OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA INC
Deniliquin, Easter 2002.
Story and pictures by David & Michele Coatsworth
OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA INC
The Lead Up!!!!
Since about the middle of 2001, we had been working on our 1962 Series 2 Husky in preparation for the 6th National Rally. The front seats had been retrimmed; new inner door panels had been made and retrimmed, the rear seats had been removed with all the metal work ready for stripping and repainting. There was quit a bit of rust in the sills and in the bottom of the front mudguards, all the usual Hillman places, and so we went out and bought ourselves a new gas/gasless MIG welder and prepared for a few weekends of cutting and welding. Luckily we had a rather rough Series V Minx in the back yard, and as the sills and front mudguards are the same shape as the Husky, it came in very handy for cutting out panels to weld into the Husky, Things were progressing well, and the Husky was starting to look like a new car. In the meantime “YJ” & John Walker started serious work on their Hillman GT (“Imp”). Panels had been taken off, engine and gearbox removed, all ready for a complete respray and engine rebuild. So it was work on the Husky workday afternoons, and most weekends working on YJ’s car. The plan, and we use the term loosely, was to have YJ’s GT painted in the week between Christmas and New Year, and our Husky was to follow in the paint shop. Unfortunately, as those of you who have had anything to do with painters will know, this plan was doomed to failure. During the Christmas break, we completely rebuilt the GT engine, ready to go back in the car when it came out of the paint shop, and so there it sat on my garage floor waiting for its gleaming new Bright Yellow home. December passed, no GT. By the end of January, the GT was still in bits in the paint shop, but it did have some undercoat applied. Remember the Husky was supposed to be next in line and would take about a week to prepare and paint. The Rally was only 8 weeks away. After a couple of discussions with the spray painter, we decided to give away the idea of taking the Husky on its inaugural outing. We decided to put all our efforts in to finally finishing off our own GT, something we had been trying to do for quite a while. The seats in our GT were in a pretty poor state, and several inquiries found it was going to be cheaper, and a lot more comfortable, to install some new seats in the car. We had seen some seats in a Revolution Racegear catalogue a couple of years ago. They were a classic racing type and were a popular fit into MG and Austin Healey sports cars. A trip to Revolution Racegear in Adelaide found that they were still available and so we duly ordered a pair. We picked them up several days later, and the following weekend saw them installed into the GT, with the obligatory bit of swearing and cursing. As it happens, we had an old Scheel seat from our long gone Mazda Turbo, in the barn and so I stole the running rails off that for one seat, and ripped apart and modified the adjusting rails off an old Super Minx front seat for the other. By Sunday afternoon they were installed, and looked like they were made for the Imp. Michele had decided that 1600 kilometres in a car without music was a No-No, and so off we went and bought ourselves a new CD stereo and speakers. Another weekend went by, and now we had stereo sound that can just about open the doors of the Imp at full volume. In the meantime YJ’s GT was still at the spray painters, and there was plenty of hassling going on between the Walkers and their spray painter. We were now less than 4 weeks away from the Rally. Lucky we had decided to postpone the Husky’s restoration due to the painter. On the way to the 5th National Rally at Cowra in 2000, the car cover we used while trailering the Imp there, caused a heap of small scratches on the side of the Imp and so it was back to our original spray painter to have them repaired. A couple of days later it was back and was getting close to being ready. Then came the phone call from John that their GT was coming out of the paint shop, and so it was time to get ready for the engine to go back in its place. The next weekend came and by Sunday afternoon, just as Michele arrived at the Walkers straight from work, we were ready to fire the engine into life. We took out the spark plugs, disconnected the HT lead from the coil, and turned the engine over for a little while to get oil pressure up. Once we were happy with that we put the plugs back in, connected the HT lead, poured a bit of petrol down the carbies, and hit the starter button. Would you believe it, about 20 seconds later the GT was sitting there idling like it had been tuned to perfection. It was smiles all 'round, and Janine Walker just happened to have a bottle of Sparkling Burgundy there for a celebratory drink. An extremely well deserved one as well. Unfortunately, as a lot of you know, the story went down hill from there. The car would run perfectly until it reached its normal operating temperature, and then go completely off song. We also found only 25 psi in no. 1 cylinder, and the coil getting extremely hot, and so the next weekend (only 3 weeks from the Rally) saw us changing coil, condenser, adjusting the timing chain, taking off the rocker cover and removing the camshaft to adjust the valve shims, and just about anything we could do to get the car running. At this stage it was still the Walkers idea to drive the GT to Deniliquin. Back at the Coatsworth household we found our GT running a bit hot on moderately warm days. In fact on the way back from Ern Broughton's run around the Adelaide Hills on the Sunday before, the car had been running at 102°C. Mind you, it was about 34°C outside. The decision was made to remove the radiator and have it professionally cleaned and rebuilt before we went to Deniliquin. I thought I would also check the thermostat, as I wasn’t sure what temperature setting it was. So out with the radiator and thermostat, an 88°C one, send the radiator off for its rebuild, while I stick a 72°C thermostat back in the car. The radiator came back a