MID-WEEK, MANSFIELD ROAD-TRIP, Dec 1st & 2nd

Previously, in the classic Monte Carlo Rally, competitors would set off from all four corners of Europe and ‘rally’, or in other words, meet, in Monaco to celebrate the end of a unique event. On a much smaller scale, our regular touring group of five started off as four, only coming together as five at Mansfield which was our overnight destination. Kevin Riley (AMG SL55) was leading another small group of drivers through Gippsland and up the Great Alpine Road to Mitta Mitta. He was departing from Metung whilst the rest of us assembled at Frankies in Warragul before heading north towards the high country. Ray Youlden was keen to put his recently-purchased AMG C63 Merc through its paces on a decent run, and had completed a thorough maintenance service including engine and transmission oil changes to the normally aspirated 6.2-litre V8 in preparation. Rob Morley (Mercedes SL350) came down from Traralgon, already prepared for a fine day with the roof stowed away. Glenn Campbell’s BMW M3 threw up a “Check Engine” code relating to a misfire the day before our departure and it was sitting in the Traralgon dealership’s workshop awaiting a replacement coil pack for one of it’s eight cylinders. Hasty arrangements were made for Glenn to borrow his son’s 2015 BMW M235i coupe which has similar performance to the M3, but runs a single, twin-scroll turbo 3-litre straight six. The last of the Warragul group was Steve Schmidt in his BMW Z4 35i – which uses basically the same engine as in Glenn’s loaner Bimmer, but this time with twin turbos.

The Warragul group travelled up through Powelltown to Warburton and then followed the magnificent Reefton Spur road past the Lake Mountain turnoff to Marysville for morning tea which we shared with a King Parrot, Cockatoo and Currawong at tables outside the café. It was then off to Buxton, past the Cathedral Ranges to Taggerty, Acheron and Alexandra before turning off and following the little-used Skyline Road into Eildon.  Lunch at Jerusalem Creek was interrupted by the passage of a gusty, cool change which brought heavy showers necessitating the roofs to be erected on the convertibles. We sat out the worst of the rain during lunch, then headed off to tackle the 70-kilometre Eildon-Jamieson Road which is a never-ending series of tight bends and switch-backs roughly following the heavily-forested, southern edge of Lake Eildon. Unfortunately, the wind and rain had created a slippery mess of leaves, bark, twigs and small branches on the road which made progress a little more challenging and circumspect than usual. Thankfully, traffic wasn’t an issue, so we all managed to enjoy the capable handling of these cars in the adverse conditions. From Jamieson, it was a short drive through Howqua and Delatite to Mansfield where we refuelled the cars before retiring to our accommodation. A couple of cars were washed that afternoon, the others waited until morning. Kevin rolled in at about 4pm after having left his other group at the Falls Creek turnoff on the Great Alpine Road and worked his way down through Mount Beauty and Myrtleford where the rain caught up with him.

Day Two dawned fine and clear with the forecast predicting a fine day ahead. Breakfast was alfresco at the local café, then we hit the road looking forward to a romp through the Strathbogie Ranges on the way to Euroa. From Euroa, Kevin lead us on a merry chase through undulating country around Creighton’s Creek and Terip Terip which brought us out into civilisation near Seymour. We then headed for Strath Creek where we visited the Flowerdale Estate for a cuppa and tour of the 1848 homestead. Lunch was at a bakery in Kinglake West, then we followed Ray across to Toolangi and along the Myers Creek Road into Healesville. From there it was on to Launching Place and home via Yarra Junction and Powelltown.

Attaining the best fuel economy has never been a high priority on these road-trips, but as a group we have a fairly well-established pecking order of fuel consumption. The Z4 has always been the most frugal, then the SL350, the V8 M3 with the V8 Mercs being the thirstiest. Now we had a couple of new vehicles to contend with – Glenn’s borrowed M235i Bimmer was showing amazing economy (think Toyota Corolla) – easily claiming the mantle from the Z4, and Ray’s AMG C63 was not surprisingly, at the other extreme. At day’s end, and having travelled nearly 400km from Mansfield, the M235i claimed 8.2 l/100km (34.5 mpg), the Z4 8.9 (31.7 mpg) and the AMG 14.8 (19.0 mpg). All cars were driven spiritedly and performed admirably. Now they need a proper clean to remove the sticky tar spots from some un-signposted surfacing works that caught us unawares.

