Questions people ask sometimesÖ

How much does it cost? To come in and for a ride on the trains? It costs nothing to come in. It costs $2.50 per ride for everyone (other than toddlers-in-arms). Assume that children will want several rides each and that most adults will want to ride at least once. Please don't forget to make sure that everyone who might want to ride comes with closed shoes (no thongs!).

Why must we wear special shoes? Because there is a chance that a passenger will catch his foot between the car and the ground. Would you let your children ride a motor bike in thongs?

Do you run every month? Yes we do, unless there is heavy rain or flood. For last minute wet weather cancellations please see our Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/CentralCoastSteamModelCoOp .

Even in summer? Yes, on the first Saturday of every month as usual. So wear clothes suitable for the heat, and donít forget some water, sunscreen and your camera! Fully enclosed shoes are always necessary if you plan to ride the trains.
Are you running today? (by Facebook comment or e-mail). If it is the first Saturday then unless it is raining steadily and hard then we are running. This means that we will not be at home checking Facebook or e-mail and you will not get a reply until the evening or even the next day. You can be confident that we will be there if you come. However if the day is washed out there should be a notice on our Facebook page and you may well get a more prompt response to your question. If you really need to confirm, for example if you have booked tables for a party then please phone the booking number on the main page.
Is the run always the same? The duration of each ride is about the same but the route can vary. We usually try to have all trains run around a small loop around the party area and a big loop around the swamp, car park and creekside. Trains that start at the main station pass the party station without stopping. Trains that start at the party station pass the main station without stopping there. After floods the lower section becomes buried by silt and so is unavailable for a few weeks (still out, June 2015). In this case the trains run twice around the medium length loop formed by a connecting track between the small loop and the upper end of the creekside track. When this happens all trains pass the main station at least once without stopping and some young children do find this exciting. Once the track is clear and the bridges have been repaired we resume running around the usual route. (As at November 2017 the track is clear but the long bridge is still down for repair or replacement.)
Why do you only run on the first Saturday of each month? The club grounds and the track are maintained and operated by our members who are all volunteers. At this stage we donít have the people to run every weekend.
Do you run steam every month? We usually do, but we do not light up during total fire ban days. On these days electric or "diesel" locomotives will provide the service.
But your steam engines donít have any open flames we can see so why canít you run them on fire-ban days? It is not that we canít run them, rather that we choose not to do so. Although the chance of a fire is slight, the consequences of a fire, however unlikely, on a total fire ban day are greater than on other days. We would not want to cause the fire brigade to come to our grounds when they might be fighting major fires or resting between emergencies. There are other trains for you to ride on the day, otherwise come back next month.
You are not open when Google says, or you are open when Google says you are closed. Why? We are aware of this problem. Please ignore Google, they have their own ideas about when a business should be open or closed and cannot accommodate an amateur event that happens just once a month. However, Google Maps has collected a great set of photographs taken by visitors to our track, just ignore the opening hours that they give. (We have tried to have this fixed but they ignore us). We are sorry if you have come to visit when the trains are not running.

Tables

How do I arrange a birthday party here? You can book tables in our public allocated area. Please speak to our booking officer (whose contact phone number is given on the front page), or ask at the ticket office on a running day. The price of tables in the public allocated area is $15 for one, or $20 for two. Each table seats about six adults or eight or more children. Rides are not included. Due to limited table space tables usually need to be booked in advance. However sometimes tables are available on the day, so please feel free to ask at the ticket counter. Please don't forget to make sure all visitors come with closed shoes (no thongs!).
Why didn't anyone answer the phone, I called in business hours? Because this is a hobby, not a business. Most of us are working in our real jobs during business hours - so please try to call in the evening, otherwise leave a message and someone will get back to you.
Hi, I am wanting to come next weekend for my son's 5th birthday (with 10 kids). I understand the tables are all booked, but is there room to picnic? Yes, there is almost always room for a picnic. Come early and claim a spot. Some groups prefer the choose a patch of grass somewhere on the high side where the picnic will not get trampled and where seated parents have a better view of what is happening. We suggest that you bring a rug to mark your place and something to sit on because the grass is often damp.

Facilities

Is there any food available at the track? Many visitors bring a picnic lunch or afternoon tea but for those who are hungry the local Lions Club operates a sausage sizzle next to the ticket counter. Sausage and egg-and-bacon sandwiches are available with and without onions and with a choice of sauce. Some other light refreshments and drinks are usually also available.
Itís a hot day today, canít we have some shade. Thereís no easy answer to this. When itís hot, itís hot! At least on a very hot day there are fewer visitors and so the queue is shorter. Eventually we shall replace the old trees that used to stand near the platform gates.
The weather is not too hot and not too cold today so this place is bit crowded, canít you get some more lawn to sit on? Yes, we decided at our August 2013 club meeting that we would open the centre lawn once we make a fence to protect the inner track and a level crossing for pedestrians to cross the five tracks between the centre and the existing public area. If you can help with donations of cash or fence railing material or help dig a few postholes then it will happen sooner rather than later.
What about toilets? Our toilet are unlocked on running days only. We have the usual menís and womenís plus an accessible toilet. Just follow the ramp to the deck above the ticket office.