couple of days later and was duly replaced back in its hole in the GT. The car now runs at about 88°C, on a test on the hottest day we have had so far. Much better I thought, when we would be doing something like 6 or 7 hours driving on the way to Deniliquin, and not knowing what the temperature was going to be. All that needed to be done now was a complete wheel balance and swap around, and an oil and filter change. I was leaving that for the weekend before we went. Meanwhile back at the Walkers house, after more frustration over the GT and its problems, “YJ” and John decided that the only way to get their car to Deniliquin was to trailer it. Luckily they own a 4-wheel drive, and John had access to a car trailer, and so this was no problem, if a bit disappointing. At this stage, they still do not have the bonnet back from the spray painters. It is now the weekend before the Rally, Michele is working, and so on Saturday I decide to give the GT the once over with a wash, polish, vacuum, and an engine degrease. After a leisurely and well-earned, breakfast on Sunday morning, I took the GT for a short run around the block to warm up the engine ready for the oil change. Back home, and jack the rear end up, (the car's, not mine), and remove the sump plug to drain the oil. I notice a small amount of oil on the bottom of the sump. “That’s strange” I thought, “I only cleaned all that yesterday”. And so I wiped it away with a swipe of my finger and went into the garage to get the new oil filter. When I crawl back under the car I notice another small amount of oil, which I wipe away with a bit of clean rag, and to my amazement, watch more oil appear as soon as I finish. You guessed it, there was about a 1½” hairline crack in the sump. This is not exactly what I want, but on the bright side, I had discovered it before we were leaving. And so it was off with the sump, which fortunately on an Imp, with its engine in the correct end of the car, is a very easy job. It’s just that there are 25 bolts to undo. I go up to our barn and find another sump, which I clean, thoroughly inspect, and give a quick coat of black engine enamel, and replace on the car. I finish the oil change, give the car another run around the block, and thank goodness everything is OK. By the time Michele gets home at 4:30 pm I am just about fed up with working on cars, and all I want to do is get away for the Rally, and the 5 days we are having on a houseboat at Mildura, with our friends Dave & Lyn Holloway, who are coming down from Brisbane for the Rally. Monday afternoon saw me at the Bob Jane T-Mart at Gawler having all the wheels balanced and swapped. We were finally ready to go. On Wednesday, the Walkers finally get the bonnet of the GT back from the painters, and it is fitted to the car. The car is loaded onto the trailer in preparation for the next day. We are all leaving on the Thursday for an overnight stop at Tooleybuc, where we are to meet up with a few more members of the South Australian contingent.
Day 1 – (Finally!) Thursday 28th March
Michele and I are up at 5:30 am, have breakfast and throw the last few items into an already tightly packed Imp. We have organised to be over at the Walkers by about 7:00 am ready for a 7:15 am start. We have figured that it's better to get away early, thus arriving at Tooleybuc mid afternoon, and then we can all relax for the afternoon and evening. We left Freeling at 6:45 am heading for Nuriootpa. The day has dawned beautiful and clear with an expected temperature of about 25°C. Perfect for a long drive. No more than 2 kilometres down the road, a car traveling in the opposite direction, gets a couple of wheels into the dirt verge and showers us with dirt and stones. I swear and curse him under my breath. We arrive at the Walkers, and are able to load a bit of our luggage (3 cartons of wine actually) into John’s 4WD. We bade our farewells to Janine and Jessica, the other half of the Walker family, and head off out their driveway, heading for Angaston. We had decided to travel to Tooleybuc via Swan Reach, Loxton & Mildura, as it was about 80 kilometres shorter for us. We travel no more than 1 kilometre when we see John pull the 4WD over and stop. We pull in behind him, to find that he has left his clothes bag in their lounge room. Luckily Janine almost tripped over it when going back into the house and so rang John on his mobile to say stop, and that she will bring the bag up. A minute later Janine is on the spot with the bag, and we are on our way again. Another kilometre up the road and Michele notices that one of the tie down straps holding the GT to the trailer has suddenly come undone. She rings John; we stop again, and redo all the straps making sure all is correct. Off we go again. Good start eh!!!! Never having driven our GT on any sort of long trip like we are heading off for, I am still not relaxed, hoping that all will be well with the GT.
Several months ago, Michele & I, and Bob Killoran, helped a group of people at Swan Reach with the setting
up of a car club. We had mentioned in a telephone call to the Secretary a week or so earlier that we would
be traveling through Swan Reach, and that it would be nice to stop there for 10 minutes and finally meet
them face-to-face. Sure enough when we drove off the ferry at Swan Reach, we had a small welcoming party
waiting for us. There was a 1959 Chrysler Royal and a 1960 Ford Falcon Station Wagon parked near the pub,
along with 5 people waiting to say Hello. We introduced ourselves; all had a look at one another’s cars,
and it is then that we notice a huge stone chip in the Imp driver’s door, from this morning’s episode. We
chatted for about 10 minutes, said our farewells, and finally headed for Loxton and a cup of coffee. We
arrived at Loxton at about 9:30 am and our first stop was for petrol. While we were filling up, John and “YJ”
were looking around the trailer and found that one of the tie down straps had frayed all the way through
and was now in 2 bits. They headed off to find a replacement strap while Michele and I went down the main
street looking for a coffee shop. The boys caught up with us, and we all enjoyed a coffee and a bite to eat.
