Hidden in the Haunted Hills near Newborough is the Gippsland Car Club’s motorsport venue Bryant Park. It is arguably the best hillclimb facility in the country with large asphalted car parks, garages, huge modern multi-purpose clubrooms, and a smooth, wide hot-mix track that can be configured into a range of different layouts up to 2 kilometres in length. Several Sporting Register members regularly compete here, but this outing was to give non-competitors a chance to experience the track at a less frantic pace.
The day began with an assembly at the Darnum Stump Tearooms before our tour director, Ian Maud led the convoy on some interesting back roads up to Thorpdale for morning tea. Unfortunately, Paul Mogensen’s E-Type (which he had lent to some friends to drive), was a late arrival after discovering one of the Jag’s steering rack mounts had broken and had required some bush-mechanicing to become driveable again. Lashings of nylon clothes-line rope kept the rack in place, but it wasn’t to be trusted on the hillclimb track. Nevertheless, the Jag continued on and its occupants enjoyed being driven around the track in several other vehicles.
Leaving Thorpdale, the convoy headed into the hills around Coalville with a brief stop at the old railway station site where Ian pointed out some historical remnants of this once thriving town. We then made our way along a beautifully winding road towards Hearns Oak where we crossed the highway and entered the Haunted Hills not far from Bryant Park.
John Fowler’s S-Type Jag had developed an incontinence issue with a leaking heater hose, so it remained in the hillclimb carpark whilst the rest of the gang played follow the leader for a series of 3-lap circuits around the track. After becoming familiar with the layout, drivers were then able to use the track at will, many taking passengers or riding in other cars to experience the difference. It was early afternoon when Shane Slatter arrived in his red, later-model E-type. He had expected to arrive earlier but the Jag had problems with gummed-up carburettor needles from using ethanol-based fuels. Shane managed to clean them up and he arrived in time for a few laps before we pulled the pin and called it a day. What was it with Jaguars on this day? I followed Shane back to his turnoff near Yarragon and John managed to get home by running with a loose radiator cap to prevent pressure forcing water out the broken heater hose. I hope that Paul’s E-Type steered itself home safely as well.
It was a terrific turnout with more than twenty members’ cars getting onto the track at various stages during the day. The weather stayed fine and nobody blotted their copybook. Thank you to Ian for arranging access to the venue and organising the tour, everybody involved seemed to have a thoroughly good time.
Peter Willmott: Yes, Ian and Steve did an excellent job in organising and photographing the day. It was my first time at Bryant Park and being able drive the track in a controlled and relaxed manner was great and I believed everyone (in spite of their Jaguar problems ) had a great day. Thanks again.
John Stoker: What a fantastic exercise to run around the track, absolutely loved it. Can see why drivers take up racing. Many thanks to Ian and Steve – great day.
Mal Collins: Shame the day was changed, I was looking forward to it on Sunday. Bowls commitment on Saturday.
Never mind, I’m glad the day went well for you all and the weather was kind as well.
Bryant Park is a great asset to this area, Cheers Mal Collins.
Stan Hodgson: Thanks Ian & Steve for a great day. We met the group at Thorpy where we enjoyed a nice Latte and Apple Crumble. Driving back through Coalville & Narracan stopping for a short history lesson from Ian about Coalville. Arriving at Bryant Park where I have visited several times, which is just across the paddock from my home. It was a great experience to do several laps guiding the Mustang around the tight corners getting the head spinning. Thanks for the great day out.
John Hogbin: A big Thankyou to all the drivers that helped in making this such a wonderful day for my grandson.
Rob Nolan: Congratulations & appreciation to Ian & Steve for organizing such a great day!
Excellent & enjoyable route traveled to Bryant Park. A brilliant day was had by all, honing the driving skills & getting the corner approach lines right. Big personal thanks to Steve & Ian for the experienced cornering & braking tips!
Peter Bradley: What a blast! Haven’t experienced an adrenaline rush like that for a while. Wonderful day to be out enjoying the company of fellow club members again. Another scenic drive with interesting history thrown in.
Thanks Ian and thanks Steve.