Sunday, October 18, 2015
Sad news last week. Stewart Lindsay Anderson, Australian railwayman, author, photographer and publisher, died after a seven-year fight with cancer in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on October 11. He was 51. He leaves behind his wife, Helen, daughters Alison and Eleanor, and a world-wide collection of friends he’d acquired during many journeys overseas in pursuit of railway photography.
Born in rural eastern Victoria in 1964, “Stewie” was enchanted by railroads by age four, and a move to Melbourne in 1982 to study civil drafting—accompanied by a new 35mm camera—introduced him to railroaders who were also railroad photographers. A flat economy and encouragement from his new friends found him hired by V/Line as a locomotive assistant in April, 1984. This was the beginning of a lifelong career, culminating in promotion to locomotive driver, most recently driving VLocity diesel m.u. trains on regional routes out of Melbourne. Stewart was deeply involved in union activities and committees on the railway to improve working conditions of his fellow railwaymen.
But it was rail photography that got deep in his soul, co-authoring the all-color “Liveries in the Landscape” in 1999, in addition to contributions to untold magazines and books by other authors. Stewart was creator, publisher and editor of the richly-produced “Australian Railways Illustrated,” which ended a five-year run in 2015. In the final weeks of his life, he completed a lifelong goal of a full-color monograph of his railway photos, to be titled “Rolling Thunder” and due soon off the press.
Though he would dismiss mention of his courage in facing cancer with a modest “it is what it is, mate,” Stewart was a hero to many for his strength and perseverance during the battle with cancer that eventually took his life. His rail photography projects—the book, the magazine and extensive travels to North America—kept him motivated to get through the next round of chemotherapy and surgery that loomed over and over again. “I won’t let the bastard beat me,” he’d tell those asking about his health. His networking with short line managers in the U.S. generated more friendships and opened doors on his visits, and he was always game to take a day off work to show overseas photographers around Victoria.
Stewart was a man of unbounded optimism. He’d joke that the day he married Helen was the only day he wore long pants, and lightly chastised his fair-weather-only photography friends by saying “you will not get the shot if you’re not there.”
He was a good friend, and I'll miss him greatly. We thought of each other as "Brothers of a different hemisphere," and kept in touch between his visits to the US via Skype, trading stories about railroading, rail photography, and politics.
In Australia, and in North America, there are few places one can travel where Stewart Anderson’s footprints haven’t been there first. Rest in Peace, Stewie—and high greens to the barracks.