IT'S not every Aussie kid who can say that the Queen had a sleepover at their front gate, but for Jan McIntyre and her 10 siblings, that's exactly what happened.
It might be nearly 70 years ago now, but the Warrnambool woman can remember as if it were yesterday when the royal train pulled into town for the night just a stone's throw from her home.
On Sunday, those childhood memories came flooding back when the heritage train paid a visit to Warrnambool on charter for a Captain's Choice regional Victorian tour.
"It's definitely the most memorable thing in my life," said Ms McIntyre, who was just eight when the 1954 royal tour of Australia came to Goorambat, population 305, where her father Jim Hearn was the station master for more than a decade.
It's definitely the most memorable thing in my life,- Jan McIntyre
Located in Ned Kelly country about 20 kilometres from Benalla, tiny Goorambat was in a tizz.
Police and Scotland Yard detectives patrolled the streets, telephones had been hooked up to the train and new sleepers were laid on the track.
Railway buildings, including the Hearns' home, had been given a lick of paint, staff were issued new uniforms and the CWA ladies had decorated the station with flowers and bunting.
Ms McIntyre is not sure why, but the family was even treated to a new outhouse for the occasion.
Jim Hearn was sworn to secrecy about security arrangements, but Ms McIntyre clearly recalls discussions about keeping the family cows and roosters from disturbing the royals early in the morning.
"My father and one of my brothers tied the roosters' feet together to stop them from hopping up on the perch and crowing too early."
Ms McIntyre was asleep by the time the royal train docked about 10pm that March 4 Thursday night but her mother Vera, standing on the platform, was rewarded with "a special wave" from the Queen.
Early next morning, Ms McIntyre and her little brother Alan watched eagerly from their front garden for signs of life from the elegant State Car 4 where Queen Elizabeth and Prince Phillip had slept.
Then, dressed in their Sunday best alongside the entire population of Goorambat and then some, they crowded around the tracks in front of the carriage's rear observation platform for a close-up view of the rested royals, the Queen dressed in tasteful lemon, for a meet-and-greet.
"They were just so close," Ms McIntyre recalled. "It was certainly an exciting time."
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