The centrepiece of the train shed is a model railway set built by a former member of the congregation, Don Breeden. When Don passed away in 2013, his wife, June, donated the railway to his friends at the church.
Members of the Warragul Train Shed now meet every Wednesday night. The men enjoy each other’s company while they work on the extensive model railway. The shed is also decorated with vintage train merchandise, including magazines, books, artwork and old steam train videos.
Tony Carson is a member of Warragul Uniting Church and a regular at the train shed.
“What I enjoy most is the interaction between everybody,” Mr Carson said.
“Not everyone is interested in trains. People come up here to have a yarn and provide some pastoral care.
“We have a chit-chat and joke about whatever we want to talk about. Most of the talk is not about railway.”
For Mr Carson, what differentiates the train shed from other community initiatives is the relaxed and informal nature of the group. There is no committee and no membership fee involved.
“The best part about it is that there’s no expectation. People can come and go as they please.” Mr Carson said.
“In my involvement in over 50 years in the model railway enthusiast fraternity, and other interests, this is the first time I’ve been involved in something where there’s been no committee and it’s worked so well.”
The train shed also offers an opportunity for the men to use their carpentry skills. Some members create miniature models for the railway, while others help recarpet the shed. Recently, the group received a $2000 grant from RACV to insulate the walls, which will provide much-needed warmth during winter.
Bill Hall is an electrician by trade and helped install the wiring on the railway.
“There are a couple of retired or semi-retired farmers here,” Mr Hall said.
“I am only a newcomer so I enjoy talking to people who have lived here a lot longer than I have.”
Mr Carson said the train shed would not have been possible without the generosity of the Breeden family. Don’s legacy ensures his friends will continue to have a space to gather and enjoy each other’s company. There is a plaque, named ‘DON’S EXPRESSion’, located on the side of the model railway in memory of Don.
“The Warragul Uniting Church and its wider community gratefully acknowledge the contribution of the Breeden family in donating this model railway, thus enabling the development of the Men’s Modelling Shed,” the plaque reads.
“DON’S EXPRESSion is an acknowledgement of Don Breeden’s expression of love and fellowship to his family and community.”
The Warragul Train Shed will be selling some of their goods at the annual church fete this Saturday 9 April. The fete takes place at Warragul Uniting Church on 210 Sutton St from 8:30am to 1:30pm. Visitors can enjoy a BBQ and purchase books, crafts, cakes, jams and more.