2012 Nationals Report – Victoria

The Nationals have finished for another year and were another outstanding success. There were 20 participants from South Australia, including some who had been to numerous past rallies and others who had their first experience last year but wanted to relive the great experience of our event in 2011.  There were over 100 participants from 5 states, who spent a great week at the Novatel, Creswick, just north of Ballarat.

The first event on Sunday was the Pride of Ownership Show and Shine which was held as part of the Ballarat Springfest Market Sunday on the foreshore of Lake Wendouree. There was a large number of other car clubs with displays at the “Shannons Display Area” where our PoO was held, with some very impressive cars on display.   Despite there being a number of great looking and very well presented Triumphs from other states on display, South Australia scooped the pool of trophies, with 1st prize for best car on display going to Noel Schmidt’s TR3A, 2nd prize to John Frick’s TR4, 3rd prize to Roger Lange’s TR8 and 4th prize to Peter Davidge’s TR6.   Two other prizes were awarded to cars not officially entered into the PoO completion, and these were won by Alex Smithson’s TR6 and Barry Clarke’s TR4A.

Sunday night was another highlight with us having dinner at Sovereign Hill and watching “Blood on the Southern Cross” light and sound show. For anyone who is in Ballarat and has the opportunity to see this show, it is an absolute must. It depicts the story of the Eureka Stockade on the actual sites where major events happened in a spectacular fashion. It really is a world class show that we were very privileged to be able to see as a group.

The observation run on Monday included spending time in Newstead and Maldon, the town that hosts the Mt Tarrangower annual hill climb. We had lunch at Maldon and then spent the afternoon in Castlemaine. The observation run had its share of tricky questions, and despite taking a wrong turn, Roger and Cherri Lange came second in the run.

Tuesday was Melbourne Cup day, and after a visit in the morning to the Tangled Maze at Creswick, we have a great cup lunch at the Novatel, with sweeps and a competition for best dressed. Our own Noel and Cindy Schmidt took out the prize as the most stylish couple. Some were luckier than others on the nags.

Wednesday was a long run to Ararat via Clunes, Talbot and Avoca. Clunes is a town that time forgot, and has been used for various film sets.  Nothing appears to have been painted there in the last 50 years. At Ararat we had a guided tour of the infamous “J Ward” of the Ararat Hospital, which is an early prison which served as a secure facility for the criminally insane from 1859 until 1991. One of our South Australian group who shall remain nameless of reduce embarrassment spent a penny at the end of the tour and came out of the Mens’ room just in time to hear the guide locking up the main building from the outside, and disappearing into the gatehouse building.  He quickly rang his wife on her mobile, however she was on the road outside the gatehouse building by this stage which was also by then locked up. Some frantic banging and shouting on this door finally attracted the guide’s attention, as he was about to depart from a rear exit, and the now somewhat panicked member was finally released from J Ward.

Thursday was track day at the Broadford complex, which is the State motorcycle track, but sometimes also used for motor sport. TSOA SA was represented by Roger Lange in his TR8 and Neil Martin in his TR7 V8.  There were also three non-rally registered members of our club on the track, being Bryan Young (Vitesse), Andy Ansell (TR7) and Rod Carey (Spitfire).  Whilst our guys put in a great effort, they were competing against a number of cars that were specifically set up for racing.

The outstanding competitor of the day was Brian Falloon from Queensland (TR5) who was the fastest car in class and overall in both sprint and hill climb, and as a result also single handed won the state team prize as his points exceeded those combined for competitors from any other state.  Brian and Team Queensland also won the State Ironman competition, despite having only 5 delegates to choose teams from, this being the smallest state contingent. A small truck was required to take all the trophies back to the Sunshine State.

There was a trip for those who did not want to attend the track day to tour and participate in a shopping extravaganza in Daylesford and Hepburn Springs. Maureen Gold was in her element.

On Thursday night, we had dinner at the Ballarat Turf Club and were entertained by Noel Cutler, the Bush Poet. Noel is a well known entertainer and author of 2 books, and was making his final appearance at our dinner before retiring from public performance.  He is a most entertaining person, who among other skills is also a champion whip cracker.  He recited original works and famous poems such as “The Man from Snowy River”, and finally included several delegates as actors in a most entertaining rendition of his own composition called “The Man from Ironbark”.

There was an optional run on Friday morning to Buninyong and Ballarat, and in the afternoon, Roger Lange organised a visit to the historic Creswick Freemason’s Lodge after a chance meeting with the local taxi driver who is also a past Grand Master of the Lodge, and a very dedicated freemason (he even has the Masonic Square and Compass symbol tattooed on his arm). Grant, the taxi driver suggested to Roger that the Lodge is a highlight of Creswick, having original painted murals walls and artwork from over 100 years ago.  We learned a huge amount about freemasonry, and Grant answered questions for over an hour.   Hopefully no-one was waiting for a taxi in Creswick that afternoon.

The final dinner on Friday was a great night with presentations of trophies and as well as the above, Stephen Wade from South Australia was also presented with a most deserved trophy as the delegate who had made the greatest effort in participation.

The Queensland delegation (once again Brian and Linley Falloon) made an excellent presentation for the 2013 Nationals which will be held at Noosa on the Sunshine Coast between 4th and 12th October 2013. Whilst this will be a significantly further distance to travel than to Victoria, I am sure that after such a great week of fellowship with Triumph lovers around Australia, there will be a lot of enthusiasm from all delegates to get to Queensland next year.

We danced the night away with a two piece band until the wee small hours (well, maybe not quite that late).

The traditional “Blair’s Big Breakfast” rounded out the National Meeting, with everyone then heading home Saturday morning, tired but very happy to attend such a great event. We are all very grateful to Max and Marg Hayes, the 2012 National Meeting Conveners, the hard working committee and the Victorian TSOA for making the week so memorable and so smooth running.

Alex Smithson

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