The Nationals for 2019 are over and all who attended considered it a resounding success. There were 107 registered participants (40 from WA) with SA being the third largest contingent with 17. A small convoy of 3 Triumphs being driven, (Roger and Cherri Lange, Alex and Sue Smithson and Stephen Wade) together with a further Triumph being trailered (Trevor and Steph Lindsay) set off on Tuesday 15th October for a drive of some 3,000km to Margret River W.A. We met up with Neil Martin (also trailering his TR7) on the way, finally arriving at Stay @ Margaret River resort on Saturday 19th October. We completely booked out this magnificent resort which provided first-class accommodation.

The highlights of our trip across were a visit to the “Head of the Bight” tourist centre near the Nullabor Roadhouse, where we saw two whales with calves at close range, and the fact that unlike the 2014 WA Nationals, all our delegates and cars got there in one piece. We all breathed a sigh of relief when Stephen Wade successfully negotiated the intersection with Port Germain turnoff, the location of his serious car accident en-route to WA in 2014.

The Margaret River region of south west WA is one of the most beautiful parts of Australia with TSOAWA putting on a fantastic week which was thoroughly enjoyed by all those attending.

Our first event was the welcome dinner at the resort on Saturday which was a great night, and which celebrated the 50th anniversary of the TR6 with a 60’s/70’s theme, bringing out the best of the creativity of the rally delegates.

On Sunday we all washed and polished our cars and headed down the road for a show and shine in the Community Centre car park. Although there were many great Triumphs on display, the winner was our own Trevor Lindsay with his immaculate Mk 1 2500PI Estate.

Monday was competition day at Busselton. Councils in WA seem to be much more amenable to motor sport than in other parts of Australia, and a section of road on the Busselton foreshore was closed to allow a timed sprint competition for our delegates and others visiting for the day. The format was a “there and back” with very tight “U” turn at the end of the track, and various weaving through barriers. There were a lot of quick cars, however a certain red TR7 V8 driven by our own Neil Martin was consistently the quickest vehicle. Roger Lange also drove Neil’s car and although not quite matching Neil’s times, was nevertheless, highly competitive. An altercation with a kerb may have adversely affected Roger’s latter runs, however it was nothing that a wheel alignment would not fix.

Duane Kaak had a borrowed a Mk 2, 2000 saloon for the week and pushed this vehicle to its very limits (with the owner’s consent, I must add). Duane managed to be second fastest to Neil on most of his runs, a phenomenal performance in a borrowed car which on paper did not look like it would have been a serious contender.

We had a sandwich lunch at the Barnard Park Recreation Centre, next to the track, and a chance to look at the Busselton area and northern part of the region, including Cape Naturaliste and the famous and very long Busselton Jetty and aquarium.

Tuesday was the observation run to Augusta and Cape Leeuwin. We had a couple of stops on the way to answer questions, with lunch divided between two venues, due to the large size of our group. Again, SA did very well, with Sue and me winning the event.

We had a free day on Wednesday although there were two “Ironman” events in the morning. For the uninitiated, all Nationals have a competition of three novelty events between states for a highly sought-after national trophy.
The Stay @ Margaret River resort has a Bocce rink and a 9-hole mini golf course within its facility, and both were used for the events. Peter Davidge was our Bocce rep and looked like he had the event won, only to have a rouge Victorian do a “Trevor Chappell” with the last ball and knock the white ball away from Peter’s, until then, winning ball. Dean Bogisch was our golfer, and did very well, but not quite as well as a couple of other states. Nearly all the Nationals attendees were in the gallery (Dean may have choked a bit as a result), and we believe that this was the largest gallery ever to watch a tournament at the Stay @ Margaret River mini golf course. Team South Australia really stood out in our club-subsidised red polo shirts, and at least made a real fashion statement.

Thursday morning saw the second motor sport event, the “Nannup Sprint”. We all decamped to the picturesque town of Nannup, some 75 km west of Margaret River. Similarly, to Busselton, public roads were closed for a timed “point to point” sprint which was higher speed than at Busselton. Again, Neil Martin, after getting a wheel alignment on the free day, was significantly fastest in all his runs, and did not have the same problems in stopping outside the garage which he had in Busselton. The higher speed course also suited Roger better and his time were also amongst the most competitive. Duane also performed very well, however the 2000cc motor in the saloon he was driving lacked the power of many of the cars on the track, and there were a small number of competitors with times between his and Neil’s times.

The third Ironman event was held on Thursday night before we had dinner at the White Elephant Beach Café at Gnarabup. This was a precision driving event where the driver had to estimate where to stop with wheels on the start line, estimate two full wheel revolutions, and then decide the height to be set of a “limbo” bar at the other end of the car park, and drive under that bar. This last task was made more complicated due to the slope of the car park which prevented the driver seeing the ground level of the limbo bar, so it was a complete guess at what height the bar should be set. Roger Lange represented SA, and in hindsight, was a bit optimistic about how low a 2.5PI saloon can go.

We had a “Dice Run” (described as a navigation run with an element of chance) on Friday, where each driver threw a pair of dice at the start, finish and at two interim stops, finishing with lunch at Cheeky Monkey Brewery. SA did not win this event, however it was purely a game of chance, so we were not overly disappointed at missing this one. There were, however two additional prizes give for the most imaginative “selfie” with the cow statues at the small village of Cowaramup, and the most inventive Triumph-related name for a chocolate, after a visit to a local chocolate factory. Rory and Sue Gibson were the winners of this naming competition with “Gloria’s Renown Chocolates”.

Our final day was a brunch at “The Common” bar and bistro near the beach at Gnarabup, and later our presentation dinner. There was no National Competition trophy awarded this year, as the organisers considered that both events were timed only, however by my calculations, SA would have been the clear winner. We also brought home the Pride of Ownership trophy, courtesy of Trevor Lindsay however we were unfortunately unplaced in the Ironman trophy which was won overall by the team from NSW. The night also had an auction of fabulous TR6 table decorations made by WA committee member Dave Ryder. They are a real work of art, and I am now the proud owner of one of these TR6’s, made of stainless steel on a wooden base.

WA committee member Doug Vanzetti is the drummer in a band that does 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s classics, and although not starting until late, rocked the presentation dinner to the wee small hours, with a packed dance floor.

Breakfasts each day were at the resort (other than the day of the brunch), and we had evening meals most nights either at the resort (two) or at other restaurants/community facilities in the Margaret River area, all of which were of very good quality. On our two free nights, the SA team plus various guests from other states had a BBQ at the resort, with catering courtesy of Dean and Margaret Bogisch.
After the raucous noise the first night, we had people with rooms near the BBQ join us on night two, rather than put up with us a second time.

The week was absolutely fantastic, and whilst the interstate contingent was comprised mainly of people who are regular Nationals attendees, we met or renewed acquaintances with a lot of people from the WA TSOA club, which is growing strongly and has a very high participation rate. The organising committee, particularly Jeff and Kaye van der Plas did a great job of making sure the week ran very smoothly, and everyone in the club really pulled their weight to make it such a great event. The president of WA Club, Justin Stevens was MC for the week, and did an amazing job of humour and efficiency, which really added to the enjoyment of the week.

On the last night, John Stokes from NSW gave a presentation on next year’s Nationals to be held at the Anchorage 5-star beachfront resort at Port Stephens from 30th October to 6th November 2020. This will be a great program in such a fantastic location. We have already put our names down and are looking forward to attending Port Stephens in 2020. Then of course it is our turn in 2021, and we are already making great headway into planning this event. If it is anywhere near as successful as the WA Nationals this year, it will be an event not to be missed.

Alex Smithson





Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.