Crowds make tracks for model train show

16 Jul

Exhibit Close-Up

By Satoshi Ito and Laurence Ferguson-Farr, Bond University Journalism Students

Model train collectors and enthusiasts gathered at Carrara Indoor Stadium last weekend to take part in the sixthAnnual Miniature Trains on the Gold Coast hobby show.

Hosted by the Miniature Train Club Gold Coast Inc. the show featured exhibits from model train clubs across Queensland and was attended by about 1700 people.

Despite being called the world’s greatest hobby for over 20 years in North America, miniature train and layout modelling remains less popular in Australia.

Miniature train enthusiast and photographer Warren Dibb said it has a much broader scope than might first be apparent.

“It’s a great hobby for people to become involved in because you can learn so much about so many things,”he said.

“From civil planning, building, construction, electronics; it’s got so many facets to the hobby.”

Despite its complexity, miniature train and layout modelling doesn’t require a large investment of time or money to get into when compared to other hobbies such as music or video gaming.

Paul Newell, a member of MTCGC Inc. and manager of the Simplicity exhibit, said that most people attending these shows would only see the large scale exhibits and mistakenly assume it’s a very expensive hobby.

“People don’t realise how cheap it is to start,” he said.

“To start off a layout it cost me about $600 all up.”

Paul Newell Landscape 2Miniature train modelling has had difficulty catching on in Australia due to the outdoor culture and lack of railroad infrastructure.

“Specifically here on the Gold Coast we don’t sit indoors and think of things to do. It really is one of those types of hobbies,” Mr Dibb said.

Many of the enthusiasts are older members who got into trains as children, and model miniatures as a way to bring back childhood memories.

Despite the passion from current enthusiasts, the hobby has struggled to attract a younger generation and is in danger of dying off.

“It’s growing out here to a certain degree but unfortunately younger people just don’t come in,” said Logan District Model Railway Club member Peter Woodhead.

Technology has been a factor in the decline of model trains, with many younger enthusiasts creating virtual railways instead.

Times may be changing however with the recent rebirth of railway popularity across the globe.

“They’re getting bigger because it’s been seen that they are the most sensible form of mass land transport and so there’s been a rebirth of railway popularity in many countries,” said Mr Dibb.

With the return of railways to the public attention, Mr. Dibb hoped that the model railway hobby will experience a similar boost in popularity.

“There has now been an explosion of model railway availability around the world. It is certainly growing.”

For those interested in the hobby, upcoming model shows are on  August 22 and 23 at Strathpine Community Centre and September 12 and 13 at Cleveland Assembly Hall.

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