About Us

How did it come about.

For many years, New South Wales have been running one or more annual conventions to cater for different aspects of the hobby as they apply in particular, to that State. Les Fordham, an ex patriot of New South Wales now living in South Australia decided that he would like to know a little more about both the modelling scene and the prototype in South Australia and what better way to do it than to have an annual convention, similar to those running in his former home State.

Who are the organizers.

Les suddenly found that he became, for the lack of a better word, the convener of a model railway convention. He gathered about him, a group of people who liked the concept. They included Ross Hurley, a past editor of The Australian Model Railway Magazine, with an interest in modelling early days of SA; Peter Fehlberg, a printer, with an interest in modelling SAR narrow gauge; Hugh Williams, a Chartered Accountant with an interest in modelling broad gauge SAR; Rob Burford, (now deceased) a retired school principal with an interest in the Commonwealth Railways; Rod Barrington, an Architect with an interest in SA buildings and who assists with the preparation of the PowerPoint presentations; Bill Lewis, a former Railway employee whose knowledge of the former SAR helps our research; John Wilson, our electronics wiz and modeller of the “Wilson” narrow gauge layout who looks after our public address systems; Noel Potter, former railway employee and very active modeller and photographer; Gavin Thrum, a master modeller of all things South Australian and of the English LMS system, John Gordon, modeller, tradesperson, public servant and liaison officer for us with the Medical Centre and Graham Cocks, a well known modeller, especially amongst N scale followers. Not all of the people mentioned above have necessarily been on the committee all of the time.

The committee is not a closed shop and if there is anyone reading this who likes the concept, has a skill that would be of benefit to the hobby and / or to the group, or an idea that he (or she) would like to promote, then why not get in touch with someone on the committee.

There are of course, plenty of modellers and followers of the prototype without whose help we would have floundered or found it much harder to proceed. They include the Australian Model Railway Magazine who supports all such conventions around Australia, local railway historians such as David Parsons and Ron Fluck who provide us with assistance in our research, Doug Colquhoun who allows us to use his extensive photographic library and in the past, Inprotrans, who provided a large number of detailed plans of South Australian Railway relics. Sadly, Inprotrans are no longer handling this business.

A mill scene on Des McAuliffe’s Wakefield River layout. The mill is based on one at Sedan, but placed in a waterfront setting on the layout. Reasonably heavy weathering is a feature of models made by Des. Photo by Peter Bartrop.

Our aims

This group of people set about organizing an annual convention with aims of covering all railways operating in South Australia; covering as many different lines as possible; providing plans and photos of things South Australian in particular; promoting the production of South Australian locomotives and rolling stock; and encouraging South Australian Modellers to have a go at as many different aspects of the hobby as possible. The convention has now been running for more than fifteen years.

The committee in their wisdom, decided that every presentation should be accompanied by a written paper. The four folders now required to store the printed material are divided into sections, each section containing topics with common subject material. Our printing guru, editors and presenters ensured that the notes and the paper on which they were printed would be of a high quality. The photos, plans and papers now form a great reference source of well over 2500 pages. Each year, the index is updated and the index showing the topic covered in all of the previous conventions can be found on this web site. A considerable number of photos are now printed in colour in our notes.

A potted history

The first convention was held at St Augustine’s Church in Unley. The venue was reasonably central, we found a space for all of the trade stands, and the buzz of excitement evident at the convention was enough to ensure that the committee would organize a second convention. The ladies of the Church produced great midday meal, the priest in charge at the time produced some interesting bottled wine complete with Railway Labels. About 40 of the120 participants adjourned to the Cremorne hotel for an evening meal and etc. The main problem with the daytime venue was sitting on hard wooden pews for the day! A decision was made to look for something a little more comfortable, especially in terms of seating.

For the next seven years, the venue used was the Hahndorf Convention Centre. A good venue in terms of comfort in the upstairs area. The lower level used to get a little nippy in some of the years. Midday meals were held downstairs and most of the trade and historical stands were also situated downstairs. Evening meals were also held at the restaurant in the centre complex for those who wanted to stay for a chat and for the country and interstate visitors who stayed at the centre. The 2003 evening meal was held at the Auchendarrach House at Mt Barker, the tastefully restored mansion at the top end of the main street. The meal and the venue were great and the staff did a terrific job to fit an extra 20 last minute bookings into the room set aside for us.

Most conventions have had some form of modelling display and the upstairs area of the Hahndorf centre allowed us plenty of room set out displays as well as set out seats for the 150 delegates, presenters and helpers. Delegates are encouraged to bring along models of Railway interest for display purposes. Don’t wait to be asked.

A change is as good as a holiday and in 2004, a Flinders Medical Centre lecture theatre was used. This met our needs perfectly and in the 2005 and following years, we have been hiring the lecture theatre that holds 300 people. The tiered seating, the very large screen, and the ability to project live close-ups of railway models, 8mm movie film, and power point presentations onto the large screen were certainly a plus for the venue.

Numerous trade and other railway oriented stands are present at each Convention. Various brass and white metal kits have been produced and released at the Convention including kits of the 700 & 710 class Mikados, the T class narrow gauge 4-8-0 and the F class 4-6-2 Tank locomotive and the Rx 4-6-0 tender locomotive.. 720 class body kits have also been made available to attendees of the Convention.  A 500 class diesel kit was also released at the 2010 Convention

Future projects still to be released include the 500 class steam loco kit in brass and white metal, the 500 class steam locomotive body kit which will fit a ready to run mechanism,
and a 520 class mechanism to fit the body kits which have been released.

Back to the Convention, hot midday meals, morning and afternoon teas are provided and are paid for as a part of annual attendance fee.