The Great Australian Adventure



A Road Not Travelled Is an Avenue Not Explored!

The Decision, Planning and Preparation

When I said to one of my staff a few months ago, “I may do the Peking to Paris run in RIP in 2010” he replied “You will – you always do what you say you will!”

I didn’t realise I was that transparent!

Well, last October 2006, we decided (more accurately, I decided and Laurel, thankfully, agreed…..) that we should do the right thing – travel our own country first and have a good look around.  Besides, it would be a good training ground for the real thing – Peking to Paris one day!  So we held a meeting with our staff (over beers, wine and tasty food) and the plans were made.

Each staff member – all 16 of them – was given a small responsibility in the running of the service stations that should keep the tills ringing until we returned.  They have risen to the occasion and are ready to be left in charge – a very long 9 months of planning, training and motivation.

At the same time, RIP, our beloved Monza red (Australian MGA colour) 1961 MGA, was stripped to the bare chassis and rebuilt and painted, with a lot of help from my staff and many friends – including Dan Casey, Gary lock and Des King.  Not that it needed such a thorough rebuild, but I was desperate to learn as much about RIP in as short a time as possible!  Peking to Paris is always on my mind!

Someone mentioned camping (Laurel?) so a trailer was sourced.  Eerily enough, the one my father found was a wheel chair trailer, never used, as the person it was built for passed away before it was finished!  Being towed behind RIP, there was no choice – it had to be converted into a coffin shape!

So, we have 5 more sleeps, everything seems to be going to plan, and we will be leaving Runaway Bay on Wednesday morning, 11 July 2007, for our first night away at the shearers quarters at Jondaryan Wool Sheds.

At last, we’re off…..

It’s Wednesday, 11 July 2007 and it’s time to put our faith in our staff and head for the hills – Toowoomba hills!

It’s hard to believe that we “need” so much “stuff” for the trip – The boot is full of tools and spare parts, while COFFIN if full to the lid of cloths and other “necessities”!

We called around to our 2 service stations and took photos of our staff with us in front of RIP n’ COFFIN!  Then on to our parents and the children and we were at last emotionally free to start our planned adventure.

We spent our first night in a hut at Jondaryan Wool Sheds, 45km West of Toowoomba.  The cabin was comfortable, RIP n’ COFFIN behaved themselves and the wool sheds were laid out well and well worth a visit – maybe a weekend away for the Gold Coast MG club?

The next day was perfect, but cold.  We had Billy tea and damper before heading off for lunch at Dolby and the night in Miles.  We booked into the same motel that we stayed in on our very 1st weekend away with the GCMGCC 3 years ago – Murray Arundell organised the run and there is still a thankyou letter from Brian Darke on their notice board with a picture of our MGs!

Black Friday dawned with much frost on RIP n’ COFFIN!  She still started first flick….. thanks to so many staff and friends…. and we headed for Carnarvon Gorge.

Laurel and I were impressed and awed by Carnarvon Gorge and found every turn in the path interesting and different, even if the 25km we walked was over the top and totally excessive for our unfit bodies!  We left for Emerald, promising to return one day and complete the walks on offer, maybe with some of the GCMGCC members?

So far, our trip has been in perfect, top down motoring weather.  It’s been too dangerous to speed with so many traffic police on the roads!  Many kangaroos have met an early death, providing food for large flocks of birds!  We passed two groups of drovers on horseback, each with over a 100 head of cattle – real cowboys at last!

RIP has behaved, but with some minor problems – the white wall inserts started to peel off from the tyres so we had to have them reinstated at Beaurepairs at Miles; the heater fan blade is touching something; the CD player stopped working, and after much analysis with my tester, found the removable face was partially disconnected!  John will be proud of my diagnostic skills……not!

Other than those small misnomers, RIP pulls like an ox, has no oil or fuel leaks, cruises at 3000rpm, 63 mph, 60 psi oil pressure and 175 Degrees Fahrenheit all day but is a bit thirsty at 25 mpg (11.5l/100km for the young’uns!)  The foreign seats are absolutely fantastic, thanks to Dan Casey, and RIP n’ COFFIN is a constant attraction and source of conversation everywhere we stop!  I can’t tell you how many people have told us they do/used to own an MG/MGA and wish they had kept it etc etc.

