A Spring Ramble

Every year the local old car club, of which Grandpa is president, puts on a Spring Ramble and this year we actually had a spare weekend to roll out the MG. I managed to get away from work early enough on Friday so we could get to Goulburn before dark. The others had left in the morning and had a very leisurely drive. We kept off the freeway and away from the big trucks and toured down through the Southern highlands.

The weather had finally decided to give us some rain which was badly needed but it wasn’t too heavy. Saturday morning, the sun was dazzling in the morning when I opened the door but nice and cool so we needed plenty of layers when we set out for the day with the roof down. There was a mix of old, not so old and relatively new cars, six in total. The organiser outdid herself with baking for morning tea so not long after breakfast we had lots of choices of cake.

There is a sock factory at Crookwell in case you didn’t know, making the nicest warm woollen socks. They showed us the machines and they are the most incredibly complicated looking. The next day there was a swap meet in town and some fellas were keen to be the first to check out any bargains but we headed to the next little place, Laggan to check out their markets. We didn’t expect much but there were plenty of bargains and lots of baking and crafts and nic-nacs for such a little town. So quiet and slow too, very relaxing.

By the time we got back to Crookwell, it was time to think about lunch! So we checked out the bakery which is always closed on Sundays when we pass through. Then after lunch it was off to the Railway museum down the road. A very small band of volunteers are trying to restore and preserve the remains of the station, some track and a few little railway trolley gizmos.

Then it was back in the cars along the more scenic route back to Goulburn. But first a stop for afternoon tea, what a life!

Sunday was back to cloudy and a bit gloomy but we set off south along some more back roads towards Gunning. We stopped at a little place called Merilla or Parkesbourne at the church hall and had another morning tea. A young girl living nearby gave us the short history of the little school house up the road which is now closed and that was about the sum of the place. It is so close to the freeway but a whole world away in sheep paddocks and dirt roads.

It was time for us to be scooting back home to work on Monday, not like the lucky retirees.  So we enjoyed our last  few miles on the lovely quiet back roads and startled one of the biggest Wedge-tail eagles I have ever seen, massive.

We got home in time to find that even though it had only rained a little bit, it was easy to pull some weeds out of the garden, then we put our feet up on the verandah and had a beer. Cheers.

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2017 National Veteran Motorcycle rally- and other fun stuff

This event comes around every 2 years and it was the first time I got to ride a veteran (pre-1919) motorcycle. It wasn’t as bad as it could have been, the 1914 Douglas has a clutch, 2 gears and brakes. We set off for the long drive to Nuriootpa, South Australia, across the Hay Plain and I had decided to break up the trip with a night camping out.

We have driven past Yanga National Park a few times, so this is where we set up camp by the muddy Murrumbidgee River for some peace and quiet.

I was looking forward to some nice fresh fruit and stocked up at a roadside stall near Mildura with mandarins and oranges. I knew about the fruit fly exclusion zone, so didn’t bring any fruit from home, but forgot about the rigid quarantine inspections at the SA border. Dammm. There goes my nice fresh fruit. So then I had to buy some more fruit and got walnuts too.

We arrived at the rally just as the earlier arrivals were setting off for a short warmup run before the rally proper on Monday. I hadn’t had time to have a practice run on the bike and wasn’t feeling too energetic so I was a bit apprehensive about jumping on with about 120 other old bikes and taking off. So I rested on Monday, then had a practice ride around the oval, run starting it, using the foot clutch, valve lifter and air and fuel levers. OK, I think I will be right for Tuesday. Negotiating STOP signs, traffic lights and other traffic is a bit nerve racking, so Grandpa did the short ride through town until the morning tea stop, then I hopped on and rode through the beautiful, green Barossa Valley to lunch and then Grandpa had the ride back into to town. That plan worked really well. Those 500cc’s might be more than one hundred years old, but they work really well, even accelerating uphill past other bikes.

Douglas

Our Douggie

Now a week is a long time to be looking at old bikes and listening to old blokes talk about old bikes and watching them work on old bikes, so of course I also had a plan to go for a walk. The Heysen Trail passes nearby, it is a 1000km walking track from the coast south of Adelaide to the Flinders Ranges. Paula and I were going to walk about 20-30km overnight. We started through farmland with sheep grazing on the green grass. There were numerous hills covered in bush and pine plantations and communication and fire towers. There was a stone wall hiding in the bush and so many wildflowers out in the spring.

We camped at the Rocky Paddock campsite with what looked like manicured lawns courtesy of the hundreds of kangaroos living in the forest. Along the trail are some lovely places to stay and we passed the ‘Old Schoolhouse’ set up with beds, a fireplace, a toilet and water tank. It was so beautiful I could live there.

Then it was back to the caravan park which had a creek and parks around it. There was a bush garden growing endangered plants and harvesting seed, and a bush chapel if you felt inclined.

The only thing left to do then was to drive 14 hours back home again, until next time.