Hobsons Bay Model Railway Club

The HOBSON'S BAY MODEL RAILWAY Club (Inc.) was formed in 1988, when a group of then Public Transport workers, got together and decided to acquire one of the many disused government operated Railway's buildings, in order to form a truly Australian based modeling group. More than 100 Train Drivers, Signallers, Gangers and others from all over THE PUBLIC TRANSPORT CORPORATION signed a petition requesting that a suitable building be made available and to our amazement, our employer agreed.

Even greater was our astonishment when one of the buildings on offer turned out to be the former 'Amenities Building' for the, by then, long abandoned No. 9 and No. 10 Sheds (the former North Eastern Inwards/Outwards L. C. L. Forwarding area) in a disused section of the Melbourne Freight Yard. This was a double-storey building of early 1960's vintage and 'solid brick-curtain construction' that measured externally almost 90 feet x 22 feet (27.5 meters x 6.5 meters) and which provided a clear internal area of approximately 75 feet x 20 feet (21 meters x 6 meters) into which we could fit a layout (and that was just the upstairs area)! Downstairs, there was an equal amount of room (albeit divided into smaller sections) that could be used for amenities and storage and as Clubrooms. Needless to say, our search for a home promptly ceased!

A few months were to pass before any work of a railway nature could be undertaken, primarily due to the fact that the building had, over the 5 years it had lay dormant, acquired a layer of dust some 6 mm (1/4 inch) thick. It was a 'sight to behold' to see the torrents of muddy water cascading down the stairs and out through the front door! Eventually, after a great deal of effort from a small team of commmitted and devoted individuals, the building was once again declared 'fit for human habitation' and we officially took up residence.


Our first running session took place courtesy of our good friends - the CORIO MODEL RAILWAY CLUB - who were kind enough to loan us their then current exhibition layout for the weekend. Interestingly, the presence of this layout in the space we had at hand caused some members grave concern as the room available quite simply dwarfed that layout (despite the fact that the CORIO layout was considered quite large by normal standards). Nonetheless, much fun was had by all! Short lived, though, the fun was then cast aside as we set about the daunting task of filling the enormous space with railway track.

Right from the very beginning it was agreed by the founding members that the layout would maintain direct ties with our workday environment. Being employees of V/LINE, this meant that our miniature world would reflect the practices of the state government owned railways operating throughout the state of Victoria, located in South Eastern Australia. It was also agreed that we would feature the Industrial backdrop (as provided by our home city of Melbourne) as the primary 'backdrop' for the layout, an aspect of real life railways that was hitherto neglected by the majority of local modelers. It was also accepted, in toto, that Sunshine (a major junction station in the Western suburbs of Melbourne), would be the ideal location upon which to base the layout. Being the diverging point for the then Western Main Line (which ultimately led to Adelaide) and the location of the only other suburban passenger platform (outside of the main terminal) on the Standard Gauge Main Line (which joins the capital cities of Sydney and Melbourne), this would allow us to model electrified suburban passenger and freight services, as well as Western, Northern and North Eastern intrastate traffic and North Eastern interstate freight and passenger traffic. This way, we could justify the presence of nearly any rollingstock from around Australia (irrespective of it's originating system) on the layout. One of the other aspects which found full agreement was the requirement to accurately recreate any specifically modeled location and to emulate, as best as possible, any 'safe-working practices' that are in use on any 'rights of way' (where such lines are depicted).

Several different plans were proposed until all agreed upon the plan that forms the basis of the existing layout. The layout itself conforms to the 'along the walls' principle with two central peninsulas. One of these provides the '˜left-hand turn' at Sunshine (which is the aforementioned 'branch' to all points west), whilst the other peninsula allows for the continuous run of our double-tracked Broad Gauge Main Line (representing the prototype's 5 feet 3 inches [1600 mm] gauge), as well as the reversing loops which allow for the 'point-to-point' operations of the single-tracked Standard Gauge Main Line (4 feet 81/2 inches [1435 mm] gauge). One of the other important standards upon which the founding members agreed was to ensure that all major crossing loops and reversing loops were a minmum of 20 feet (6 meters) in length, which allowed us to emulate the then current prototype railway practice of running trains of 50 vehicles in length. Hence our slogan 'WHERE THE BIG TRAINS RUN!'