As for COFFIN, she is a real work horse and was tested on approximately 50km of dirt road and came up trumps – stable and no dust inside!  Mud flaps on RIP would have saved COFFIN from so many stone chips on her mudguards, though…..

That’s brings us up to Sunday night at Rubyvale, 40km west of Emerald, where sapphires and rubies are to be found in plentiful quantities, provided you part with a bundle load of cash first…….We did a tour through an underground mine which was great.

Leaving Rubyvale, we headed for Longreach, with a bit of a scare when a strong petrol smell led our noses to a stream of petrol pouring out of the rear carby overflow pipe.  Thankfully it fixed itself, so we had a good trip through to Barcaldine. Overcast day… lots of dead roos on the road… the road trains (massive trucks with 3 trailers – 53.5m long) just plough through them during the night and don’t stop. The road maintenance then come along in the early morning & clear the road. The eagles and other scavengers then clean up the body in a day or so…

The Workers Heritage Centre at Barcaldine depicts the history of the Shearers strikes in 1891-3.  There were misunderstandings between shearers and farmers and many farm buildings were burnt to the ground.

We usually have a picnic lunch along the road amongst the little black flies…we have to check our food before we have a bite!!

They really cater for the travellers out here, with stopping points and picnic tables under cover every 50 miles or so.  As you can imagine, there are lots of open spaces; the roads tend to be straight with vegetation of small scrubby trees…a little boring, but I (Laurel) tend to sleep a bit (read, heaps!) so the trip goes quickly!

Arrived at Longreach about 3pm. We found this little 100yr old cottage, built of mainly corrugated iron. Stayed 2 days there…was great, just like old farm days…with a dunnie (toilet) outside and all! All the things we needed – very cosy, but we had to move to a motel for the last 2 nights as the house was booked out.

We visited the Qantas museum and the Stockman’s Hall of Fame and enjoyed just looking around town & relaxing. One night we went to an open air show called “The greatest Show on Earth”, which involved local actors and musicians & their talents in the town. Also went to Isisford & Isis Downs to see a 52 stand shearing shed in an oval formation. Only 2 in the world. Apparently, Dan Casey spent 5 yrs of his life in the shearing sheds in the Isisford area!  A hard life out here, that’s for sure!

Having reached our 1st goal of the trip, I took a photo of Laurel filling in the route on the map on COFFIN in front of the Hall of Fame.

We then headed off to Winton…a very isolated place. If it wasn’t for the “Waltzing Matilda “museum”, there would be nothing there. The Artesian water was smelly (rotten eggs) but tasted ok. We stayed the night but moved on to Cloncurry to replenish our supplies at Woollies and take advantage of their 4cpl fuel discount voucher!  Don’t tell anyone back home!

There were lots of cattle en route with heaps of feed and water on the sides of the roads. They have had some good rains here, so the countryside looks great. At Cloncurry, we went to the open air movies – cafe’ – along with 2 other people – sad – and run by a German family from Coombabah, the next suburb from Runaway Bay!

Now for the next exciting bit of the trip – off to try our luck fishing at Karumba in the Gulf country. The roads were narrow with gravel shoulders – the type that caravan drivers throw up stones and crack MGA windscreens!

Bourke and Wills Roadhouse is a busy place – irrespective of the fuel price, everyone has to stop and fill up!  We paid $1.515 cpl.

We found a small motel on the beachfront at Karumba and witnessed a most beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Carpentaria, along with the rest of the “Grey Nomads!”

On Monday 23rd, we set off aboard “Kerry D” charters to catch some “Barra”! We soon found out that barramundi only visit the Gulf during the summer months, but that was okay, because we found  a school of mackerel, of  which I caught 6 & David  only caught 2!!!. How’s that for first timers luck! What with king prawns for $15 a kilo and fresh fish for dinner; we were living like kings & queens for a day.

Fishing at Karumba was our second goal, & we updated our map on COFFIN in front of a Big Barra with a well earned glass of wine!!

Time to head West, old boy………

First, some observations of the trip so far………..

* Carnarvon Gorge is beautiful and well worth a visit – 2 full days, minimum.

* The sheep shearers did it bloody hard and were right to strike in the early 1890’s.

* The cattle stockmen and drovers also lived a hard life and travelled vast distances (3000 to 4000 km) to deliver cattle in as good a condition as possible.

* The country towns would not exist without Government assistance and Government employees – they are everywhere!

