DAY 1 – SATURDAY, 24 SEPTEMBER 2016 – John & LynJohnston (Chrysler 65 Sedan)
Rockbank to Horsham – 165 miles (266 kms)
We left home about 8 am to head across Melbourne to where we were to meet up at the BP Service Centre at Rockbank by 10:30 am for morning tea and to top up with petrol. Cars arrived from far and wide (from Gippsland and Morning Peninsula to name a couple of places). Other rallyists from further afield were meeting up with the group that night at Horsham and some who had attended the Bay to Birdwood would be joining us a couple of days later.
We travelled along the Western Highway cruising over the Pentland Hills and noticed Pikes Creek reservoir was full after all the recent rain. Another petrol stop at Ballarat and at Beaufort for a bite to eat.
We passed through Ararat, Great Western and Dadswell Bridge passing the “Big Koala” with views of the Grampians in the distance. Crops of canola and grain were growing well after all the spring rain. Lots of water about with lakes full.
We arrived at our accommodation in Horsham where we had a “Meet and Greet” meal in the motel restaurant. Although we had light showers at times during the day, that evening we had some steady rain.
Beginning of the tyre problems
Our Welcome Dinner
DAY 2 – SUNDAY, 25 SEPTEMBER 2016 – Ian & Margaret Morley (Essex)
Horsham to Meningie - 240 miles (387 kms)
We all left Horsham half an hour ahead of schedule. The clear skies above did cloud over with occasional light rain showers bringing hand operated windscreen wipers into action. After the previous heavy rains, the countryside was “water over road” signs still in situ with water and flood debris lapping on the road edges. The obvious large increased stock numbers (both sheep and cattle) in the sodden paddocks may have been the result of the need to find higher ground for the stock.
Approaching the SA border, the quarantine notice warned all Victorians not to bring fruit, vegetables, plants into SA or suffer dire consequences if you did not utilise the bin provided. This resulted in some early morning tea stops to consume the banned produce.
There were no “Farewell to Victoria” or “Welcome to SA” road signs. Instead it was that the road speed sign changed to 110 and the marked deterioration of the road surface that indicated we were now in SA. Our cars were free to investigate issues of interest or need en route. One classic car often zoomed past us but strangely we never passed him!!!
We were the first car to find the lunch stop at Kingston located at the Lion’s Club foreshore park. News of a collection of historical cars parked there filtered through the town and a steady procession of local cars drove through looking at us.
The afternoon run to Meningie was not without its dramas. One of the vintage cars had mechanical problems and a classic car had a “blow out” so its spare tyre was brought into action. With a vintage car yesterday requiring the use of its spare tyre, we now have two tyre incidents in two days.
Overnight accommodation was between two Meningie motels with the change from Eastern Standard Time to Central Time delaying our evening meal by half an hour.
DAY 3 – MONDAY, 26 SEPTEMBER 2016 – Ian & Margaret Morley (Essex)
Meningie to Blanchetown - 143 miles (230 kms)
Confusion took centre stage today. Communications were sometimes misunderstood and by the end of the day cars were at all points of the compass attempting to find their bed for the night. It did not help that two more vintage cars had flat tyres, ie 4 in 3 days. Ours occurred on a dirt road seldom travelled. It was 50 minutes before the next car caught up with us. Fortunately coming from the other direction a car carrying 2 retired Adelaide gentlemen who had been on a bird watching trip came to our assistance. The crossing and recrossing of the Murray today was itself effortless. The ferries all worked efficiently back and forth transporting all modes of transport varying from pedestrians to a truck of cattle. Needless the say, our vehicles created attention and interest. We used 3 bridges and 6 ferry trips today all servicing different geographical needs. In some instances the high cliffs along the Murray River were vary imposing.
The township of Mannum (our lunch stop) was very picturesque from 19th century homes along the foreshore to the paddle steamer “Murray Princess” and houseboats moored nearby.
Having initially fuelled at Meningie (as requested), we then refuelled (as also requested) to record the litres we used on that specific leg.
Our travellers were glad to reach the destination of our proposed two day stop over to rest and recoup. The Portee Station (built in 1873) is now self catering accommodation right on the Murray and proved to be an extremely luxurious venue. The BBQ was lit and we dined in style amongst period furniture in this large restored mansion.
