Every two years somewhere in Australia, the National Veteran Rally is held. This is for motorcycles made before 1919 only. Each time the numbers increase, with this year’s event reaching 130 entries. Among these are some very rare makes such as Perry Vale, Thor & King, also some more popular ones like Triumph.
Left Albany on Saturday 13th loaded with two old bikes -1912 Rover and 1914 Triumph. I headed to Perth, via Dwellingup (lots of bikes in the hills), Mandurah, and then to Perth to meet my son Jeff who is coming to Kingaroy as well. I came across an accident in the hills near Dwellingup. A trike coming towards me suddenly locked his front wheel and went across in front of my bumper then off in to the bush destroying his trike and injuring the rider and pillion. Lucky he missed the biggest trees. His friends soon called the ambulance.
Sunday 14th - Swapped the trailer and all the gear into Jeff’s new car and left aiming for the night at Norseman. Stopping for fuel at Coolgardie, we noticed oil spatter on the front of the trailer. Found oil coming from the diff. Called the 24 hour hotline and soon a local mechanic arrived in his Sunday best suit- hardly looked and told us to go on to Kalgoorlie to see the Mitsubishi dealer. Easy call out fee. Arrived at Kalgoorlie, found the dealer will open 7.30 am and then eventually found accommodation in an expensive motel. The town is packed with mining contractors. One of our neighbours was an attractive working girl who seemed to have a lot of friends calling.
Monday 15th Kalgoorlie - Nundroo.
Up early and waiting at the Mitsubishi Dealer to open. They looked at the car immediately and found the diff drain plug to be loose. We were soon fixed and on our way with an extra 180km to make up to get back on schedule. Long drive on to Nundroo in South Australia arriving at midnight. Saw my first wombat out on the Nullabor. I’ve been across at least 20 times before and never seen one. As in the past, we stopped at Mundrabilla for lunch and fuel. The food is good and the fuel is cheaper than anywhere else out there.
Tuesday 16th Nundroo - Wilmington (as no beds in Port Augusta)
We left before 6.30 am. Next stop Ceduna then on to Pt Augusta to see some friends, then on to Wilmington for the night. We stopped at the Pub. Good meal and good beds. Interesting town Wilmington where there is a Land Rover Museum. It was closed as is everything in town on Tuesday. They all play Golf!
Wednesday 17th Wilmington -Broken Hill. Stopped at Peterborough and looked at the beaut motorcycle museum. About 100 bikes all restored. Some really rare small bikes too. Good café nearby for an early lunch. Between Peterborough and Broken Hill we must have seen a million goats along the road side.
Arrived at Broken Hill, we had time to look in the Mineral
Museum – Good. Booked in at the Caravan Park, did some washing
and met other Veteran Motorcyclists also on their way to
Thursday 18th Broken Hill - Little Topar Roadhouse (for cheap fuel). They have a tin shark in the lake nearby and this time the water was high and it looked great. Cobar next for food and fuel. Cobar now much better town due to the mining. Next to Gilgandra for the night. Good meal at R.S.L. club.
Friday 19th Gilgandra - Goondiwindi.
On the edge of Gilgandra is a huge yard full of old cars mostly 50s -70s. Also several local businesses use restored old cars. Next stop Coonabarabran where we looked at a local museum. Very interesting fossils and minerals. The locals recommend a scenic tour of the mountains but we didn’t have time so instead went to the Sandstone Caves. Well worth the stop. On through Narrabri and Moree. Don’t like Moree as the rif-raf have taken over. Lots of empty houses and shops wrecked. Arrived at Goondiwindi and booked into the Caravan Park. Brought Chinese for tea.
Saturday 20th Goondiwindi – Kingaroy.
No rush today as we can’t book in at Kingaroy until the afternoon. When we arrived it was great to catch up with all our friends some of whom we only see at the National Veteran Rally every 2 years. I also picked up and delivered parts from others who came from all over Australia. All the rally entrants were booked into three parks all near by.
Sunday 21st (1st day of the Rally)
Collect rally packs and put rally shirts on, catch up with more friends in the afternoon, a short shakedown run of 50kms then the Welcome Dinner in the evening at the nearby school hall. Everyday we had the local police help at one very busy corner; also the rally organisers had marshals at all other major corners. Wonderful.
Monday 22nd (day 2) 100km run, in fine weather to Kumbia. Great ride on quiet roads, Lunch at the local hall. Jeff found an old clock in the antique shop nearby and sent it back to base in the supporter’s bus with Ken & Kelly.
