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.
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.
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.”
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 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.
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 .”
It’s hoped building will commence by early 2022.