Site seeing – April 1st

No April Fool’s here!!!

Today’s site seeing focuses on what I consider to be the best Australian freelanced, yet believable, model railroad system – the Dutton Bay Tramway. The only other narrow gauge line I can thnk of in the same league is Dave Frary & Bob Hayden’s ‘Carrabasset and Dead River’ that has as rich a heritage. read on, there’s a lot in today’s site seeing that you might find as fascinating as I do.

Site 1: The Dutton Bay Tramway (Link Here)

The Dutton Bay Tramway was a freelanced HO scale 2’6″ gauge railway set in South Australia’s Eyre Peninsula. I say was because at this time the layout has been dismantled and in storage since December 2010, with no one looking to take over the layout and erect it in a new home.

Picture 1: Loading the final Gypsum train at Kelvin (Source: Railpage)

The work of John Dennis and Peter Knife (primarily) the roots of the DBT started in 1968 when the two friends built a narrow gauge layout in John’s bedroom at his parent’s home. For the next 20 years life happened and the layout ebbed and flowed in their lives until in 1988 Peter Knife made the commitment to display a narrow gauge layout for the Liverpool NSW exhibition.

Having started life as an exhibition layout The DBT has a long history after that first exhibit in 1988. The DBT layout retired from the exhibition scene after the Adelaide Model Railway Exhibition of June 2001. It travelled to most of the major state capital cities during that time (which is no mean feat).

John Dennis then set up the layout permanently in his home until operations ceased in 2010.

Why I like the DBT

There is a lot of thought and history behind this model railway. It exists in a place, has a history of its own, a reason to exist, customers to serve and a purpose to fulfil. It shows in the modelling, often taken from real locations and similar circumstances and as someone who has followed the layout in all its guises for many years in print and online I felt sad to see it go. I had an emotional attachment to the railway system. I would have rail-fanned it if given the chance.

I may yet, in some guise, make a model of the line as a tribute to both Peter and Dennis’ commitment to great modelling.

With imitation the most sincere form of flattery there could be no greater form of foolishness, on the day of fools, than to build a model railway of a model railway which set the standard for me when it came to developing a compelling and believable layout.

How this all applies to my modelling

In the past the Hunter Valley Lines has had many articles written, but not published on its history, the political influence and situational awareness of the industry bought about by changes in the Australian Railway landscape. I do not pretend to be a railway expert, but I do believe that the HVL had a development cycle as believable as I could make it, given the experience and the knowledge I gained from living in the USA for 10 years, and that this has been applied to the models I build and the layout I am building now.



Australian Model Railway Magazine

  1. Dutton Bay Tramway AMRM #237 December 2002 17 Article Dennis, John
  2. Dutton Bay Tramway AMRM #284 October 2010 16 Article Dennis, John


John Dennis’ album (via Photobucket) showing most of the last op session shots or view the embedded item below


Dutton Bay homepage:

Google search:

  • Click the link here to see the full search results

About Andrew Martin

After a long IT and Telecommunications career in the USA and Australia, I've decided I need a break, I've changed focus and now work in the public transport sector - a complete change of pace. Hobby wise I'm focused on model railway layout building and modelling. I blog, write and publish as often as I am able.
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