The Wednesday weather was lovely for a pre-lunch drive. Not so great outside because of the wind, but good tucked up in a comfy car: the rarely-used MX-5. Having set out from Leongatha we skirted past misty rain at Korumburra then climbed over the hills to beautiful sunshine and paused for coffee at the Darnum Tea Rooms.
Before the official drive, which we all noticed started at Step 8 due to a mismatch in technicals among John Fowler, Windows 10 and his new printer, we attended the Remembrance Day Service at the Darnum Memorial Hall and politely sang our way through the correct words of the National Anthem rather than the inventive ones on our program. Steps 1 -7 were described at Drivers’ Briefing but could adequately have been covered by “follow me”. In the good weather with sparse traffic it was easy to see the shiny cars spread out across the countryside. As always with GSCCC there was a diverse collection of cars: red ones, blue ones and green ones etc.
Our route through the green pastureland that visitors to Gippsland envy took us south through Cloverlea then turned us north to pass through Nilma North and Buln Buln. At Buln Buln my MX-5 clocked over 32000k (yes, in 24 years). We continued zig-zagging past Rokeby and Jindivick then headed mostly west to our lunch at Gypsy Creek Winery where we were spoilt by delicious and generous pizzas, pastas and wine.
Honouring the Italian traditions of our host Sam, there was much loud chatter around the table of 20 and I heard snippets relating to cars (of course) and dogs, horses, children, more cars, chooks, old age, eateries, more cars and then came the miraculous silence that occurs when everyone starts to tuck into beautiful food. Between courses Sam told us a little about the winery’s recovery after being wiped out by the fires of Black Saturday. He showed us his souvenirs from the debris that had been prized garage specimens and described runnels of molten metal as engines and chassis returned to the earth. All the fences and vines had gone and financial help was delayed by bureaucrats at every level. Sam was grateful for and is still moved by the helpful friends who gave him envelopes of cash when he had nothing else. He advises that this is the best way to help victims rather than letting administrators in on the act. Another Italian tradition I think. With regard to the vines, one interesting thing was that the grafted varieties were of course completely ruined by being burnt to the ground, but the rootling varieties reshot and started producing again. Some of us drank wine from those recovered vines.
After desserts and strong coffees we made our way out past the wet dogs (just like home) and headed homewards, detouring around “the bridge” which is still waiting for bureaucrats to find repair funding. Some of us went home to a light snack for tea but our much-appreciated organisers John and Jan headed off to another drive/dinner combination with one of their other car clubs. Even though they’ll probably burst if they keep it up, we all thank them sincerely for researching such great drives and eateries for our enjoyment.
Words by Kira & John Moore, photos by John Fowler..