Pre War MG National Rally 2013
Reflections By Mike Sherrell
Yes! Home safe after a very different fortnight.
Cars were ready for us after the flight and setting up at the Meridian in Nth Adelaide. Good spot with lots of pubs and restaurants in a familiar cafe strip. Short walk into the city. Adelaide is looking very attractive and even prosperous. I was surprised just how so.
Apart from being quite dusty, the TCs were unharmed and soon had them loaded up and pointing toward Renmark / Mildura. First night's stay on the road and the town was booked out for a Rose Festival, but we found a Big 4 holiday camp with reasonable accommodation. Then began the long trek across the Hay Plains, a place that makes the Nullarbor look like a park.
My supercharger was using a lot of fuel and I ran out 20Ks short of Hay. Emptied my precious water bottle to pump some gas in to it, out of Lou's TC. (Which used to belong to Andrea Simpson by the way). Much tuning and fiddling ensued that evening an on the next day's run 'till it was back to reasonable consumption. During all this, I managed to run over Lou's foot, the ingrown toenail one, lose my camera and phone and send a whole town into panic looking for my little black bag. After several hours of this worst anxiety, Melodie finally rechecked my case and found it straight away. Duh!
The wind across the plains was so strong it kept lifting and banging my open bonnet sides. So stop again and get out the cable ties and strap the bastards down. Forget Wednesday. was the diary caption. After that, the only hassle was the atrocious roads. They came in 2 grades: goat track and bad goat track. How the cars held together is a deep mystery. But the weather was perfect for open MG travel and once used to the bouncing and crashing we started to really enjoy our peculiar freedom, found some good motels and ate and drank too much red wine.
Soon, Bathurst was within reach with plenty of time in hand, so we turned off to Carcour "The town time forgot" to do the touristy thing and enjoy the thought that we had almost reached our destination. And it wasn't long after we were rolling into Rydges Hotel right on the Bathurst Circuit at the bottom of Conrod Straight. The whole place was swamped in magnificent early MGs and well heeled septuagenarians, and we'd covered just short of 1000 miles. The beer never tasted better!
Some of the highlights were: Meeting old friends only seen at these far flung events; the whole street blocked off in front of the courthouse on Sat morning for the display;
(the prized peoples Choice Award went to our own Ken and Mary Ann with the quite stunning NB) drives into the neighbouring country villages, one of which was Safala, (one of the paintings in my lounge room); and of course the opportunity to stroll out of the beer garden and into your MG for a spin around the famous track. Mr Plod was there to spoil the fun but no one went crazy and he had a disappointing weekend in all.
I was lucky enough (the harder you work the luckier you get) to be invited to drive the famous Patterson/Brydon TC racer and the even more famous Allan Tomlinson TA racer (replica) as well as many laps in my own TC. The circuit is much steeper than it looks on TV. It climbs constantly from the grid all the way up Mountain Straight and on over the mountain almost to where it plunges down Conrod Straight to the start. I walked it one morning the 6.1 Ks and it was a hard climb. It's also quite narrow with extremely banked corners. Although I'm not a Holden/Ford Supercar fan, I'll be watching closely next year!
On one run in the Tomlinson TA, I ran out of fuel right at the tightest, twistiest, narrowest bit at the top. This co-incided with the quietest the circuit had been all weekend. With no one to push and 4Ks away from its anxious owner I decided to 'bring her home', somehow managing to turn it around (two-way road) without losing it off the side of the mountain, or get run over, push and jump in over the red hot exhaust and roll all the way back down the mountain at any speed I liked.
By the end of the farewell dinner I was very pleased I'd made the decision to come, even with the spectre of another bumpy Hay Plains crossing. Our cars were much admired at every stop and in every town. It's obvious everyone in the world has owned a TC at one time! We had now got used to the day long drives, the Km posts getting closer and closer together and the weather perfect for the exercise, except for the constant wind gusts. My strapped down bonnets had that covered, but the bumps got to Lou's TC eventually and the left rear shocker snapped clean off its substantial mounting. Fortunately we found it in the proverbial meadow.
Travelling with Lou and Melodie was always going to be a bonding exercise, and so it was. Serendipity stepped in just before we were to go our separate ways, me to Adelaide and they to Victor Harbour. Not finding suitable accommodation in Taillem Bend, advice from a local sent us just a few streets on to the Wellington Ferry where we crossed the Murray and found a cabin right on the river and next to the oldest surviving pub in SA, 1844! From there the next day, we could still travel together to the beautiful old country town of Strathalbyn.
I left them there and headed for Mt Barker, Haandorf and down the big hill into Adelaide. I must say Lady Jane was a big help from inside the TomTom, except for once where she tried to punish me in the back streets of some rabbit warren just for fun.
Caught up with the Bazzica's that evening at the 'Bombay Bicycle' for an explosive meal, washed the car at the self serve, and left the Meridian the next day to drop off the car at CEVA and taxi back to the airport, Friday 1st November.
It may be of interest that we covered over 1800 miles at an average of 85kph returning 33.4 mpg. The 250 lts cost $420, peanuts compared with the $1400 accommodation.
See you on the road. MS