Day 1 ? Saturday
Organisers for the Club?s third Melbourne Cup weekend getaway were Ian and Carol Mallows. This year we headed to the Beechworth area for ?Le Tour de Indigo?. The trip kicked off with participants meeting bright and early at Ian & Carols in Drouin on a very wet Saturday morning. Ian decided that he would give the Lotus a rest this time and packed the Mazda MX5 for the extra-long weekend trip. The Porsche contingent comprised the Campbells in their Carrera and the Barnards in their Boxster. The Witneys in their Holden Monaro, the Irwins in their Subaru WRX and the Hooles in their newly acquired Mercedes Benz 420SELl with more than ample storage space, they were the envy of the sporting cars.
With trip notes handed out, CB Radios synced, and at the suggestion of our meteorological expert Glenn Campbell that we alter the first leg of our tour to Healesville to avoid the intense rain pattern heading toward Neerim South Noojee area, we headed off. Although still quite wet it appeared that we avoided the worst of the rain by traveling via Pakenham and Gembrook, and by the time we reached Healesville for our first stop the rain had ceased. The first leg of the trip was relatively smooth except when our leader Ian decided to do a pirouette in his MX5 on a sharp left hander, not quite up to our esteemed President Mark?s standard, but it did manage to get the Mallow?s hearts racing a bit faster than usual.
The next leg was to head to Marysville for a coffee break and view the town?s recovery since Black Saturday. As we headed along the Maroondah Hwy through the Black Spur we were held up by a convey of FWDs, one of which had broken down, resulting in the Police being called to manage the traffic flow until the stricken FWD could be removed. Definitely not a good place to break down! Reaching Marysville we stopped for a relaxing coffee at the local bakery before heading off to our next destination which was a picnic lunch at the Tolmie Sportsground traveling via Alexandra and Mansfield. With the sun now shining and seeing Lake Eildon nearly full amid the beautiful surrounding countryside, it made for a very pleasant drive.
Pleasantly full from the picnic lunch, we started on the final leg of Day One towards Beechworth travelling via Whitfield, Oxley and Milawa. Reaching Beechworth late in the afternoon we all headed to our various accommodation locations to freshen up before gathering at the historic Nicholas Hotel (the Mallows and Irwin?s accommodation) for an evening meal and some pleasant chit chat.
Day 2 ? Sunday
A beautiful sunny day dawned for Day Two of our drive with the destination being lunch at the Mitta Mitta Hotel traveling via Stanley and Gundowring. It didn?t take long before we had the top down on the Boxster enjoying the sun and the glorious countryside. The trip to Mitta Mitta wound its way on great driving roads through some stunningly beautiful countryside. It made you appreciate how lucky we are to live in this part of the world. In most part the Google maps worked well with only a few hiccups. The CB radios ensured we all headed in the right direction. Today Carol?s brother Colin and sister in-law Jan joined the convoy in their beautifully presented Lotus Elan. As we headed to our lunch destination the sports cars soaked up the twists and turns while Stephen and Nuala were content to travel as ?Tail End Charlie? in grand touring style in their Mercedes.
The Mitta Mitta Hotel was a real surprise and despite the ?little pub? look from the front was deceptively large. It had recently been refurbished in an old colonial style with an open dining area out the back looking onto the Snowy Creek. We spent a relaxing few hours together – the meals were fabulous, very filling and reasonably priced.
We headed back to Beechworth ? this time via Yackandandah (or ?Yack? to the locals). It was getting late in the day, but one of the local coffee houses was happy to stay open a little later for us. Stephen and Nuala had a little wander around the town, stopping in one of the shops to buy jackets to keep them warm on their nightly walks.
Still full from lunch, we decided our best option for dinner was to graze on cheese, biscuits, fruit etc on the upstairs balcony of the Mallows and Irwin?s accommodation (the Nicholas Hotel), with the odd glass of wine or two. Our quiz master, Anne Irwin, had us all trying to guess ?What Is It?? from photos of historic objects she had sourced from the Beechworth area. There were many wild guesses, a few which were on the money, and lots of laughs.
Day 3 ? Monday
As was our custom, we gathered for coffee at one of the local cafes, sitting outside and enjoying the sun prior to heading off on today?s tour. Peter and Anne Witney decided to have a rest-day and spent a relaxing day around Beechworth giving Pete?s shoulders a breather from driving the big Monaro on the windy roads.
The rest headed off from Beechworth reaching Mt Beauty where we had a light picnic lunch. Our afternoon was spent traveling up the very mountainous and winding road to the Mt Buffalo lookout/chalet for the panoramic views. The roads were amazing with many twists and turns ? a driver?s delight. What a pleasure the day had been!! And then we all headed back to Beechworth via Myrtleford.
For our evening meal we gathered at the local brewery for pizza ? open on the Monday evening especially for Cup Eve ? and what fabulous pizzas we had, and the beer was good too!! This was a great way to celebrate the birthdays in our midst.
Day 4 ? Tuesday
Another morning, another coffee, and a chance to say farewell to Stephen and Nuala before they commenced their journey on the Great Alpine Road, over Mt Hotham, to Paynesville for a few days? rest. The remainder of the group set off from Beechworth traveling on roads and through towns (eg Swanpool, Oxley and Moyhu) that the majority of us had never been to before. Our lunch time destination was Yea and this was a very busy junction for people returning from their Cup Weekend getaways. We enjoyed a quick bite here at the picnic tables in the centre median strip, said our goodbyes and thanked Ian and Carol Mallows and Anne Irwin for providing us with a wonderful trip. Our return route to Warragul was via Toolangi to Healesville which fortunately enabled us to avoid the bulk of the returning weekender traffic.
Words and pictures by Phil Barnard
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Le Tour de Indigo – Cup Weekend
Four sports cars and a Panzer Wagon (PW) started off on the Saturday in appalling weather, no hoods were down, and we all wished to be driving the PW ? ie Steve and Noola?s new, to them, black Mercedes 450 SEL.
Ian & Carol Mallows, in a Ferrari red MX5, together with Malcolm & Anne Irwin, in their white WRX were responsible for organising this 4 day tour. And well organised it was. Along for the ride was also Pam & Glenn Campbell, in their Ferrari red Porsche 911, Phil & Judy Barnard in their Silver Porsche Boxster, and Peter and Anne Whitney, in their green Monaro GTS.
We cleared the bad weather by Marysville, after crossing the divide on the Black Spur. Morning Tea was had at a Marysville bakery, followed by a quick sprint to just beyond Mansfield to Tolmie showgrounds. Eventually we made our way via the King Valley into Beechworth where we all were based for 3 nights.
Sunday dawned a beautiful day, cool but sunny, and we were treated to some of the finest scenery in Victoria on our way over to the Mitta Mitta Pub for lunch. This is on the now sealed Omeo Highway and well worth the visit. A visit and coffee was essential in Yakandandah on the way home.
Monday was another gorgeous day, as we wound our way over to Mt Beauty, where all Ferraris or Ferrari red cars were being stopped for inspection by the local constabulary. Onwards to Bright via Tawonga Gap, and very slow Camry drivers!! I think Camry?s are the new Volvos. And then a spectacular climb up Mt Buffalo. The PW was struggling to keep up on the windy or speedy bits. Peter Whitney had already lost all feeling in his shoulders from wrenching the big Holden around the curves the previous day.
Tuesday was the return trip to Gippsland, via some great back roads through Tatong, Yea and Healesville.
Words by Glenn Campbell, pictures by Malcolm and Anne Irwin
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