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MID-WEEK RUN to Mirboo North – Wed 18th Nov.

John really excelled himself in planning the November Mid-Week Run – a perfect day (great for convertibles) some of the best roads in Gippsland, a wonderful collection of cars, and above all, great people all raring to go on a drive together.

Following our coffee get-together at the Darnum Stump, seventeen cars set out, following John and Jan’s Jaguar along East-West Road to the Nilma-Bona Vista Road. After recent rains the countryside was at its very best with lush greenery as far as the eye could see.

We joined the Bona Vista Road which led us to Gainsborough Road and then on to Hazeldene Road. The convoy was now stretched out and some catch ups were called for.

Passing through more lush dairying country we soon reached the Korumburra-Warragul Road carrying more traffic, and headed south.

Not wanting to visit Korumburra, we soon turned left onto the Warragul-Leongatha Road and headed toward what must be one of the best roads in Victoria (the World?) – the Grand Ridge Road.

The road sign said “Seaview” so we anticipated views of the sea from our elevated position on the Grand Ridge Road. Not so. Instead we saw the most impressive landscape of lush green rolling hills dotted with grazing cattle and the occasional farmhouse. Our journey also took us through some magnificent shady forests.

The road is a mecca for sporting cars and we enjoyed winding and twisting our way in pursuit of John and Jan. We also passed several motorcycles out to enjoy such a lovely day.

All too soon we reached the Strzelecki Highway and turned left towards Mirboo North, soon arriving at the hotel in the main street. Here we were joined by some others who had made their way directly to the lunch venue.

The hotel is now under new management. The owners made us very welcome and had prepared an excellent menu with many choices. The food was excellent, backed up by courteous and friendly service. A great venue enjoyed by the thirty four travellers.

Next month we go to the Noojee hotel. We can hardly wait.

Thanks to John and Jan for treating us to a wonderful day out.

Words by Ken Wright, photos by John Fowler and Steve Schmidt

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BRYANT PARK HILLCLIMB, 8th November

CLUB MOTORSPORT RETURNS

The easing of Covid-19 restrictions across the State has heralded the return of club level motorsport to Bryant Park in the Haunted Hills near Yallourn. A closed Gippsland Car Club hillclimb event was held under new Covid-guidelines last Sunday. No spectators, no canteen, no scrutineering, social distancing and masks were the order of the day, but forty-two entrants, including three Sporting Register members fronted up to tackle the 1600m Clockwise Figure Eight configuration of this picturesque, undulating circuit.

Jim McNiven contested the Over 2-litre Improved Production class in his BMW E36 M3. He finished 5th out of twelve cars in the class with a best time of 66.05. Jim’s times were very consistent – his seven runs varied by little more than 1 second.

Finishing 3rd in the Under 2-Litre Sports Car class was Ian Maud driving his Fiat X1/9. A lot of development work has gone into this car recently, but it’s fair to say that Ian is still looking for improvements. His best time of 69.00 came on his 7th and final run after a spin and some clumsy pedal-work on a couple of earlier runs.

It was good to see Eric Irvine returning to the track this year in his Porsche Boxster. Unfortunately, Eric only completed a couple of runs before discovering he’d worn his rear tyres down to the steel belts. Eric kept his wife Kathy company whilst spectating for the rest of the day, but his best time of 69.95 was good enough to place him second in the Over 2-litre Sports Car Class.

Ex-Sporting Register Member, Mark Revitt-Mills, who many of you will know, managed to crash his Saloon Car Commodore into an earth bank, damaging the steering and some bodywork, but thankfully sustained no injuries to himself. I am sure the car will be back for the next event.