It was about 10:45 am when we headed of for Mildura. I was a lot more relaxed now as the Imp was humming
along beautifully. We had been sitting on about 105–110 Km/h from home to Loxton, and had averaged about 42 mpg.
(Conversion: 35 miles per US gallon, 14.9 Km/Litre, 6.7 L/100Km)
Shortly after midday we stopped at Huddacks Bakery in Mildura for a leisurely lunch. We refuelled the cars at Gol Gol and headed back out onto the road for Euston, Robinvale and Tooleybuc. The temperature at Mildura was about 26°C and the Imp was sitting on about 88°C. Just fine!!!. Time, and the kilometres, was whizzing by, and it wasn’t long before we turned off the Sturt Highway at Euston with Robinvale and Tooleybuc not far down the road. Michele and I commented on the fact that it was nice to be travelling on a bit of road we had never travelled on before. The scenery around Robinvale was very pleasant. I don’t know what Michele had blasting out of the stereo, but we were only 2 kilometres out of Tooleybuc, thinking about a nice glass of Red or cold white, when the generator light flashed on. What the hell could be causing that, I thought? Temperature gauge wasn’t rising and I’m sure I could hear the fan whizzing round, so we plodded onto the motel. Didn’t think too much serious could happen in that short distance. We checked into the motel and found Dave Watson already there. It was 3:20 pm, (Adelaide time). Dave had arrived about 15 minutes earlier. We unpacked the car, and when it had cooled down, I opened the engine hatch to see if I could find the cause of the Generator light coming on. Thank goodness!!! It was nothing more than the terminal coming off the back of the generator. Push it back on, start the motor, and hey presto, no light. Wonderful, now we could relax over that glass of wine. We were outside our units chatting and drinking with Dave Watson, when in rolled Ern & Elva in the ADL, and Peter & Margaret Tavener with “Arthur” in tow. We had all had a safe trip to Tooleybuc, and after some more unpacking by the latest arrivals, the next big decision of the day was what should we have to drink first. Unfortunately, Russell and Beverly Gill, who were supposed to be joining as at Tooleybuc, were about 2 hours out of Adelaide, when they got a call on their mobile phone to say that their pregnant daughter had been rushed to hospital in the early stages of labour. Being good parents, they turned around and headed home, to be with their family. If all went well, they would now leave Adelaide very early Friday morning and drive straight to Deniliquin. Meanwhile back at Tooleybuc, we all sat on the balcony at the back of our units enjoying the late afternoon, and watching the local football team practice on the oval across the street. It’s a hard life! But somebody has to do it. Suddenly there was 9 football coaches all telling these players what to do. A couple of players were wearing Port Adelaide jumpers, and Ern was getting very excited. Thought he was back at Alberton Oval and his eyes were glazing over. Or was it the 17 stubbies he had just finished drinking? At about 6:30 we all wandered over to the Tooleybuc Sports Club for dinner, and a very pleasant, and relaxing evening was had by all. It was shaping up to be another great Hillman Rally.
Day 2 – Friday 29th March
The next morning was cool with a bit of dew around, but it looked like turning into another great day. Ern had suggested we head to Deniliquin via Kyalite and Moulamein. I hadn’t heard this at the time. Michele sort of heard this in passing conversation. No worries we’ll just follow someone. These were two places we had never heard of. Ern assured us it was quieter and more scenic than going via Swan Hill. (Should have known something here!!!). We all headed out of the motel, and several of us decided to fill up at the one and only service station in Tooleybuc. As we were just about to pull into the servo, we noticed Peter & Margaret disappearing up over the hill out of Tooleybuc. No worries, we will catch them up shortly. We pull into the service station to find a couple of cars in front of us and it must have taken us about 7 or 8 minutes to get filled up. The Walkers had been waiting patiently on the other side of the street. And so off we head up the hill heading for we know not where. We travelled on for a while, catching no one, until we passed a sign, that was half hidden by another sign, which pointed to Kyalite. Don’t know why, but we assumed this wasn’t the turnoff, as we still hadn’t caught any of our party. When we eventually saw a sign that said Balranald 12 kilometres, we sort of guessed that we should have turned off at that half hidden sign. Do a quick U turn, and head back towards Tooleybuc. We whip around the Kyalite turnoff, and just as we enter the township, there was the rest of our traveling party stopped at an SES reviver station enjoying cups of tea and coffee. We decide to stop for a reviver, and are told the correct directions out of town by the fleeing crowd. After a 10-minute stop, we are again back on the road. It’s not long before we see the two blue colours of Dave’s Trooook in the distance. We pass him with much horn blowing and waving, and Dave as always, waves back. The road so far had been wide and good, with relatively little traffic. Sure enough, not much further on we see the “42 km of Narrow Road” sign. As is usual, the amount of traffic coming in the opposite direction increases. We eventually catch Peter & Margaret, who are soon dispatched to our rear vision mirror. Michele