THERE are trainspotters. And then there is Nick Anchen.
The author of The Narrow Gauge is in a category of his own when it comes to a passion for trains.
The Narrow Gauge, by Nick Anchen. Sierra Publishing, rrp $75
His father spent 20 years in the Victorian Railways head office, his great grandfather was a station master in Walhalla and Creswick and the author himself became a driver on Melbourne's suburban network.
With the chug and puff of trains in his DNA, Anchen has turned his passion into more than 10 books on the subject, including Rails to Old Walhalla, Railways of the Yarra Valley and now his latest, The Narrow Gauge.
This book is the culmination of six years of research on the subject and is not just a book on trains, but the social history of the times and the stories that went with the railways.
Peppered with stunning historic and contemporary photos, there are eight chapters that look at Victoria's narrow gauges, including Wangaratta to Whitfield, Colac To Beech Forest and Moe to Walhalla.
Built in the era of horse and cart, narrow gauge railways "portrayed the very essence of the Australian pioneering spirit", he says, "with their ingeniously constructed routes traversing picturesque, forested and rugged country".
Because of the little trains that travelled on these lines, the narrow gauges were loved by children, ensuring generations of train lovers for years to come.
These days a few still live on in such places as the re-born Gembrook and Walhalla lines, including Puffing Billy.
Even those unmoved by locomotives cannot fail to be impressed by this book's charms.