MID-WEEK RUN to WILLOW GROVE, Wednesday 14th April

50 BIG SMILES AND A DIFFERENT LONG LUNCH

It was just another fine Wednesday morning for The Stump Tearooms in Darnum on the 14th April. Then change began to stir as the unusual cars began to arrive outside and their drivers shuffled inside. More and more and more turned up, all keen to enjoy another good day put on by the Club.

As they downed coffee with cream & jam scones, so the level of chatter noise began to escalate. By the time 10.30 arrived all tables & chairs were taken and the friendly conversation began to get louder, louder and louder. By the time John Fowler summoned them “all outside” for the drivers’ briefing, the mid-week drivers were full of The Stump’s fine cooking and looking forward to some fine motoring.

Within minutes, Commander Fowler had them all filed in behind his impressive classic Jaguar 3.8 S-type. They totalled nearly 30 cars with nearly 50 people all looking forward to enjoying the Gippsland scenery, hills, curves and farm stock.

Little happened ’til the group had covered over 10kms northward to break free of the mundane flat lands around the freeway and we turned west at Crossover. At that point began what Gippsland touring is all about.

We weaved out way through Rokeby and onto the Jindivik – Neerim South Road. The curves, the views, the variety of farms continued as did the interesting quality of the drive. Heaps of it. Great stuff.

By the time we were rolling along the Old Sale Road the sun came out the drive got even better. This mid-week outing proved excellent with only the one slow farm vehicle briefly reducing our progress. But like all good Gippy farmers he pulled over as soon as he realised what was following: so it was back on the throttle and on with the sports-type drive.

Our group had the lot: late Porsches, classic Brits, convertibles, sun roofs, Jap turbos, Australian muscle, German 4WD sports and of course Asian SUVs. Not two cars alike in our group.

And then all too soon it came to an end. The small town of Willow Grove came into view marking the destination. We all had enjoyed over an hour’s top motoring. Great cars, top roads, superb views.

We parked at the back of the Willow Grove pub and walked in for lunch. We were all there by 12.15 midday.

The menu offered the usual pub food at friendly prices so we put in our orders and waited. Waited and waited.

Time passes slowly for hungry drivers, and time began to drag when the first hour slipped by. Eventually, a few of us did get food and at the second hour the kitchen produced the final lunches. By then everyone was so hungry anything would have been appreciated. And pub food is pub food, made even better by a long wait. Whoopie – we gulped it down.

Here’s to the next run, the scones at The Stump, the empty flowing farmland roads and Gippsland’s approach to a longggggg lunch.

Derek Pickard MX5

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