* RIP n’ COFFIN is conspicuous against the proliferate 4 X 4’s of the “Grey Nomads”, the road trains, and 4 X 4’s of contractors, miners and government workers!

*Karumba is Queensland’s best kept secret (Sealed road, now)!

* The Aborigines are a misunderstood race by the majority of Westerners.

* Road trains are massive – 53.5m long with 3 trailers behind the prime mover and its own trailer – and you never really get used to them passing you at 110kph!

There lies the end of my observations to date!

Tuesday, 24 July 2007.

The trip from Kuranda to Cloncurry, then Mt Isa, was a breeze with the sun behind us all the way.  Only small problem was an over zealous “Grey Nomad” flinging up a stone and cracking my windscreen!  Ouch!  Hope to have it replaced in Perth if it doesn’t disintegrate before then!

Spent the night as the only guest at the Mt Isa Hotel – we were even given the key to the front door and were asked to be sure to lock it when we went out for dinner!  Unfortunately, it didn’t fit the bar door – you know I tried!  There’s a first time for everything!

Mt Isa is the most substantial town we have visited since leaving Toowoomba.  Mining is driving the town, wages are excellent and people seem happy and prosperous.  The new sports arena would rival the Carrara grounds on the Gold Coast and tourism is big.  A great town to set up a young family for life.

Next day, we caught up on a few things and did the short drive westward to Camooweal, a one horse town, and I believe it is dead!  The drinks at the pub were dearer than Surfers Paradise and hot water for a shower was for those not stupid enough to go to the pub in the first place!

These road houses between towns certainly know how to charge for their fuel and supplies!  Barkly Roadhouse was no exception but I did get a picture of RIP n’ COFFIN parked alongside 2 road trains.  My rig was not even as long as the prime mover……  No wonder they all wave and honk their horns at us as they go past!

We pushed on to Three Ways – only another roadhouse there – and turned south and booked in at Tennants Creek for 2 nights.  Here we met a fellow BP dealer and had a wonderful 2 days.

This was the start of our “Cultural” experience and met various Aboriginals and learnt something of their culture and their art.  We also got permission to enter their property one afternoon and canoed on a lake until well after sunset: talking around a fire until late – a beautiful experience in the outback.

After rearranging Richard’s BP showroom – at his invitation, offcourse – we headed south a few hours to spend a night at Wauchope (pronounced “walk” “up”) and The Devils Marbles.  These are a collection of large rocks balancing precariously on top of each other.

This was a special night, as the Devils Marbles had been successful at being placed on the Australian Monopoly board, over other competition, such as Uluru!(Ayres Rock).  It’s a spiritual place for the Aboriginal people and an 80 something year old Aboriginal Elder gave us a 2 hour talk around a fire about his tribe, his youth, the effect of the arrival of the White Man, the motor car and his view of the future of the Aboriginal Culture.  A very special time was had by all that was present that night.  To top it all off, a dingo arrived at the outer edge of the circle of people, sniffed around a little and trotted away again….

Sunday, 29 Jul, we headed off early for the long drive south, away from the sun, (thank goodness!) to Alice Springs.  Being Sunday, we treated ourselves to a tasty cooked breakfast at the first roadhouse we reached before pushing on and running out of fuel!!!!  Now I know that RIP can do 288miles (450km) on a tank full!  Luckily Davey Crocket is a planner and had 20lt cheap Gold Coast fuel in COFFIN, so the delay was short and the trip made more exciting.

We popped into Barrow Creek to “check the place out” but seemed closed – much run down – maybe as a result of the unwanted advertising it received with the Peter Falconio incident!

If we think we are doing it tough – we aren’t!  We met a German chap walking northwards with 2 camels in tow, plus a trailer and a Kelpie dog.  He had left Adelaide 5 months earlier and visited Uluru and many other places on his way up to Alice Springs, and was on his way to Darwin, a 3000km journey!  What do they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? This was mads camels and Germans!

Today, we passed the geographical centre of Australia, and later, the tropic of Capricorn – 2 great milestones en route to Alice Springs.  Laurel bought some Aboriginal art at Aileron – will probably end up in a box when we get home – and we have booked in for 4 nights to enjoy what Alice Springs has to offer us!