had the camera out by now, and was trying to get photos of all of our cars as we overtook them. Not much further up the road we caught Ern & Elva and got past them, as did John & “YJ”. Michele and I were now leading the pack, and it was amazing how much traffic was coming at us. In the rear vision mirror I noticed that John was spending more time with half the car and trailer in the dirt than he was on the tarmac. We were plodding along happily at about 100 Km/h, and motoring around a long right hand sweeping corner when I notice in the distance, 3 “B” Double semi trailers coming towards us. No great problem until I realize that the first one is on my side of the road overtaking a small utility. “This could be exciting,” I thought. Fortunately, the person driving the utility could see us coming and so pulled over, or was pushed over, into the dirt verge by the semi trailer overtaking him. We also headed for the dirt verge on our side, while the other 2 “B” Doubles hastily pulled back onto their side of the road as we managed to slow down enough to let the semi pass. I managed to glance in the rear vision mirror to see John trying to find as much space in the dirt as possible. I don’t know how many other trucks and cars we passed on that narrow road, but I was pretty pleased to see the “Road Widens” sign. Naturally, once we were back onto the wide road, we hardly saw another car. We carried on at a steady pace until we eventually came to the intersection of the Cobb Highway, where we turned right and did the last 20 kilometres into Deniliquin. I think it was about 1:00 pm. Michele dragged out the town map that had been supplied to us, so that we could find our motel. We were in the Coach House and the Walkers were in the Deniliquin. As we were driving down the street we noticed an MGB driving in the opposite direction and gave him wave. A few hundred metres up the road, we had to pull over, as we could not find our motel. Just as we stopped, the MGB pulled up beside us. I got out of the car and we both introduced ourselves. Fortunately “Bob” was a local and pointed us all in the right direction. As it happens the sign for our motel was very hard to see from the road. Just as we were doing U turns to head back the 100 metres to the motel, the Broughtons and the Taveners came down the street, and so we pointed them in the right direction also. The Walkers motel was about 300 metres around the corner from us. Michele and I pulled up to the reception and went to check in, only to find our name not on the list. The man behind the desk was only there helping out, and so wasn’t all that sure of the bookings. When we eventually got to look at the list, we found the room booked in Michele’s brothers name, who unfortunately had to pull out of attending the Rally. We found our room, and very nice it was too, and unpacked the car. I’m sure I heard the coil springs give a big sigh of relief, as the last bit of luggage was taken out of the Imp. We had traveled about 750 kilometres and the car was going beautifully. As soon as we unpacked we thought that we would drive over to the Deniliquin motel to give the Walkers a hand at unloading the GT, and see if Dave & Lyn were there. We found the Holloways, who had arrived the day before, finished unloading the GT, and then made our way back to our motel. We introduced John & “YJ” to a heap of people and decided it was “Happy Hour”. We had no sooner cracked a bottle when in rolled Neil & Jenny Yeomans and Greg Stafford and Elaine Duxbury.
Talk about timing!!! By now “Ralliers” were rolling in at a steady pace until we had a fair size group enjoying a drink and recounting what had been going on over the last 2 years. Russell & Beverly Gill finally rolled up after their second attempt to get here. (Their daughter eventually gave birth to a healthy daughter, Charlotte Rose.) Registration for the Rally was being conducted in the Park across the road from our motel from 5:00 pm, but at about 4:00 pm somebody wandered into the now somewhat crowded car park and said that they had registered, so we all wandered over, registered, received our rally packs and badges and strolled back to the motel. After a few relaxing drinks it was time to give the Imp a bit of a clean up after its long trip. “YJ” decided that his GT needed a scrub up as well, so he trotted back to his motel and brought it around so that we could do the two at once. So it was out with the bucket and cleaning products, and ½ hour later we had two gleaming GTs sitting in the car park ready for Saturday. While all this was going on, Dave and Lyn lamented the fact that they couldn’t bring their newly acquired Hillman Avenger from Brisbane to the Rally. Dave had been in Hospital only a month before having a disc removed from his spine, and his specialist suggested he should not drive an “older” car on such a long journey. And so disappointment aside, they flew to Melbourne and picked up a nice modern hire car for the relaxing 3½ hour drive to Deniliquin. Fortunately(?) for them, Peter Tavener had his CD copy of “The Avenger” song, which he played on the Imps stereo, over and over, and over. Dinner that night was a casual affair in the Dining Room of the Coach House motel and we caught up with more friends who were now settled into the two other motels being used for the weekend. After dinner it was “drinkies” in our room, and we finally managed to get rid of the last person, who I think was Greg Stafford, at about midnight. It was time for some beauty sleep. Some would say, “Why waste my time”!
