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30th Annual Tour Bay to Birdwood Mill

20th September to 6th October 2008
Tour Director: Kim

Day 1 - Sydney to Young

Day 2 - Young to Hay.

Day 3 - Hay to Mildura

Day 4 - Mildura to Lyndoch

Day 5 - Lyndoch to Adelaide

Day 6 - Free Day in Adelaide

Days 7 - Free Day in Adelaide

Days 8 - Free Day in Adelaide

Days 9 - Bay to Birdwood Run

Days 10 - Tanunda

Days 11 - Tanunda to Mildura

Days 12 - Mildura to Swan Hill

Days 13 - Swan Hill to Moama

Days 14 - Free Day, Echuca and Moama

Days 15 - Moama to Albury

Days 16 - Albury to Tumut

Days 17 - Tumut to Goulburn


Day 1 - 20th September Sydney to Young

Day one of the 30th Annual Tour turned out to be a wonderful hot sunny day, with our first rest stop at Alan Morse Park in Bathurst, where we had our morning tea. It was followed by a rest stop at Cowra’s Bryant Park, for lunch and then headed off through the beautiful country to the JD jam factory, two kilometres from Young, for our afternoon tea. About an hour later, we checked into the Federation Motor Inn and had ‘happy hour’.

We then went across to the club where we had our dinner. The meals were excellent and the service was not too bad. After this, we headed back to the motel and prepared for another early start.- Christopher Zayat

Day 2: 21st September—Young to Hay

With some difficulty we rose from our very comfortable bed at the Federation Motor Inn, to take on day 2 of our tour. The two Chev tourers had got away early but by 8.30 am, most all of us were on the road. Only 255 miles to Hay. The journey down to the morning tea stop at Junee was uneventful, but enjoyable - warm blue sky, no rain and beautiful scenery. In Junee, however, vintage cars seemed to be going in all directions, searching for the elusive morning tea stop.

Next stop was Narrandera, for lunch. All cars were travelling well, except that Charlie Devine's clutch sounded like a Sulphur-crested Cockatoo!

Another fill of petrol (3rd for the day) saw us depart Narrandera, following the Murrumbidgee, with 106 miles to go to Hay. The wind was starting to pick-up and towards the west, the sky was beginning to darken. Was this an ominous sign? As we entered the Hay Plains, we realised we were in for some serious hard driving. The cross winds were strengthening and every time we passed a big truck going in the opposite direction, we were first pushed one way and then sucked back the other! Because of this, one of the little Chevs received a cracked hood bow and had to stop and make temporary repairs on the side of the road. By 4.00pm most had drifted into Hay to our lodgings at the Comfort Inn. We wondered what the next day would have in store for us.-Tony and Margaret Smith-White

Day 3: Monday 22nd September – Hay to Mildura

We woke up with a bang – thunder storms, rain and lightning. After breakfast, we had a look at the very historic railway station in Hay. The station has some history – built in 1882 and used in the 2nd World War as a prison camp, to inturn Japanese Prisoners of War and aliens. It was a very dry and dusty trip, with nothing much to see, as we rolled along a very long, straight stretch of highway, across the Hay Plains. Oh oh, we couldn’t believe it, we actually saw some wildlife – 6 emus! A dust storm was about to happen, we could not see much around us. Phil and Pam had trouble with a torn car hood, ripped off in the storm. While the boys were helping Phil to fix, or tie down the hood, Margaret was picking up kangaroo poo for her research!

The storm was fast-approaching hurricane status and Phil and Pam had to ride in the Dodge with the hood down. The dust was so thick, it blocked the sun. There was a lot of Spinifex rolling across the road and the white roadside posts were virtually flapping in the wind!/p>

The lunch stop was at Balranald. We headed into more dust and rain storms. Approaching Mildura, the land was more fertile and we saw more crops, sheep and cattle than in any other section of the day’s run. Despite the weather, our car performed well – no breakdowns or other mishaps.- Marg and Jim Hurlstone

Day 4: Tuesday 23rd September Mildura to Lyndoch

Today was off to a good start, a brisk morning followed by a bright sunny day. There was some early morning activity, washing and cleaning of cars following yesterday’s dust storm, which was followed by rain, making things rather messy. There were some finishing touches to hood repairs on the tourers and a quick check for oil leaks, after a sump gasket replacement on one of the Chevrolets.