The main central peninsula, we think, is unique amongst club layouts in this country, in as much as it makes use of two popular American modeling principles. In order to obtain as much physical distance between modeled locations, the track-work is hidden for much of it's length. To accomodate four separate modeled locations on only two visible sides, we resorted to the use of 'Double-Decking' and to obtain the required height for this, it was neccesary to install a 540 degree helix.

It should be noted that this is not the 'be all and end all' of the matter. Plans are afoot to commence work on the stub-ended terminal yard (a fictitious location to be called KORWEINGUBOORA) that will be the visible end of the central peninsula (which presently stops in a hidden, three-track, reversing loop cum staging yard). This location will be based on standard 'Victorian Railways' practices for such yards. As well, the points and crossovers are already in place for the proposed prototypical VR single-track, country branch line that will diverge from the main suburban lines in an 'easterly' direction from the main Passenger Terminal (to be located on a 'double-decked' layout in the former upstairs toilet facility). For more detailed information, please feel free to visit our Layout Room.


The Club boasts a steady membership of some 30 members, not all of whom are from a railway background. In fact, despite some restrictions imposed by our constitution in the past, recent amendments now allow for members from all walks of life, without the need for any connection to the Railway Industry and without any restriction to the numbers involved

Official Club meetings are held every Sunday but with the option to 'purchase' a key available to all members (the cost of which is reimbursed when said key is "returned"), those with keys have unrestricted access to the Clubrooms 24/7. The rooms are usually opened from about 4:00 PM (1600 hours) until late and "running"is available to all and sundry who bring trains with them (NOTE: the club rules require that visitors who intend to run their own trains are required to make a small pecuniary 'donation' to cover the cost). The layout has the capability to accommodate both traditional DC (Direct Current), on the rails designated as "Broad Gauge"track and DCC (Digital Command Control) on the track that is "Standard Gauge", although, if ALL present on the night agree to it, the "Broad Gauge"tracks can be switched to operate with DCC. All manner of trains are able to be operated on our metals at any given time, so it is not 'uncommon' to find, not only Victorian prototypes 'going around' but rolling stock from all the other states of the country (as is the case in the real world), as well as to find such trains rubbing shoulders with their fellows from other countries (such as England and the U. S. A.). Special arrangements can be made, if sufficient notice is given, for an individual member to organise a "Special Running Night", on which occasions, only the trains of the designated prototype are permitted on the layout. Such 'events' can be (and usually are), organised to take place at any time over a weekend. Occasionally, again, if all present agree and numbers are sufficient (both trains and people), a Timetabled session can be arranged utilising a timetable that accommodates up to 10 trains over a six hour "fast clock"period. In addition, every so often, some of our members, who are accomplished railway photographers, will organise a 'get together' to compare notes and photographs - the result of which is usually a slide-night "not to be missed."

HBMRC also provides extracurricular facilities for its members, in the form of a fully equipped, 29 seat theatrette (where the aforementioned 'slide-nights' are held) and railway related DVD content may be screened by and to, anyone present wanting to watch. All members (and visitors, of course) are welcome to attend any of the above events, although Sunday nights are recommended for those who wish to see trains in motion. If you do decide to come along, be sure to bring your trains with you.

❊ Address & Contact ❊

Hobsons Bay Model Railway Club⊜ PO BOX 710 North Melbourne | Map
PO BOX 710North Melbourne
+61 (03) 9619 6192

❊ Web Links ❊

Hobsons Bay Model Railway Club 

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