|The Sunbury Model Railway Club was founded in 1979 when a small group
of local model railway enthusiasts meet at the home of one of it's
eventual founding members with the intention of seeing if there was
enough local interest to form a club. After the club was formed from
this initial meeting, it continued to meet at members homes until a site
was found at the rear of a local private industrial estate. An old
surplus wooden, corrugated iron lined shed was obtained and re-erected
on this site. The Club now had it's very own clubrooms where it could
meet and start to build a layout. Over the five years the club was
located here, it steadily grew in membership and got to the stage where
its current clubroom was getting too small.
By this stage the club had accumulated a healthy bank account thanks to membership subscriptions and the income from the clubs first three model railway public exhibitions, and it was decided to purchase and erect a 50' x 20' enclosed farm shed to be sited next to the existing clubroom. Getting near completion of these new clubrooms, the owners of the private industrial estate where we were located decided that we now looked like we were committed to staying and increased our rental to commercial levels, which was near to 10 times what the club had been paying. A hard decision had to be made. To stay and pay the rental asked or move to another location.
The decision was made to approach the local council to see what options they could give the club. Happily they offered the club a long term lease on some land located behind the large 3 court basketball stadium in Sunbury. This was an even better location than we had and was even cheaper than our current lease (before the proposed 10 fold increase). It was decided to leave the old wooden shed where it stood and to pull down the new 50' x 20' shed and move it to the new location. We would loose the old shed plus the new concrete slab, but long term the club would be far better off.
Before we re-erected the shed at it's new location, the club purchased two 10 foot shed panels which increased the clubrooms to 70' x 20'. After much delay due to bad weather when the club meet in a members double garage, and after many working bees the new clubrooms was up and going. Over the next couple of years the clubrooms was fitted out internally with a library and kitchen and all the requirements for the long term survival of the club.
But fate wasn't kind to the club again. One wintery night a mini tornado hit the area near the club. While not a scratch happened to the club, the large basketball stadium beside the clubrooms was extensively damaged. In order to secure the stadium before further damage occurred the clubrooms had to be demolished to enable anchoring cables to be hammered into the ground. We had 24 hours to get everything out of the clubrooms that we could. The club was again homeless with all it's remaining assets scattered to members sheds, spare rooms and garages. What was left was bulldozed.
But, somehow there's always a silver lining. Because the clubrooms were located on council land they were covered by their insurance, and the club was offered a substantial amount of money to cover moving and rebuilding costs. This amount plus what money the club had accumulated meant a budget of $70,000 was available to build our dream clubrooms. All we needed was a suitable site. The council was again approached, and while we would have preferred a site in Sunbury, a green field site was offered in the Bulla Recreational Reserve, in Bulla some 10 minutes drive from Sunbury and close to the northern end of the Tullamarine Freeway. It was also located next to the Bulla Live Steam Society which could prove mutually advantageous.
Work was started on the plans, permits, and the 1000 other details required by council before a sod of soil can be turned. In the meantime, homeless again, the club was meeting in the meeting room of the Diggers Rest C.F.A. While one area of council can be incredibly helpful, another can be incredibly obstructive. Many unforeseen delays occurred due to the council building departments and it was three years before a start was finally made on our third and hopefully last clubrooms. It says something about the members of this club they can stay involved and keep a smile after all the ups and downs over the years. While these delays will cause some short term problems, the long term outlook for the club in it's new home is all positive.