Well, Alice Springs and surrounds has been good to us.  It’s a major cultural centre of Australia.  We have been to a didgeridoo show, a cultural dance and story telling experience, to a painting workshop and to many water holes and gorges in the West McDonnell ranges and at Hermannsburg Lutheran mission.  The Flying Doctor, Overland Telegraph and School of the Air outlets were also well worth a visit – opens up ones mind to the problems faced by the station hands and other workers in the bush!

We also took a flight to Kings Canyon, then Ayres Rock, then the Olgas, return – bloody far and sick tummies but beautiful geology and fantastic views of the tourist destinations we will be visiting over the next 4 days!

Tomorrow we will be out of range for most of a week so will send this report and pictures from this and last report and hope everyone receives them ok and enjoys them.

We think of you all often and hope that you are all full of the beans of life.

2 August 2007

WOW!  What a huge 2 weeks we have just had… We travelled through the “Red Centre” to Ayres Rock, The Olgas, Kings Canyon and on through South Australia, across the “Nullarbor Plains and we are now in beautiful Esperance in southern Western Australia.

We left Alice Springs & headed for Kings Creek station – 430km! –  Where we stayed for 2 days in a steel framed canvas tent (with power), but still quite a shock compared to our comforts up to now. The camp kitchen was very rural, but a real experience. This is doing it tough in Australia!

There, we met a group of 5 happy families around the camp fire from Adelaide and hope to see them when we enter the Bay to Birdwood run in September.

We did the Rim Walk – around Kings Canyon – and it was as spectacular as we had been told!  A mammoth walk – 7km – up and down – but well worth the visit!  Definitely rivals Ayres Rock for shock and geology!

On to Curtain Springs – our less expensive accommodation 100km from Ayres Rock – and sunset at The Rock. After doing the obligatory lap of Uluru, we watched a heap of people climbing The Rock against the traditional owners will, then on to the viewing area.  We were the first there – 2 ½ hours early – in a cloudless sky, we weren’t going to miss this sunset!  It was also the site of our 3rd goal, so we did the map thing with Uluru in the back ground.

The Rock went from brown to a reddy brown, to red, to half red/brown (shadow moving up the Rock), and then brown again, all in 4 or 5 minutes.  Plenty of time to take 60 pictures – then delete 57 of them – the convenience of digital cameras!

Time to get out of this baron land………..

By this time, after driving back 100km in the dark to Curtain Springs, we decided we had seen enough of the wasteland of the area and would miss the sunrise at Uluru and head off for Cooper Pede, 700km away.

Nothing can prepare you for Cooper Pede!  Moon landscape, zero grass, desolate, millions of pilot holes of optimistic miners, houses in hill sides.  Not a place for the fairer sex – nor me, but sleeping under ground (to escape the heat) was a novelty!  Definitely fascinating though, and the geology is awesome!

As most of you good people know, Laurel can sleep anywhere!  Add long, straight, baron roads and Laurel sees very little!  One day, I needed to adjust my helmet and goggles so asked Laurel to steer for a while.  I must have taken too long, because about 30 seconds later RIP swerved violently towards the shoulder of the road!  I snatched at the steering wheel and glanced towards Laurel, who was fast asleep with her hand still on the wheel!  That was the last time I bothered to ask a favour when we were in motion!

Crossing more desolate vegetation, we arrived at Woomera, best known recently for detaining the Boat People.  In reality, Woomera is a complete town, a massive Government facility, open to the public, with an excellent museum depicting the setting up of this rocket testing facility in conjunction with the British, and later, the Americans, after the Second World War.  Mind blowing what was happening on our door step during the Cold War!

Wed. 8 August, we left Woomera for a trip along memory lane for Laurel – her ancestor territory – Quorn and Wilmington – where the Germans settled in the late 1880’s.  We visited her great grand parents grave site – Bennet and Matilda Liebich – later changed to Liebech and then Liebeck) and the town where her father was born – in 1909!  After 5 years of severe drought, half the family walked to Junee, near Wagga Wagga, 1000km away, while the other half headed for WA – we hope to visit some of the offspring in the next few weeks! –  That would have been a trip and a half 100 years ago!

We passed through Port Augusta – a lovely place – and spent the night at Whyalla, also a beautiful place and the Home of Oysters – and we each had a dozen fat ones for only $8.00 a pop! Sick!