On the road again, leaving Mildura and heading for Lyndoch SA. Well not all: while heading out of town we noticed a few of the front runners return to Mildura; it was later ascertained that some had neglected to read the instructions regarding the little matter of ‘petrol’! That resolved, we were on our way.

The drive was quite pleasant, with no serious mishaps. The Ford ‘A’ suffered ‘lack of air’ in one of its tyres, however the matter was resolved. We had no reports of our members having to surrender fruit at the Fruit Fly Inspection Station; it would seem they all read the relevant instructions. The remainder of the journey to Lyndoch was uneventful. All arrived at the motel, thanks to J.C’s instructions.

One of our group, namely Tony, became a radio talkback star, when he gave a very professional interview to one of the local radio stations regarding our trip from Sydney and incidents along the way. We complimented him on his performance! - Charlie and Evelyn.

Day 5: Wednesday 24th September Lyndoch to Adelaide

We departed the wonderfully pretty and verdant Lyndoch at 8.15 am, heading for Birdwood and its car museum, on a beautiful day. What a sight beheld us there! Many interesting exhibits, including cars, old and relatively new, motor cycles and lorries, held our interest for quite a while. We noted a Model ‘A’ Ford tourer, which former club member, Gerry Turner had once been loaned, in return for the loaning to the Museum of his 1919 Australian Lincoln.

We walked around the small town of Birdwood, partaking of morning tea and lunch. Following this, we headed for the motel in Hyde Park, Adelaide which would be our base for the next three nights. After passing through so many quaint towns, villages and hamlets, we had arrived at “the big smoke”! After settling in to our rooms at the Jasper Motel, most of us set off for an evening meal and to see what Adelaide to offer us. - Juliana and Shawn

Day 6 – 7: Free Days in Adelaide

Some of us rose early for a brisk morning walk around Hyde Park. We saw the sights of Adelaide and environs, going to such places as Port Adelaide, Glenelg, Victor Harbour and the Botanic Gardens. At our motel was a most interesting guest, who told of a trip from Melbourne to Sydney during the 1940s, with the legendary Sir Laurence Hartnett, and how she and other passengers in the equally well-known Hartnett (the make of car) had to “get out and push” on some of the steeper hills enroute!

Each night most (if not all) of us headed down the main shopping area of Hyde Park for tea.

Day 8: Saturday 27th September Free Day Adelaide

The forecast for Saturday 28th, of a 30 degree day, was unseasonable for Adelaide, as was the possibility of another sand storm, the second in a week. This was not welcome news for the 1250+ entrants who had spent valuable hours preening and polishing their chariots for the Bay to Birdwood run the next day. Fortunately, the sand storm did not eventuate, but it was hot the next day.

John Cook had organised for those interested, to tour an Aladdin’s cave full of vintage and classic parts, owned by John Biddle. It was great fun for those looking for new fields to browse through, for those elusive parts. Quite a few got something to suit their cars. Upon returning to the Jasper Motel, a lot of the others were there after their trips.

The quest to get Cookie’s 1925 Packard tow truck ready for the Birdwood run, saw the radiator hoses replaced. A proving-run in the heat of the afternoon showed that all was well. With Fred Zayat at the wheel, the Packard joined some other club members at the Motorfest Chat Time. This was a chance to meet the organising committee at their HQ, have a feed and see some of the other vehicles. When we returned to the motel, most were busy cleaning their cars and as it was a 5.30 am start tomorrow, an early night was in order.

