Modelling Minnipa - Scenery

Scenic base

While the 'L-girder' construction being used for the layout is strong and lightweight, it is necessary to create a suitable ground surface in the areas between the track base and the layout edge strips. I am using blue styrofoam sheet for this purpose, generally the 12mm sheet but sometimes thicker. It is easily workable, very lightweight, easily glued and inexpensive. The photo shows some roughed-in styrofoam, prior to final contouring and surface treatment. Styrofoam
In many situations, the styrofoam is glued directly to the supporting joists. For narrower sections though, the supports consist simply of offcuts of styrofoam glued to the underside of the track base and protruding out nearly to the edge of the final surface. This view shows styrofoam (already painted) glued to the joists on the lower level, a completed section with fascia attached on the middle level, and the supporting pieces in place for the top level. The middle level surface sheeting has not yet been applied to the right of the middle level track - the skyboard will be installed first. Styrofoam

Ground cover

Following practices adopted on previous layouts, I originally used Woodland Scenics materials for ground cover. It proved impossible to accurately match the soil colours around Minnipa, so on several visits to the district I came home with supplies of the various local soils. The layout is now being scenicked with actual soils and fine crushed rock from the Minnipa district. The result captures the appearance of the prototype very well, and no-one can argue about the colour of the soil! The foliage is Woodland Scenics material.

Initially all soils, ballast and foliage was held in place with either Woodland Scenics Scenery Cement or dilute Aquadhere. Recently however I have been using Pascoe's Long Life Floor Polish. I tried this following a tip on a model railway newsgroup, and found that it is very easy to use (applied undiluted from an eyedropper) and holds everything in place nicely.



Making trees is one aspect of the hobby which doesn't hold any interest for me, and as a result I have been happy to use commercially-made products. Trees on the layout are a mixture of Australian trees by Trackside Trees, Auscision and more recently Murray Bridge Trees & Terrain. A few Heki trees (with trunks repainted) add a bit of variety. The resultant mix gives a nice representation of the trees typically found on Eyre Peninsula - in addition to the ubiquitous mallee types, the variety of trees found in the area is quite surprising.

One of the distinctive features of the railways on Eyre Peninsula is the presence of mallee scrub along the right-of-way in most areas. I consider it essential that the model reflects this, and for a number of years I had been looking for ready-made mallees. In 2011 the ever-helpful gentlemen at Murray Bridge Trees & Terrain began making such trees to special order, and my search was over. Their trees are handmade, no two exactly the same, something which suits the scrappy nature of mallees admirably. 300 of these now grace the Minnipa layout, and the visual improvement is stunning.

Smaller wattle bushes are also commonplace on the Peninsula. For these, I have used 'N' scale wattle trees from Murray Bridge Trees & Terrain. Interspersed here and there in the mallee scrub, they complete the impression nicely.