Program for 2024

The 27th 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, 7th September 2024, using the same 200-seat lecture theatre that we had for 2023. Doors open at 8am for those attendees who wish to register early, 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”, rather than the “Model Railway Convention”. 

For anyone using the train, we suggest you stay outside the hospital and walk up-hill past the entire hospital to the southern end. Here you will find a drive going up between the Northern end of large car park building and the hospital, and at the top of the drive is a very short-term car park and our normal entrance. This way, you won’t get lost in the multitude of hospital corridors. The free car park area can be reached by driving nearly up to the top of the hill where there is a road going left between blocks of residential units. This road eventually enters the fourth floor of the Southern end of the large car park building. 

Planning for the 2024 event will be subject to any Covid rules that are in place at the time. The committee is planning for the same alternatives as in the previous year. These include full use of the 200 seat lecture theatre, however should any restrictions be placed on the number of attendees allowed into the lecture theatre, those who register first will be given priority to attend the Convention, and if for any reason the Convention has to be cancelled, the notes will be sent out to everyone who has registered or who has asked for a copy of the notes. People who register to attend will have the choice of printed notes, a CD or both. If you cannot attend and want a set of printed notes, then these must be preordered during the Convention registration period. Please note that we have specifically asked that registration forms be lodged with us by late July 2024 so that we can work out how many sets of notes to print. 

The convention area can be reached from the southern end of the hospital through the same 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 on the 4th floor of this building. Included in the Convention fee are morning and afternoon teas, and a hot lunch. Approximately 200 pages of Convention notes will also be provided, containing a number of colour photos and plans relating to the topics being presented. Some previous years’ hard copy notes will be available, including an updated index, and these notes form a considerable reference library of around 4700 pages. All of our notes up to and including 2024 will be available on CDs and the remaining hard copy notes that we still have for 2011 to 2015 are currently being sold at a discount – three years 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 that can be downloaded from this web site from around the end of May. The forms are or will be located under the “Registration Form” heading. The registration forms will also be sent to everyone who has attended the last couple of Conventions.

The program for 2024 will include the following presentations:

The Y Class Steam Locomotives of the SAR. Phil Groves is going to talk about the 129 Y class steam locos that were built by Beyer, Peacock, James Martin and two at Islington between 1885 and 1898. Ex-South Australian Y class locos ended up working in all states of Australia and the Northern Territory with the exception of Victoria, and perhaps qualify as the most widely distributed class of steam loco in all of Australia. Many of the Y class locos were converted to Yx class, having a larger boiler with a Belpaire firebox and an updated cab.  A beautifully restored Yx class steam loco can be found in working order on the Pichi Richi Railway at Quorn. Peter Manning has provided us with two high quality drawings of both the Y and the Yx classes of loco.

Gavin Thrum is not only a prolific modeller of the South Australian Railways, but also of English and American prototypes. His home layout now features some great modelling of stations such as Mt Lofty, Murray Bridge and Wolseley. Gavin’s presentation this year will be about Modelling all of the features in the Mt Lofty Railway Station.

Tank Cars will be the topic of a paper by Allan Lees. Allan has found a large amount of information on tank cars that ran in South Australia that has not been previously published. These wagons include a number that were acquired from interstate, including Victoria and New South Wales and number that survived the change of gauge from 3’ 6” to standard gauge. There was also a large number that were converted to temporary tank wagons, either for operational purposes or in times of drought. For the past few years, Allan has been overseeing much the work that is being carried out by up to twenty people in the National Railway Museum’s archives, so he is well placed to find all of this freight wagon information.

Border District layout. With a clear intention of a model railway built for operation, Anthony Palmer will jet in from Queensland to share the background, history, development and evolution of his Border District layout. The Border District is a proto-freelanced HO scale home layout that models a fictional, though prototype-informed, fourth interchange point between the South Australian Railways (SAR) and Victorian Railways (VR). Inspired by many an article from (and on occasions, featured in) previous Modelling the Railways of South Australia Conventions, the Border District is a home layout that continues to be the result of a culmination of efforts by a great group of friends, modellers and operators. Located in a dedicated 6 metre by 4.2 metre room in Anthony’s home, the NCE DCC-controlled Border District is all about operations – featuring signalling (to SAR and VR practices), Adelaide Branch Line Operators (ABLO) car cards and waybills, and a frequent test bed for the increasingly explored concept of ‘immersive operation’. The layout in its current form has been under construction since late 2010, with regular operating sessions being hosted since 2015, and is still very much a ‘work in progress’, supported and enabled by the camaraderie that exists within our hobby. This progress, including operating session summaries, can be read about via the Border District blog at:

Mark Carter is a well known railway historian who has written numerous articles for Catch Point and other railway publications.  He is going to talk about many of the changes that have taken place in ownership of railway infrastructure, locomotives and rolling stock for the period 1995 to the present date.  Of more than passing interest to the modern era modeller will be the various colour schemes used by the respective entities on their locos and rolling stock.

Inside the Fence Line is the topic to be presented by Peter Polson (which was held over from last year). Whilst we at the Convention appear to have given station buildings a bit of a thrashing, we should not forget that the ancillary buildings and infrastructure scattered around every station forms an equally important part of the scene we are modelling. Peter is going to deal with some of these, including gangers’ sheds, Fairmont speeders, weighbridges, goods yard offices, derailers, cattle grids, ablution blocks including portable long drops, and permanent passenger facilities. He might even cover the fence line itself and discuss different types of railway gates. Peter is gathering a number of photos and diagrams of the items he intends to cover in both his notes and his presentation.

David Goedecke is preparing a paper on South Australian Crew Barracks. There were numerous crew barracks scattered around the state. Often, they could be found at the end of a branch line or near the state borders, but there were larger buildings centred on all of the major railway towns. David has the Railways’ plans for a number of these buildings, none of which would look out of place on a layout.  An interesting paper which will indeed encourage yet another modelling project.

Rodney Barrington is currently preparing a 160 page book on the History of the Pich Richi Railway and is therefore well qualified to give a talk on the topic which at this stage is scheduled for 2025. From a modelling perspective, his presentation will also include pictures of Gavin Thrum’s model of bridges on the Pichi Richi Railway, Len Redway’s model of Quorn station and John Wilson’s model of nearby Wilson station. At the 2024 Convention, Rodney is scheduled to speak for just a few minutes about his forthcoming book.

Clive Huggan will speak for a few minutes about copyright and changes that are due to come into force. Copyright on personal photographs will continue for 70 years after the death of a photographer. If you want your photographic collection of railway photos to be easily accessible to others, Clive has some suggestions.

In addition to detailed articles on the talks, the following articles-only are planned to be in the notes, again, some of these were held over from last year due to limitations on the number of pages we can print.

Des Egan has prepared an article on the V & SAR joint stock Dynamometer Car, a vehicle that is currently preserved at the National Railway Museum at Port Adelaide. A comprehensive article including photos and a detailed HO scale plan will be provided.

Hugh Williams has provided a further article in the series on early SAR steam locos, this one being on the A class 2-4-0s numbered 1, 19 and 20.

Graham Ahern has prepared an article on modelling the Commonwealth Railways narrow gauge rolling stock.

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 email site.

Attendees are encouraged to bring along any models of their handiwork, especially models built using previous Convention notes.