Monday, 28 August 2017

Caulfield Model Railway Exhibition 2017

I travelled to Melbourne on Saturday to see the 47th AMRA Victoria Branch model railway exhibition at Caulfield Racecourse. As in previous years, it was an enjoyable day with plenty of layouts and vendors in attendance.

I will showcase some of the layouts that caught my eye shortly but I do want to comment (again) that the lighting at the venue and the lighting on many of the layouts was often poor. When compared to other exhibitions I have been too, I find it amazing that the Caulfield exhibition has so many layouts on display without adequate lighting. I'm sorry, spot lights here and there just don't cut it.

According to the program, there were all together 63 layouts, vendors, and information booths.  They all fitted into the one large room underneath the grandstand at the Caulfield race track. Getting there is easy using public transport. I enjoyed the suburban train trip from Spencer Street Station to Caulfield via Richmond. I love the industrial buildings you pass along the way - the Bryant and May building is superb and even the rail-facing derelict-looking Rosella Preserving Company building at Richmond is historically interesting.

Regarding the exhibition, many of the familiar faces from the commercial side of the hobby were there, including: Auscision (some nice exhibition specials on locomotives), Austrains (had a good chat with John which was great), Aztronics, Airport West Hobbies, Blue and Gold Models, Brunel Hobbies, Casula Hobbies (another sterling job), Dotric Station Blue, Eureka, Matt's Ballast, Metro Hobbies, Models 'n' More, Model Train Buildings, On Track, Orient Express Model Railway Shop, SDS, Steam Era Models, Southern Models, Train World (and Powerline), Trainbuilder, and Trainorama. One vendor I'd not seen before was Barry's Boxes selling storage boxes for N scale model railway equipment.

Of the layouts, these are the ones that caught my eye.

Maryborough (VR, HO scale) is a well-lit and exceptionally modelled layout based on the prototype town of the same name. The station building is exquisite. I spent the most time at the exhibition admiring this layout. The era modelled is the early 1960s prior to 1967 when the level crossing gates were removed. The photographic backscenes are also superb and really give a sense of place and distance to the layout.

Murray River Bridge (HO scale) depicted the prototype at Murray Bridge, South Australia. The layout still had some finishing touches to be completed but looked great nevertheless. Watching a super-long SCT train rolling across the deck girders and through the three truss bridge was quite a sight. The period modelled represented the late 1980s with plenty of modern-era diesels and rollingstock.

Another nicely modelled layout was Leopold (VR, HO scale) from the Sunbury Model Railway Club. I have seen it before but it's always worth spending some time at this layout. One comment, however (and not just aimed at this layout), is the habit of placing the number of the layout (corresponding to the information in the program) on the layout itself. I really think that this detracts from the representation of a scale model railway. I realise there is a need to easily identify the layout but placing the number on the front fascia or curtain might be better.

Yea (VR, HO scale) was another local prototype that looked great and ran some very nice trains. However, it could be improved with better lighting. The layout was featured in the October 2014 issue of the Australian Model Railway Magazine (AMRM) if you want detailed information about the layout. The quality of the layout itself is first class with some great detailed scenes.

Another Victorian Railways layout was Skipton (HO scale) based on the town of the same name. The layout was fairly rudimentary but will improve with additional detail. Again, poor layout lighting was an issue. That said, I appreciate the work the young chaps who built and operated this layout put into exhibiting it. Interestingly, I have researched Skipton and been there to take lots of photos as I regard the location as an excellent prototype to model.

Colinsville Riverland Railway (Australian, HO and HOn30) is a fictitious location situated on an Australian coastal river port. There was plenty of action on this layout with a variety of trains.

Gum Leaf Gully (On30) was a small but well detailed layout. I will let the photos tell the rest of the story.

Another On30 layout was Frog Hollow. This layout represented a fictional Australian narrow gauge bush railway. Modellers familiar with the work of the late Geoff Nott will see his handiwork in this layout now owned and operated by Geoff Small. The layout featured lighting effects and bush sounds that added to the realism of the display.

Another small layout, Little Chipping (VR, HO scale) is a small town (fictional?) located in Gippsland. A sequenced timetable allowed for a good range of short trains to enter and depart the layout.  The fiddle yard was a train turntable that could hold five tracks of trains that could be swivelled 180 degrees to reset the direction of the train back toward the scenic section of the layout. The layout was quite low and I imagine this was so small children could easily see the layout.

On the other hand, a layout that was at a good height for adults required quite a bit of elevation for the operator! Catherwood (British, 00 scale) is a seaside terminus station set in west Dorset in England. The layout depicts the 1955-65 era with some terrific scenery and prototypical operation. I really enjoyed looking at the detail of this layout and what can be achieved in a relatively modest space. That said, I wouldn't like to spend a whole weekend on that short stepladder...

Another British layout that was well detailed was Vale of White Horse (00 scale) based on the Great Western Railway (GWR) on the mainline between London and Bristol. A variety of trains ran throughout the day, reflecting different time periods from 1920 to 1964.

Northminster Heritage Railway (British, 00 scale) represents a fictitious heritage railway in England. As such, a variety of locomotives can be seen operating on this layout.

For those of us who grew up with Triang-Hornby and Wrenn, Gregor Potts' layout (British, 00 scale) brought back lots of memories. The trains and buildings from this period of model railway manufacturing still have a great appeal today despite the significant advancements in the hobby. Even the Minic Motorway road system on the layout was something to behold.

Neubahn (European, HO scale) showcased modern European trains on express services through a small township. The colourful passenger stock and freight wagons make European prototype layouts like this very attractive to watch.

Rounding out the layouts for me was Wallan (HO scale) that showcased a number of Australian trains running through this Victorian locale.

Finally, I must thank the organisers and exhibitors for their efforts in putting on a very enjoyable model railway exhibition


  1. Appreciate the coverage Brad. As someone who is now distant from most of the exhibitions, it is good to see what others are doing. The Murray Bridge layout looked outstanding.

  2. Brad, thanks for the photos especially Yea and Wallan. Over the weekend I was saying to Mick that we should have taken the XPT down on Fri morning and returned Sat night.

  3. Rob and John,
    The exhibition is well worth a visit, especially if it's a first time.