|Happy Hour at the Coach House Motel on Friday afternoon||YJ washing the Imp, while Peter Tavener applies his badge|
Day 3 – Saturday 30th March
Again, another beautiful day broke. The moon was still clear and high in the sky as people started wandering around the car park. Breakfast in our motel was in the Dining Room from 8 am. The Bacon, eggs, sausages, toast and coffee went down a treat. Nothing like fresh country air to stir the appetite! At 9 am we were all to assemble at the park near our motel for the official judging and photo shoot etc. We were all sorted into our correct categories for judging and were all handed the official scoring sheet. The entire street had been barricaded off so we had the entire street to ourselves. This was great as you could walk around in safety, not having to dodge passing traffic. This was the first time we had seen all the cars assembled all weekend, and the view down the street was pretty spectacular.
|The banner in the Park||Judging in the street|
The standard of cars at our rallies just keeps getting better and better. Judging in some of the categories
was extremely difficult, and sometimes it seemed unfair to have to pick one car over another. But nevertheless,
decisions were made and our score sheets handed back. In the meantime we also had to go off, 20 at a
time, to another part of what was a very picturesque part of the lovely park that ran through the centre of
Deniliquin, for our photo shoot. The spot that was selected was just in front of a large willow tree and
beside a small lake. I think, one of the best spots so far. Because there were no driveways up onto the
grassed area, planks of wood were strategically placed to create ramps in the gutters, and carefully selected
volunteers, guided us on and off the grass. The entire process seemed to run like clockwork. After the photo
shoot we went back to our original parking spot at the park. More time to take a much more relaxed view of
our fleet. There was much oohing and ahhing over other cars, and by now quite a few visitors had strolled
over from the main shopping area. They were mingling freely with all of us, and as is usual, most of them had
owned, or their Father/Uncle had owned, or they had learnt to drive in a Hillman, and Michele and I spent
probably more than ½ hour chatting with several visitors and discussing our GT. Lunch was to be an alfresco
affair provided in the park where we were stationed. It wasn’t long before there were blankets, chairs and
picnic settings all around the area. People were relaxing over drinks, tea, coffee etc. Eventually the call
came that lunch was ready and to form the obligatory queue at the counter. What a pleasant surprise. There
was a vast table, draped in black and hot pink tablecloths, set up with a huge variety of food. There were
cold meats, chicken, more salads than I can remember, all being served by staff dressed in immaculate black
uniforms. The entire setup was a credit to the company involved. The name of the company was something like
“Food to You”, and was delivered in a custom made refrigerated trailer being towed by a beautiful, black XR8
Falcon utility. Very professional!!! Once we had made our way through lunch, it was time for desserts. Laid
out on large trays were a variety of things like chocolate and strawberry slices, and fresh fruit. I saw more
than one or two of us going back for seconds, and who could blame us. While we were finishing lunch, there
were two young girls walking around cleaning up after us. What service!!!! Every comment I heard about the
food and staff was extremely complimentary. After lunch, for any body that could be bothered to move, there
was free time, and so Michele and I did a bit more looking around the town, went to the visitors centre and
returned to the motel at about 3 pm. Along with several others, we decided it was happy hour. It wasn’t long
before the Walkers and the Holloways found their way to our motel and along with quite a few other visitors,
the corner of the motel near our room became quite the place for afternoon “Drinkies” It was another hard day
at the office. Tonight’s dinner was a “Murder Mystery” night, at which we had all been asked to dress up
as for the fashions of 1935, the year in which the murder was to take place. Our only criticism here was the
lack of notice given. We didn’t receive our info regarding the night until the Thursday before we were
leaving, and because we were leaving a day earlier it didn’t give us a lot of time to get organised. Also,
because we were having an extra weeks holiday after the Rally, we couldn’t really hire anything. Never the
less, we begged, borrowed and/or stole, and bought, enough clothes for the night. So, back at the motel,
shower and scrub up time, and get out all that finery to dress up in.
I think the idea of placing everybody
on different tables was a good one, as it gave us all a chance to mix with people we don’t always get a
chance to. Well, by about 6:00 pm, the car park was absolutely buzzing with a group of people you could
hardly recognize. I’m not used to seeing our regular troop dressed to kill. The outfits were fantastic.
Glamorous looking, elegantly dressed men - handsome, refined and debonair woman (I didn’t think I’d had that
much to drink!!) were everywhere. And then to steal the show, out of their room came Peter and Margaret
McTavener. Peter looked absolutely resplendent in a full Scottish outfit. Kilt, Sporran, the lot. I thought
it was sweet revenge that Peter was playing the part of Imp in the murder mystery. It was Margaret’s idea for
Peter to go Scottish, with Imps being manufactured in Linwood, Scotland. Well, Michele just couldn’t resist
the temptation the check out the story of Scotsmen and what they do, or don’t, wear under their kilts. And so
with a deft hand, she lifted his kilt, and still hasn’t stopped laughing. I’m not game to ask her what she
saw!!. “Big Daddy” Ern Broughton was walking around with $100 dollars notes stuffed into every pocket in his
suit. Must have opened his wallet for once. Natalie Tavener and Karen Drost looked great, trouble is they
also looked like a couple of, err, uhm, shall we say “ladies”, and I heard they had a few offers they just
had to refuse.
