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There is plenty happening here at BDC WA - take a closer look at some of our bigger upcoming events below:-

2015 The Great Australian Drive:

Members and friends are currently enjoying the Great Australian Drive Rally. For tour updates and photos click here.

2012 Rally to the Rally:

The Rally to the Rally, another successful BDC WA trip that started from WA - headed to SA got underway Wednesday 17th October 2012. For photos of this past event click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
     
  THE 'GREAT AUSTRALIAN DRIVE' TOUR DIARY  
     
         
     
Day 21: 7 May 2015...
 
         
     
Day 20: 6 May 2015...
 
         
     
Day 19: 5 May 2015...Rockhampton to Airlie Beach
 
  More photos coming...  

Who was that coughing all night?  Tent city was alive all night with the sounds of exhausted rally participants , snores and groans, zipps going up and down and everyone trying to grab what sleep they could before the longest drive of the rally from Rockhampton to Airlie Beach.  As the sun appeared, the dew was thick underfoot and the cars were drenched.  It seems that water follows these cars everywhere.

The road from Rockhampton to Mackay was free of traffic and the Bentleys were opened up -- until they were flagged down by a Queensland policeman conducting random breath tests.  It was a surprisingly lonely highway with only a few small towns and cattle properties along the route.  From Mackay, the road heads for Airlie Beach via +++++.

 
     
Day 18: 4 May 2015...Hervey Bay to Rockhampton
 
     

Summer arrived at the rally today and what a shock it was.  The drive inland from the quiet seaside town of Hervey Bay to Rockhampton gave everyone their first taste of Queensland weather -- and it hardly touched 30○C.

Through Bundaberg, one of the major centres for sugar cane production, but perhaps better known for its rum, to a number of small communities on the Bruce Highway the route took the rally inland once again to a drier part of eastern Australia.

It was evident during the drive to Rockhampton that this was cattle country, and not dairy cows like in the south but beef cattle.  The region has miles of grassland with tall grasses not unlike Africa.  Rockhampton prides itself on being the beef capital of Australia and every two years a trade event called Beef Week brings sellers and buyers from all over the world to talk beef.  

With accommodation in short supply, Michael Hood booked the tent city adjacent to the showgrounds for a short overnight stay.  

 
     
Day 17: 3 May 2015...Brisbane to Hervey Bay
 
     

The sleepy streets of the Queensland capital of Brisbane were awoken by the roar of vintage Bentleys as the rally rolled on into the Queensland countryside.  From the bruce Highway, the route ran into the Glasshouse Mountains.  They are so named for the large volcanic cones which dot the landscape, making the area look like something from Jurassic Park.

Today’s first destination was Australia Zoo, the brainchild of the conservationist and media personality Steve Irwin who rose to fame on television wrestling crocodiles and other dangerous creatures.  Unfortunately, his life ended while filming a documentary on the Great Barrier Reef when a stingray barb pierced his heart.  His legacy, however, is Australia Zoo which is now run by his American wife. For the international rally entrants who had only seen roadkill wombats and kangaroos on the trip so far, this was a chance to see real, live Australian animals close up.  There were koalas to cuddle, kangaroos to pat and a variety of creatures from crocodiles to wombats to venemous snakes.

 
     
Day 16: 2 May 2015...Byron Bay to Brisbane
 
     

It was like nothing had happened at all. The sun shone bright in the morning. The air was warm and the wind was all but gone.  What a contrast to the overnight storm when the winds gusted up to 89kph and 106mm of rain fell at Byron Bay.  The rain played havoc with the WO Bentleys. Several refused to start and Kevin and Cameron were kept busy working with their owners to coax them into life.  Gerry and George left early only to be confronted by a blocked road between Tangalow and Nimbin.

The water was about 600mm deep and crossing the road in several places.  The road workers explained that if that part of the road was underwater then it is likely that others would be as well.  At Nimbin, the media reported tha around 1,200 people were isolated and many were living at the town hall as the caravan park in town was flooded.  Undoubtedly the affected visitors would have been having a smoke and chilling out - it is the weekend of the annual cannabis festival.

Tour director Michael Hood was faced with re-routing the rally and taking the chance that other roads would be clear or simply opting for a direct drive up the Pacific Highway to Brisbane.  The second option was chosen and Bentley drivers battled Saturday traffic in Brisbane to arrive at the Stamford Plaza Hotel - right in the heart of the Queensland capital.

 
     
Day 14: 30 April 2015...Coffs Harbour to Byron Bay
 
 

 

The sun tried to find its way between the rain clouds as our intrepid travellers set off for Byron Bay, a little further up the coast of northern New South Wales.  The easy way is to hook onto the Pacific Highway and charge north, but the Bentley way is to find pleasantly winding country roads to test out car and driver along the way.  
With a near 100 per cent chance of heavy rain, everyone got ready early, enjoying breakfast in the sun at the resort.  Some less intrepid travellers thought that discretion was the better part of valour and they took the direct route to Byron Bay. 

