The Pelican Inlet & Wombat Ridge Steam Navigation And Tramway Company

Built by David Axup


David writes:

"This small layout is the work of myself and two grand-daughters and it occupies a 2.45 x 1.76 metre space in a corner of my workshop. It is loosely based on Victorian Railways narrow gauge practice and is set in a non-existent inlet on the west coast of the State of Victoria, Australia, reaching into the Otway Ranges.

It owes its existence to the inaccessibility of the area by land and a need to cart fine cheese and beer down to the port for shipping to the wider world and tourists up to a resort at Wombat Ridge. The era for the layout is the late 1970's and justifies its use of mainly steam power to the difficulty of transporting newer diesels in. All locomotives are named after female ancestors of our family as are the passenger coaches."

"Track plan is a simple S shape with shunting challenges at Pelican Inlet, Bunyip Flat and Wombat Ridge. The track plan is shown in Inlet 1. Track work is Atlas HO as there was a need to have track down and trains running to keep two children happy. In retrospect I should have done it with Peco points and flex track. Next time.



Locos and rolling stock are a happy mixture of Bachman locos, a Bachman box car, cattle wagon and gondola; Ian Lindsay Puffing Billy carriages and wagons built from his excellent kits; Milestone Miniatures kits of open bogie wagons and guards vans from the Tullah Tramway and Hornby Dublo bashes. The locos have had their bells removed and two Bachman wagons have been Australianised by the removal of end ladders and roof walks. The board effect on the roofs was eliminated with a filler and sanded flat before painting to look like a tarred surface. With the exception of two Ian Lindsay kits all buildings are scratch built."

"Perhaps the best way to see the layout is by following a typical day's traffic. There are no signals on the line and access to a section is by possession of a staff. This will change as the female management has decided they like the look of little red and green lights and who am I to argue with grand daughters as I have seldom won an argument with their mother or grand mother."


0-4-2 Porter Eva with an NB platform end carriage Matilda and Tullah Tramways guards van about to depart Pelican Inlet station with the down passenger to Wombat Ridge. The station is part of the Imperial Arms Hotel and the company shipping office. Buildings here are all shop fronts onto the wall of the layout area. An NH general goods van sits behind the passenger train while the 0-4-0 Porter Emily sits in the engine shed.


Eva leaving the dock area to commence the climb to Bunyip Flat. Susannah, the only diesel, sits in the coal siding with the Bachman open wagon being loaded with coal from the barge while one of the crew leans against the rail supervising. The track curves to the right in front of the navigation mark on the hillside. The coal barge is a model of a typical vessel of that type used for a multitude of tasks all over the world. The hull is made from a solid block of softwood shaped and hollowed out. It is finished with the exception of the anchor windlass which is taking longer to fashion than I thought it would.


The down passenger climbs out of the Inlet and across the trestle over Buggerme Creek which got its name when George Tyson, the founder of the settlement, came across the need to cross the deep water creek to enable exploration of the upper valley.


The start of the day at Wombat Ridge sees the loading of boxes of Tyson and Sons fine ale onto the NKT wagon in the goods yard. It is one of the Hornby bashes and modelled on the VR KT wagon so it has an N stuck on the front for narrow gauge. The other Tullah Tramway guards van with its crew is already coupled to the NKT. Unlike its twin used for passenger traffic this one emulates the original in not having doors and so is open to the sometimes ferocious weather sweeping in from the Southern Ocean up the valley into the Otways. The truck is an ancient M.A.N much loved by the brewery. In the foreground the open top bus, a White, waits for the arrival of the down passenger to cart its load of tourists to the Spa Resort.


Sophia, a Bachman Climax that I am not all that happy with, moves in to collect its up goods for the trip down to Pelican Inlet.


Sophia departs Wombat Ridge. They seem to have forgotten to load the beer - or perhaps they have neglected to load it for other reasons.