DAY 4 – TUESDAY, 27 SEPTEMBER 2016 – Ian & Margaret Morley (Essex)
As designated in the now infamous “Blue Book”, today is the day to relax and enjoy our surroundings and to arrange any necessary repairs or maintenance to the car. How true was that prediction for many of us.
To provide all year round river navigation and for irrigation diversions, the Lock 1 was built right in Blanchetown in 1922.
Most of us took the available Wetland and Winery Tour in a 1927 Chevrolet truck. The owner driver cum commentator was most informative and helpful to the point of even traversing the truck between specific old trees that once lined the Sydney to Adelaide route taken by Cobb & Co. He also indicated a canoe tree believed to be over 400 years old.
Over the years our property owner guide, by using native vegetation, undertook to address the excessive salt problem of the soil. Other trees he had planted had died off due to flooding events only to regenerate from the original roots. Due to excessive rain currently occurring up north with the water moving southwards, it is feared another great flood is likely and these tees are again threatened.
1928 Chev Charabanc
Peeping over the fence
DAY 5 – WEDNESDAY, 28 SEPTEMBER 2016 – David Peck & Pam Telford (1928 Chevrolet)
Blanchetown to Renmark - 111 miles (178 kms)
A few folk got a bit of a fright there maybe a rather big storm tonight.
Just in case, off from Portee they went not too much time in the towns to be spent.
Eventually the rest of us packed up, finished our tea and washed our cups.
What a tranquil spot with birds each morning plenty could be heard.
Across our path there hopped a roo, then too a flock of cockatoos, like a fast rising cloud they rose, we scared them off I do suppose.
Stopped at Morgan – water tank to see, then on to Waikirie for a cup of tea.
The bakery beckoned for some of us, we had coffee and cake without any fuss.
The road to Barmera with the truckies and rain, we kept far left and gave them the lane.
We had decided we’d detour on a mission, which we wouldn’t depart from in the same condition.
Waterproof on my lap the rain wasn’t a shock as we stopped to buy wine at vineyard Banrock.
Portee Station was all very well, but Banrock Station had wine to sell!
Off we went, happy as Larry, port and wine in a free bag to carry.
Barmera wasn’t too far away, stopped as suggested at the Bluebird café.
Ate our lunch overlooking the lake, small glass of wine, coffee, no cake
The time at this point was a quarter to 3, except for the flies, a great place to be.
Onwards to Berri – a bridge not a ferry, not purchasing here, too dear I fear.
Not that much rain, the sun peeping through a rainbow or two - a beautiful hue.
Not too much to report, hardly saw a soul, far too fast for us, Renmark their goal.
Just as we thought our day was complete and as we were driving up the street we had one more thing it was the rule, to go and fill the car with fuel.
Our hopes were dashed – the power was out, seemed no point in hanging about.
Tea was off and we weren’t sure, so to Woolworths before they shut their doors.
We found a campsite while it was half light but as we began to prepare for the night, the heavens opened and the wind blew, we sat in the cab to see the storm through.
It all abated, it passed overhead, it wasn’t too long, we were fed and in bed.
An eventful day, not too long a drive, a storm and some rain, but we’re still alive.
The Rugby headlights helping out in the blackout at Renmark
Dinner by candlelight
DAY 6 – THURSDAY, 29TH SEPTEMBER 2016 – John & Marion Rhodes (Rugby)
Renmark to Tooleybuc – 231 miles (372 kms)
We did a short tiki tour around the back of town and found a couple of car farms, specialising in rusty Fords. Finally found the correct exit out of town. With threatening weather we did not stop to watch the lift bridge being operated as the rest of the group did not.
We had a buffeted drive to Wentworth, just ahead of the storm. Wind was cold and light rain made sightseeing in Wentworth brief. Caught sight of the paddlesteamer Ruby which was moored at the main wharf in anticipation of customers for river cruising.
While tiki touring around the town, saw the “little tractor”, Massey Ferguson. Carried on further and saw the junction of the Murray-Darling Rivers converge. Muddy brown flood waters of the Murray mingling with the Darling “cleaner’ waters. Loch number 10 is at Wentworth.
