Standing at the side of the road amongst the tree ferns, bracken and mountain ash in the rain forest near Fumina was a pleasant way to spend some time on Australia Day. It was made even more interesting by listening for approaching sports cars from the south and groups of Harleys from the north. The Harleys can be easily mistaken for trucks, but there’s no mistaking the burble of a free-breathing V8, the mechanical symphony of V6 Dino or that unique sound of a Porsche flat 6. It’s also a chance to admire the dynamics of these classic cars as they negotiate a tight bend in the road and accelerate through the gears towards the next bend. I know you’ve heard this all before, but to my ears, those equipped with automatic gearboxes fail to impress – the slurring of revs between ratios sounds like a slipping clutch and can’t match the crispness of response afforded by a proper left-foot-assisted gear change. So, enjoy your manual transmissions while you can – they are an endangered species.
How is it that I came to be standing in the middle of the forest? The annual Australia Day Mystery Run obviously ! Glenn and Pam Campbell’s now traditional mystery run on the 26th January each year is always well attended and a terrific way to start the Car Club yearly calendar. There is the memory-testing Australiana Quiz to complete en-route and the lunch destination is always kept secret until the final route instructions are issued at the morning tea break. This year more than 50 participants departed the Warragul assembly point for a run around some of our more interesting local roads leading them eventually to the Fozigobble Café at Yarragon. After a short recess and some refreshment, members collected their final instructions and headed north. The route was fairly direct as we left Yarragon, crossed the railway line and headed towards Willow Grove. The roads became narrower as we started climbing around Hill End, further on we entered the forest at Fumina South, the change in the micro-climate was obvious in an open car as the road winds its way in and out of thickly vegetated valleys before breaking out into the sunshine at the junction with the Mt Baw Baw Tourist Road. Turning left here, we followed the road into Noojee, stopping for lunch at the very-well patronised Hotel with its renovated dinosaur watching over the cars lined up outside.
It was a magnificent day for a drive, especially for those lucky enough to be roofless. Several drivers in the lead group certainly seemed to be having fun. John Moore’s V8 MGBGT looked the quickest through the first photo location, and it was great to see the Slatter E-type being driven vigorously, but Kevin Riley’s big-bore V8 Merc sounded best as it accelerated up the hill in Hunters Rd (until the auto gear change at least). Glenn Campbell has sold his red 911 and brought a later model version in silver that apparently comes with effective air conditioning. At the second photo location near Noojee he was pushing it along, but unable to catch Des Dillon in the late model Boxster S who enjoyed a substantial gap on the rest of the field. Our invited guest, Brodie Bishop, is in the midst of re-registering his Fiat Spider after moving over from South Australia, but enjoyed the opportunity “to drive a slow car fast” in his E30 BMW. No matter what they were driving, it seemed that everyone thoroughly enjoyed the drive and another opportunity to visit some of the lesser known highlights that Gippsland has to offer.
Following a lovely lunch with pleasant company and magnificent views over the Tarago River from the hotel balcony, the winners of the Australiana Quiz were announced. This year the honours went to Shane and Lachlan Slatter, with Alan and Marg Humphreys placing second ahead of John and Kira Moore in third. It was terrific to see so many members participating in this year’s outing and our thanks go to Glenn and Pam for organising the event and marking all those answer sheets.