Next stop was Tumby Bay – beautiful village – and a chance encounter with an old chap, Ray, outside the bakery led us to Laurel’s 90 year old cousin – Laurel Lawrie – the person my Laurel was named after – how special was that!  We did the photo thing, in RIP, next to RIP, RIP in front of the house, and, offcourse, a few pics of Laurel and Laurel and Leyton, Laurel’s husband, not me, the other Laurel’s husband!

Through tears of happiness, we said our goodbyes and headed to Streaky Bay for the night.  Sorry to have to say it again, but a lovely village – the Eyre Peninsular must be high on the list of holiday destinations for the people from as far as Adelaide and Alice Springs!

RIP n’ COFFIN heads off across the Nullarbor! (Nullar – no, Bor – trees)

Sorry Gary – we were woeses – we put up the hood for the first time since leaving home – 30 days – to make our crossing as comfortable as possible!  We also set the alarm 1 hour too early, and left Streaky Bay at 6am for our assault on the Nullarbor.

I won’t bore you with the details, but the vegetation was green – recent rains – and nothing as arid as Central Australia and Northern South Australia.  Kangaroo carcases were rare, we saw 1 dead camel, fuel prices were cheaper than Alice Springs, the road was excellent, we had a challenging head wind all the way and we did 1400km in 2 days – without RIP missing a beat – 28mpg (10.2l/100km) – we had The Nullarbor BEAT!  A cop pulled us over soon after entering WA and “Gave us a warning” for not knowing that irrespective of the speed limit being 110kph, vehicles towing a trailer could only drive at 100kph – “Nice car – what is it? An MG?”  We have friends, everywhere!

En route, we spotted 5 or 6 whales at the Head of the Great Australian Bight, and had our fruit and vegetables confiscated at the SA/WA border!  A road train also passed us going so fast that the perspex was sucked out of my window!  What a loud noise it made, too!

Norseman was a ratty town – the first across the Nullarbor in Western Australia, so we headed on south to Esperance.  What a beautiful town, neat, clean, pristine and prosperous, with beautiful white sand, blue ocean and islands all around to the horizon.  Cold, but Gods country!  A good place to rest up for a few days and write my report.

South-West Western Australia.

Since Esperance, we have had the hood up and down many times, in between down pours and slept over in Albany, Augusta, Busselton and Perth.  We are experts in hood fitting and can complete the task – up and down – in 60 seconds, with only a 1 hour argument last effort!

The whole South-West appears prosperous with miles of green fields of wheat, barley and rape and paddocks of sheep, beef cattle, dairy cattle, horses and deer.  Planted and natural forests are abundant and some of the gigantic Tingle trees in The Valley of the Giants are left over from a previous era and are over 400 years old!

Of course, there are 100’s of wineries – WA is well known for their wines – and once you have seen 2 or 3, the trailer is full and so is the belly, so we staggered home to rest and reflect on the beauty of the SW Western Australia!

Esperance has a fish leather factory – the only one in Australia and only 6 in the world – and the leather and trinkets are as soft as suede, and beautiful.  Who would have thought to process fish skin and make leather garments!

Albany is the oldest town in WA (1827) – settled 2 years before Perth – as it was the first port of call in Australia for the ships from the UK after rounding the Cape of Good Hope.  The French arrived a few days later – just imagine if they had beaten the POMS to this fantastic wine growing region!

At Augusta, RIP had clocked up 6000 miles (10,000km) so she was treated to an oil change and grease and given a vacuum and bath.  She’s a RIPper and soldiers on, regardless.

Between Augusta and Busselton lies Margaret River – the most well known of wine towns – and many limestone caves.  We visited 3 of them – all very different from each other – and the chocolate factory en route to visit my cousin in Busselton.  I have not seen Brian (wife Laura, children Matthew, Nicola and David) since 1971 – Uncle Tony Clinton-Parker’s wedding to Gussy!  That’s 36 years ago!  Brian is the financial controller for Barwick Estate Wines – look for them in your bottle shop – and we did the obligatory taste test of his “free” stock until the wee hours of the morning!

We have been in Perth for some time now and just about know our way around without the help of Gypsy Jane, our faithful GPS!

We attended the monthly meeting of the West Australian MG Car Club and were invited to say a few words before supper time.  A few words turned into many words – what did President Jim expect! – But all seemed to have a good laugh!