This year’s Victorian Hillclimb Championship was cancelled after just two rounds.  Next year’s series is due to begin at Rob Roy in January and there are plenty of competitors, including yours truly, looking forward to getting back on the track.

Steve Schmidt

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MID-WEEK RUN – Thursday 29th Oct

The Mid-Week Run that almost didn’t happen!

When Premier Dan announced on a Sunday night that regional Victoria could have 40 people in an eating venue, I excitedly decided that we could now re-start our Mid-Week Runs. There is an old saying that “The best laid plans of mice and men, fall foul of other things”. We need to replace “other things” with “our Dan” in my current MWR planning!

I made the mistake of taking our Dan’s words that day at face value on how we could visit regional venues and advertised a return to MWR’s. The Devil is in the detail (or fine print), it seems when it comes to opening-up the regional venues to his stated 40 people inside and 70 people outside rule. It now transpires that 40 people inside is ok – PROVIDED that they are in 4 separate rooms that can hold 10 people in each following the social distancing guidelines (ie 4 square metres per person etc)!

Ok, so eventually after a bit of research, I settled on Fozigobbles in Yarragon with their multiple rooms, and Jimmy D’s Diner nearby for the extra people that might want to attend. By the week’s end I was informed by Fozigobbles that although they could have a max of 20 inside and 40 outside, that the visiting groups could now only be made up of a max of 10 people in a specific group! A quick re-think and we arranged 2 separate named groups visiting Fozigobbles inside, and a further one outside under the Veranda, plus another group at Jimmy D’s Diner a hundred metres down the road, in order to cater for our numbers and possible rain! Phew! I wondered if it was all worth the effort?!

Very quickly we soon had 37 booked in with one car following just for the drive.

The Thursday was warm and sunny with a light shower predicted for the late arvo. We gathered at the Darnum Stump Tearooms for coffee, scones etc and a chat with reduced numbers inside and others on the covered patio outside, with many standing around chatting & enjoying the sun outside on the forecourt. After handing out maps and conducting a Drivers’ Briefing explaining aspects of the route, we set off north across the freeway leading the way in our old ’65 Jag S Type, past the Fonterra Milk Powder factory, up Bloomfield road to eventually turn left into the wonderful winding Old Telegraph Road towards Rokeby. Here we saw Steve on the side of the road in his red Bugeye Sprite taking photos of the cars as we passed by.

The countryside had looked magnificent with its rolling green lush spring pastures, contented cattle, and healthy-looking trees along the roadsides and in the paddocks. The rain has done its job!

We turned left at Rokeby and on up to where we turned left into the Old Sale Road at Buln Buln. This followed this old Cobb & Co Coach route, to go eventually past the Shady Creek area where we turned right into the fairly straight and open Araluen Road and past some large Jersey cow herds. Here a friendly farmer pulled over in his large tractor to let us all snake past.

Did I mention how great the countryside was – and how good it was to be out in our classic vehicles enjoying the sunshine as well, whilst meandering across this magnificent part of Victoria enjoying the views? It was great to be out and finally touring!

We then turned right at the Yarragon-Shady Creek Rd intersection, up past the old Hall to turn left into the Darnum-Shady creek Rd and back towards Darnum again. It was just a few km out of Darnum that we all came to a halt to let an echidna cross the road. However, some hooting horns soon had it confused, so it quickly turned around and went back across the road in front of us to the side – quite unharmed!

At Darnum we went across the Freeway past the Tearooms, and past the old Musical Village (now a resort of holiday units) and down onto the flats where Steve was again seen busy with his camera before turning left into Parkers Rd, past more large Fresian dairy herds. Then we turned left into Hazeldean Road arriving into the middle of Yarragon. Here we turned right up Market St to the end and left towards the Freeway, so that we could re-enter Yarragon from the East to be out front of Fozzigobbles and Jimmy D’s.

Frustratingly, others had discovered Yarragon too, so parking was a bit difficult with cars spread out all over the place. Anyway, once inside we all had to stay in our nominated groups as the staff were concerned that we had to be in specific groups in case of another ‘spot check’ by Police.

