15th BIRTHDAY BASH – Gypsy Creek Winery, Labertouche. Sunday 23rd June

Wow! 75 members celebrated our Birthday!
We always suspected that numbers would be up on previous years, and they certainly were – the largest number yet.
We assembled at the Darnum Tea Rooms from 10.30am and many enjoyed a coffee beforehand. After a short Drivers Briefing just before 11am, I suggested that cars should leave and travel in 3 smaller groups because of the large numbers. Members were asked to nominate themselves into their choice of group of faster (led by Kevin R.), medium paced (led by John W.) and scenic groups (led by myself). This resulted in all drivers being happy with the paces set. Everyone had a map of the simple straight-forward route, with directions on the back to follow if needed.
It was lovely ‘Tops Off’ sunny winter weather, and Jan was all rugged up to cope with the brisk conditions in the Sprite (but I thought it was fantastic ‘open air’ driving conditions).
We set off to the south of Darnum to Cloverlea through the dairying ‘flats’, then drove through the open grazing land via Gainsborough to Nilma and across the Freeway (did someone try to start off onto the Freeway?).
Then it was up Bloomfields Rd to the Nilma-Shady Creek Rd (did someone miss the turnoff here?) as we shot up the straights through the dairying area, and then wound our way over the hills through the trees to Shady Creek. It is lovely countryside.
From there it was West onto the Old Sale Rd, and then onto the wonderful winding Mizpah Settlement Rd, up and down hill through a lot of attractive bush. I must admit I got a bit excited here and pushed the Sprite through the wonderful corners and left some behind for a while (sorry folks!) and then straight on to Neerim South for a ‘Pit Stop’. (The Sprite is not fast, but it is fun, and it does corner well!)
Our last group pulled in to the parking area in Neerim South as the first group was leaving, so we caught up with middle group for a quick chat, comparing notes and a quick check of each others’ cars. Then they were off, and all of us in the last group were not far behind.
From Neerim South we headed South then West, off past the Tarago Reservoir and along the delightful winding road (and got caught behind a tractor with a hay bale behind for a short time) then along the ridge into picturesque Jindivick. We continued straight on and down Jacksons Track, following the ridge as it snaked back and forth through the trees downhill. Marvellous.
The road flattened out and soon we were at the Labertouche Rd ‘T’ junction, where we turned right. It was a short hop to the Labertouche Hall, and we continued past then turned right and right again to the old school – now the Gypsy Creek Winery restaurant. We were all on schedule and there by 12.30pm.
Some members – mainly from the Melbourne direction – had already made their way there independently of the tour, and had parked easily. Those of us in the last group had a bit of a battle to squeeze into every nook and cranny we could find in order to park. What a fantastic line-up of cars though – and hardly one the same!
Given that we had expected large numbers, we had talked to the restaurant owners, and they suggested that it would be easier for them if members pre-booked. This then led to discussions about the menu, and the committee made a selection, which was followed by a suggestion by the restaurant that rather than an alternate drop of meals on the tables, that it would be better for individuals to select what they actually wanted from those alternatives.
So members had chosen their meals beforehand, and the restaurant used the spreadsheet I had put together to devise coloured name tags & spots for meal choices. This made meal distribution very quick and easy, and resulted in a constant flow of meals out to the tables by very pleasant waitresses. Very efficient.
The meals were delicious and everyone seemed to enjoy the choices.
We filled the rooms, and it was abuzz with happy chatter, and this made it a little harder to hear at times. However things quietened down when Mark welcomed members to our 15th Birthday, and showed off the wonderful Birthday cake that Bob Murphy had organised and Kevin Gracie had made for us. This delicious cake was later cut up by Sue Murphy and distributed to members.
It was announced that it was also the birthday of Glenn’s son – Murray Campbell – happy birthday!
Mark then made a special presentation of Life Membership to Doug Armour for his efforts in initially setting up the club and for his continuous committee membership. Congratulations Doug! He then blew out the candles on our cake.
After dessert and coffee, people mixed around and some sat outside chatting for a while, and then members started to drift off around 3.30pm after a very enjoyable day. Gypsy Creek did a wonderful job for our 15th Birthday ‘bash’. Thanks to all who attended who helped make the day such a success.
Words by John Fowler, pictures by Phil Barnard
Ed – I’m sure all who participated would like thank John for the massive effort he undertook in organizing this year’s event, even to the extent of the weather!

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