Our Trains

Last time we were here the kids rode behind an X type locomotive, they want to do it again but I canít see it today. Where is it? It probably belongs to a member of an affiliate club who was visiting. Members of this hobby often travel from track to track to run their engines. That is why all model engineering clubs have standard track gauges and operating rules. Each club has a regular running day each month, as far as possible on a different day to other clubs nearby.
Why are some engines so much smaller than others are? People build models of their favorite engines in a scale that allows them to run on either of our tracks. Sometimes there will be little difference in size, for example a Qld suburban locomotive built to run on 5" gauge track will be about the same size as a NSW suburban locomotive built to run on 7ľ" gauge track. They will both be built to a scale of 1/8 full size (that is 1Ĺ" to the foot in the old measure). However if someone wants to build a model of a GWR "Stirling Single" express locomotive to run on 5" gauge it would be 1/17 full size. On the other hand a model of a cane tram engine to run on 7ľ" gauge would be about 1/3 full size. The reason for this is that full size railways were built in gauges from roughly 2í to 7í (actually 500mm to 2140mm).
Do you also have an indoor electric train layout? No. We are fully occupied maintaining the grounds, or building trains we can ride, or building or restoring other steam machinery. There are a couple of indoor model railway clubs on the Central Coast that are listed in the model railway club directory here: http://www.australianmodelrailways.com/amclubs.html and an active "men's shed" with trains at Kincumber here: https://www.facebook.com/GosfordCityModelRailroadClub .
Just wondering if there is a weight limit to ride the miniature trains? People of all shapes and sizes ride our trains. As an indication of what is possible, here is a link to short video of a 5" gauge steam locomotive being driven by one of our members in 2008: The Power of Steam. Some of our trains are lower than others. People who are exceptionally large might find it embarrassing to squat on a low carriage. On the other hand, some our carriages have a bench seat at about the same height as an ordinary office chair so stepping over the bench in order to sit should not be impossible for any adult.

It is important that nobody leans sideways and overbalances the carriage. This rule applies to everyone, but a large person leaning is much more likely to overturn the car and hurt people than a small child leaning. If the carriaage turns over then a person who is higher and heavier than normal is ikely to be more seriously injured than an average sized person. So it is essential that our bigger passengers keep their centre of gravity over the centre line of the car at all times.

Some of our 7 1/4" gauge carriages are designed to carry eight average size people (500Kg) spread evenly along the bench. So that would also be the weight limit for a single heavy passenger. A less uncommon load would be one 200Kg person in the middle of the carriage with perhaps a normal adult behind and two or three small children in front. The capacity is really determined by space rather than weight. We do not charge extra for large people, nor do we give discounts for small people. In general, our 5" gauge rolling stock is lower than our 7 1/4" gauge rolling stock. We run both kinds on most running days so if you are willing to wait for an appropriate size train you can be sure of a ride. We hope that you can come to one of our running days and that you enjoy your visit.

Our Hobby

My kids love this; how can I join the hobby? Start to build something together at home. If you want to run at Narara your train must fit on rail track of either 5" or 7ľ" gauge. Other clubs in NSW have these gauges and sometimes more. We recommend joining a club such as ours, or any other AALS affiliated club. One suggestion is to start with a simple model such as a goods wagon so that the kids will still be interested by the time it is ready to move, otherwise it might be your grandchildren who will be riding it. Also a subscription to Australian Model Engineering magazine will be useful. More suggestions for building a home railway are in this paper.
I think that my husband/wife/brother/etc. should join this club, how does one join? All our members actively work to operate the running days and to maintain the grounds on other days. They also have an interest in machinery and small trains or other steam equipment. So if you know someone who would enjoy our activities have them talk to any of our members on a running day or on a working day (most other Saturdays or some Thursdays).
I want my teenage son to join this club, how do I enrol him? First of all does he want to be a member? If so, will he be available to undertake the commitments of the other, adult, members? Unfortunately we are not in a position to supervise children. However if he is genuinely keen then he could start by building an item of rolling stock at home. If he is a train person who wants to move up to riding scale trains then please do have a chat with any of our members on a track work day or after 4pm on a running day. Similarly if he feels like buiding a small stationary steam engine or traction engine. Of couse members who are parents or grandparents are free to bring their children to club activities provided that they take responsibility for them.
My uncle (etc.) found this old train (or boiler etc.) in the attic, what should we do with it? Firrstly, do not give it to young children as a toy. The choices are to keep it in a glass case as a family heirloom, to sell it, or to restore it to running order. If it has a boiler and you can find a folder with boiler design drawings and a test certificate then the machine will be able to be sold for a good price or kept for restoration and operation. Without a boiler certificate a steam engine cannot be run at a public track, so then the alternatives are to dismantle it for test and inspection; or to sell as is to someone willing to do this work and thus acquire a new engine; or just to clean it and put it on display. (If the boiler has a capacity of less than one litre then it does not need a certificate, but a locomotive with such a small boiler is unlikely to be able to haul full sized people.) If the train is powered by battery or by an internal combustion engine then you can bring it along to our track on any day we are here and one of our members will help you try it (preferably other than during public running hours, say a meeting or working day). If it is steam powered we would still love to see it. Regardless of the type, if you plan to keep and operate the engine then we strongly recommend joining an AALS-affiliated club, such as CSSM at Narara of course.
I just moved to the Central Coast. How do I join? Have a chat to any of our members and pick up a membership pack, or ask the secretary to send you one. If after reading it you think that you will fit in then send back the form, or preferably bring it to one of our work days. We'll take it from there. As of August 2018 we are actively recruiting new members so please pass the word around!

