50th Year Collie Pre '55 Rally



13TH – 17TH OCTOBER 2011


Response: Outstanding.

From the majority of the TC Owners Club, from UK/NZ, USA, Borneo, NSW, Victoria and South Australia.

Cars: Fabulous.

29 TCs, 2 TAs, J2 Racer, SA Saloon, 2 TDs, 2 TFs, 1 YA, 1 YT, plus the comings and goings of 3 other TCs.

Food: Sensational.

Thursday night’s cocktail food by Pam McQueen and Friday, Saturday and Sunday night’s by Giulia @ Ridge Restaurant.

Accommodation: Quality.

Nice rooms, large function centre, ideal parking.


Early in the week, visitors started to arrive from all directions. The Douglas’ via Singapore from their latest epic TC journey across Russia, China, Mongolia etc., then the Peltons with Doug immediately examining in minute detail everything TC he could find. Word came from Michael Morrow and Bill Kerr that they’d reached Southern Cross from Ballarat in TC/7937 (ex Dick O’Donnell) sans any semblance of springs or Dunlopillo in the seats! Ouch! They arrived at 100 Coode St., preferring to stand for the rest of the day. Phil Dadd and Bev had snuck in to the Compton’s on Molloy Island in his TA, way down at Augusta, Peter himself having just almost restored TC/7699 in Clipper Blue, its original colour. The Douglas’ had been busy arranging a slideshow of their journey.

Down at RPYC’s Fremantle annex, in the late Thursday afternoon sun, banners were going up, chairs and tables moved around and PA systems checked. Pam McQueen and her staff were carting food into the kitchen and setting up. At the entrance TCs were arranged with 9490 on one side and 9491 on the other, both having made the entire 50 year Club journey with their owners. The centre spot was reserved for 7937, the Ballarat Boys Michael and Bill having driven across Australia for the occasion.

Soon, everyone began arriving. Almost at once the Rally was underway amid food, drinks and ‘the buzz’. At 7pm an official welcome was extended. Our visitors were brought forward individually to be presented with their Rally Packs and made familiar to the group:

 All the way from the USA
 Doug and Carol Pelton
 From the Far East & China (Really UK/NZ) Bob & Lyn Douglas
 From Borneo
 Chris & Daun Morris
 From NSW in a TA  
 Phil Dadd & Bev Anderson
 From Ballarat in a TC 
 Michael Morrow & Bill Kerr
 Also from NSW 
 Norm Richardson & Ken Connolly
 From Victoria   
 Bruce Ashton
 From nearby South Aus.  
 Bob & Shelley Bazzica & Barry & Daphne Bahnisch

Party time from then on, while Mary Ann dispensed Rally Packs and name tags to us all.

Friday morning saw the hard working rally committee assisted by Mary Ann & Ken, Robin, Martin (Swan) and Ian (Fry), raise the starting arch and direct parking to a pre-determined layout on Wilson Park. The idea was to send the cars off from the far end first so that they ran the gauntlet between rows of cars in echelon, and were waved off to pass under the 50 Year Banner. From there they were to do a lap of the Fremantle Cappuccino Strip, returning to the park round a bout, then off down the coast following their rally maps. All went pretty much according to plan. But then at the Pinjarra Pie shop while we enjoyed the house specialty, news broke that the Wilko’s were in trouble with Ralph’s (borrowed) TD. It had shed half a fan blade, slicing through the fan belt in the process! Tim Harland in the Sweeper Ute was seen tearing back and forth and the matter resolved. Next stop Wokalup and lunch. Over indulgence at the pie shop reduced the crowd there somewhat and after a little roadside tuning, it was off for a fang down Mornington Road, the scenic and winding back road to Collie.

As with all aspects of the event, there was plenty of time, in this case, to settle in.

What an amazing sight to see the entire complex fill with square rigger MGs, all parked in front of their units, people nattering in groups here there and everywhere.

