On the 1st May, I flew from Canberra to Brisbane with a friend (David Low) to attend the Brisbane Model Train Show. The flight was uneventful, although David was particularly impressed by the QANTAS breakfast (he obviously needs to get out more!).
Upon arrival at Brisbane airport, we raced over and caught the Skytrain which would take us to Fortitude Valley railway station. Luckily for me, David "shouted" me the train fare - a whopping $56 return fare for the two of us (thanks, David). We got out of the train at Fortitude Valley station, walked through the small above-station shopping centre, and then outside for the five minute walk to the RNA Showgrounds and the train show.
The train show was held in two large pavilions (one pavilion less than when I last attended a couple of years ago). The outer ring within the pavilions was where the commercial traders were mostly located and included ARHS (QLD), Auscision, Austral Modelcraft, Christmas Every Day, Chucks Ballast, Eureka Models, Forest Miniatures, Gwydir Valley Models, Horizon Hobbies, Modular Train Tables, Remote Control Systems, Train World, and Wuiske Models, among others.
Inside the commercial ring were the layouts. The layouts were generally representative of what you'd see at most model railway exhibitions, albeit with an emphasis on layouts of most appeal to the general public.
I was, however, very impressed by a Great Western Railway (GWR) branch terminus layout called Princetown, based on the prototype Princetown branch line through Dartmoor in England. The model was to 00 scale (1:76). I really liked the atmosphere created by some excellent scenery and layout composition, with a sense of spaciousness and without any unsightly clutter. I spent quite a lot of time enjoying the fine scenic detail and talking with the operators (who, oddly enough, were both keen on electricity and wiring layouts - a rare pair indeed!). The station and associated buildings were very nicely done. The GWR tank engine saw plenty of duty ferrying passengers back and forth throughout the day (see photo below).
Another excellent layout was the small Quinton River layout (actually called Beauaraba Siding) that was built in 00 scale (rather unusual for Australian "prototype" layouts) and based on an Australian theme. This layout, whilst compact, had some fine scenery and buildings on display. Of special interest to me were the "invisible" stainless steel "Alex Jackson" type of couplings which worked a treat. These couplings are popular in the UK and I can see why - unobtrusive, and very effective coupling and uncoupling of wagons. The layout featured a very nice trestle which is illustrated below.
I also enjoyed the Queensland Railways (QR) S scale (1:64) Rosevale layout, which I had seen at the Brisbane Exhibition a couple of years ago. Rosevale is based on the south-east Division of the QR and set in the 1940-1960s time frame. I especially liked the buildings on this layout, particularly the pub (see photo below). The pub was based on the Railway Hotel at Imbil. My only "complaint" with this layout was that the trains seemed to be running too fast, but perhaps in S scale things just seem that way....
The Running Creek/West Goodna layout was another Queensland prototype layout in S scale. The locale is the Goodna and Redbank area in the Brisbane suburbs. However, the layout actually resides in Sydney. The layout was being exhibited for the last time. A photo of a diesel railcar crossing the steel bridge and approaching Goodna Station is in the photo below.
Of interest, was the layout called Freestone (photo below). This layout was another QR layout, this time based on the town of Freestone about 20kms east of Warwick in Queensland. The layout had a large curved backscene on which a suitable series of photos had been glued. Talking to the builder of the layout, getting the photos to stick was particularly challenging but photographic paper (?) and PVA did the trick!
Another layout at which I spent some time, was Brendale. Brendale was an HO scale Australian layout, with the occasional running of some US prototype trains as well. I had a good chat here about the merits of DCC (digital command control) and the NCE system in particular. The Brendale operators I spoke with were all very happy with the NCE system.
And speaking of DCC and curved backdrops, the Coffs Harbour Modellers modular layout was a showcase exhibit with superb lighting, scenery, and outstanding controlled running of the trains. I even spied a special guest operating the layout on Saturday morning - an office-bearer of the NMRA Australasian Region, Master Model Railroader (MMR), and DCC expert from the Central Coast of NSW.... I have seen this layout a few times now and never get tired of watching the trains roll by in such a well presented display.
The day passed quickly - looking at layouts, chatting to people we knew already and those we got to know, buying the odd item or two, and generally having a good time.
I especially want to commend the catering staff (called "Pink", from memory) who managed the food and drink demands of the crowd exceedingly well. They were well organised, well staffed, and flexible enough to take payment for small items without having to queue at the two registers at the end of the line. Well done!
Just before closing time at 5pm, David and I headed back to the train station and then to the airport. David enjoyed another QANTAS meal on the way home and we arrived back in Canberra around 8.30pm - the end of an entertaining day out.