I just returned home today after a very enjoyable weekend in Melbourne attending the Sandown Model Railway Exhibition on Saturday and visiting a couple of hobby shops in the Melbourne CBD yesterday. The Sandown Exhibition was held under the grandstand at the Sandown Racetrack and was my first visit to this exhibition.
The exhibition opened at 10am but I arrived about an hour or so later. There was not much of a queue to get in, which was a nice surprise, but there certainly were lots of people inside! The exhibition "program" was contained within an eight page centrefold section of issue 7 of Model Railways in Australia (available for free at the exhibition entrance). There was a floor plan and legend showing the location of the exhibitors, as well as basic information about the layouts and traders in very tiny print.
I must say that information about layouts within an exhibition program is really very important and should be given greater emphasis from organisers to enhance the whole exhibition experience. I was pleased to find, however, that some exhibitors provided their own information leaflets, including track diagrams, that gave additional and valuable information. Thank you indeed!
Inside the exhibition, I did my usual reconnoitre of the exhibition space, paying particular attention to the commercial displays of interest to me. There were some familiar faces at Auscision Models (Sydney), Casula Hobbies (Sydney), and Orient Express (Adelaide). And of course, there were many Victorian-based commercial outlets including Airport West Hobbies, Train Hobby, Victorian Hobby Centre, Brunel Hobbies, the Railfan Shop, Puffing Billy Railway, and ARHS Victoria Division.
Of the layouts, the South Australian Railways Modellers' Association (SARMA) had a wonderful HO scale layout on display, called Florey Springs. Models of the South Australian Railways predominated. The layout featured a double track main line, a station scene with lineside industries, and a wonderful model of a stone-loading facility. I will have some photos available when I get around to downloading the images from my compact camera [note to self: must get a proper macro lens for my SLR since the quality of the compact camera images leave a lot to be desired!]. I hadn't seen Florey Springs before, but I had met a few of the operators at previous Modelling the Railways of South Australia Conventions.
Other layouts that caught my eye included Totternhoe Mineral Railway (7mm scale running on 9mm track); Midsomer Norton (4mm scale British); Dolly Varden Mines Railway (On30 logging railway); Latrobe Valley Model Railway Club's extra-large UP/Denver & Rio Grande HO scale layout; Coliban Valley (HO scale Victorian Railways); Murranbilla (HO scale Victorian Railways); and the Kangaroo & Cockatoo Railway (1:22.5 scale on G gauge track). I also liked the L-shaped shelf layout (that was still under construction), based on a US shunting locale around San Diego, California, called ANP Switching District, and modelled in HO scale. I had a good chat to the father and son team responsible for this layout. I was impressed with the planning and construction of the layout, including the white styrene industrial buildings.
Despite the devastating storms on Saturday in which Melbourne was deluged with rain and hail, the Sandown Exhibition managed to stay relatively unscathed (unlike Flemington Racecourse where the races were called off mid-afternoon). Nevertheless, I had to ask a chap for a lift from the exhibition to the highway since it's quite a walk back from the grandstand to the Princes Highway in the rain!
I hope to have a full report on the exhibition with some photos in my next blog post.