We did not call in to see the Wentworth jail as we have been ‘to jail” before.
We came across the first traffic lights since Murray Bridge.
Our instructions for today mentioned a visit to the Psyche Bend Pumping Station. On approaching this road, I was a little apprehensive on going down this road as it was wet and MUDDY. But the Rugby handled it with no problem. We passed a car stuck in the mud, but we carried on. Road got muddier and had water right across the road but we carried on. Finally got to the Pump Station only to find nobody there. John had a quick look around while I stayed warm and dry. Turned around to go back the way we came and found the car still stuck in the mud. Stopped to ask the driver if he needed a hand to get out and he said the RACV would turn up within half an hour. We decided to tow him out but only had a light rope with us but was a bit stretchy. Just perfect! A gentle nudge and we dragged the Ford Territory back on to the centre of the road. The owner could not believe we had the traction to get through the mud, little alone have the power to extract him.
We used a drive through car wash puddle to clean up the Rugby ready to go again.
Gave Chaffeys House a miss, cos the Navman couldn’t pick up the number and we were starting to run out of time. Drove on to Robinvale, still very light rain and the wind has dropped. An hour later the rain was on with a vengeance. Turned off to Tooleybuc, crossed another bridge and found our way to our motel for the night.
All of us went to the Tooleybuc Pub for a pleasant meal but numbers overwhelmed the kitchen staff and eventually everyone was fed. Complimentary wine and after dinner muscat was passed around.
DAY 7 – FRIDAY, 30th SEPTEMBER 2016 – John & Barbara Macgibbon (Modern)
Tooleybuc to Barham – 134 miles (216 kms)
After all the rain and wind yesterday, Friday has dawned fine, cool and partly cloudy.
Our first stop (to buy a Melbourne Herald-Sun) was not far from our motel in Tooleybuc. While sitting in the car, I noticed a car and caravan drive past and guess what the lady in the passenger seat had sitting on her knees – “a tabby cat”. I have seen lots of pets in cars over the years but never a cat looking out the window at me.
While waiting to cross the bridge over the Murray River in Tooleybuc, I noticed 15 different road signs for drivers to take in, in about 20 metres. That is ridiculous!!
We left our motel at 9:25 am – vintage cars first, driving to Kyalite, past the Tooleybuc cemetery. Lots of wheat crops and grazing land intermixed with natural bushland. We then caught our first glimpse of the Wakool River. Later we arrived at the Kyalite Store and Pub (combined) for a photo shoot of all the vintage cars on our tour.
Along the way we noticed a number of road signs which had been painted over in the Footscray Football Club colours – red, white and blue.
Opposite the store/hotel was a Burke & Wills memorial date 1860-01, which featured a 25 pounder mobile gun behind a rock and metal plaque identifying the memorial. There were three unusual gum trees growing in the memorial park. Their trunks and branches seemed to be highly polished in a brown/green colour.
Morning tea was very enjoyable and we learned of the history of the store/hotel which was first opened in 1854. They had a large glass aquarium with several goldfish, many water grasses and a vintage car on one corner of the fish tank.
It is amazing how many relatively small towns also have sports grounds and/or golf clubs. I also noticed quite a few properties with now dead fruit trees and vines. Our next large down was Nyah. We also passed a farm where
“Australia’s first rice” was grown. There must be a lot of Footscray fans up here. Along the Speewa Punt Road was a large decoration of wire wrapped in club coloured streamers.
We used the Speewa Ferry Crossing – maximum of 3 cars per trip. Continuing on this road we noticed how very wet the country was and the rain began to fall.
Back in Victoria in Swan Hill we stopped for lunch at the bakery. Swan Hill has changed since I last saw it. We left Swan Hill via the Melbourne Road then turned on to Pental Island Road. Lots of water on both sides of this road. We continued on until we saw the “Welcome to Barham” sign. It also said the “elevation is 50 metres”.
Just how old is this photo??