Day 9: Sunday 28th September - Bay to Birdwood Run

After 15 years of waiting, the day had arrived for me to participate in the biggest run of its kind in the world. I didn't sleep very well and at 4:30am we started to pack our bags etc. into the Bayliss, as we were going on to Tanunda after completing the day’s formalities. The other 10 entries in our group were likewise ready, just after 5am, probably much to the annoyance of other guests. We left on time as quietly as 11 vintage cars could! We needed to arrive early at the assembly point, to ensure an early starting position, as 1250 cars can take hours to get away and complete the 50 km to Birdwood.

Once inside, the cars were put in long lines and most people took advantage of the hot bacon, eggs, toast, coffee etc on sale. We had 3 hours until 9.00 am to fill in before the start, but in that time I saw only about one third of the entries.

I was “gob-smacked” by the variety and quality of the entrants; everything from “barn finds” with corrugated iron roofs, to magnificent “concourse-proper” and black iron machines. Quite a lot of the participants were dressed in period costume to suit their vehicle and this added a lot of colour to this amazing collection of auto history.

At 9 .00 am the start began, with the first car to traverse Australia south to north, a 1908 25hp Talbot, leading the way, then in order, Concourse, Motor cycles, early Holdens, Dodge Bros, veterans, vintage and commercials. This order was not strictly adhered to and it had also been raining intermittently for an hour or so. The inclement weather did not seem to dampen the enthusiasm of the entrants or the roadside revellers, all tooting waving and yelling. It's hard to judge, but they reckoned there were approximately 100,000 people scattered along the 50km or so of the run. It was exciting, but one had to be very careful, as it was on normal roads with normal traffic stopping and starting, with some intersections controlled by police. In the wet conditions, with faster cars and motor bikes passing on both sides, as well as the crowd doing their best to distract us, it got frantic, but was still fun. Some of the distractions were as follows: A gentleman with a beer in one hand and a heraldic trumpet in the other, made a lot of splatter but not much noise. Some people had their own Klaxon horns and one had to reply with like-sound; my poor horn got such a thrashing on that day, it will need a lot of TLC to bring it back to fine fettle. Another group had hoisted a blow up companion doll, high on a building with ropes tied to each limb and moved them in the craziest ways. It’s a wonder there weren’t a few accidents at this particular spot!

By the last third of the run, the weather was dry and as we were in the hills, it was very pleasant. We drove into the paddocks behind the National Museum at Birdwood and our cars were together, which was a good thing. The Concourse had 46 entries, which included a 1937 Hansa, 1925 Chic, motor bikes and a 1952 Bedford truck, to name a few. All the entrants were fabulous and as part of the Concourse, the owners were decked-out in period “clobber” for their era; this included the family as well, if they were in the car. Competing against vehicles such as Bentley, Jaguar, MG, Alvis and some showy Packards, the winner was a surprise. A 1941 BMW motor cycle outfit, done up as a WW11 German army bike. It was a head turner. The rest of the day was spent looking at and taking photos of the hundreds of other exhibits and displays. Most of our group left about 3.00 pm, to travel the 40 km to Tanunda for our overnight stop.

This was, without a doubt, one of the most amazing days Pat and I have ever had in the Bayliss and I hope you all get to experience The Bay to Birdwood run in your vintage cars.- Pat and Ted

Day 10: Monday 28th September - Tanunda

Sleep in! What to do for the day? Most thought the Angaston area seemed interesting. We arrived at Colingrove (Angas Fife's Historic House) far too early and didn't read the sign. We managed to see the garden before the lady of the house suggested we leave. Then it was on to Springton to see the Herbig family tree. This was a large hollow tree used by Friedriche and his wife Catherine as their home when they first married. They stayed long enough to have 2 children there, before they built a larger “real” house and had 14 more. Now we will appreciate the space our homes have! After this start, they went on to become large landowners.

At Mt Pleasant, a bakery provided slow 'fast' food for lunch. Then we bade farewell to Monica and Laurie, who were able to fly in only for the weekend. We also farewelled John's red tow truck, that Fred had the pleasure of chauffeuring John around in for the B2B.

