Alan Hyatt’s family has welcomed a memorial garden to mark the deadly 1969 Southern Aurora train crash in Violet Town.
Mr Hyatt – who died aged 88 on August 25, 2010 – was working as a conductor on the passenger train when it collided with a freight train on February 7, 1969, killing nine people and injuring 120.
The carriage he was inside came to rest on top of another carriage, six metres above the ground.
Mr Hyatt was thrown backwards through the carriage and, although injured, he helped about 20 passengers escape the burning train, the majority through windows.
Mr Hyatt, of Ballarat, was awarded the British Empire Medal and Oak Leaves for outstanding bravery a year after the disaster.
A commemoration garden to respectfully acknowledge the Southern Aurora tragedy and its aftermath will be unveiled on its 50th anniversary in February 2019.
A former Southern Aurora carriage, which has been stripped bare internally, will be installed in the garden at Violent Town, in north-east Victoria.
Mr Hyatt’s son, David Hyatt, said it was good a commemorative garden would be built to acknowledge everyone who helped immediately and long after the crash.
He said the support continued after his father returned home to Ballarat, where people helped him get through the worst times.
“Someone would cycle from the V/Line Ballarat pay office to Dad’s house to deliver his pay slip. People pulled together,” David said.
“He was really pleased that that level of care was happening. There was a conductor network of friends that would keep in touch with him.
“It’s good. It’s just great when anyone doing their job pitches in to help.”
David said his father experienced post traumatic stress disorder after the train accident, but he returned to work until he injured his back.
He said he was looking forward to attending the commemorations in Violet Town in February with his family.
Southern Aurora Memorial Committee member Bruce Cumming said the committee had been working hard to create a place of reflection.
He said the garden would feature a swirling pattern of pathways and positive human attributes.
Strathbogie Shire has provided $50,000 for landscaping works and the committee is applying for grants from the Victorian government.
Mr Cumming encouraged anyone with information about the accident to contact him. “Even the seemingly smallest piece of information can be a significant piece in the big jigsaw puzzle,” he said.
Mr Cumming can be contacted on 0419 540 552 or firstname.lastname@example.org