On a dreary Melbourne afternoon, a booming voice echoes across the platforms of Flinders Street Station.
“Do not vape out the door of the train. When people vape on trains, everybody around them thinks that somebody is holding a box of cinnamon doughnuts that they’re willing to share,” it says, as captured on TikTok.
“When everybody figures out that there isn’t a shareable box of doughnuts, people get mad!”
The voice belongs to leading station assistant Laurence Hewson, who’s been charming commuters with his cheeky safety announcements and quick-witted comments.
Clad in an orange high-vis vest with his long, curly hair pulled back in a ponytail, Laurence can be spotted strolling along the platforms with a microphone.
“I had a radio call from Control earlier, they attempted to cancel the next train to Flemington, and I said ‘sugar, we’re not going down’. So they didn’t cancel it,” he quips in another video, drawing a chorus of chuckles from waiting passengers.
The 34-year-old has only been on the announcements for three weeks, but already sounds like a seasoned pro on the mic.
Millions of social media views
“I love the vibrancy of being on a platform,” Laurence said.
“Truth be told, I’m a gunzel. I love steam trains and stuff.”
It’s not just Melbourne’s travellers who are being treated to his quirky announcements – Laurence is now going viral around the world. Fan account @voiceofflindersstation has sprung up on TikTok and Instagram, with the videos of Laurence attracting millions of views.
And he gets plenty of in-person attention as well. “You’re that guy from TikTok!” young commuters exclaim, several times a day.
It’s clear from the flood of appreciative comments online that Laurence is becoming a local legend.
“This man is yet another reflection of what and who makes Melbourne a city with ‘soul’,” one person said.
“Enthusiastic ptv [Public Transport Victoria] workers are the backbone of this city,” commented another.
Performing is second nature to Laurence – he fronts a rock band called Sordid Ordeal, and his resume includes stints as a wedding singer and MC.
“I specifically wanted a customer-facing role … as long as I’m interacting with people,” he said.
Performing on a different stage
On weekends, Laurence swaps out his Melbourne Metro sweater vest for a denim jacket and electric guitar.
The band is wrapping up its Victorian tour, playing a heavily Australian-accented brand of music, which it has dubbed “stout rock” (after the beer).
In the song Great Ocean Road, Laurence repeatedly growls, “I want to get the f-ck out of Melbourne” – ironic for a man now adored for being the voice of Melbourne’s most iconic railway station.
When he’s not on shift at the station, Laurence can be found jamming out with his rock band, Sordid Ordeal. Credit: Sordid Ordeal
His announcements speak to the Melbourne experience, encouraging passengers to indulge in coffee, biscotti and the laneway restaurants of Degraves Street.
Laurence’s antics have even earned him a shoutout in Victorian parliament from Labor MP Luba Grigorovitch.
“I hope he keeps this up over the holiday season, as I know it puts a smile on my face and other commuters’ faces,” she told the Lower House.
A spokesperson for Melbourne Metro praised Laurence’s humour and “fresh approach to safety messaging” – the company gave him an Everyday Heroes award in October.
Expect to hear Laurence’s signature line next time you’re at the station.
“Gooood morning and welcome to Flinders Street Station!”
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