Our club had its beginnings in the 1940’s as the “Surrey Hills Live Steamers” at the home of Stan Milligan of that suburb with monthly visits to various other member’s small home tracks scattered around a number of Melbourne locations; even as far away as Geelong and Ballarat. Seeking a more-permanent home with a larger area suitable for extended running, and after much searching, the site on filled land at Rowans Road, Moorabbin was secured and is now leased from the City of Kingston.
The first running, early in 1970, was done on a single loop of what is now an extensive raised track of about 700 metres length, catering for both 3½” and 5” gauge locomotives. Within this raised track is a ground-level 5” gauge circuit, laid prototypically on sleepers and ballast and with points and crossings to allow a choice of routes. Both tracks are undergoing refurbishment at present.
A shorter, almost-circular multi-gauge track catering for 2½”, 3.1/2” and 5” gauges, roughly equivalent to 1/24th, 1/16th and 1/12th scale locomotives is installed at the front of the site. This was the club’s early portable track but is mostly now used for driver training and engine testing. On Public days it features our popular tram for the youngest patrons. Inside this track is a raised Garden Gauge installation catering for those interested in a range of popular sizes running on Gauge 0 (32mm) and gauge 1 (45mm) rails. A lot of these are steam driven with radio control.
A raised steaming bay completes the locomotive facilities. It is of the radial type and is under cover with power, air and water laid on.
The club owns a fleet of four battery-electric locomotives. These are used for overload running on Public Days, for driver training and on days of total fire ban, when live steam cannot be used.
There is a well-equipped brick clubhouse, capable of seating about fifty members, on the site. It houses our kitchen and an extensive library for members’ use. This facility forms the focal point for socialising and meetings.
We also have a well-equipped on-site workshop used for carriage and general maintenance and member’s private use.
This entire complex does require regular upkeep and all members are expected to give some time, generally the last Sunday of the month, to help with work around the site.
Membership is very broad, with people from all walks of life being represented and, whilst a number are retired, there are quite a few currently working and several younger members. New members are welcome and do not need to own a locomotive; there is plenty to interest newcomers.