The evening set the scene for each night to follow: a get together in the function room from 6pm, a briefing on the next day’s events sometime after 6.30, and dinner at 7. The food was outstanding. Our after dinner speaker this night was Doug Pelton. He gave us a US perspective on the TC Owners Club and outlined his own history on how ‘From the Frame Up’ came into being.

Saturday saw us being sent off in small groups towards Collie Central for the Show & Shine. Due to an… ahem, slight misunderstanding, confusion reigned at the chosen town park but it was quickly sorted out and our 40 odd cars squeezed on to a very small area. It looked spectacular with the banner proudly strung between the octagonal rotunda posts. Any thoughts about the legality of the situation were soon forgotten. The townspeople seemed to enjoy it and we were soon on our way unscathed, towards the Collie Motorplex some 15 kms out of town.

We had arranged for Subway to provide us with a packed lunch with a variety of fillings to choose from, together with fruit, a ‘cookie’ and a bottle of water. It worked well in the remote location. What we hadn’t counted on was the size and number of boxes required. The McQueen Merc to the rescue. Before we could eat however, the entire entourage enjoyed three or four leisurely parade laps around the circuit, in one of the longest lines of Ts, Ys and Pre-s you are likely to see anywhere.

Returning to the pit area, Tourers peeled off left and Sprinters to the right, to park and get those Subways down. Then it was time for scrutineering, CAMS day licences and event briefing and the Sprint: Four cars at a time, thirty seconds apart. Make your own groups and get flagged away. The three Sherrell cars, two TCs and a Bee’d YA got thrashed all day by a variety of drivers; first timers on track had permanent grins from ear to ear. And so did everyone else. Wally won the lose of the day, fortunately without harm to car or driver, no doubt calling on his vast experience of high speed slides at Moolie’s past. Bit of a bum gripper Wal.

This afternoon’s Sprint was the rally committee’s biggest worry and biggest payoff. It was the spice in the overall rally event. The twenty plus cars, the remorseless afternoon long formation of fours, the smiles, the stories, said it all. Our gamble had paid off in Spades. All cars ran hard and well. Ed spun a half shaft in a hub of his ferocious J/P racer. And that was it. And that was also it breakdown-wise, for the entire rally. What does that say about the condition of our cars these days? Take a bow everyone.

The 6pm get together was lively that night and later, in the day de-brief and next day briefing, Wally was again the centre of attention when he revealed his impressive hundred metre (?) slide, right up to the fence, included two boxes of vintage crockery behind the seat, still intact!

Our Ridge Chef Giulia again excelled herself with another great meal, assisted by the impressively labelled TC Owners Club Red or White, after which it was Bob and Lynne Douglas’ turn to entertain us with a slide show of their latest amazing adventure in the ‘Wanderer’, surely by now one of the most famous TCs in the world.

Sunday morning revealed another perfect day, perhaps even a bit too warm. Over breakfast a plot was hatched to take advantage of the large assembly of real MGs. Clark and his cohorts quickly mustered us all into the tightest of formations at the rear of the motel, while Richo perched above the gutter of the Ridge roof took photos with an array of cameras.

All this was done before the 9.30 flag fall for Peter’s all day tour, and from there we ventured forth into

the Collie and Ferguson Valleys. First stop Wellington Dam. The road then dropped below the wall of the dam and down along Lennard Rd, following the course of the river, which was a bit light on after all the rain we’ve had, but still beautiful in its native state. Old swimming holes appeared, Big Rock, Long Pool, and the more adventurously named, Honeymoon Pool, evoking memories of golden days of many Club holidays past. TC country. The YA ‘boiled the kettle’ early but still made it to another Club landmark, Wellington Mills (now Wellington Forest) for a morning tea of tea and scones. Smiles all ‘round, and soon off on more scenic roads through the beautiful rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley.

The Partridge’s had arranged for the local ladies to provide lunch at their newly restored Ferguson Hall, and there we duly arrived in ones, twos and groups to create quite a retro spectacle in front of the old country building, one that never happened before!

