The Australian Scene

by Ian Kirby

The live steam fraternity in Australia enjoys a level of coherency probably unique in the world, as far as we can tell. We have a national association called, unimaginatively, the "Australian Association of Live Steamers", or AALS. This organisation includes an autonomous organisation called the "Australian Miniature Boiler Safety Committee", or AMBSC.

AMBSC was actually formed well before AALS, and had done a lot of work drafting uniform boiler codes for use by hobby people throughout the country. To cut a long story short, these codes are now written into Australian federal legislation as official documents to be used throughout the country, and AMBSC is empowered to approve the appointment of club boiler inspectors to operate the boiler certification and inspection process.

AALS has assumed the role of co-ordinating an effort to obtain national insurance cover, and setting up codes for safe working practice; this work is proceeding currently, and the benefits should be seen in the near future.

In Australia, the gauges are 2.5", 3.5", 5", and 7.25"; builders obviously choose their own scales. At the last count, there were about 70 clubs scattered throughout the country, some strong, some very small. Most older owners have British design locos, as those plans were available at the time. Lately though, a strong push to build Australian prototypes has emerged, and some excellent examples have been built, along with a pleasing variety of scale rolling stock. Australia enjoys a climate which allows most clubs to operate one public running day each month year-round.

Each Easter, a national convention is held, usually at a state capital city, but occasionally at a provincial site if the facilities are suitable. The 1994 convention was hosted by the Illawarra Live Steamers, and around 600 people turned up, along with 112 5" gauge locomotives. We do not have 7" gauge facilities at our site. It was a most successful convention.

The next Australian Association of Live Steamers National Convention will be held over the Easter weekend (5-8 April, 1996). This event will be hosted by the Penfield Model Engineering Society, at their site in Salisbury, a few miles north of Adelaide, South Australia. This club always organises a good convention, so if your travel plans put you in the area at the right time, come along. Overseas visitors are particularly welcome. The convention is not open to the walk-in public, so try to advise your intention as soon as you can.

This may be the last convention to run at Penfield, as there are strong rumours that the club may have to quit the site in the near future.

Any overseas modellers who wish to have further information, please contact Ian Kirby with your questions, and I will do my best to provide full answers.

Regards, Ian.

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