Bishop Druitt College, Coffs Harbour

21st -22nd November 2015

Another Branchline Modellers Forum (BMF) is being held, this time at Coffs Harbour on the north coast of NSW.

The first forum was held in 1994 at Sydney’s Macquarie University.  Seven events were held until organisational difficulties at the venue and the inability to find a suitable alternative, together with burn-out of the organisers led to its demise.  It is hard to believe 14 years have passed since the last one was held in 2001.  The first forum led to the publication of Branchline Modeller which morphed into the Australian Journal of Railway Modelling.  Despite not being held for such a long time, modellers are still asking when the forum will be held again.  It appears that it has not been forgotten by those who attended because they still want more.

The 2015 BMF will follow a similar format to the earlier events. The main difference this year is that it’s being held outside Sydney for the first time.  Because most attendees will have to travel, the 2015 forum will run over two days rather than one, making it easier to justify the effort to get there.  Saturday will be a full day in Coffs Harbour with a dinner featuring a guest speaker that night, while on the Sunday the program will finish with lunch followed by the option of a guided tour of the railway museum at Dorrigo that afternoon.

Following the format of previous forums, all attendees must bring something to put in the modelling display. THIS IS A NON-NEGOTIABLE CONDITION OF ATTENDANCE.  The item for display doesn’t have to be a model; it could be plans, photos or something else that is relevant to modelling and of interest to other modellers.  The purpose of this requirement is twofold.  Firstly, it means that each attendee becomes an active participant in the event by contributing to the entertainment of others.  Secondly, that spending time looking at the resultant display, the size and diversity of which is a feature of the forum, is an important element of the entertainment on offer.  In the past, some modellers have even built small dioramas just to display at the BMF.

Each previous forum had a theme and the theme for the 2015 Forum is pre-cast concrete railway buildings.  That’s not to say that every lecture or demonstration will be about pre-cast concrete buildings. Rather, the theme provides a focus for a few of the lectures and demonstrations and is a suggestion for those who may be undecided about what they bring for the modelling display.  Plans or photos relating to pre-cast concrete railway buildings, especially those that were unusual and which no longer exist, would be particularly relevant.

The forum provides a range of different activities where attendees are free to choose how they entertain themselves.   In addition to the modelling display, the activities that have been planned include listening to lectures, watching demonstrations, inspecting layouts, asking questions of presenters, spending money at trade stands and very importantly, socialising with other modellers.

Five different lectures will be given over the day and a half.  The venue has a theatre with tiered seating so that you see can the presenter and the screen, not just the back of someone’s head.  Attendees are able to go to all of these lectures, or if they choose they can undertake other activities instead.

There will also be six demonstrations dealing with more practical aspects of a variety of modelling subjects.  Demonstrations provide the opportunity for closer interaction with the presenter.  They will run intermittently over the day and a half so the demonstrators also get to see some of the other activities.  There will be plenty of opportunity to see all of the demonstrations; provided everyone doesn’t spend too long at each one.

Two layouts will be on display; one is complete and the other is still under construction.  A module or two of another impressive layout should also be there.  Unlike at exhibitions where access to layouts is limited, there will be an opportunity to see how each layout has been or is being built and to ask the owners all about the hows and whys.

A number of trade stands will also be there and some hard to find items will be available.

Most importantly, there will be plenty of opportunity for attendees to talk and interact with each other.  While the organisers believe they have put together an interesting and informative program, they also have the view that attendees can learn a lot by informally interacting with other modellers.  People who identify an item of interest in the display are particularly encouraged to seek out the person responsible for that item and talk to them about it.

Lunch and morning tea will be provided on both days as will afternoon tea on the Saturday.

Because the venue has a limited capacity and to ensure the event does not become too impersonal, the number of people able to attend the 2015 BMF will be limited to 100.

Further information about the 2015 BMF will follow soon, including details of the presenters, the cost and how to register.  Options for accommodation and other things to do in Coffs Harbour at that time of year will also be provided.

If you found this description of the forum sufficiently enticing and want to lodge an expression of interest in attending, please send an email to . This will ensure you are emailed a registration form as soon as it is available.