Great Morning Roadside Tea stop
DAY 8 – SATURDAY, 1ST OCTOBER 2016 – Ann Drysdale (Modern)
Lyle really was looking forward to today as we are I his home territory with many memories. Up early we could skip the motel breakfast and left at 8 am for the Wetlands. Breakfast with the Birds Cruise on the Bungower Creek. As we cruised at a leisurely pace we were provided with a sumptuous breakfast and great commentary. I have seen the Bungower Island in drought but never as green and healthy as it is now.
Back on dry land we drove in convoy to Murrabit market. Here we met a friend from the Kerang Club and collected 5 wheels for the T Model. The market would normally have tempted me with plants and produce, but the touring means it would be impractical to buy these things.
Next stop was Benjeroop hall where the Kerang Car Club provided a barbecue lunch before the large pump engine was started (it proved to be rather temperamental but finally went into action). We next went to the Barham Flywheelers Club with their extensive collection of engines, tractors and all sorts of farm equipment and domestic displays. After all we’ve eaten today, there’s no need to eat out!
DAY 9 – SUNDAY, 2ND OCTOBER 2016 – Jan & Ian Kennedy (1929 DeSoto)
Barham to Mathoura – 134 miles (216 kms)
Today was the shortest day of the Murray Meander as daylight savings started, making it a 23 hour day.
Crossing the 15th bridge at Koondrook, we inspected the wooden carving (in their little shelters) along the river bank.
We followed Gunbower Creek most of the morning on sealed and unsealed roads and had morning tea on Fox Island. Continued on to Torrumbarry Weir and lock.
On to Echuca for lunch at Beechworth Bakery where 2 vintage car drivers parked their cars on the footpath next to the bakery van.
Crossed the 16th bridge into Moama where entering traffic from Denny Ute Muster was at a standstill.
Then to the ghost town of Womboota to the old School of Arts hall which was propped up after blowing down in 1906. On to old school winery for tasting of wine and mead and a very interesting and informative pit toilet. Bob’s course put a load test on the vintage vehicles with a head wind whether we travelled north, west or east.
Arrived at Mathoura, checked out the water tank. Refuelled for tomorrow. All staying at same motel, except for the campers.
Walked to Bowls Club for a meal. Some did all right in the trivia questions and the yellow Dodge campers won a meat raffle. They said they have been last all week and won the last meat raffle!!
Today’s drive through scenic country was a credit to Bob.
Winners of the meat raffle
DAY 10 – MONDAY, 3RD OCTOBER 2016 - Ken & Marj Davidson (1929 Chevrolet)
Mathoura to Nathalia – 71 miles (115 kms)
The day started by us going to the Reed Beds Bird Hide just out of Mathoura where we saw a few birds. Before we left the Hide we were told there was water over the road before the place where we were going to have a cuppa by the Murray. After the Hide we went to Barmah over the Murray. Turned up the road at the pub to go to the Kingfisher Cruise, we drove through a bit of water on the road to get there. The cruise was very interesting. The operator, a local, was very informative and the cruise was an experience as he took us to places not usually done. We saw some stranded animals on high land.
After lunch we followed the Broken Creek. We had an interesting and pleasant drive along the dirt roads. Arrived in Nathalia, our overnight stay, earlier than expected.
It just had to be done!!!
DAY 11 – TUESDAY, 4TH OCTOBER 2016 - Liz & Barry Hoghton (Model A Tourer)
Nathalia to Howlong - 157 miles (254 kms)
Today we travelled 254 kms from Nathalia to Howlong. The day didn’t start well for the Hoghtons who had a puncture before even leaving the motel. First river crossing of 7 today was number 29 on our trip. Our first stop was at the strawberry farm and I’m sure the owners would have been very happy with the many produce purchases that were made. After leaving the farm we took a detour through an area with acres and acres of citrus fruits, a very pretty drive and we didn’t get lost!
In Tocumwal we visited the Aerodrome Museum which is temporarily based at the Bowling Club, but as the Bowling Club is moving to join the Golf Club, the Aero Museum is again looking to re-locate.
The tragedy of Eric Johnson occurred when his parachute line became entangled in the tail plane of the Dakota they were flying.
Our designated lunch spot at Thompsons Beach (Cobram) had the tide well and truly in – it was flooded and road closed. More options had to be found but not too hard to find.