Tuesday 23rd (day 3) 100kms Ride to Tingoora. Overcast weather, very wet later, lots of wet magnetos and slipping belts. The back-up trailers were busy. I had the day off and Jeff rode the 1912 Rover.
Wednesday 24th (day 4) We had a short ride into town to put on a public display at the Senior Citizens Centre where I met the guy who made some cams for me a few years ago. We had a meeting and voted for the next venues - 2013: Parkes, N.S.W. 2015 Ararat, Victoria. We then went a short ride around town then out to see a junior speedway track in action, speedway memorabilia, some old tractors and a steam tractor in action.
Thursday 25th (day 5) 100kms in fine weather, good ride but some big hills that stopped some bikes. We had lunch at the little school in Tanguringe. The kids sang songs and three of them cracked whips in time with music. Amazing! There was a line up of 27 veteran Triumphs on the road with three more in trailers.
Friday 26th (day 6) 80 kms in fine weather to Nanango. Jeff rode the Rover today as the Triumph wasn’t too good. I had an easy day, washing, photocopying and packing ready for an early getaway Saturday to head home. We had the farewell dinner at the R.S.L. club. Good company and many goodbyes.
Saturday 27th Kingaroy to Gilgandra. Long drive in good weather
Sunday 28th Gilgandra to Broken Hill. We passed a bloke on a postie bike miles from nowhere. He was loaded with 2 big tubs on the carrier and his swag in front of him. Also saw wild pigs and goats on the roadside. We fuelled up at Little Topar again. Arrived at Broken Hill, early enough for some more sight-seeing. At the Miners Memorial it was sad to read how many miners were killed or died from the mining. Later at the caravan park we heard an old British single go past - gave chase but couldn’t find it. We asked the park boss but he had no idea. He’s only lived there for 40 years! While in the Park, Jeff met a former workmate who is now working in Broken Hill.
Monday 29th Broken Hill – Point Germaine. Many more miles and goats before we fuelled up and had lunch at Peterborough. Phone message from our friend and club member, Key Brownlie saying he is held up so won’t catch up with us in Pt Pirie after all. Arrived at Pt Pirie and found some other friends then on to Port Germaine Caravan Park for the night. Here I met a young lady that I worked with in Albany. Small world. Good meal at the pub.
Tuesday 30th Port Germaine – Nundroo. We woke up to find a half flat tyre on the trailer. This was the spare we had put on back at Broken Hill because the other tyre was looking poorly. On to Port Augusta where the Big Bridgestone/Michelin shop was not helpful at all. We finally found D & G Tyres in a side street and they fixed us up with 2 very good tyres fitted for $50. On our way again, stopping for a look at Iron Knob where Australia’s iron & steel Industry started. Next we stopped at a big police roadblock at Kimba. We were all clear but I’m glad I had good tyres on the trailer. Later found out they were looking for a drug shipment. Went on to Nundroo for the night.
Nundroo – Norseman. As we were waiting for fuel 7am an old truck pulled in. Bob & Mary Sutcliffe on their way home from an old truck re-enactment, Good to see them and their dog. Soon we were on the way again. Out on the Nullabor is a bottle tree, a sock tree, a thong tree, a bag tree and a Xmas tree. Next stop Border Village quarantine check. No worries, now on to Mundrabilla for fuel and food, on again to Norseman. We fuelled up at the Shell station in town, then to the caravan park. We asked at the park about food. They said “go to B.P. as the afternoon cook at the Norseman Caltex is terrible".
Thursday 1st Norseman – Perth. Nearly home.
Good run to Jeff’s place in Perth, All the crops look good for the farmers. Arrived early in the afternoon to immediately get all Jeff’s lawnmowers going. We just finished mowing and it poured with rain.
Friday 2nd More work at Jeff’s before he goes back to work.
Saturday 3rd I arrived back in Albany. Good to be home.
All together we had a wonderful 3 weeks. Yes it’s a long drive and costs a bit. We stopped in caravan parks, motels, and pubs and had decent meals. We made a bit of a holiday doing some tourist things as well as catching up with friends on the way. There was a beaut 1913 Triumph project sold during the rally. It came to W.A. A big group of riders went over from W.A. Neil, Jeff, Key, Jeff, Lynton, Colin, Paul, Macca, Muzza, Sharon, Gary, Suzie, Kevin, Greg, Andrew and Bill. The best part is to be with people who ride, fix, love and understand really old motorcycles.