All aboard at the Nambucca Plaza

Derek Wynn has been working with model railways for nearly 50 years.

His interest was piqued after watching his grandfather make a turntable out of a National Dried Milk lid for his clockwork engine; turning a discarded object into something useful.

And he quickly fell in love.

"It's the nearest thing you can get to the real thing. You don't get the smell of hot oil and coal, but it brings back memories from that day," he said.

Derek said it's "demanding, small detail work" which requires skills in woodwork, modelling and electronics, and is a real test of patience.

Despite living in the Nambucca Valley for the past 15 years or so, it was only in June this year, at the centenary railway celebration that he discovered local kindred spirits.

The Coffs Coast Railroad Modellers Inc are a committed bunch who have the claim to fame of constructing the largest mobile rail display in Australia.

It's 14m by 9m in size and features a variety of unique scenes crafted to exquisite detail, including a drive-in movie, working harbour, cricket pitch, and a variety of British, American and Australian engines. The Ghan has a special place in the display, as does a replica model of the old school train which used to run between Macksville and Coffs.

It's mobile by necessity, because the club have nowhere to permanently store the display. There are plans afoot to construct a shed at the Coffs Harbour Showground in combination with a Visitor Information Centre. If that comes to pass, the modellers intend to start constructing a scale model of the Macksville to Grafton line, featuring both steam and electric engines.

The club will exhibit the mobile display at the Coffs Showground on the first weekend in January, alongside several visiting models from Sydney. But before the big show, they'll be having a trial run at the Nambucca Plaza.

The free Plaza display on the 28th and 29th of December will be slightly smaller to fit inside the old Newagency shopfront, but will feature a hands-on experience. Visitors will be able to operate trains from point to point. There'll also be a Thomas the Tank Engine model railway setup.

They would love to entice younger members to the club, and encourage anyone interested to come and have a look at the display and a chat.

Also in the news