Surgical practice is undergoing fundamental changes, and this is having a significant effect on the training of surgeons. Learning the craft of surgery is threatened by reduced elective operative exposure and general service cuts within public teaching hospitals, safer working hour legislation and pressures to accelerate the training of young surgeons. Rapid technological changes mean that 'old dogs' have to teach 'young dogs' many new tricks in a relatively adverse environment. This review outlines the great variety of resources available for skills-based training outside the operating room. These resources are ready to be used as a necessary adjunct to the training of competent surgeons in Australasia.