There was an unfortunate downside to this arrangement of splitting up into smaller groups, and that was that not all could be fitted into the seating arrangements, and so some were left sitting as couples by themselves in both venues, without a chance to socialise with others. This being the first venture out after lockdown, we still have some issues to resolve. Hopefully, the next time we are out, the restrictions will have eased some more to allow for more involved socialising.

Back to the meals, everyone seemed quite happy with the meals at both venues, except for one which was frustratingly forgotten for a while at one venue. People began wandering off from about 2pm and were safely home before the heavens opened with quite a heavy but short shower around 3pm – just as predicted.

It seemed to be quite a reasonable start to the re-commencement of our Mid-Week Runs. Fingers crossed for the future outings!

Words by John Fowler. Pictures by Steve Schmidt and John Fowler

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VALE – BOB MURPHY

VALE – Bob Murphy   I met Bob through our common interest in cars. Although he was originally an upholsterer when I met him about 50 years ago, he was working for Kelly Brothers’ Holden in Morwell. He was managing their body repair shop in Latrobe Rd where they had offices with a big Board Room above. It was here we formed a branch of the Gippsland Car Club for sports car owners called Scuderia Gippsland through which we organized events like the motorkhanas on a farm at Minniedale Rd, Traralgon owned by Greg Ireland’s father. It is now part of the Loy Yang Power Station. Bob and Sue had many cars including MGs, Healeys and Triumphs, one particularly nice GT6 and the odd Alfa Romeo. There were more, including bikes, the last of which was a blue Electra Glide Harley Davidson. Not long after, Bob and Sue moved to a Bush block at Jeeralang where he had an Alfa Romeo GT and later on a Range Rover that he went Bush bashing in with a 4×4 group. When they moved to Trafalgar, Bob moved back into sports cars with MGs – one of which, an MGA is still owned by Sporting Register member Grady Edwards. During this time Bob bought an Austin Healey Sprite in Adelaide which we bought back on a trailer in the pouring rain using his Keith Williams Real Estate work car. The rain didn’t help the rust in the little Bug Eye and the four-pot Mitsubishi Magna was at its towing limit, if not over. His next cars were all German. A particular favorite was a white 911 Porsche which he regretted selling, but relinquished it after receiving an offer he couldn’t refuse when a buyer saw it being serviced at Mike Jacobson’s workshop in Warragul. His last sports cars were a BMW Z4 and the SLK Mercedes, which is technically Sue’s, so I hope it stays around for a while as a memory to Bob. As well as his interest in cars, Bob was also involved in Rotary and supported various other charity organisations. He will be missed by many people not just those in the car scene. As a fellow car nut who served on the Committee of the GSCCR with him, I have many fond memories of our trips together with Sue and Cheryl over the years, both with the Club and otherwise. He particularly liked our runs to Moss Vale Park for the Music for the People concerts with our picnics under the giant oak trees. So, rest in peace Bob and I hope you catch up with Cheryl somewhere in the after-life.   John Weymouth  

Bob’s grave-side funeral service was held at the Trafalgar Cemetery on Thursday 22nd October. It was a lovely fine day and the cemetery afforded magnificent views over the verdant green pastures in the valley below. Covid-19 regulations restricted numbers at the funeral to 20, but car club members assembled their sports and classic cars in the car park, masked up and viewed the proceedings from a distance.

Sporting Register member and long-time friend of Bob’s, Merv Swingler was one of several who spoke of Bob’s irrepressible love of cars, boats and motorcycles, as well as animals and his work with charitable organisations. It was a fitting send off.

Rest in peace Bob.

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Ian Holdsworth Funeral – Tuesday 23rd June

Ian was laid to rest today at Warragul’s Gulwarra Heights Memorial Park following a service at Neilson’s Funerals and a drive-through Guard of Honour made up of our members’ sports and classic cars in Anderson St Warragul.

Attendance at the service was limited by Covid-19 restrictions, but it was ‘live-streamed’ on the Internet and may be viewed by opening the link below: https://livestream.com/funerallivestreamingaustralia/ianholdsworthfuneralservice

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