Friday 13 October 2023

2023 BRMA Convention Brisbane

The weekend of September 22nd to 24th 2023, saw me attend the British Railway Modellers of Australia convention, held this year in my home city of Brisbane, Australia. The coming together of modellers from across the country was held in the top floor convention rooms of the Pacific Hotel in Spring Hill, which just so happened to overlook the Roma Street Parklands and Brisbane's Roma Street Station.

Along with filling the honour of being this year's Keynote Speaker, I also manned my own bookstand over the course of the Mini-Expo on Friday afternoon and throughout Saturday's program.

I must thank the convention's organiser and BRMA Queensland Representative John Rostron, for all the behind the scenes work involved in putting together a successful convention program. Along with his assistance in helping me to set-up on the Friday. I'm sure I was one of my taxi driver's more interesting pick-ups for the week, given that I had two large boxes of books, a small layout module and a bag of lighting cables to fit into the boot. But it made it easy for John to spot me as I pulled up outside the Hotel's foyer!

In the lead-up to the event, and in the midst of preparing my presentation notes, my wife Denise and I also happened to become proud first-time Grandparents to a lovely little Grandaughter, Zailee. The excitement of becoming a Poppy, combined with the exhaustion from having just released a new book the month before and attending two model railway exhibitions with the new layout over back-to-back weekends, meant my mind was well and truly fried by the time the BRMA Convention wrapped-up.

Remember this little addition to my original Philden layout?

The weekend afforded me the chance to meet with some wonderful modellers from around the country. It was nice to have met fellow modeller Gavin Thrum who had flown up from Adelaide over dinner, and be set-up alongside UK model producer John Wiffen from Scalescenes for the weekend.

That's me alongside John Wiffen (right) from Scalescenes who produces amazing downloadable kits.

Part of my Keynote Speaker address shared some of my highlights and near misses over my 40 plus year fascination with trains. Including this screen grab I shared from back in 1989. I thought I could beat the crowds and get a photo beneath the famous Flying Scotsman locomotive's nameplate, by standing alongside the track and having a friend take the photo as it rolled slowly past.

That's right... take a closer look at how close I came to being hit by a train when I was just 17. And to set the record straight for all the do-gooders out there, this was back in the days before Workplace Health & Safety existed, and it was pefrectly acceptable for a trainload of passengers to just disembark at Seymour Railway Station, and wander all over the tracks! Anyway, as I explained in my address, compared to the whistle blast from a Victorian Railways R Class steam locomotive, the Scotsman's peep-peep whistle went over my head like a canary that had lost it's voice. I'm sure I recall feeling something having brushed my back at the time...

Thankfully I've survived this, (and other close calls), long enough to have penned 22 books throughout my career as an Author. Being asked to be the Keynote Speaker for the BRMA Convention, was a huge honour. To be recognised for my contribution to the hobby through my Philden Model Railway Presents books, my other railway books, this blog and my years of modelling is something I shall be forever proud of.

Part of the tradition for the Keynote Speaker, involves presenting the trophies for the modelling and photography awards at the Gala Dinner on the Saturday night, along with enjoying a sit down five star dinner in the Pacific Hotel's ballroom.

And goodnight Brisbane. We'll see what eventuates for 2024...

And to complete a truly month-long model railway immersion, I spent the week immediately after the convention wrapped-up, finally being able to work on my own model railway layout. While it was waiting patiently downstairs in the garage following it's outing to the Sunshine Coast Model Train & Hobby Expo early in September, I took the opportunity to fix, cut, add, repair and touch-up anything that I'd been meaning to get around to, without making a mess upstairs in our apartment. If I'm about to sit down to commence writing my 6th and final Philden Model Railway Presents book, then it goes without saying that I needed to have everything revamped that I am going to write about... revamping.

The result is a much more polished layout. One that I'll now need to be happy with for many, many years to come. However, raising the bar with this layout has come at the expense of some other long stalled projects... You can't model everything, I said so in my own Keynote Speaker presentation. And the time has come to make some big calls about what I can and can't balance alongside enjoying my now complete NSW North Coast layout, my newfound Poppyhood status, and returning to writing fiction early in the New Year. I've had to admit that I can only afford to put any rare modelling hours towards a small single project that can co-exist alongside my Philden Coast layout. Over the course of the next week, I'm going to be pulling up stumps on another layout project I've just lost interest in, and now haven't the time nor desire to pursue.

I'll save that news for another post, but for now... the sight of myself enjoying a British Modellers Convention should be a strong enough clue as to what that second small layout project will be. Until next time...


  1. Congratulations, Phil and Denise, for first time Grandparents. Hope all goes well.

    1. Much appreciated Jim! Many happy times ahead of us.


Thanks for taking the time to visit Philden. I hope you'll book a return ticket soon. Cheers, Phil