Burramine Homestead was a handy stop if you were looking for a beer or a cider (and some did!). The olive farm was also worth a stop, many choices of olive oil, olives and olive products to choose from.
While the weather earlier in the day hadn’t been too bad, as we reached Wagunyah/Corowa area the heavens opened and hail, rain, thunder and lightning struck. One vehicle had a blowout, which had to be changed in pouring rain.
Another near mishap when a certain “Chev” had a “logadile” (or was that a stickadile) nearly hit his car (those on the Kingfisher Cruise would know the terminology).
After making it safely over crossing number 35, we met for dinner at the Howlong Golf Club.
Just another tyre repair
DAY 12 – WEDNEDAY, 5TH OCTOBER 2016 - McCorkelle Bros (the Dodge Bros)
Howlong to Corryong – 168 miles (270 kms)
Tales from the tailend
It seems appropriate that for the last day of river crossings the last car do the report! Determined not to be last today, we packed up early and got on the road (early) on time. I’d decided to travel in a fast car and rode shot gun with Peter Johnson in the Dodge Victory 6, that way I’d know exactly what was planned for the day. Great plan! Didn’t work. Unfortunately for Peter, I was his navigator. This resulted in us getting lost, totally lost! Even the lady in the Navman couldn’t help us. We finally worked it out and guess what! Last vintage car on to the Wymah Ferry, and last car into the flooded picnic grounds at Jingellic. The curse of the tailend had me!
No sooner had we arrived in Jingellic, we were off again, as everyone else had plenty of time for lunch. I swapped positions with my brother, John, and took charge of the yellow Dodge. It was sunny and a good day for vintage motoring. This was my chance, I was going to make it to Corryong, not last…….
Before leaving Jingellic, a quick check of fuel revealed things were pretty grim. Emergency fuel was taken in the nice little town of Walwa from the general store.
The next bridge was at Tintaldra. No sooner had I gone over the bridge the road was covered in water. Already, not another vintage car in sight, I was lost. AGAIN! Lyle and Ann, also lost, smartly did a U-turn. I didn’t, and ended up climbing up a cliff faced like road and in a place called Tooma. I’d have to say it was the most spectacular wrong turn I’ve ever made. To see the countryside in flood is truly amazing. Earlier in the day we’d stopped at the Hume Weir and it just proved that we live in a land of drought and flooding rains.
After the unplanned visit to Tooma, I knew I’d be last again, but you know what? I didn’t mind this time….. we continued on, enjoying the rare day of sunshine and quiet a few times having to negotiate water covered roads. I got the Dodge bogged in Towong trying to do a U-turn after another wrong turn, but I was already coming last, so whatever! It all just added to the “fun”.
Another “water crossing” greeted us on approaching Corryong, as did a little drizzle (heaven forbid it be a rain free day!). As you enter Corryong, here is a 50 kmph sign and also a pub. That pub is where my day ended! Last again! According to another member who travelled further along the Murray, the remaining crossings were all well flooded. Truly a remarkable sight.
Queuing for the ferry
Great spot for a picnic
DAY 12 – WEDNESDAY, 5th OCTOBER 2016 - Glenda & Arnold Chivers (1929 Ford A)
The venue was at Riley’s Restaurant at our motel.
As always there is a tinge of sadness, knowing that we are all going our own ways home. We had a lovely meal with one of Bob’s quizzes to keep us occupied during courses. A winner was announced with some protesting from the crowd.
A thank you speech to Bob and Nevis was made by Wayne and then a few words by Bob.
All said their farewells and retired to their accommodation around 9:30pm.
Enjoying the final dinner
DAY 13 – THURSDAY, 6TH OCTOBER 2016 - Glenda & Arnold Chivers (1929 Ford A)
Corryong to Home
Clear blue skies for people travelling home today. Some travelling over the hills and staying a couple of nights elsewhere, others down the highway home. Most importantly we all need to stay safe with flooded roads and many road closures.
What a great Challenge of the Twenties and it certainly was a Murray Meander. Whilst the weather could have been better, we got to see an incredible event unfold. So much water!!! It certainly was the Mighty Murray. I think all our thoughts are with the local farmers.
A very enjoyable tour with many great memories!!