|The McTaveners||Boas everywhere|
Back in the Dining Room it looked like a Black Suit sales convention for the men, and a finer group of woman
I haven’t seen since, well I don’t know when really. But we all looked great, and it was fantastic to see
that everybody had gone to so much trouble to dress up for the occasion. There were a couple of “Doctors”
walking around with stethoscopes and wearing rubber gloves, offering all sorts of examinations and Medical
Insurance that I don’t think are covered by Medicare!!!! At last Matthew Lambert spoke above the din, and
told us all about the procedure for the night. All the tables had envelopes put on them, there were secret
clues, secret spies, envelopes you couldn’t open unless the moon was in its seventh quarter on the second
day of the month, or something like that. There was also a MURDERER at every table. Only bloody trouble was,
we had to figure out who he or she was. Well in between entrée, mains and desserts, there was much discussion,
arguing, yelling and screaming going on, so much so that at most times it was difficult to hear what the
person two seats away was saying. It wasn’t hard to guess by the din, that everyone was having a great time.
And guess what. More bloody envelopes. Our table looked more like the local Post Office on a Friday afternoon.
But with lots of questioning, guessing, and having absolutely no idea, our table came to the conclusion that
HUNTER did it, with the dagger, in the lounge room. Then both Matthew and Andrew said it was time to put us
all out of our misery and solve the murder. Andrew went through all the characters in the play, describing
when, where and why they couldn’t be the culprits until there was only one character left. It was IMP. There
was some cock and bull story about how this small person had sucked the money from the family estate and the
entire family was dragged down to its knees until it was eventually broken up (oddly, this all sounds a bit
like the Hillman/Chrysler downfall. Funny about that!!).
Well Michele and I have only one thing to say. IMP IS INNOCENT.
What a terrific night. Neil Yeomans played IMP on our table, a part he played extremely well. On another table, Stuart Lisk played the part of Imp. Something we will keep reminding him of for a long time. We can’t remember what time we all finished up, but somebody, Elaine Duxbury from memory, suggested that it was drinks back in their room, and so quite a few of us ventured back there, bottle in hand, to finish off what had been another great day. Imps guilty, Phewy!!!!!
Day 4 – Sunday 31st March
Here we go again. Yet another fine day dawns on a Hillman rally. Haven’t we been lucky over all these years? Another hearty breakfast to get the day started. We get back to our room and I decide to give the GT a quick wipe over to prepare it for the days outing. Once again we assemble at the park across the street. Today we are off for a drive around the Deniliquin (locally known as Deni) environs, then a visit to Pioneer Village, Clancy’s Winery, and then to the Conargo Pub for lunch. After this there is “The Hillman Olympics????”
I managed to snap a few photos before it was back into our cars ready for the run. Our lead car was a
member of the local Historic Car Club, an early model Ford I think, and so off we all trundled in single
file around the suburbs and industrial areas of Deni. Very interesting it was too. There were some beautiful
houses, both old and new, and the Sunrise Rice Bulk Handling depot was huge. It’s amazing that a town
virtually stuck in the middle of a huge barren part of NSW, makes most of its living from Rice, something
you normally associate with wet areas. This is the first time we had driven around Deniliquin, and it really
is a very pretty, quite large town. After driving around the environs for a while we eventually made our way
to the local Pioneer Park, just out of town on the Cobb Highway. Again, the fifty odd cars looked fantastic
parked on the grass verge outside the park. We were introduced to the owner, who gave us a short history of
the park, which is still owned by the same family that settled there when Deniliquin was settled, approx 140
years ago. It is a park for steam powered pumps and equipment. There is also a small assortment of other manually
driven pumps. It is a sad state of affairs, when a park like this, that does not charge any entry fee, can no
longer run their machinery via live steam, because their Public Liability Insurance premium has risen from approx.
$500 to $6000. A huge cost to cover, by anyone’s standards. (Sorry about my Political ramblings). Also attached to
the park was a small, but very good nursery, and a small shop. Parts of the shop have been restored to exactly the
same way they were when they were built a hundred or so years ago. Lucky we can’t take plants back into South
Australia from NSW, or I’m sure the Imp would have had even more stuff to take home.
(The state of South Australia has plant quarantine laws to prevent the entry of Fruit Fly.)