Some of those who missed the 'Whispering Wall' of the Barossa Dam went there, others to some of the many wineries. A number of us were forced to detour along the only dirt road of the trip, when an accident closed the main road. We all made it back to the motel for a BBQ that evening.

Day 11: Tuesday 29th September - Tanunda to Mildura

A day of "the vision splendid of the sunlit plains extended". A beautiful blue-sky day, no wind and not too hot for vintage motoring with the top down, although some truckies were a bit annoying!

A morning tea stop for some, was had by the mighty Murray at Waikeri, then on to Renmark for lunch in the park. Soon it was farewell to SA, with its concrete and steel telegraph poles, distinctive churches and, at the time, cheaper petrol. In Mildura, those who went out, also caught "the wondrous drous glory of the everlasting stars".

The unanswered question of the day was "Did Marg Smith-White and the Tapp Dodge conspire to give Margaret extra time to conduct observations and collect specimens?" We shall never know.- Janice and Kim Russell

Day 12: Wednesday 1st October - Mildura to Swan Hill

Another crisp start to the day, with a bright blue sky. Not the most picturesque section of the tour, but interesting just the same. I spent most of the day cruising along at the back of the back, with very few roadside stops, other than a particular hoodless Dodge that lacked a little spark from time to time! The routine had been pretty much worked out with military-style precision – stop, lift bonnet, connect an additional 10 – 15 feet of new electrical wire, fix a handful of cable ties, tap (not Tapp!) the ammeter a couple times, just in case the needle was inclined to move from its fully discharged position, then proceed in the general direction of the next motel at breakneck speed! This process could have been repeated several times a day! Arrived at the motel in time for “happy hour”! - Tail-end Charlie

Day 13: Thursday 2nd October - Swan Hill to Moama

It was another perfect morning for travelling, plenty of sunshine and bright blue skies. We had a leisurely drive of only 103 miles and all day to do it.

Most drivers and passengers took the opportunity to visit Lake Boga, not far out of Swan Hill. There is more moisture in a SAO biscuit than there is in the Lake at the present time. Quite unbelievable! During the 2nd World War, Lake Boga was home to the RAAF’s fleet of flying boats, mainly Catalinas & Walruses, with a support community of 1,000 people.

We were also fortunate to be on the road with 217 Model T Fords, which were swarming in and around Moama as part of the celebration of their centenary. Who said that you can have any colour you like as long as it is black? There were “Ts” of every configuration and colour imaginable. A great day’s drive.

PS: Attached to this report was a hand written note, obviously written by a very excitable member, if the hand writing is anything to go by - as far as I can make out the note read: I’ll pass on the bay leaf and have two cups of tea” I believe it was some one’s afternoon tea order! Does anyone have any other interpretation as to the subject matter of this hurried note????- Tail-end Charlie.

Day 14: Friday 3rd October - Free Day, Echuca and Moama

Heaps to do and see! Australia’s oldest working steam paddle boat, river cruise, an old wharf which, in it’s heyday, was nearly ¾ mile long, quaint shops and steam appliances galore, all capped off by a fantastic BBQ. - Tail-end Charlie.

Day 15: Saturday 4th October – Moama to Albury

The day started off with grey skies and light winds. At 8.00 am, the first cars moved off, while some stayed behind for a ‘Fast Four’ Dodge spare parts sale.

Morning tea at Cobram; it was still cold and not much to see. The lunch stop at Rutherglen was still too cold to look around, so it was off to Albury to a warm motel. We arrived at 2.30 pm, with the ‘happy hour’ starting at 4.00 pm, where a decision was made to go ten-pin bowling after dinner. A few sore fingers and back pain were experienced after the game and there was even a “reverse” bowler who kept bowling away from the lanes! At 10.00 pm, it was the end of another great day, time to leave, so back to the motel for a good night’s sleep. - Pat Golding

Day 16: Sunday 5th October – Albury to Tumut

Another picture-perfect day, with only 120 miles to be covered. The morning tea stop was nominated to be at the Hume Weir, on Lake Hume. Very impressive – at its current level of 25% of normal capacity, it is still 4 times the capacity of Sydney Harbour!

