Last year we made the difficult decision to cancel our 2020 Convention because of the uncertainty of the Covid virus and restriction. While things have certainly changed this year, it is very difficult to predict what things will be like in September.

We have the usual venue booked and we are planning to hold our convention in our usual format.


OPTION 1; If we are able to hold the convention without restricted numbers we will proceed as normal.

OPTION 2; If we are restricted in the numbers that can attend then we will allocate places in the order that registrations are received by post at our post office box. Those people who we are not able to allocate a place will still receive their full set of notes and be refunded the difference between their registration fee and the charge we make for and to post out notes.

The registration form will detail what presentations we are planning for this year’s convention. While these will be what we prepare for, the presentations and timetable could be changed if there are travel restrictions or other unforseen events.

We might have to charge a small levy of $5.00 per registration to cover additional measures to ensure we can comply with Covid regulations. One person of the organising group has been involved in ensuring these regulations are implemented at other events and will be organising our response. We will ensure that we have Covid Marshals qualified for the day, and are able to meet Government event guidelines.

At this stage catering arrangements will need to be investigated to ensure that we can supply a lunch in a quick and easy method. This might involve prepacked lunch boxes with a can of soft drink or bottled water. We will be adjusting our timetable to lengthen the time of morning tea and afternoon tea breaks. We will have to discuss lunch and tea breaks methods further with our caterers.

At this stage with so many unknowns we are hoping most people who attend will have had their Covid inoculations as many of the people attending are of the scratch building generation and not in the lucky generation of ready to run modellers. We would like attendees to bring face masks to be used if required.

Model Display

There may be uncertainty as to the holding of the models display as Covid restrictions may not permit models to be brought in for display. We will advise registrants in the follow-up letter what we are able to do closer to the convention.

There is likely to be a strict do-not-touch rule on displayed models, even for photography.

We will know more about any Covid restrictions closer to the actual day, but at this time we understand that the person who brings models to display will be the one to place them in the display area and pick them up at the end of the convention. We will include pre-printed display tickets in the follow-up letter.

The proposed important dates are:

Registration forms will be posted out: 15th June 2021.

Registrations close: 19th July 2021.

On the first of August we will have to confirm our print run and start printing the notes. We will require notes orders to be placed within that time frame above so that we have an accurate number of sets requires. We will only print notes for definite registrations and orders.

We understand that these timeframes are narrow but we really need to be aware of what is happening around these times.


If Covid restrictions are suddenly introduced and we have started printing the notes then we will supply everyone who has registered and who has ordered the notes with notes at the cost specified on the registration form plus postage and provide a refund cheque for the difference.

We understand that many of our interstate friends could have difficulty attending with uncertain travel restriction etc that could occur, but would be pleased to see as many that can come.

At this time we will update the following methods of communication as soon as we need to provide up to date information.

The Convention Website
The Convention page on Facebook
South Australian Model Railways group on Facebook
South Australian HO Model Train Page group on Facebook
SA Fine Scale Railway Modellers group on Facebook
SA N Scale page on Facebook

Program for 2021

The 25th annual Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention will be held at the Medical Lecture Theatre and Tutorial Rooms of the Flinders Medical Centre on Saturday 4th September 2021, using the same lecture theatre as we had for 2019. Doors open at 8am for those attendees who wish to register early, or to look at the commercial stands, or to lodge models for display. Formal proceedings start at 9am and are timed to finish around 5pm. The Hospital is a big place and if you happen to get lost, be sure to ask for directions to the “Medical Centre Lecture Theatres”,

For anyone using the train for the first time, we suggest you stay outside the Hospital and walk past the entire Hospital to the Southern End. This way you may be able to avoid some Covid check ins. 

At this stage, planning for any future event will be subject to Covid rules that are in place at the time. The committee are planning for some alternatives. These include full and unrestricted use of the 300 seat Lecture Theatre, restricted use including only being allowed to have a certain number in the Lecture Theatre in which case, those who register first will be given priority to attend the Convention, and if for any reason, the Convention has to be cancelled, the printed notes will be sent out to everyone who has registered or who has asked for a copy of the notes. Yes, we will definitely be printing notes. Please note that we have specifically asked that Registration Forms be lodged with us by 19 July 2021.

The convention area can be reached from the southern end of the hospital through the original ground level entrance we have used for a number of years. A large multi-story car park is situated at the southern end of the Hospital and we are again negotiating to have free car parking available in this building. Included in the Convention fee is morning and afternoon teas, and we anticipate a hot lunch although the Canteen area has been significantly altered since our last Convention, so negotiations are still under way. Approximately 200 pages of Convention notes will also be provided and these notes will contain a number of colour photos and plans relating to the topics being presented.  Previous years’ notes will be available, including an updated index, and these notes form a considerable reference library of around 4000 pages. The first 15 years of notes are now available on CD and the remaining hard copy notes for 2011 to 2015 are currently being sold at a discount being three years of certain notes if we have them, for $65. (including postage) Prices for the most recent hard copy notes and discs will be included on this year’s registration form which can be downloaded from this web site. The forms are located under the “Registration Form” heading.  The registration forms will also be sent to everyone who has attended over the last couple of Conventions.

