Today I had the pleasure, with about twenty other modellers, of participating in an invitation open day featuring a very large model railway layout near Bathurst in the Central West of NSW. The road trip from Canberra took just over four hours each way but the trip was worth every second.
The layout is based on the Main Western line from Bathurst to Sydney, incorporating the branch from Tarana to Oberon (in modified form). Several stations are modelled, including Bathurst, Kelso, Raglan, Brewongle, Locksley, Tarana, and Oberon.
The layout is of exceptional quality, even if the layout is still not yet finished. The layout resides in a purpose built "shed", with magnificent views west over some beautiful farm grazing land. Whilst I am not great at estimating room measurements, the shed could well have been over 90' in length and probably 25'-30' wide. The principal station on the layout is Bathurst and includes the iconic single track steel lattice bridge (photo below) on approach to the station and yard. The bridge was a very limited run brass "kit" from Anton's Models.
Operation of the layout is with digital command control (DCC) using the Easy DCC system. Today there would have been at least 10-12 trains in operation all at the one time. This was quite a sight as operators and their trains wound their way around the large layout, keeping a look-out for the position of trains in front and behind. There is no signalling on the layout as yet so keen eyes were required to ensure that trains avoided "trespassing" on the same track within a common section.
Most of the locos and trains running on the layout over the weekend were models brought along by the visitors. In some cases, those Eureka, Trainorama, and Auscision locos were getting their very first taste of operation straight out of the box!
I found operating a train on this layout quite inspiring. Much of the scenery has been completed and following your train through the Central West countryside was great fun. The station and yard buildings have also been constructed to a very high standard, as one would expect from the master craftsman, John Brown.
But for me, the day was made all the more exceptional by the generosity of the host and the camaraderie of fellow modellers who all thoroughly enjoyed the day. Model railways is a great hobby in that respect.
I'll finish this post with some photos; just a sample from a truly magnificent layout.
(Above) 4416 cruises through the station of Locksley with a short freight train.
(Below) 4917 headed up the train my daughter and I operated this morning. The train is seen here waiting in the siding at Brewongle.
The next photo shows a rake of four-wheeled stock wagons sitting on the siding at Oberon. The stockyards are waiting to be constructed which probably explains why there were no animals about!
The photo below shows the station buildings at Tarana. Note the main station roof line and chimneys. Also note the cutaway in the brick platform facing below the signal box for the point levers (not yet modelled).
The photo below shows a single brick arch bridge on approach to Tarana station. The dirt road has been very nicely modelled - the road swings around to the right towards Tarana station and acts a visual redirection away from the blue-painted back scene.
The next photo (below) shows another example of a brick viaduct, this time with the road going over the top of the railway line. The bridge in the foreground is a triple arch and the bridge beyond it is another single arch viaduct.
The fiddle yard has seventeen separate tracks. There's quite a lot of turnouts just in this one end section of the layout. There are over 150 turnouts on the entire layout, all electrically powered with Seep point motors. The track is Peco Code 100 in the fiddle yard and Peco Code 83 on the rest of the layout. Peco Electrofrog turnouts have been used, all back-wired to ensure good electrical contact and to maintain electrical polarity.
The final two photos show some train action. The first is the mid-section of a wheat train as it snakes between Locksley and Brewongle. This section of the layout was one of my favourite areas because of the way the track meandered gently through the countryside and through a number of stone arch bridges. The final photo shows 3827 in green as it heads up the Central West Express through Brewongle - a truly magnificent sight!