Piggy-backing one car club event on top of another is often not a good idea, but linking an Open Garage with the regular monthly Breakfast Club, seemed in this case, to work quite well. Twenty-three vehicles and about 35 people accepted the invitation from Eric and Kathy Irvine to visit their property at Neerim South. Around half of those vehicles drove together in convoy from the Breakfast Club gathering and passed through Lillico and Buln Buln East before heading north along the Mizpa Settlement Rd and McDougal Rd to Neerim South. Unfortunately, a heavily hay-laden farm truck broke up the convoy and spoilt the best part of the trip for many drivers.
Eric and Kathy’s hilltop property is about an acre in size, so there was ample space for off-street parking in the small paddock just north of the house, abutting the road. The garden which contains a range of exotic and native plants surrounds the house and garage and includes a small water feature that flows beside and then crosses beneath the driveway.
The garage is a substantial building that not only houses their Porsche Boxster and Mercedes Coupe, but doubles as Eric’s art studio and gallery including a slot-car race track. The walls of the gallery display Eric’s passion for what we baby-boomers call the golden age of touring car racing in Australia. Photos, models, paintings and drawings depict the on-track battles between drivers such as Beechey, Jane, Moffat, Geoghegan and McKeown, there are models of racing cars, rally cars, dozens of Porsches and what must be every F1 and Le Mans-winning Ferrari ever built. There’s plenty of homage to drivers of past eras as well, including our own Jack Brabham, Ayrton Senna and Enzo Ferrari.
As well as the cars, Eric also has a passion for aircraft, especially Second World War icons such as the Lancaster bomber and Supermarine Spitfire, but there are some jet-engined interlopers amongst the propeller blades. The slot-car track was a great hit with the visitors, big kids and little kids all had a go at mastering the figure eight track which sits within a scaled model landscape and race track setting.
It was interesting to see some of Eric’s art works in progress and to compare them to the finished items in the gallery – there is certainly a great deal of effort and talent that goes into each piece. Kathy made us feel welcome by keeping up the supply of cakes, slices, tea and coffee. We were also invited to wander around the gardens and enjoy the views of Neerim South from their elevated position just out of town. The Club wishes to convey its thanks to Eric and Kathy for their generosity and hospitality, and for all the work that goes into making one of these Open Garage events happen.