The program for 2021 will include the usual number of topics, but because two of our presenters were due to come from Interstate, we have decided to defer their presentations to be on the safe side of Covid 19 interruptions.  Accordingly, there have been some changes to the previously advertised program.

Bryan Howieson has recently retired from the University of Adelaide where he was the Associate Professor in Accounting. He was also Co-editor in chief of the Australian Accounting Review.  His experience in research and editing is reflected in a very detailed paper on Commonwealth Railways Budd Cars. This is the next paper in our series on Railcars that have operated in South Australia. Bryan’s detailed research will be accompanied by numerous photos as well as a plan of the Budd Railcar on display at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide.

Rodney Barrington is well known to all attendees at the South Australian Model Railway Convention having presented a number of papers on a variety of topics over the last 25 years. The topic of his presentation this year is the South Australian Railways 750 class Steam Locomotive. Lots of photos of this loco will appear in our notes as will a detailed plan of loco 752 which is currently on display at the National Railway Museum. A number of small changes were made by the SAR to these former Victorian Railways locomotives and this presentation will enable us to make changes to the existing and hopefully future models of this loco. Rodney is well known for the detailed research he puts into his presentations as is John Evans who has provided some assistance with the paper.

Allan Lees is currently spending a lot of time in the National Railway Museum’s archives sorting out a huge amount of material to make it more accessible to anyone wanting to research a particular topic. No doubt he has come across some interesting snippets on cool cars. Allan’s paper is on the topic South Australian cool cars. These freight vehicles have also been variously called Refrigerator cars and Insulated vans. This is a well researched paper featuring a surprisingly large number of different freight wagons including some of the earliest wagons like open wagons carrying two refrigerated boxes from the 1891 plans. Wagons from all three main gauges will be discussed in his paper. 

Ross Hurley will be giving a presentation on the Belair Station. Currently the South Eastern terminus of the Suburban system, this station has undergone many changes to its track layout and station buildings over its roughly 150 years of existence. Ross has details of each change over the years and will discuss these as part of his presentation. The Station is a great one to model, because it not only saw Suburban trains, but many Interstate trains and all of the Mallee and South East Division trains passed through the station. The paper will include plans of the various buildings and shelter sheds at Belair as well as photos of the station which will be of assistance to modellers who might decide to model this station.    

The Huntingdale and Grange layout is a beautifully themed SAR style layout that has been built up over many years by Kevin Kavenagh. Les Fordham has prepared  a presentation showing many of the scratch built buildings on the layout. He also details how the layout has been operated for many years using the “ABLO” system of cards and a timetable used in conjunction with a fast clock. All of the locos and rolling stock on the layout are modelled on the SAR broad gauge system.  

Peter Michalak is giving a small presentation of the SAR 350 class Diesel Shunter.
Having helped produce a kit of the diesel, Peter is well placed to discuss the history of the diesel, how to build the model and how the model might be used on our layouts. The Milang Railway Museum has one of the 350s in their Museum and there is a very interesting display in the cab if you would like to drive the loco and watch the world go by on the simulator.

Peter Knife is particularly well known for his books on the narrow gauge railways on the Eyre Peninsula and being a computer guru, for his blogs and information on his model railway on the internet. Peter also heads up a group of interested volunteers helping to preserve rolling stock as well as documents and photos relating to the railways on Eyre Peninsula. A Museum is situated in the now otherwise unused Port Lincoln Railway Station building and Peter will discuss the trails and tribulations of running a Railway Museum. This small presentation will fill half a normal session and Peter Michalak’s will take up the remaining half.

Master Modeller Gavin Thrum will be discussing how he converted a Peco Turntable into a lookalike SAR style turntable.  Details of how to motorise it will also be included. This turntable provides an alternative to some of the more expensive turntables currently on the market. 

Other Information
As in previous years, a number of commercial stands will be at the Convention. John Gordon looks after this area of our activities. He can be contacted on or via the Convention e-mail site.

Attendees are encouraged to bring along any models of their handiwork, especially models built using previous Convention notes. We are still discussing how Covid 19 might affect access to the model display room.

As in previous years, some extra articles will appear in the notes, which will not be formal presentations. This year there will be a supporting article DCC sound. Depending on the page count, there may be another small article in our series on older SAR steam locomotives.