PAHSMA Training Officer helps Puffing Billy stay on track

January 16, 2008

Port Arthur Historic Site Training Officer Phil Fitzpatrick recently spent three days on secondment to the team that operates the Puffing Billy Railway in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.

They engaged Phil to introduce their management team to the concepts and practice of thematic interpretation, the technique that is used at Port Arthur and many other attractions around Tasmania in order to make the visitor experience more engaging and meaningful.

Tourism Tasmania has long championed thematic interpretation and has developed a training package that has been used by Phil and others in the industry to help local tourism operators develop their attractions. Tourism Tasmania kindly allowed Phil to use this package with the Puffing Billy crew.

On his return, Phil noted some key similarities between PAHSMA and the Puffing Billy Railway.

“Puffing Billy has similar visitor numbers to Port Arthur; they manage a similarly extensive heritage infrastructure, and even use the same ticketing system,” he said. “I’m sure that this is a relationship that we could usefully build on in future.”

The skills and knowledge of the PAHSMA team in conservation, interpretation and tourism operations are increasingly being recognised. Three English-speaking guides from the world-heritage Mogao Grottoes in central China will spend the next four weeks at the Port Arthur Historic Site learning about all aspects of its tourism and interpretation operations.

David Inches (left) and Phil Fitzpatrick (right) site enjoy the Puffing Billy Experience

David Inches (left) and Phil Fitzpatrick (right) site enjoy the Puffing Billy Experience