Welcome to Border Junction …

Border Junction is the smallest, but perhaps most important, of the four locations on the Border District. Firstly, Border Junction is the station whose title is closest to that of the layout’s name. Also, the “junction” is the means by which I’ve been able to include parts of both the South Australian Railways and Victorian Railways systems, particularly in terms of operation – the “mainline” for the VR and the “branchline” for the SAR (the SAR also has a little “mainline” into Tatiara Downs, but it isn’t really much more than a 3m curve out of the staging yard, with some of this buried in a tunnel!). Until recently, the facilities at Border Junction were little more than a small piece of unfinished MDF and a goodly dose of imagination. This morning though, that all changed …

Border Junction wideshot

The image above shows the facilities now in place at Border Junction. For this, a significantly large “thank you” needs to be given to Mr Don Bishop, of Border Downs Railway (BDR) fame, and the Moping Branch Railway (MBR) previous. Don is also very well known to those who attend the Modelling the Railways of South Australia Convention, or purchase the notes (with articles often also reprinted in AMRM). While I’ve been lucky enough to operate on the BDR twice (thanks Geoff!), Don has dodged me both times … he is clearly a man of good taste! Despite this, I’ve been conducting a long distance relationship with him to try to bring the layout to a more “finished” state.

Border Junction from east

Don is a prolific and talented modeller – as the above image of Border Junction’s facilities clearly shows! While I’m in awe of his work, I’m also in awe at the fact my little layout has – again – had input from a modeller whose efforts I’ve admired for a long time (the “Every Bloke Needs a Shed” article from the MRSAC notes helped me “lock in” the facilities for Tatiara Downs – though now I need to get cracking and finish things!). It truly is with thanks to several VR and SAR modellers – many of whom I am now fortunate enough to call friends – that the Border District is a reality, and a vision increasingly approaching realisation.

Border Junction from west

Border Junction’s facilities are located on the SAR branch from Tatiara Downs to Jameston, immediately after the branch has diverged from the mainline that continues to Nankiva (VR). There is also a siding serving “Southern Aggregates” to the west of the the station. Much discussion was had about “appropriateness” of facilities … not too much, but not too little. In the end, a small station (based on Callington in the Adelaide Hills, now restored at the National Railway Museum in Port Adelaide) was chosen, along with a “Class 4” van goods shed. A ramp for goods is at one end of the platform, with stairs for passengers at the other. Signage, lighting and a pillbox (to call Control for access to the main to Tatiara Downs, or the Branch to Jameston) were also incorporated. the finished product exceeded expectations … and being placed high on the layout, means some of the details, like the exquisite platform seat, can be readily viewed.

Rx and water tower

But wait, that is not all … I’ve also been fortunate enough to convince Don to contribute to a few other areas of the Border District, as the above image shows. The loco facilities at Jameston – the SAR branch station and “break of gauge” from broad to narrow, are currently quite sparse. To be honest, they are nothing more than a Peco turntable needing “SAR-ising” and a few unballasted, unpainted tracks. However, Don has once again contributed and provided the location with a concrete water tower (also from an article in the MRSAC notes) – clearly evident to the left of the Rx in the above image.

If these first two installations courtesy of “Bishop’s Building Company” are anything to go by, Don may have a goodly amount of contract work coming out of the Border District for some time …


1960 on the Border District …

Not too much to report in terms of layout progress – to be honest, nothing to report at all in terms of layout progress! However, the recent return of my Model Design Studio Rx class gave the opportunity for some railfanning snaps – 1960 style – on the Border District.

Positioned at the west end of Tatiara Downs, on the grade into the station, the first train captured is the down south east goods, headed by “Big Mikado” 730 (a Rocky River Models body on an Athearn mechanism, with thanks to Stuart Gamble). The 720 is working hard on the climb and will receive a “red over yellow” from the arrival signal to permit the train enter the yard.


Our railfans have followed 730 and train into the station environs at Tatiara Downs, as the driver brings the south east good to a stop. Shunting will ensue, with some loading being for Tatiara Downs, some for the SAR branchline to Jameston and some for destinations over the Victorian border – itself only a few miles away. Any loading for Jameston will be moved forward on the south east roadside goods, later in the day.


Not too far behind the south east goods is an express goods from Adelaide to Melbourne. At the head is one of those new fangled “diesel-electric” locomotives – a Goodwin-Alco single-ended 930 class. Still looking quite new, and resplendent in maroon and silver, 935 has made much easier work of the grade. At Tatiara Downs, the 930 will hand the express goods over to a Victorian Railways “B” class diesel electric for the remainder of the journey. 935 is a Trainorama model in original condition.


The next train to arrive is the down south east “day” passenger, headed by one of SAR’s big wheeled Pacifics. 606 has raced her train across the ninety-mile desert from Tailem Bend to Tatiara Downs, where the train will terminate. Passengers for the Jameston branch will go ahead in the guards van attached to the south east roadside goods. Below, 606 and train can be seen outside the arrival signal.


Again, our fans head into the Tatiara Downs yard to catch another shot of 606 (a heavily modified Mehanotehnika model, again with thanks to Stuart Gamble) and the pass (they didn’t bother to do so with the diseasal!). The 600 steamer will shunt the carriages to the dock, before heading to the loco to “drop the fire” and be coaled and watered for her next assignment.


Back to the outskirts of Tatiara Downs, Rx207 (a Model Design Studio kit, assembled by Richard Ross) can be seen struggling up hill with the down south east roadside goods. The signaller has been kind and already cleared the signals to allow the Rx to access the yard, meaning there is no need to stop and start again on the grade. The Rx will hand her train over to another Rx – and once wagons for Jameston are added and any passengers have boarded the guard’s van – the south east roadside goods will continue on its way …


Our final shot of the day sees the 600 and Rx “on shed” at Tatiara Downs. 606 sits under a 45ton coal stage (a Trainbuilder product). Four down trains, all in close company to one another and with a  good amount of variety, have provided for any interesting trip to the Border District.


I’m more and more inclined to set up an “alternate” Border District operating session, circa 1960, to facilitate all of the above – and more. I feel this will compliment the “usual” period of 1976 on the layout. The advent of more SAR steam – through Model Design Studio, Rocky River Models and now Shrike Models – makes this goal even more achievable than before – who ever could have imagined we would have the prospect of an affordable, RTR SAR steamer? My only reservation with also modelling 1960 – those awesome colour searchlight signals I’ve already got …