While here, we have visited Fremantle – the home of the Dockers – and the Fremantle Motor Museum, belonging to Peter Briggs of Caversham GP fame.  We have also driven on MG roads along the Avon valley to York and another Peter Briggs Motor Museum.  Peter’s passion for cars was ignited when he bought what he describes as his first “real” car – a 1954 MGTF!  He also loved his MGA 1600 Twin cam but his MGB was his racing weapon and came third behind a Ferrari and a Shelby Cobra at the 1965 6 hour race at Caversham!  Peter also founded the WA MG Car Club – a truly great character – still is, according to his staff!

While in York, we spotted a MGB outside a church!  On closer inspection, we met the driver, Jenny, the pastor’s wife.  The car was bought new in 1971 by an old bloke who is now 80 something; without children.  Jenny has her own key – with JENNY inscribed on the back by the Old Man – so guess who loves the MGB and treats it as her own!  Lovely story; and Jenny talks about the car with such passion….!


First, SHE catches 6 mackerel to my 2…….

Now SHE receives third prize at Barbagallo race circuit and I get nothing……

The sad story goes as follows…..

Before we leave WA, we decided to enter a regularity race meeting at the local Barbagallo circuit at Wanneroo.  Laurel plucked up the courage and also entered and Friday saw us practicing around the fast 2.4km circuit in reasonable weather.

Come race day and the weather was foul so the short circuit was selected.  We met a bunch of lovely people – even the CEO of Wes farmers , the company that is bidding to buy Coles – all driving MG’s, Triumph’s, Healey’s and open wheelers – and had a ball.  I went out and drove like a demon possessed and had a complete ball!  Laurel went out and drove sensibly and came away with a medal!  What a star!

Next, we plan on going 250km north to The Pinnacles before heading east to Merriden, Kalgoorlie (visit Michael, my youngest son) and back across the Nullarbor to Adelaide.

Plans are made for breaking!

Monday, 27 August 2007

The last few weeks have been fun, hectic and worrying!

Our trip to The Pinnacles on The Military Road was marred by a very nasty pothole the width of RIP.  COFFIN has a narrow track and on swerving to avoid the pothole, RIP slid to the left and COFFIN flipped on to its left side, damaging the spinner and rim but, unbelievably, not the mudguard nor wooden box!  I pulled up 50 metre down the road on the wrong side and counted my blessings a few times!  I have a photo of how far the tow bar bent to the left and upwards – very lucky not to have flipped the rig and been front page news in the WA newspapers!  Fortunately I was still on sticky race rubber and mentally alert from the weekends racing!

Cervantes, Jurien Bay and The Pinnacles were well worth a visit, as was New Norcia, a Spanish Roman Catholic monastery settled in 1854 to “educate the blacks to European ways”.  The town was developed by the Brothers and was a massive 800 000acres in its heyday!  It is still 20 000acres and self-supporting today!

My son’s arrival in Perth was delayed – another change of plan – so we decided to slip in another trip down south; this time to a MG friendly B & B at Mumbalup, near Pemberton.  (Weird names – “…up” on the end of a town name is apparently “place of….” in the local Aboriginal language?).  We drove on many beautiful MG roads and enjoyed our time with Bruce and Leonie at the B & B and Alan Liebeck, Laurel’s second cousin she had never met, at their Woodsmoke Winery at Pemberton.

However, RIP was not sounding too good – back firing under deceleration – but still pulling like an ox!

As a precaution, on returning to Perth, before returning across the Nullarbor to Adelaide, we decided to get her checked out at The Sports Car Workshop.  Tim diagnosed a possible leaking head gasket so off came the head and over to the engineers to have it crack and pressure tested.  Another change of plan!

Meanwhile, Michael had flown in from Kalgoorlie so we rented a car and booked into a fantastic holiday unit on the river in the middle of Perth for 5 days at $92 per day!  What a bargain!   The only negative was we were too close to the shops and Laurel and Michael had a ball and now COFFIN has a heavier load to carry…….

While “stuck” in Perth, we kept ourselves very busy and supported the local economy substantially – we did the Town bus trip, saw Bruce Willis in Die Hard 4 ( entertaining – just), drove south again to introduce Michael to (second) cousin Brian, and family, at Busselton – then on to Margaret River and the surf beach of Yallingup – 700km in a day!; visited Caversham Race Track to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the running of the 1957 Australian GP – dusty (part of the track is in disrepair) but fantastic to see so many different old cars and motor cycles “doing the laps” again;  visit the port of Fremantle and have a beer in the “famous” Little Creatures brewery/pub and watch the Hoons doing laps of town in their gleaming hot rods and other old cars.  Then back to Perth to the circus of Soleil!  A very busy and expensive long weekend without RIP – in full sunshine – can you believe the luck!

