What cost can you put on a day of family fun? From an insurance company's perspective, it can be quite steep.
The rising cost of pubic liability insurance is an issue the Tamworth and District Model Engineers (TDME), which operates Tamworth's Miniature Railway, has been forced to grapple with in the past 12 months, through no fault of their own.
When the railway opened in the late 2000s, yearly insurance premiums cost about $2000; through the years this rose to about $5000 by the time Phil Day took over as TDME treasurer in 2016.
In 2023 the group received a shock when its annual insurance more than doubled to $11,500. The insurance premium has risen again, and Mr Day is now preparing to pay the 2024 bill for $12,500 by the end of February.
TDME publicity officer Jim Booth said the cost had not deterred the group of volunteers, but it did concern them.
He said the railway's only income was derived from the railway's monthly open days, plus additional booked runs which may or may not happen monthly.
"We have to sell $1000 worth of tickets - that's 500 tickets - every month to cover the insurance," Mr Booth said.
"That's before we even think about paying for fuel and any other costs such as upgrading the engines and paying for rolling stock and electricity, and other running costs.
"We do additional booked runs at $250, and we've made a slight increase to prices in our cafe, in anticipation of higher bills."
Mr Booth and Mr Day said higher public liability premiums were not threatening the railway's viability, but meant the TDME was constantly looking at ways to improve safety standards for the facility.
At the end of the day, Mr Booth said the railway had to have insurance to operate as "we can't operate without it".
"We have the money to pay this year's insurance bill, but we're concerned about what might happen if we have more lean years, like we did through COVID-19," Mr Booth said.
"COVID shut down our operations for six to eight months at that time, when our insurance premium was at a lower amount but it still had to be paid.
"If we have another lean period with no income there could be issues."
The problem has arisen as a result of incidents in the wider entertainment industry that have resulted in premiums being raised to cover payouts.
Mr Day said the railway was safe to ride, having had only one incident "which did not result in the person going to hospital" but it did "change some of our safety procedures".
"The track is inspected before every running day and all the engines and carriages are also inspected before each run," he said.
The object of the Tamworth Miniature Railway is to provide young families with a reasonably-priced day out, and continuing to support the business was the best way to secure it's future, Mr Day said.
"Families tell us our cost is very reasonable - they can go and spend a day out with their children for $50, covering ride and food," he said.
"The best thing people can do to support us and ensure we continue to operate is to come to the model railway on our running days - and people are doing that.
"Tamworth locals are supporting the railway very well - we're very happy with the number of patrons."
Mr Day said train rides cost $2 and TDME was selling between 800 and 1000 rides a month.
"People come and spend the whole morning, have a ride on the trains, then go to the cafe for morning tea, then come back and have another ride," he said.
Compared to other miniature railways, Mr Day said Tamworth's railway overall income "seems to be a lot more than" larger ventures which often charge people twice as much.
The introduction of the Toot Toot Club, a junior train club for younger patrons, was helping to promote the miniature railway.
Mr Day said membership cost $20 which provided ride tickets and a t-shirt.
The Tamworth Miniature Railway operates from 10am to 3pm on the third Sunday of the month, in Victoria Park, adjacent to Tamworth's Regional Botanical Garden at the top end of Piper Street.