While there remains some uncertainty and inertia over the future of my Australian model railway layout (Winmar), I am pleased to report that I will be attending the New Zealand Model Railway Convention in Christchurch in April.
I love New Zealand and over the years have visited many places on the North Island, and one great trip to the Marlborough region at the top of the South Island. Christchurch has been one city I have been keen to visit and I will spend a week there over Easter at the Convention and generally just looking around. I will even get to visit Ironhorse Hobbies in Christchurch, an advertiser in the Australian Model Railway Magazine.
I have also been a member of the New Zealand Model Railway Guild for some years now. I hope to meet some Guild members at the Convention in Christchurch.
Many New Zealand prototype modellers model to 3/16" to the foot scale (S scale) and I am keen to see some layouts in this scale during the layout tours. The New Zealand prototype railway has a track guage of 3'6'', a pretty common narrow gauge track for Australasia.
I have often thought that S scale is a good compromise between HO and O scales. In Australia, S scale is popular among prototype modellers of the Western Australian Government Railways (WGR) and Queensland Railways (QR). The Western Australia and Queensland prototype railways have historically been narrow gauge (3'6") railways and S scale modelling (Sn3 1/2) allows for the use of the common HO scale (16.5mm) track. Interestingly, the narrow gauge (3'6") prototype modellers in South Australia and Tasmania have generally favoured HO scale and a model railway gauge of HOn3 1/2 (12mm). I have no idea why these geographic differences have occurred in Australia but I'd be keen for someone to put forward an intelligent explanation!
At the same time, there have been some excellent smaller scale (N120, for example) New Zealand prototype models featured in the Guild's New Zealand Model Railway Journal. While I readily admit that the smaller scale is a tad too small for me these days, I can certainly appreciate good quality modelling in any scale and in any prototype.
Registration is still open for the New Zealand Model Railway Convention. The Convention takes place in the first week of April. The early bird rate (NZ $80) is available until 28th February and after that the rate increases to NZ $100. Unfortunately for us overseas people, credit card payments can't be made. However, payment can still be made by direct credit (details on registration form) or by going to your local Australian bank branch and getting a cheque drawn in NZ dollars.
If any other Aussies are interested in a different modelling experience, please visit the Convention website for all details and a registration form. Maybe I will see you there...