An interesting hour was spent here, and then it was back on the road heading for the winery. It was a leisurely drive on a beautiful morning and I guess it must have been about a 30-minute drive, when we eventually turned off the highway into Clancy’s Winery. Luckily there was plenty of shade to park under, as the day was getting quite warm. After milling around for a few minutes, we were split into two groups, and then given a guided tour of the small family owned winery. We were lead into the winery section of the shed and shown all the processing equipment, and were given a short but informative talk by the owner. I think from memory, they crush about 60-80 tonnes of grapes per year. The grape presses, open fermenters and rotary presses were all quite modern pieces of equipment, and impressive for a very small winery. A lot smaller than what I am used to at Cellarmaster Wines. We were informed that the family was now making about 5 times the amount of money from wine than they were from the same quantity of rice, the product they were involved in before turning to the wine making industry. After a quick look around the winery, we were lead into another part of the shed where the owners had amassed a very large collection of motor vehicle number plates. There were hundreds of them. Mostly Australian, along with a reasonable number of American plates as well. There were some very interesting plates on display, some dating back to the earliest days of car registration in Australia. Others were quite political and had been recalled by the Governing Authorities to stop embarrassment. Some were funny, others related to makes of cars. It was a very interesting ½ hour, unfortunately it was getting very hot and stifling in the shed, and it was nice to get back out into the Cellar Door Sales area to get some fresh air, and to sample the wares. From memory, there were about 4 white wines available and 5 reds. As you can imagine, this was a very popular spot, and we waited patiently for about 5 minutes before eventually being served. We did the right thing and started with some whites, and my preference was a wine called Voignier. Quite an unusual wine type to find at Deniliquin. Of the reds, the Merlot was my pick. While we were enjoying the wine tasting, the other half of our group was being shown the winery and number plates. Others were enjoying cups of coffee or tea, or wandering around the car park admiring our cars. Eventually it came time to leave, and so it was back on the road heading for the Conargo Pub, and lunch. Another short run up the highway saw us all being assembled outside the Conargo Pub for a photo shoot. It was now about 1:00 pm. When we eventually made it inside the pub, the bar had become a very popular place. As you can imagine, when about 100 thirsty people arrive at once, the barmen were put under a bit of pressure. Unfortunately it took John Walker and myself about 30 minutes to get a beer, but it certainly did go down well. Several locals walked in, saw the crowd, turned round and walked out. While Karen Drost was waiting to get served, she casually asked one of the barmen if they realised that there would be a few of us here, and his casual reply was “Yes, that’s why there’s two of us behind the bar”. There was simply no answer to that. Seating was at a premium, but we found a table with the Walkers and Holloways, inside the bar area. While waiting for lunch to be served, we were looking at some of the pictures around the walls. Apparently years ago, and it possibly still could be, the area was renowned for its Merino rams. The picture above our table showed a stud ram that in the early sixties, sold for 150,000 pounds, ($300,000.00). That must have been a staggering amount of money in those days, and I can’t imagine what it would equate to today. The scary thing was, that just about every photo of stud rams, and prize ewes, were all in the triple figure price range, remember they were all in pounds too. None of the people at our table could be described at experts on stud rams, and ewes, but it wasn’t hard to see that every one pictured were superb specimens. My how things have changed in the wool industry. Anyway, lunch of finger food was eventually served, and went well with another beer. About an hour passed, when Matthew Lambert started walking around looking for teams for the Hillman Olympics. I can’t recall the exact names of the events that were supposed to take place outside the pub, but they were something like, the slowest 100 metres, how much luggage you could stuff inside a car, how many children you could stuff into the engine bay (I think this was correct????) and all sorts of other fun events. Unfortunately for Matthew, somebody suggested that drinks back at the Motel sounded like a better idea, and so the Hillman Olympics died a sudden death through lack of interest. As it turned out, the Ford families won the Olympics by default, as they were the only people who entered teams. Out in the car park Stuart Lisk asked me if I wanted a ride (or should that be flight?) in his beloved “Mr. Minx” modified 1960 Hillman Minx. (web page is 325 Kbytes)
Being an old “Rev Head” from way back, I just couldn’t refuse. We only traveled a kilometre or two up the road, but it is a trip I won’t forget in a hurry. My lunch caught up with me about two minutes after we arrived back in the car park. Thanks very much Stuart. Well never mind the “slowest 100 metres outside the pub” the best event of the day was the 35 kilometre sprint back to the Motel. I think the only two cars that Michele and I didn’t overtake on the way back, were Stuart and Karen in Mr. Minx, and Robert & Natalie Tavener in their Gazelle. We certainly cleared the cobwebs out of the Imp. On arrival back at the motel, it was decided to get a photo of all the South Australian cars. And so it was around to the park yet again for more photos.
|The lineup of South Australian vehicles||with their occupants|
Back at the motel, it was drinks all round after a very enjoyable and entertaining day. There was much milling
around and drinking going on in the motel courtyard. Why was it always outside our room?????.
|Drinks all around - AGAIN - outside our unit.||Ian and Greg check out the Gazelle's front suspension?|
Dinner tonight was at 7:00 pm and it was also Presentation Night. Once again we dressed up for the occasion. The feathers and
Boas had been replaced for smart casual outfits. The girls didn’t look too bad either!!
