David Lorenzo stands in the middle of his massive model railway set up for display at his house in Lawrence.
David Lorenzo stands in the middle of his massive model railway set up for display at his house in Lawrence.

David railroaded by model hobby

DAVID Lorenzo has hand painted 3467 people – each one no taller than two centimetres and each playing a crucial role in his ever-expanding model train world now on display in the old Baptist Church in Lawrence.

About eight years ago, the former Kiwi army recruit got sick of watching TV and ‘getting fat’, so he tapped into his mild interest in model trains and began collecting engines, building miniature scenes and painting tiny people.

With the help of magazines and model shows, David’s hobby transformed into mild obsession and his collection started to outgrow the Ipswich shed which once housed it.

A broken windscreen at Iluka and the two-day wait for a replacement in May last year prompted David and his wife Rhonda to explore the Lower Clarence. The couple came across the Lawrence Baptist Church, which was up for rent.

David hit on the idea of creating a fundraising tourist attraction around his model railway – a first for Lawrence – and the Queenslanders snapped up the place and moved in.

The Lawrence Model Railway Exhibit opened to the public on Boxing Day and has so far had more than 100 visitors.

The details of David’s exhibition are too great to mention, but his scenes include: a gondola, cane fields, a slot car track based on Mount Panorama, rugby fields, tennis courts, pubs, bakeries, meat works, police station and even a murder scene.

David – who is Rhonda’s full-time carer – said Model Railways in Australia magazine described it as the largest public model railway exhibition on the Far North Coast.

“I like the building part,” David said. “I originally wanted to build the modules for people that don’t have the ability but then it just grew.”

Rhonda – who suffers from cerebral palsy – may have a bumper sticker: “Pray for me, my husband collects trains”, but she’d also been converted to the fun of model trains, she said.

The exhibition is open from 11am to 3pm Wednesday to Friday and all funds raised from the gold coin entry fee go to Lawrence Public School.



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