Australian rail road request

I got this informative and interesting question from Dave. Can anyone help??

“I have to say, Al, that I absolutely LOVE your tips, tricks photos and general how-to’s!  I’m especially happy if you should come across any photos of Australian layouts.  I’m an ex-pat Canadian, whose brother recently retired after 35yrs in CP-Rail (and would you believe I worked for Cdn National for about 8 yrs? !!!), but would like to challenge myself and model some Aussie scenic layouts.  I’m now in southeast Queensland, and while I don’t have a particular area of Oz in mind, I do have an idea based on an article I read in a Nat’l Geographic magazine, perhaps from the early 80’s, called “The Tea and Sugar”, and it told the story of an outback train, loaded with all sorts of articles (from tea to sugar, naturally!) and would visit the very outback communities on a fortnightly or monthly run.  These would be large stations along the rail line that would be typically 500 or more kms away from the nearest town.

What made it interesting to read, other than the various tales from a selection of people met along the route, was that each car was set up like a compact retail outlet – one car a butcher, the other groceries, another clothing, another shoes and still another a doctor or dentist – you get the idea.

These trains ferried the much needed supplies to these communities that would consist of Aboriginal towns as well as large cattle stations.  You have to keep in mind that a station or “farm”, unlike a farm in Canada, can often comprise tens of thousands of square kms and not acres over here, but I’m up to it.

Well, it does sound like a challenge doesn’t it!  So, if you do come across any articles on Aussie N layouts, scenery or other tid bits, I’d very much love to have a “sticky beak” (have a look!).

Thanks again for such wonderful insight and help you bring to this hobby!

Sunshine Coast, Qld”

3 Responses to Australian rail road request

  1. Dave, about the tea & sugar trains what I know of them they mainly stopped at rail ganger camps and towns along the line to supply goods as you say, as far as I know there wheren’t many native camps along the tracks as in those days most of the Aborigine tribes would have been nomad and tended to travel the inland. There would have been a few Native worker within the camps and towns, these trains no longer run as it was costing the now mainly privately run railways way too much money and as you know Dave share holders don’t like their money being wasted on silly things. I live in S.A. and was well into railways back in the 70’s but not so much now as it is very hard to get Australian raileways in N Scale which my wife and I operate due to space.

  2. Hi Dave, as Dingo indicated in his reply; these trains ceased to operate in the ’80’s and the towns and gangers camps that they serviced basically disappeared with the coming of standard gauge and dieselization across the Nullabor. However, all is not lost, to-day the Indian-Pacific performs much the same purpose as the old “Tea and Sugar” trains when it stops at Cook, a small town (pop. 50) in the middle of the Nullabor. Here a couple of the cars on the train disgorge a variety of meat and other produce, as well as clothing etc for the local community, which is about the only small town remaining on this lonely streach of rail.
    However, Queensland has it’s own modern miracles, like the “Gulflander” and the “Dimboola Mail”, and it was not that long ago that some of Queenslands trains travelled at the grand rate of not miles per hour, but miles per day!! If you were luckly, some trains could travel at less than 15 miles per day, and that was FAST. I think things have improved slightly since then.
    HO is about the only gauge supported with Australian loco’s and rolling stock, with both steam and diesel available. N gauge is very limited, unfortunately.
    Good luck

  3. Hi Dave
    Although it is difficult to get models of Australian locos and rolling stock,you can use just about anything and call it an Australian railway.
    There are six states and two territories to choose from and while ACT is simply a slice out of NSW the rest have a fantastic collection of oddball railways. Tasmania for example had no less than three different rail gauges and boasted the first Garretts (K1 and K2).
    The present railway has a variety of locomotives ranging from English electric Diesels (assembed in their own workshops) to ring-ins from Queensland and New Zealand.
    The scenery can vary from vast open plains of the inland to the tight curves and steep grades on the west coast of Tasmania.
    Here is a site with some models of Tasmanian railways and some typical scenery they traveled through.

    Hope these give you some ideas.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>