Dinner was a three-course affair, interdispersed with conversations about the weekend and its events. During the course of Dinner we were all presented with our car and group photos, and china mugs, which had the Rootes Car Club logo printed on them. Once the plates were cleaned away after dinner, it was down to the serious end of the weekend with the presentation of trophies to the winners. Matthew Lambert and John Howell took the floor, and the microphone, and started proceedings by thanking everyone for coming to the weekend. Trophies were duly presented to winners, and Michele and I were again fortunate enough to win Best Imp. It was now time to forward the official “hooter” to the Hillman Car Club of South Australia, in readiness for the next rally in 2004. Our President, Robert Tavener, was called to the floor and with great aplomb, and the obligatory acceptance speech, duly took over control of the hooter. He thanked Matthew and John for what was another great Hillman Rally, and welcomed all present to come and join The Hillman Car Club of South Australia in the Barossa Valley for the 2004 “Rally in the Valley”. Some sneaky work had been carried out behind the scenes by the 2004 Rally committee, and Michele and I, along with “YJ” and John Walker, sped back to our motel room to put on some “T” shirts that we had printed up, advertising the “Rally in the Valley”. When we arrived back in the dining room with our mobile advertising, they were an instant success. Carol Seaton suggested that we should get peoples' signatures on our T-shirts, and so I went to reception, borrowed a black felt pen, gave it to Carol, who duly signed on the dotted line. This started the ball rolling, and it wasn’t long before myself, Michele and John’s T-shirts were covered in signatures. Funnily “YJ” seemed to be getting only the signature and phone numbers of all the young waitresses in the Dining Room. Ahhh to be young again!! People were now swapping seats, enjoying more drinks, and generally having a great time. Soon it would all be over for another two years. The dining room eventually cleared with people being invited back to a few rooms of our motel for parting drinks. We ventured to Brenda and Ian Kitto’s room for a while and then on to Elaine and Greg’s room to end the night. Only trouble was, most people didn’t want to take home any wine they had brought with them, and so it was decided that we had better do the right thing and finish them off, as you have to. I think it was about midnight when we got back to our room, ready for a good nights sleep, ready for the long day ahead.
Day 5 – Monday 1st April.
Once again, another beautiful day breaks over Deniliquin, and by the time we ventured out into the car park, there are many people packing cars, loading them onto trailers, all ready for the trip home. We give Peter Tavener a hand to get Arthur on the trailer and tie it down. It is nearly 8:00 am and the doors of the Dining Room open heralding breakfast. The main talk over breakfast was about the weekend, the next Rally, i.e. who would be there, and the pending trips home people would be taking. Some were going straight home; others were taking a few days to have a leisurely trip home. Michele and I, along with the Holloways, were heading for Mildura today, as we were picking up a houseboat there for a 5-day holiday. After breakfast we went back to our room, did what packing we had to, and managed to squeeze it back into the Imp. At least there were a couple of cartons of wine less that we had to take back with us. Luckily, unlike the 5th Rally at Mount Gambier, we didn’t have to shove a set of 4 mag wheels and 2 tyres in the back as well. With this accomplished, we headed out to the car park to start saying our goodbyes to everyone. We bump into the Fords, who according to Pauline, are taking approx a week to get back to Launceston from Deniliquin. They tell us that they average approx 100 kilometres a day in their 1930s Hillmans. We bade farewell to the Yeomans, Elaine & Greg, the Seatons, Taveners, Kittos, Broughtons, McKays and a lot of other people wandering around doing likewise. The Walkers had decided to have an early breakfast in their motel, so that they could get an early start for the approx 8-hour drive home. Then it was into the Imp, fire it up, and head out of the car park, heading for the Deniliquin Motel, where we were to meet Dave & Lyn.
Suddenly it was over. These weekends just go so quickly! We comment about looking forward to the next rally
in 2004, and how great it will be to see everyone again. We have been gone about 2 minutes.
We were just about to turn into the Deniliquin Motel, when we noticed Dave & Lyn in the service station across the street, and so we turn in and fill up the GT. We also get directions for our trip to Mildura, as for probably the first time ever on holidays, we have come away without maps. No offence Ern, but we weren’t going back via Moulamein and Kyalite. We have about a 4-hour drive to Mildura via Swan Hill. Sure enough about an hour out of Deniliquin, we see that familiar two tone blue colour in the distance, and once again overtake Dave Watson in the Troook. At Swan Hill we stop for a cuppa, and Dave & I comment on the amount of traffic coming in the opposite direction. It was very, very busy, and so we decide to turn off the Highway at Wood Wood, just north of Swan Hill and head to Mildura via Ouyen and Red Cliffs. I think just about every second car we passed had either a caravan or boat behind it. We arrive at Mildura at about 3:00 pm on a 30°C afternoon, and after finding the caravan park we have booked into, get back to the mundane things of life, like CLOTHES WASHING.
Welcome back to the real world.
We did a bit of shopping that afternoon and had a relaxing evening in the superb cabin we had booked. Most of the talk between the four of us that night was about the rally and how much we had enjoyed it. Dave & Lyn comment on the fact that they are already looking forward to the next rally, where they can show off their Avenger.
Tomorrow we were on the houseboat for 5 days of relaxation.
Roll on “The Rally in the Valley” (2004 national rally) and we hope to see you all in the beautiful Barossa Valley.
Cheers, and thanks to you all for making it another great Hillman Rally,
David & Michele Coatsworth.
1968 Hillman GT (Imp)
1962 Hillman Husky Series 2
1964 Hillman Super Minx Mk IV
|Two S.A. Hillman GTs (“Imps”) getting a wash and polish for the weekend.
David Coatsworth (left), any "YJ" Walker.
|The Coach House Motel Car Park early Sunday Morning.|
|Rally registration and drinks in the Park on Friday evening.|