We left Albany on 24th September, by car and trailer to travel across to the rally as the Rover was already in Ararat. The road across was quite good and not too much traffic. We had a couple of really long days before arriving in Ararat. The rain had been ahead of us.
We spent a couple of days in Ararat before making our way to
Parkes in N.S.W. We were told that we were going to be in the
area when the Parkes Elvis Festival was an annual event to be
held in January every year. It has been running since 1993 with
only 300 people attending and had now growing to over 15,000.
Not bad for a town with a population of about 10,000 people.
There is a museum there for us to see.
By the time we got to Parkes and booked in Colin and Brit
Butler, Bob and Maureen Whittingstall and Kelvin Mears and Paul
Armstrong and Pat were already set up in the same caravan park.
It was good to see some others from our club supporting this
event. Our son Jeff and his partner Fleur and son Jarrah were to
arrive the next day. Altogether there were 27 entrants from W.A.
What a great show.
We started of with a welcome BBQ at the Parkes showgrounds, it
was a clear night. In fact we never had any rain for the whole
rally. It was a great time to catch up with old friends and meet
new ones. Some of the bikes were on display at the showgrounds
and certainly looked impressive.
The official start was on the 30th September at approximately 9.30 am and was to be the shortest run of the week. 66 km to the Big Dish which is one of the town’s biggest tourist attractions? The Telescope was built in 1961. The diameter of 64m. With a collecting area of the dish is 3216 square metres, weighs 300 tonnes and can rotate 360 degrees in 15 minutes. It has been rebuilt many times to keep it current. It was interesting to read that approximately 300 researchers use the telescope each year and more than 40% of the users are from overseas.
After a healthy lunch of beef & red wine pies (locally
made) and chips, we made our way back to town via the Elvis
Presley Museum, which had a few cars, motorcycles and
memorabilia. This was followed closely by a visit to the Henry
Parkes Museum and Antique Machinery Exhibit showing an extensive
history of the area. Each night was the same ritual –
check the bikes over for the next day. Put them to bed and then
check what was coming up for the next day.
Then next day we were of to Yarrabandai and the model airplane
show, this was interesting. We then visited a 1920 homestead. It
was here we had our only shower of rain. This stopped us walking
around the grounds. By the time we moved off again it had
stopped and it was on to the R.S.L serviceman’s club for lunch.
The bus is usually available for non-riders and family
member’s cuts down the traffic on the road and with the right
driver, can be a lot of fun I am told by those who have used it
in the past. On these two days Fleur and I had travelled on the
bus with Jarrah and had been disappointed that the bus driver
had only been interested in travelling from the start to morning
tea stop then on to the lunch stop then back to the finish as
quick as possible. We had not had time to see anything. Neil was
happy in one of the back up vehicles and Jeff had been riding
the Rover and it was going great.
On the third day we decided to go in the car and Brit came with
us. We had a great time and still meet up with the guys at the
stops each time. The riders were not happy with the conditions
of the roads with the very old bikes it was very rough.
On the Thursday, Jeff decided he wasn’t riding and came in the
car too. We took Neil up to the start and he went in the back up
with Jenny Sargent again. And we took of in the car. Found a
little leather place that makes great vintage motorcycle tool
boxes. Of course we bought one for Neil so he can work out how
he can do it himself.
Then met up in Canowindra for lunch and a stroll around the
little town, found some interesting bargains. By this time
everyone is starting to feel tired. No half days off, promise of
a short run tomorrow and the farewell tea at night.
We were all up early today as the rally starts at 9am, Fleur
and I decided we would go on the bus for the last day. Jeff was
riding. We started off with a short run and back to
another serviceman’s club for lunch. We had the riders meeting
and the venue for 2015 was shown and then it was off again. Not
long after we were back on the road there was an accident with
one of the entrants. He ended up being air-lifted to hospital.
Fortunately he’s making a slow but positive recovery.
Saturday we were packed up and back on the road heading for home. The social aspect of these rallies is really something that you need to experience. I have never been to a National Veteran Motorcycle Rally before (I let the boys go). But ladies the Rally family is enormous and it doesn’t take long to make a lifetime of new friends that miss you the very first time you miss a Veteran Rally. They ask after anyone that hasn’t turned up and has been there before.