Totally out of the blue, the only real mechanical failure of the tour occurred. The little Chevrolet of Karl and Kathy snapped its tail shaft (?). I immediately checked the mobile phone for coverage, as I could already visualise the Chev being hauled up onto a tow truck (modern, not vintage!). However, I totally under-estimated the skill and dedication of Karl to overcome this ‘’minor setback’’ (his words, not mine). Within minutes, the car had been emptied, both rear wheels removed and axles pulled! Next, the oil from the differential was drained into a salad bowl, after despatching a couple of lettuce leaves and carrots!

Karl then proceeded to remove the crown wheel and pinion! So far so good, but what about the replacement bits? A couple more minutes under the Chev with a Stanley knife, to cut some cable ties (it brought tears to Phil’s eyes, to see cable ties being dealt with in this manner!) Karl emerged with a spare tail shaft, all nicely wrapped in glad wrap! After another small repair with a lump hammer, cold chisel and a guard rail, the tail shaft was now ready for reassembly. I took my first photograph at 9.12 am and at 10.54 am, I took another photograph of the little Chev and its very proud driver, returning from a successful shake-down run, to confirm that all was working as it should be. Vintage motoring at its very best. Karl, you are a genius!

We then proceeded to follow the Lake for miles, with the eerie sight of thousands of black tree trunks protruding from its blue water, no doubt exposed as a result of the low dam levels.

Would you believe it – not 20 minutes after the little Chev had resumed its trip to Tumut, a certain mustard-coloured Dodge didn’t dodge a large stone that had been placed in the air by an oncoming motorist and the driver of the said mustard Dodge, one Warren W, drove straight into the stone, smashing the windscreen! After some minor adjustments to remove the remainder of the windscreen, the Dodge proceeded to Tumut. A few frantic phone calls to the local screen (shower) man, had the problem solved and a new laminated screen was fitted the same evening.

Unfortunately, life is not always a “box of chocolates”; sometimes there has to be a down-side. The peaceful atmosphere of the sleepy little town of Tumut was turned upside down by the actions of a small group of people hailing from the Peninsular, during the farce that was loosely described as the NRL Grand Final. Someone paid a heavy price as a result of a certain wager – didn’t they Phil? My lips are sealed – your secret is safe with me, because I believe in the adage that what happens on-tour stays on-tour! - Tail-end Charlie

Day 17: Monday 6th October –Tumut to Goulburn

A bit cold this morning, but the sun was shining. I believe Phil had a very chilly start to the morning and there are photos to prove it. We travelled through the beautiful back country through Gocup and into Gundagai. It is very green at the moment. We stopped at the service station for fuel and a quick cuppa. There was also a ‘T’ model Ford that was travelling around Australia and was nearly home.

On the way to Yass, Warren and Fred stopped and picked up a hitch-hiker from the middle of the road and took it to Yass. Warren was not impressed with having a smelly tortoise in his car! During morning tea in the park, there was a heavy storm, which, fortunately, did not last long. Fred received a phone call from John, telling us to wait there, as he had made arrangement to visit a friend who is restoring (and has been for 29 years!) a Rolls Royce. John’s car is also being restored there, about 25 klms from Yass, heading towards Canberra. It was very interesting and the Rolls is beautiful.

Back on the road again, and the wind was getting stronger, but we safely arrived in Goulburn. At dinner, all the ladies were presented with a Rally Badge and the “Why me?” trophy, presented to Fred. Judging by all the noise and singing, a good time was had by all. It is a pity Warren did not stay to enjoy it and say good-bye to everyone.

We would like to thank the Club for allowing us to go on this run with you and for all the help with our “roadside maintenance” yesterday. We had a great time. - Kathy and Karl

Thanks to each and every one who contributed these “stories”. All contributions were of a very high standard indeed. Thanks also to John Cook, for his efforts in collecting all of these writings.

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