IT'S almost a 20-minute ride that stretches the length of Launceston's beautiful City Park, crossing under the branches of 100-year-old trees.
Regular visitors to the park have been listening to the putt-putt engines of three different trains since the ride began in 1960.
Driver Peter Douglas, 74, has a love for people, a smile for all the children and a jolly word for the parents and grandparents who come to enjoy the park.
Mr Douglas has been driving the train for 17 years, ``nine years past his retirement'', and after surviving triple bypass heart surgery.
``They promised they'd bury me here,'' he says, in his joking manner.
``I would like the park to get back to the way it was 20 years ago. My first memory of this park is in 1952.
``I used to come down on the old tram with my grandfather. There were chairs in the rotunda, and the bandsmen were playing, but their uniforms didn't match.
``I realised many years later why - because half the members of bands were away at war, so what you had were composite bands - Salvation Army, the boys' band . . . that is how far my memory goes back, and above what is now the children's playground was the animal enclosure, with kangaroos, wallabies, wombats and cassowaries.''
How did it start?
``I got into this by word of mouth. Someone said, `I reckon Peter Douglas would be great to do that job', so the owners came and saw me, and I'm still here.
``I was only going to do it until I retired, but I'm already nine years past retirement age. I enjoy coming here. I enjoy the people.
``You have to remember that the people who come into the park 99 per cent of the time come in to enjoy themselves, you will get the odd one or two crabby buggers . . . in the time that I have been driving I have carried over 600,000 people, and look at the size of it [the train].''
``Mark Webber. I wouldn't let him drive though, as I'd seen how many cars he wrecks every year.
``There is a wonderful photo of Jon English behind the wheel. I couldn't help it, I had to stir him. He was promoting the Tasmanian devil on his jacket, and I just said to him, `that would be bloody right, it would take one devil to recognise another one'.
``As a person he was just wonderful to talk to.''
What keeps you coming back?
``First of all, the kids. I enjoy the parents, and during the week I get lots of grandparents here.
``Grandparents still make the best babysitters by a mile.
``And we get a lot of disabled people and all their carers, St George's Special School, St Giles, Giant Steps from Deloraine - all of those people.
``But I suppose the most memorable experience was August last year.
``I had a lady with her three great-granddaughters. When I stopped here the granddaughters jumped off and ran down to the playground.
``She got off and went chasing after the kids, no walking stick, no walking frame - she was three weeks shy of her 101st birthday.''