Strangward

Steve Strangward, Chair ATHRA

ABOUT STEVE STRANGWARD | Steve has served as Chair of ATHRA and President of Victorian Goldfields Railway since 2016. He is a trained engineer, s

Keynote: Managing Risk — Association of Tourist and Heritage Railway Australia

Simon Calabrese

Simon Calabrese, Account Chair ATHRA / Marsh Insurance Brokers

ABOUT SIMON CALABRESE | As Account Chair for the ATHRA facility, Simon will have oversight and responsibility for the overall strategic and service proposition that Marsh provides to ATHRA and its members. Simon’s knowledge, extensive senior level relationships locally and internationally, and passion to serve his clients will ensure ATHRA receives the best of Marsh.

Keynote: Your responsibilities for rail accreditation

Derek Heneker

Derek Heneker, ONRSR

ABOUT DEREK HENEKER | Derek has more than 25 years’ experience in transport safety covering engineering, safety policy and regulation. In managing the Rail Safety Regulator functions in South Australia from 2004-2012, Derek was integral in the establishment of the national rail safety regulatory framework. He has subsequently held a range of senior operational and strategic positions with ONRSR since 2013.

Case Study: Environmental Management — Key obligations for tourist and heritage railway operators in Victoria

Madelyn Nunn

Madelyn Nunn, Manager Environmental Advisory Property Group (VICTRACK)

ABOUT MADELYN NUNN | Madelyn is an environmental advisor with VicTrack. She has worked in the rail industry for 10 years and previously in contaminated land consulting. One of her passions is to help VicTrack’s tenants including tourist and heritage railways understand their obligations under Victorian environmental legislation including in biodiversity, contaminated land, cultural heritage, and asbestos.

Keynote: Safety Improvement Project — Back to Basics

Stuart Thyer

Stuart Thyer, Safety Manager, Cooma Monaro Railway

Keynote: Building Sector Capacity — Innovation:
Virtual Reality — Training Tools for Heritage Operations

Chris Le Marshall

Chris Le Marshall, Board Member ATHRA

ABOUT CHRIS LE MARSHALL | Chris Le Marshall is a sailor who has used his naval experience garnering leadership, technology and management skills to advance his career in business. He has experience in local and international strategy and business development across a range of industries including tourism, new technology development and rail. His company, Linqage International, also has extensive experience in the development of strategies and business plans for tourist and heritage railways. He has graduate and post graduate degrees in technology and business.

Keynote: Sustainable Railway — Maintaining the excitement of opening Zig Zag Railway “Concept of Operations”

Daniel Zolfel

Daniel Zolfel, CEO Zig Zag Railway

ABOUT DANIEL ZOLFEL | Daniel Zolfel is the Acting CEO of the historic Zig Zag Railway in the NSW town of Lithgow. He first joined the Railway in 2016 as a volunteer, before becoming a member and moving into a full-time paid role as Infrastructure and Asset Manager. Most recently, he has led a team of hard working volunteers and staff to rebuild and reopen the iconic piece of Australia’s rail history following years of shutdown and setbacks. Daniel looks forward to continuing to lead his dedicated team and ensure the Zig Zag Railway remains a sustainable tourist gem for future generations over many years to come. 

Saturday 22 July 2023

Keynote: Engaging and retaining your volunteer workforce

Thu-Trang Tran

Thu-Trang Tran, CEO Volunteer Victoria

ABOUT THU-TRANG TRAN | Thu-Trang brings extraordinary passion for volunteering and social justice, most recently through her expertise and experience as CEO of Volunteer West. She also serves as a Commissioner to the Victorian Building Authority and the Victorian Liquor Commission; and has extensive public policy experience, having worked with the Department of Justice and Regulation. Thu-Trang has a Master of Law, and Graduate Diploma in Legal Practice.

Keynote: Embracing inclusivity — Opening up to Diversity

Belinda McKenzie

Belinda McKenzie, PBR Volunteer Train Driver

ABOUT BELINDA MCKENZIE | Belinda is a biomedical scientist who volunteers in her spare time as a steam locomotive driver. She joined Puffing Billy Railway in 2010 and first trained as a steam locomotive fireman, qualifying in 2011, before continuing on to become a driver in 2019. Having worked in industries as varied as scientific research, intellectual property law, and rail operations, she brings a wide variety of skills and experience to the railway. Belinda particularly enjoys the mechanical and physical aspects of working on the heritage coal-fired locomotives. 

Keynote: Heritage Preservation and Conservation — Maintaining a Heritage Look in a Modern World
Katrina Nitschke

Katrina Kitschke, Chief Museum Officer, Sovereign Hill Museums Association

Katrina’s presentation slides not available

ABOUT KATRINA NITSCHKE | Katrina Nitschke is a cultural/tourism sector executive who has spent time in some of Australia’s leading knowledge-based organisations, including museums, Botanic Gardens, CSIRO, and various universities and research centres. Originally trained as a marine ecologist, she found herself forging a career in places where curiosity and story-telling meet and describes herself as eternally fascinated by the world and loves inspiring that in others. She has been at Sovereign Hill Museums Association since 2019 and is now Deputy CEO and Chief Museums Officer. While at Sovereign Hill, she has led the transformation of the Gold Museum into two new centres for deep learning, the Australian Centre for Rare Arts and Forgotten Trades and the Australian Centre for Gold Rush Collections and currently leads rare trades, collections and curatorial, learning, external engagement and fundraising.

She sits on the Ballarat Regional Tourism Board and the Victorian Tourism Industry Council Policy Committee.

Katrina’s personal passions centre around access, inclusion and equity, and supporting education for women and girls. During downtime, you can find her in the garden with a book, her King Charles Cavalier Spaniel snoozing close by.

Keynote: Safety Improvement Project — For the Greater Good of All: Safely engaging RTOs and job placement businesses to utilise heritage railway assets for upskilling projects

Robert Shearer

Robert Shearer, ATHRA Member Queensland Pioneer Railway

ABOUT ROBERT SHEARER | Currently working in rail, Robert Shearer has been the Chairman of the Queensland Pioneer Steam Railway for 9 years, during which time the organization has grown and expanded its operational capacity. 

He has, with Cert Rail, Apprenticeships Queensland and Energy Skills Queensland, developed training partnerships in both infrastructure and rollingstock maintenance programs which allow for mutually beneficial outcomes. He has travelled considerably to international rail operators and learnt from their operations what aspects can be useful to the local sector in attracting a new greater audience.

Away from the rails has both a Master and Bachelor of Music, and has for many years been professionally engaged as both a performer, director and a conductor.