Heading east again – Oh no – not the Nullarbor (treeless) Plains again!

On 5 September 2007, RIP was given the all clear from Doctor Tim, so we did the map thing – goal number 4 and immediately headed for the East Coast of Australia, 2700km away.

We said goodbye to Michael (after Laurel cut his hair on Cottesloe beach – copping comments and invitations to cut onlookers hair at exorbitant prices) –   and took a day to reach Kalgoorlie – ostensibly the richest gold field in the world.  We did the town tour, the mine tour, the Hall of Mining Fame tour and the skimpy tour.  What is the skimpy tour, I hear you ask?  Well, skimpy’s are girls that wear precious few clothes and the ones they do wear are too small for babies, I think!  Their job is to ply people with drink – obviously!  What else would you expect in a wealthy mining town!

Open cast mining is popular here and the Super Pit is 3.7km by 1km by 500m deep – one big hole!  Alan Bond was instrumental in buying up the individual leases but fell from favour before the Super Pit was completed.

Along with mines; goes blokes, and along with blokes; goes girls – some of the night!  Laurel was real eager to do a tour of the last remaining brothel but I had to tie her to the bed and restrain her – she wanted me to ….”Go out and learn a few new tricks!!!!!!!!!”  And I thought I was experienced………..

Our final experience before leaving Western Australia to cross the infamous Nullarbor Plains once again, was to have brunch in the bush on a make shift BBQ plate and wood fire with my son, Michael and his work friends.  It was a real privilege to be given a personal tour of the richest open cut mine in the world by the mine manager, then driven into the bush to find Michael and fed brunch while sitting next to the sign that read – The Golden Eagle (Nugget) was found here in 1931 weighing 11.5lbs!  Guess who looked down and kicked up the dirt with every step just in case a falcon nugget was waiting to be exposed!

The trip across the Nullarbor was uneventful – 1400km in 2 days with the top down, a tail wind and a happy wife – what more could a bloke ask for?  RIP n COFFIN did 30 mpg and was singing……

Three coincidences occurred on entering Adelaide – very unnatural!

  • We were being stalked by a lady in a car through Port Broughton.  On further enquiry, we had passed Lorraine and John 5 weeks earlier en route to Perth in her 4 X 4 and caravan!
  • Knowing Gary and Anita, our MGA friends from the Gold Coast, were planning to reach Adelaide “today” (1700km trip), we pulled up at a Hungry Jacks and called Gary.  When asked where he was, his reply was simple – opposite Hungry Jacks!  The same one………
  • Driving through 5pm traffic to our motel, someone passed us shouting and waving – who the hell is that!  It was Jamo, one of the group we had shared a very large camp fire with at Ayres Rock 7 weeks previously!

How creepy was all that stuff! Sorry Laurel; won’t be able to learn new tricks in Adelaide!


What a lovely MG town!  Officially, Adelaide is a city, but in reality, Adelaide is a well laid out, pretty, friendly town!  Further a field, only half an hour out, are the Adelaide Hills with narrow, gutter less roads winding up hill and down dale with something new at every turn.  No wonder there are so many sports cars in South Australia….

Along with sports cars goes performance mechanics, so guess which lucky MG got a real tickle up while here – thanks to Adrian at MG Adelaide Specialist Workshop and Brenton at Fours N More performance dyno tuning.

Laurel and I were kept very busy here – we met the SASCC (South Australian Sports Car Club) committee who were extremely friendly and showed us around their palatial club rooms and library: we met the SAMGCC members on 3 occasions – a MGA register meeting, a charity “pig on the spit” night and on a Sunday breakfast run to Normanville; we both drove in a sprint meeting at Mallala raceway and a (pretty, steep, rough, exciting) hill climb at Collingrove; we visited the winery regions and bought too many “oh, that tastes good” bottles of wine; met another of Laurel’s relations – they must have bred like rabbits in the old days? – This time it was Ron and Janet Liebich from Liebich Winery – conveniently enough – more wine stuffed under RIP’s hood! – too bad if we needed to put up the hood in a hurry – we would be sloshed before it was up and then it wouldn’t have mattered if it was up or not, I suspect; we entered the pre-Bay to Birdwood rally events north, east and south of Adelaide to interesting destinations and did the big one – the reason we had left the Gold Coast 3 months before – THE BAY TO BIRDWOOD CLASSIC RUN!