Sophia and Eva cross at Bunyip Flat and staffs are exchanged. Beyond Sophia the open wagon is a VR NQR wagon from Ian Lindsay. The small goods shed just beyond Sophia is one of the two Ian Lindsay kits and is a model of the small skillion roofed sheds found at Emerald and Cockatoo on the Puffing Billy line from Belgrave to Gembrook - formerly the Victorian Railways 2'6" line from Upper Ferntree Gully to Gembrook. There is a great deal of pressure from management to convert the control at the crossing from a passive STOP sign to flashing lights. That will probably happen at the same time as the signalling goes in. Management reasons that as Puffing Billy has flashing lights at crossings then their line should get its act together.


Sophia moves into the siding for Horgan & Daughters cheese factory to pick up the Tullah Tramways open wagon waiting loaded for the trip down to the dock. The shed is scratch built and modelled on one I came across in rural New South Wales on a branch line of their State system. I was on my way to investigate a collision involving three large trucks when I came across the shed so I came back the same way and stopped to photograph and measure it.


A birds eye view of Sophia moving into Horgan's siding. The trestle bridge crosses Arshid Creek. It was the second major water obstacle encountered by George Tyson on his trip up the valley and is named after his comment on coming across it. Strangely neither of my grand daughters have asked why both creeks have the names they do - perhaps age will rectify that eventually.


The up goods arrives at Pelican Inlet where the wagons for the return trip sit loaded on the dock side track. The bloke sitting on the edge of the dock is hoping to catch himself a feed of whiting from the weed beds on the bottom of the inlet.


Eva has arrived at Wombat Ridge with the down passenger.


Susannah arranging the recently arrived goods wagons and the dockside wagons ready for departure into their respective positions. The four wheel wagon between the two Tullah Tramway wagons is one of the converted Hornbys and is designated NH - its inspiration being a VR H class wagon. The closest Tullah wagon has had its drop side damaged by the derrick on the now departed steamer. It will visit the repair shop at Wombat Ridge after its off loading there.


The down goods moves into Horgan's siding to await the passing of the up passenger and then a down special. By going right into the siding to the goods shed it also affords the loco crew the opportunity to pick up a little extra something for the homeward trip.


Emily pushing the coal wagon on the down special to the engine shed at Wombat Ridge. The station building is the other Ian Lindsay kit and is also a model of a VR narrow gauge station.


Looking down the yard at Wombat Ridge to the engine shed. Sophia has completed her tasks for the day and sits waiting the next days work. The engine shed and coal stage are scratch built. The buildings on the walls were done on my drafting package and printed out on the plotter and then stuck to the walls with wallpaper glue. The Hillman car is there for sentimental reasons - I had one. It wasn't that good a car but I liked it.


"The trees on the layout are a mixture of Australian native eucalypts, wattles [Acacia] and other species. The larger trees are made with copper wire armatures twisted and soldered into shape. The armatures are then covered with hot glue from a glue gun and then coated with plaster mixed with water soluble adhesive and painted to hopefully look like their counter parts. On Wombat Ridge they are made to represent the tall eucalypts of the temperate rain forests of the high Otways while lower down they change to represent those found in the coastal regions. Inspiration for the building method came from Tony Hill's excellent book 'Simply Scenery' published by Irwell Press."

"The coastal steamer which will sit alongside the dock behind the coal barge has yet to be finished and will not make an appearance at the dock until it has been."

"Management is talking seriously about extending the line by inserting another module/shelf on the end near Bunyip Flat and putting another settlement in between there and Wombat Ridge. That will also accommodate an On18 feeder line. In the meantime there is much to be done in terms of detailing in the scenery area and several more wagons to be built and a couple of loco projects as well. I think I'll have to retire to make more time."


Editor's Note: When I first saw photo's of David's layout that he had posted to the On30 group on Yahoo I knew that I wanted an article about it on this website. David was kind enough to send me a CD with the photo's and text displayed above. He was also quite patient as it took me awhile to get this article ready due to other obligations. My thanks to David for writing this article about his wonderful layout and sharing it with us.


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This page updated Oct 25, 2006
Webpage © Lawrence Rickert
Title and contents © David Axup