A few shots at Tatiara Downs …

With thanks to Border District regular operator and stalwart Iain Kennedy, a large number of previously not before seen images captured at operating sessions have recently been made available. There are some cracker images that will provide inspiration for more than the usual “monthly operating session” blog updates … so watch out! To begin, this post showcases four slightly different views at the main station on the layout – Tatiara Downs. Heavily influenced by both Mount Gambier (primarily) and Serviceton (secondarily), the freelanced location and station is the interchange point between SAR and VR operations.


Above is a great image of the station building at Tatiara Downs – a replica of the station that still stands today at Bordertown in south eastern South Australia. The stone construction, arch windows, dutch gables and “pagoda-esque” styling are all quintessential South Australian Railways. I really like that Iain has ensured an “eye level view” of the platform here – exactly how I envisage the view – but it does show up the need to paint, ballast and weather the track! The station building is the work of the incredible talents and much missed Barry Le Maistre – I count myself very fortunate to have a few of his works on my layout.

Below is another image of the station at Tatiara Downs, but this time with the trains as the main focus. S315 sits at the head of a Melbourne bound passenger service, a second division “Overland” comprised of a combination of Victorian Railways, South Australian Railways and “Joint Stock” carriages. The S class has taken over from a SAR 930 Alco that hauled the train from Adelaide and into Tatiara Downs. In the dock/back platform road are more Victorian Railways carriages (heavily modified Powerline offerings – a big thank you to Richard Ross for his work) that will form the morning service back to Melbourne. This shot from Iain also captures the proportions of the six track yard nicely … though slightly less “full” than usual!



Above, Iain has captured C508 as it brings a west bound Jet goods into Tatiara Downs from Melbourne. The train will soon pass the home signal, displaying a “red over yellow” aspect, that gives entrance into the yard. Once the C (a beautifully modified and weathered Austrains’ model, courtesy of Keith Trueman) brings the Jet to stand, the loco will cut off, to be replaced by South Australian power for the journey on to Adelaide. In the background, the glass jars and cardboard will one day be replaced by a closer to scale model of a significant grain storage facility – again with Bordertown the likely inspiration. The track curving to the right, and to the right of the train – which then disappears behind the blue back scene – is the Edenhope to Nankiva mainline. Note to self – start to add some vegetation for better screening … as this line is supposedly miles away!

Below, the final shot for this post is a great one of Tatiara Down’s resident shunter – SAR 513 – and brake tender. Purists will again note that this loco has completely incorrect bogie sideframes – riding on US Alco “S1” style bogies. This is as a result of repowering the Strath Hobbies model’s original mechanism – work undertaken by Andrew Hunter. The Brake Tender is an awesome model and is on the “District” with thanks to Stuart Gamble. It is neither a surprise nor an accident that each of Iain’s images here include work from one or more modellers – many of whom are also friends – for without them there is no doubt the Border District would not be where it is today.



2 thoughts on “A few shots at Tatiara Downs …

  1. I would love to see these scenes fully scene-nicked, with ballast and grass. For me, I find this to be the easiest part of making scenery. Trees – I am still trying – even after 45 years – have tried Woodland Scenics lots of expensive “hand made” – scenic Express, home built twisted wire, with putty. Still can not get it right. Have about 100 photos of trees from B.C, N.D to Co to try to imitate. Ballast – no problems about 10 mins a yard + 5 mins to do 3 yds of trackside “grass”.

  2. Greg,
    Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. I also look forward to the scenes being more “complete” in terms of scenery … even at a base level. However, I’d cite three reasons that this is still yet to occur:
    1. Operating sessions, only commenced regularly last year, have seen a number of changes to track and yard arrangements … I wanted to ‘try” the track plan out before committing to scenery. I’m pleased I did so, as several improvements have been made as a result of running trains. In my experience, the only thing worse than ballasting is ripping up ballasted track …
    2. Ballasting is indeed one of the easier tasks in our hobby (mind numbing as it can be though!) … but ballasting a yard can be a little harder when chasing realism. Perhaps this is for me what trees are for you? Yards are not just rows of ballasted track … and I’ve spent (and continue to spend!) time trialling different techniques to get the many different aspects of a yard “right”. One such example is that “compacted” look where shunters frequently walk … currently I’m playing with a combination of air dry clay, tiling grout and fine sand, with mixed results.
    3. The focus on operating sessions has seen more time spent on matters like completing signalling systems, having a working timetable/operating sequence (and all the associated paperwork) and introducing and using a car card system. While possibly not as nice to look at as scenery (though I do see signals as scenery), for me they are the “basics” that operations are built from and so I’ve put effort and time into them first.
    Excuses from me aside, I’m hopeful of progressing scenery in the latter part of this year. Your times to complete “basic” scenery are impressive … maybe I need to sub contract out?!
    Kind regards,

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