5 October 2021

Miniature train lovers excited to finally secure permanent home

| Damien Larkins
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A miniature train model from Canberra Monaro N Scale group

The model rail enthusiasts finally have a place to call home. Photo: Canberra Monaro N Scale Group.

It’s been a long wait, but the region’s only model railway group after a long and winding journey has finally found a permanent home.

For more than 20 years, the Canberra Monaro N Scale Group has hauled its displays from venue to venue, hiring scout halls and other locations across Canberra and Queanbeyan.

Now they’ve been offered a five-year licence on an approximately 2,500 square metre site on Henderson Road in Queanbeyan, near the Railway Station.

Group president Pat Gagel says it’s great to finally be able to settle down.

“We’re all pretty excited about it,” he said.

READ ALSO Model railway group’s labour of love on track with permanent home

Mr Gagel says it’s taken about three years to get to this point.

“Many, many rejections, many, many unanswered phone calls,” he says.

“We’ve looked at everything from the Burley Griffin Incinerator at the Royal Canberra Golf Course to ACTEWAGL facilities, to telephone exchanges that may have space.”

The group received $128,000 in NSW COVID stimulus funding through the Australian Men’s Shed Association.

The Canberra Monaro N Scale Model Railway Group with its display.

Previously the group would have to use schools and scout halls for displays. Photo: Supplied.

They’re now finalising the paperwork and getting quotes from builders, after a shed that was on the site burned down.

“When that happened it was a bit disappointing,” Mr Gagel says.

“But in hindsight, this new shed we can now do with what we want and it’s going to totally suit our needs, so in hindsight, it’s probably a bit of a blessing.”

READ ALSO New near-miss footage released as commuters told to review tram safety

Over the years the group has accumulated about 40 miniature rail modules, measuring 120cm x 60cm.

But without permanent storage, the group’s 30 plus members have had to keep them in their own homes.

“The modules are getting lots of wear and tear by constantly putting them up, taking them down, transporting them to site, it’s very taxing on the club and limits what we can do.”

The site of the Canberra Monaro N Scale group new home

The new site in Queanbeyan is a blank slate to build everything the group needs. Photo: Pat Gagel.

The new shed will feature a large display area, with smaller conference rooms for regular meetings.

The building will incorporate passive solar design and the rooms can be rented out, to help with costs.

“We have to minimise the operating costs of the building so it reduces pressure on membership fees,” he says.

A scale model of Sydney Central train station

The group plans to display a scale model of Sydney Central at its grand opening. Photo: Canberra N Scale Group.

Once completed, the group is looking forward to a grand opening, including the Australian Men’s Shed patron Governor-General David Hurley.

“We’re also looking at getting for the opening a Sydney Central model, which is quite impressive and my own model of Canberra Railway Station,” Mr Gagel says.

“My gut feel is we’ll have it complete for an opening around March [2022].”

It’s hoped building will commence by early 2022.

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Thanks for your kind support. We are one of four model railroad groups in the Capital Region. Many of our members are members of those and other clubs as well. The live steam group is over on their new site on the Monaro HIghway – Look for the semaphore signals before the Hindmarsh Drive turn-off heading North.

Look forward to seeing you all soon once lockdown finishes. Feel free to say hi withing the guidelines at the time…..

Capital Retro2:08 pm 04 Oct 21

If they wait a bit longer they will be able to acquire a 1 : 1 scale version of a failed tram network just over the border.

@Capital Retro – perhaps try something different…. exhibit some positivity. You might actually find that not looking at everything negatively makes life more enjoyable.

Capital Retro6:06 pm 04 Oct 21

Sorry you see things so negatively. Most people would laugh at what I said. Obviously you don’t live in Canberra.

Ahhh thank you for being the voice of “most” people…
I do live here and unlike another person who consistently posts negative comments (even on a positive community story), I actually like living here.

I certainly look forward to visiting the display!

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