Hill Country to Swamp Country with Paul “Need for Speed” Mogensen
On a day that suggested that Autumn was just around the corner, an eclectic convoy of cars set off from the Darnum Tea Rooms. Leading the way was Paul “Need for Speed” Mogensen which in hindsight was never going to be a good move, because his longing for putting the foot down got in the way of him making a right hand turn onto Bona Vista Rd. Instead, the car hammered along Darnum-Allanbee Rd until we got to Hazeldean Rd where we joined the MX5 Car Club run. It was at that time I thought we were going to get to lunch in half an hour not the proposed one hour.
We reunited with the appropriate Car Club along Hazeldean Rd on way to Warragul-Korumburra Rd, near Ellinbank. Once the conga line was re-established settled in nicely (and safely) behind other cars and headed west along Lardners Track and then onto the Torwood – Topiram Rd where beautiful vistas of the Baw Baw Ranges were plentiful. It is these views that make you realise what beautiful country you are in. Adding to this scenery was a magnificent eagle soaring on thermals with a murder of crows trying to move it on with little success. Idyllic really, even though I was nervously unsure what the driver was going to do next.
Being hemmed in by other cars made ‘Need for Speed’ a bit edgy, so we had to hang back at times just so he could downshift and gun it along the cruisy, Westernport Rd. Once we hit the flat and headed into Swamp country we started reminiscing about the good old days of discos at the Yannathan Hall, tennis matches at Bayles and swimming in the Lang Lang River, which we had by then crossed four times.
Finally after missing the chicken that was sorting out how to cross the road and which car it was going to play chicken with, we arrived with peace in our hearts (courtesy of the Peaceful House near Garfield). Lovely meal with lovely company.
This is a drive that had a bit of everything, lovely hilly climbs with beautiful surprises around every corner and long flat open straights filled with memories all around. It was definitely a journey through the food-bowl of West Gippsland.
From ‘Need for Speed’s perspective
Hill Country to Swamp Country with Helen “Handbrake” Mogensen
The Stump Darnum Tea Room to Garfield Hotel for lunch you might say, well let me tell you about the bit in between the departure and the destination with passenger, aka co-pilot Helen “Handbrake” Mogensen. LOL
After sitting down at the tea rooms for a cuppa and meeting up with a lovely couple of members new to me, John and Jenny Crooke, we enjoyed a brief chat before being marshaled by Mr John Fowler to the pleasant outside temperature (for me) to hear about the route and directions to be taken.
John and Jan have a wonderful knack of providing maps for us participants for the runs they organise. I took one look amidst banter with Ian Honey and thought I had the drive down pat.
Without further ado, I went and fired up our Mk 7 Bolwell roadster so that I could have a little run south of Darnum, independent of the peloton with the view of dropping back after we got to Hazeldean Rd. Well guess what? I did not use my reading glasses and kept on continuing down Allambee-Darnum Rd, missing the fact that John had intended us to veer right into Bona Vista and come out at Hazeldean Rd further west.
Oh well, I did enjoy the spurt ,and surprise surprise, we ended up on the coat tails of the MX 5 Club Eastern Chapter having a run after departing I assumed, from Trafalgar which worked in our favour as the peloton had to give way and we were soon reunited with the first four cars behind John and Jan in their beautiful smoke silver 420G leading a really nice coloured candy-apple-red Datsun 1600, then a red Na MX5 and a Black Porsche Boxster. As the front cars waited, the MX5 Club went past and for a while our convoy followed them west on to Lardners Track then turning west on Torwood-Topiram Rd (one of my favourite twisty roads) – just ask some of the guys in the club with Boxsters when we go out and I take the MX5.
For a few minutes I thought John must have organised the run in conjunction with Peter Ferguson of that club. However, we turned north on Main South Rd at Hallora and then wound along Lang Lang Park Rd then across to the Drouin Poowong Rd and north again to Invermay Rd West, which is where the MX5 boys headed east and were never seen again.
All the while this was going on, yours truly could not help himself and so gunned the car periodically to get the fix of an adrenalin rush with the torque and power of a humble 3-litre Holden 186 with triple Webers. The engine drives through a 5-speed Celica gearbox with an LSD rear end set up for track work. It goes where it’s pointed and then some. Can you get a sense that I’m getting off the point about our car club run? Ha Ha that’s the enjoyment! If you thought I had noticed the scenery you are mostly mistaken because that’s what passengers do. For me it was mostly all about the exhilaration of the drive because behind me was a beautiful and well prepared Austin Healey 100/4 in a livery of silver blue with cream coves.
Once we turned from Invermary Rd west into Westernport Rd, we headed west again down onto the swamp flats as “HandBrake” had already alluded to. We then drove for a few kilometres before turning north again onto Heads Rd which eventually took us in to Bayles before turning right at the Old Onion factory. See I do notice some things!! We swept through Cora Lynn, then out through Vervale on what I call the Bunyip River Rd as it is adjacent to the river flowing past all the veggie flat-farm country, then a lefty into Thirteen Mile Rd to arrive in Garfield.
We parked up at the side of the Garfield Hotel before convening for some stories, laughter, good food and refreshments. Having seen the size of meals coming out, I can say as fact that no one should ever go hungry having a meal in this establishment. After some two hours plus, various travelers called it an afternoon and made their ways off in various directions to home.
Thank you John and Jan for another interesting driving, talking, drinking and eating day out.
John, after this “War and Peace” novel, I don’t think you will pick on me to do a write up again – chuckle, chuckle! From my perspective it was always going to be about the cars and the drive.
Can you not pick locations that have gift shops close by, as Helen lightened our wallet before heading home.
Words by Paul and Helen Mogensen (Photos by John Fowler and Steve Schmidt)
Rick Dathan: That was a good read; thank you. It was quite a surprise to see “Mk7 Bolwell roadster” mentioned – and then the two photos of this beautiful car that I have not seen for quite a while.