South Australia hosted the 2022 TSOA Nationals after a two-year hiatus due to COVID. The 2020 event was scheduled for Port Stephens, NSW but was cancelled due to lockdowns and border closures, and similarly, the 2021 event, scheduled for the Barossa Valley last year, had to be postponed for 12 months due to COVID lockdowns.

The 2022 event had many challenges thrown its way, including a refurbishment of our accommodation venue at Barossa Weintal Hotel (BWH), Tanunda, which resulted in 20 rooms being unavailable. The committee worked closely with hotel management and secured all other available rooms in reasonable proximity to BWH for the first weekend.  We had replacement rooms at the Wine Vine Motel (around 300 metres from the BWH) as well as in Nuriootpa for the first two nights, as the Wine Vine was also fully booked over that period.

As well as ongoing COVID concerns, we were hit with near record rainfall and flooding in eastern Australia which severely disrupted travel for our eastern states visitors. A small number of our registrants either chose not to leave due to flooding or turned back en-route. Those who came via the Barrier Highway had a tough time of it, including some being trapped by flood waters between Wilcannia and Broken Hill on the Wednesday night prior to the start, and having to sleep in their cars.

Although we had over 110 registrants a few weeks out, a total of 89 managed to get through to Tanunda for the event.

We had a particularly successful display day, organised by Ian Rigby on the open paddock next to the BWH.  A large contingent of local members attended in addition to Nationals entrants, and there were at least 70 Triumph cars on show for this event. The rain held off for the duration and this was probably one of the largest Triumph displays we have had in SA for many years. Congratulations to all the winners, with South Australia dominating the winners list, and best car on show being awarded to Noel and Cindy Schmidt for their magnificent TR3A.

We had a lot of heavy rain after that, and the paddock was partially under water for the rest of the week, so it was very lucky we had our display on Saturday.

Around 12 brave drivers headed to Mallala on Sunday, in quite heavy rain conditions, and somehow managed to get their cars onto the track. There were some spectacular spin outs in the wet conditions, but no-one damaged their vehicle or got hurt.  The event was run as a Regularity, and Bruce Pollock from WA was the overall winner.

Monday, was, however the start of people testing positive to COVID, and unfortunately, quite a few of our interstate guests succumbed, and ended up spending most of the rest of the week in their rooms.  Some others decided to go home early, but most stayed the distance.

During the week we had an observation run to Angaston and Mannum with lunch at Swan Reach (winners Ken and Vera-Ann Hannaford from NSW), a trip to Monarto Zoo, and visits to the Carl Lindner Jaguar Collection in Tanunda, and Anlaby Station. This trip to Anlaby was delayed due to flooding of the access road on the scheduled Tuesday, but this flooding had subsided by Thursday. The partner program on the Sunday of the motorsport at Mallala included wine and chocolate pairing at the Barossa Valley Chocolate Company, and visits to Seppeltsfield and the Barossa Bush Garden. Despite the rain every day, we were still able to do all these activities without major disruption.

No-one went hungry, with great meals at BWH, the Clubhouse Tanunda, Greenock Tavern, Vine Inn Nuriootpa and SA Company Kitchen Angaston, as well as a catered meal at Nuriootpa Rovers Football Club.

The Ironman Competition is always a highlight of the TSOA Nationals, and Stephen Wade did a great job of organising two challenging events. South Australia were the proud winners overall, and thanks go to Roger and Cheri Lange in the “Catching COVID” competition, and Noel and Cindy Schmidt in the “Waiters’ Walk” competition, who between them, blitzed the other states.

Thanks to the organising committee of Duane Kaak, Rory and Sue Gibson, Peter and Julie Davidge, Ian Rigby, Roger Lange, Dean and Marg Bogisch, Stephen Wade and Sue Smithson, for their tireless work over more than 3 years work on the cancelled 2021, and very successful (particularly for those who did not catch COVID) 2022 Nationals. Thanks also to everyone who attended and got into the spirit of everything we did. We also had a great turnout of SA members of TSOA at the display day, which really added to the success of the week.

Despite all our problems I think everyone left keener than ever to see this annual event continue, no matter what the obstacles.  Bring on Warrnambool, Victoria in 2023.

Alex Smithson

Convenor – 2021 and 2022

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