Can you imagine 1760 proud, gleaming vehicles manufactured between 1957 and 1977, driving 2 abreast through Adelaide streets to the Adelaide Hills and on to the Motor Museum at Birdwood under a cloudy sky with drivers and passengers dressed in period costumes?????????  The towns were brought to a standstill with onlookers set up on the pavements and median strip between the roads cooking breakfast or drinking champagne or just calling out suitable comments and, of course, continuously waving!  We had at last fulfilled our purpose of setting off on this adventure……… and it was fantastic!

Gary and Anita shared a flat (unit) with us and in between flying to Western Australia and visiting their “old” friends around Adelaide from a previous life, joined us in their MGA on some of our adventures.  This reminded us of our trip together in 2005 in UK when the “little blue and little red” MGA’s toured the length and breadth of the UK with our “new” MGCC friends – what happy memories……….

This being our 5th and last goal, we filled out the route on the map in front of the Birdwood Museum.

Homeward Bound…… 1 October 2007.

We all had a late night packing and repacking our little cars ready for the final assault home – 1700km.

The trip was hotter than expected and took 4 days, with the hood going up one afternoon in 35 degree heat!  Woeses, I hear you say!  Maybe……

Our route took in Burra (old copper mining town), Broken Hill (iron ore mining town),  Bourke on the Darling river (now I understand the expression – Back of Bourke!), Moree, Inverell, Lismore and the Gold Coast – home sweet home – our own bed – YESSSS – and Guy, our youngest had spruced up the place and cooked us a hearty meal – what a bonus! (He must have known that we were considering putting up his board……)

The last line on the map on COFFIN was finally drawn, completing a 21500km circle of friendships and lasting memories, on 5 October 2007!

It was a tender moment when Laurel and I personally tapped RIP on the bonnet and thanked her out loud for a ride of a lifetime and for towing COFFIN full of “necessary” gifts and wine safely home for a good rest before our assault on New Zealand and Africa in 2008!

A Road Not Travelled Is an Avenue Not Explored!


RIP has towed COFFIN and carried Laurel and I, 21500km (13000 miles) from East to West Australia and back in 89 days without too much trouble!

Laurel and I would like to thank all those people that helped us enjoy our Australian Adventure!

We cannot name everyone, but would like to mention a few who were instrumental to the success of the adventure.

Thanks Dan (did most of the rebuild of RIP), Des and Keith (rebuilt the motor), my children and staff (helped keep the service stations “providing”), Jim and crew (MGCC Western Australia), Fred, Andrew, Arthur, Greg and crew (MGCC South Australia), Gary and Anita (drove down to Adelaide in their MGA to “escort” us home) and Laurel for allowing me to travel top-down for 81 days through heat, cold, rain and gale force winds without a single complaint!  Thanks also to all the lovely people we have met on the way who made the effort to talk to us and share their MG stories of old!  You guys made our trip a real Aussie Adventure!  Let’s drink to that…….

For those of you who are statistically orientated, here is a summary of the trip…..

*Travelled 13000 miles (21000km)
* Used 2200lt petrol
* Averaged 26.8 mpg (10.6 l/100km) – best was 31.5mpg, worst was 20.6mpg when sprinting
* Fuel Cost was $3100 at average of $1.39 per litre

Mechanical problems:

* Float stuck open, but corrected itself….
* Replaced head gasket in Perth – didn’t want to take a chance and tighten it down.
* Rectifier in alternator replaced in Adelaide
* Dented right rear mudguard on wooden pole
* Cracked windscreen
* Bent tow bar tongue when hitting a deep pothole at about 60mph

COFFIN towed straight and true and was trouble-free.

The MGB motor and 5 speed gearbox gave the “A” a lovely drive – even with the load of the trailer – and the RX7 seats gave a level of comfort above expectations.

I plan on compiling a list of what to take and how to plan for a long trip in a roadster with the top down, so if you would like a copy, please contact me and I will send you one.
Safety fast,

Dave and Laurel Godwin

0412 029277

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