Having eaten our way through most of this lovely country, a long, leisurely drive back to base lay invitingly ahead. This was interrupted by a visit to the ignom-inious Gnomesville, home to hundreds of thousands of the little blighters, dotting the landscape as far as the eye could see. In a moving ceremony conducted by Captain ‘Ganghook’ Morris, a misty eyed Morris Pav and  aided by an enthusiastic Tim, Mr G-gnome, duly signed by all the Believers, was firmly planted in the ground in a prominent place. See how we make our mark wherever we go. Tearing ourselves away from this stirring occasion, it was now homeward bound to prepare for the long awaited Celebration Dinner.

The Ridge Restaurant did not disappoint. We dragged Giulia out of the kitchen and suitably embarrassed her with our appreciation. But to begin with, the President welcomed everyone to the informal 1255th meeting of the TC Owners Club and added

“As I said earlier tonight: Tonight is a special dinner for a very special occasion. It’s a time to reflect on our amazing 50 years, our achievements, our adventures and experiences. The race to the Pot, the Great TC Race at Caversham, the Moolie Slaloms with their 100 foot opposite lock power slides, Fifi! Somehow, she never made it into the History Book and she should have, so I’ll tell you about her now... The weekends away, first to Tinglewood and later to Kin-Kin and Lewana, to endlessly drive Route 251, the best TC road in the country - from Balingup to Nannup… Basildene in Margaret River. Other weekends at Wellington Mills, Honeymoon pool, Eveden Park, places we’ve driven past today. The big 8 day tours, twice to Kalgoorlie, to Esperance and to Kalbarri. Those wonderful weekend Concours at Palm Beach, where whole families got involved. In ’83 we lead the America’s Cup parade from Fremantle to the Perth Esplanade. In ’86 our 25th year, we celebrated at the Wellington Hotel with about 15 TCs inside with us on its new carpet! Our 1000 Meeting weekend at Point Walter in 2001, with a keg of Old Speckled Hen and a POO on the lawn. (Pride of Ownership). Chilli Willi Runs. The endless Crowd Trials and more recent EMRs and TTTs and OFLs. Concours at Matilda Bay. Well attended Bitumen Gymkhanas, and much much more. There’s our Magnum Opus the 40 year History Book, ‘The first Thousand Meetings of the TC Owners Club’. Then there are those 1254 previous meetings at countless addresses all over the inner and outer suburbs and distant countryside. There must be many favourites I’ve missed, so you will have to come up and tell us about it. Bill Hulme could tell us one!  Having said all that, these may be the ‘good old days’, but I think over this Rally we have created some good old days for the future, right up there with the best.”

Both the past and the future were captured by one Lynne Robins back in ’81-’82 when she sat down and wrote an inspired piece of poetry about our Mooliabeenie Slalom days, when we had colour in our hair and a spring in our step. (Lead in our pencil?). She projected us into the distant future (2020) a future that has already come to pass in 2011, rightly surmising that we would still be ‘at it’. Banjo Paterson’s “The Man from Snowy River” formed the track on which it was laid and she called it “The Great Octagonarian Race 2020”

To read it, Barry Palmer stepped bravely forward, and began…

You can read it on our website: www.mgtcownersclub.com

To round off the evening, each of our visitors from afar were presented with our special 50 year badge bar badge. They responded in turn with their experience of the Rally.

It remains for me to thank my two good amigos, Graham Aldous and Lou Symes, who formed my core committee. I cannot in any way fully express my gratitude for both their expertise and enthusiasm, not to mention the many hours of consultation and sheer hard work, in bringing to life my long held vision for a West Australian Pre ’55 national MG Rally. Graham provided a totally professional face to the event in the form of Rally Plates, Rally Packs, Banners, Labels, etc., while Lou kept our feet on the ground with wise counsel and a firm grip on the purse. His great corporate skills and experience and scrupulous eye for detail, meant that we all knew what to do and when. So it just flowed.

Monday was all about enjoying the full buffet breakfast, extending goodbyes from the night before, and eventually turning to JB and Tony for those staying on for the South West Tour. But that’s another story. (See website ‘Newsletters’ - MGTC Anniversary Tour).

Michael Sherrell


MG TC Owners Club