Animals

What was that big bird walking across the track? Probably a brush turkey. You can learn more about them here: http://www.ozanimals.com/Bird/Australian-Brush-turkey/Alectura/lathami.html . As with the other native wildlife on our site they are a sign that small trains and nature can co-exist.
What was that big lizard that stopped to look at us before running up a tree (or jumping into the creek)? Probably an eastern water dragon. You can learn more about them here: http://www.ozanimals.com/Reptile/Eastern-Water-Dragon/Physignathus/lesueurii lesueurii.html. The lizards on our grounds are not tame and will generally avoid people. Like the turkeys, they prefer the back straight where the trains donít stop. They hardly ever visit the station.
Is the club dog-friendly? We think so. Many local residents use the grounds to walk their dogs during non-running days. All we ask is that everyone picks up after their dog, or at least trains it to go to the toilet away from all lawns, paths, rail tracks and waterways, and not to chase the wildlife. Before bringing your dog to a running day please consider how it will react in a crowd with many small children and machines moving around.
What is the story about the tables under the tree and the tawny frogmouths? In November 2014 we roped-off the tables for safety until a broken branch hanging in the tree came down. The tables are now all available again. It was just a coincidence that a family of frogmouths was living in the tree at the time. There is more about these interesting birds here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tawny_frogmouth. We shall see if they come back again next year. Since this was written two huge limbs fell in spring 2015 Ė one bent the steel railing by the track. Hence the tree has been severely pruned. We shall see if we get blossom again next spring. As of June 2018 the tree did not recover and the stump has been ground out. Sorry about that.

Donations, Charity, Sponsorship etc.

I have just heard that a child in our town has been diagnosed with a terrible disease (or there is some other worthy cause), can the club give us some money? No. Any money we collect is used to provide the services you see on the grounds. Our members who are all unpaid volunteers provide most labour. However, any organized group can book the party area, or even the whole track, for a function and collect funds as it chooses. Alternatively we suggest that you talk to a local service club, such as Rotary, Lions, Quota etc. who are better qualified than we are to assess your needs and to recommend sources of assistance, or to include your cause in their fundraising program. For many years Lions have been kind enough to provide the food service on our running days. The proceeds of their fundraising activities are used to support their charitable program.

May I fly my drone here? Yes, on any day except when trains are open for public running. You are responsible for compliance with CASA regulations. These include keeping the drone in sight and not flying over people - hence the running day restriction. Otherwise have fun, and if your drone records an interesting view of the track then please share a copy with us.

When can we ride the train through the mangroves again? We don't know. Some of the bridge timber was found to be in need of replacement and it was felt that it would be best to replace all the timber. Then, in August 2017 it was decided to take the opportunity to build a new steel bridge on an improved alignment (just as the real railways would progressively replace their timber trestle bridges). Unfortunately the council has told us that such new construction would be subject to onerous conditions. So the bridge will not progress unless we find a substantial grant or a generous sponsor. The alternative of simply repairing the the bridge to the original design would also take some time while we collect suitable timber and slowly work along the bridge, trestle by trestle. Needless to say that we would welcome offers of timber and carpentry to restore the old bridge as it was, or funding and professional services for a steel one.

Where are there other tracks like this? Like this? Nowhere, our club is the best! Seriously, there are clubs and tracks in most parts of Australia and many other parts of the world. Start by checking the AME directory here: https://ameng.com.au/australian_model_engineering_clubs_and_societies_nsw.htm or https://ameng.com.au/files/ame-170-club-listing.pdf.

What does it cost to visit? You must buy a ticket for each ride but otherwise there is no charge to visit our grounds. Just show up on the next running day, you will be most welcome.

 

Return to Narara trains home page.

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Note to members: if there are other questions that you have been asked by our visitors please send them, and your suggested answer, to me using the web contact details on the front page.

Thanks, Tom

(Last updated 16 April 2019)