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John De Frayssinet pays a visit to Noarlunga Model Railroaders in South Australia

05 March 2012

  John De Frayssinet  

Expert modeller John De Frayssinet, known for his work on 'County Gate' and 'Bratton Fleming', recently paid a visit to Noarlunga Model Railroaders in South Australia and saw firsthand how things are done on the other side of the world...

  Noarlunga 1

To the uninitiated visiting Pom, Noarlunga invokes the image of a one dunny settlement deep in the outback. In shimmering heat, Bluey is sitting on a decayed armchair under the shade of a collapsing veranda drinking another tinnie while surveying the derelict railway tracks that have not seen a train pass by for a decade or more ....... Actually, nothing is further from the truth. Noarlunga is a pleasant suburban town just South of Adelaide with an attractive historic district and a fine beach. What is more, it has a model railway club and I was invited to visit.

Under the shade of aromatic pines on the former site of Reynella railway station is their large, well equipped club house, opened in 1998. I was given a fine welcome by President John Cutler who even had a copy of BRM featuring County Gate! As usual, the majority of members were more in their autumn years but there are some younger members too. Beavering away were also a few ladies. I discovered that in Oz, this was not that usual. I know that in the UK, many clubs are very exclusive. Members of some, I am sure, either recognise each other by the shape of their skulls or they have secret handshakes like the Masons! Somehow, I really did not expect this in Australia! Many clubs actually do not accept women at all! Noarlunga Model Railroaders are proud of being a club open to all with an active membership of around 50.

Some of the club members were rounded up for this photograph!

Paradigm, the prize winning exhibition layout

There is a large exhibition layout called Paradigm, shortly to be replaced, which has what is described as ‘generic scenery’. This turned out to be quite important as I watched a long British passenger train running alongside US and Australian models!

Their permanent layout is huge and is a work in progress. Trains run from the terminus at Adelaide. This is locally nicknamed ‘Webb’s Palace’. In the early part of the 20th century daft, feuding Australian politicians managed to turn the South Australia rail system into a complete mess. In the end, an American, William Alfred Webb, was brought in to sort it all out. He built a new terminus in the centre of Adelaide which he designed to look like a wing of Buckingham Palace; hence the name!


The partially completed Webb's Palace

Looking down part of the club layout.

The extensive scenery is typical South Australia and is clearly modelled in winter as things are quite green. The buildings are largely made in card by member David Barnes and a very good job he has made of them too. It appears that broad gauge is not usually correctly modelled in Oz and HO track is generally used. This leaves the Australian broad gauge modellers in a similar situation as those in the UK modelling in OO.

It was a huge pleasure to see how it is done on the other side of the world. This welcoming enthusiastic club is a credit to Australian model railroading and I thank them for allowing me an insight into their world.

Further details are available on www.noarail.com

Article used with permission - from John's Bratton Fleming website

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