For the rest, the early part of the drive was in sunny weather, through forest and green farmland.  David and Kay Webster ever found the appropriately named Fiddlers Creek and just had to stop to take a photograph.

As the rain began to fall, it got heavier and heavier.  This is cattle country and the town of Casino is famous for its cattle rather than blackjack.  

The Byron at Byron Resort was reached as the rain set in.  It is set amongst, yes, rain-forest of course.  And it is a modern resort and spa where everyone could, and was, in another world.  The wet weather has been the greatest rally change to date and the free day tomorrow will be enjoyed by all.

 
     
Day 13: 29 April 2015...Tamworth to Coffs Harbour
 
 

 

 

After the revelry of last night, it was surprising that everyone was up bright and early for the drive from the inland to the coast - from Tamworth where country music is King to Coffs Harbour where it is all about the beach. Some saw the golden guitar while others were happy just to keep the Bentleys rolling along through to Coffs Harbour.

Enroute was the university town of Armidale which specialises in agricultural sciences, then many rallyists dropped by to the Wollomombi Falls in the Oxley Rivers National Park.  These falls are spectacular in the wet season but still impressive when the waters are quiet -- it’s a 100 to 230 metre plunge into the gorge below.

Soon the Bentleys were over the watershed of the Great Dividing Range into the more lush eastern side. the Pacific Coast came into sight for the first time.

 
     
Day 12: 28 April 2015...Tamworth Country and Western Night
 
 

 

 

It doesn’t take much to get the evening rockin’.  The BDCWA rallies have always been the three Bentley Ds - drink, dine and drink but maybe music should be added to that. 
The evening began with cowboy hats for all, setting the tone for the revelry that followed.
The Top Hat went to Leesa Morgan, thanks to an indiscretion at a stop light near roadworks and during a convoluted explanation of how her life came to this point on a country road in New South Wales she let slip that it was Graeme Ryan’s birthday.  Two reasons to celebrate. With the help of the very talented country music duet, Graham Gallop and Jon Collins sang their new Bentley song.

Patrick and David pulled out their guitar and fiddle once again.

And so the night went on with music and dance as the room was filled with conga lines, line dancing and a good dose of yee ha! A night to remember.

 
     
Day 12: 28 April 2015...Pokolbin to Tamworth
 
     

Hunter Valley makes claim to being the oldest winemaking region in Australia but the region exudes a modernism in wine-growing with new cellar door facilties, resturants and ‘boutique’ accommodation at every turn. Famous old names in the Australian wine industry such as Tyrell’s are mixed with an eclectic mix of new wine brands -- even including a vineyard called Eclectic Wines on our route which makes only one type of wine (shiraz) from its small vineyard.

In the early morning light as we motored out of the Hunter Valley kangaroos feasted on the fresh grass.  Viticulturists are not so quick to shoot kangaroos light their farming cousins as they do little harm to grape vines, and even keep the grass down.

 
     
Day 11: 27 April 2015...Katoomba to Pokolbin
 
 

 

 

 

The unusual autumn weather has dished out just about every type of weather in the last week - moments of sunshine with rain, hail and snow.  However, a bright and sunny day greeted the rally teams as they got ready for the day ahead at Lillianfells.  The drive through the Blue Mountains revealed, yes, blue mountains.  While the common view is that the mountains have a bluish tint because of the eucalyptus molecules in the air, it doesn;t adequately explain why other mountains without gum trees in other places are also blue.  Another theory is that it is the light refracting off dust molecules between the viewer and the mountains.  Who cares anyway?  The views on this sunny day were delightful - vintage motoring at its best.

The rally group was split between two hotels for the overnight stay but the capricious storms of this week in the Hunter Valley had played hell with the power system. About 30,000 consumers were still without power and the hotel where half the group was to stay had no power so Michael Hood had been ringing around the Hunter Valley to find an alternative.  He found it at the Mercure Hunter Valley Gardens Hotel.  Kevin and Cameron arrived during dinner with the car, to rousing applause from the well-oiled diners who had enjoyed wine tasting at the hotel thanks to First Creek Wines in the Hunter Valley.  First Creek is, like most Australian wineries, only relatively new to the wine-making business. The winery began in 1996 and quickly built a reputation as a premium winemaker.  The Top Hat went to David Browning for negotiating the downhill run into the Jenolan Caves without front brakes and with smoke billowing from the rears.  Gerhard was happy to hand it over after the much-travelled hat travelled as far as Sydney where Juergen wore it during the Aida concert.

 
     
Day 10: 26 April 2015...Katoomba - Layday at Lillianfels
 
 

 

Before there was an opera house and a big coathanger in Sydney, the tourist path to the Blue Mountains just to the west was well trodden. This was where the Three Sisters rock promontory makes the spectacular and mandatory postcard picture of Australia.  It is still a “must do” day tour for international visitors to Sydney.

We didn’t have to trek from Sydney as the Lillianfels Hotel is only a five minute walk away.  It was, however, a cold walk as the wind was biting as it came up from the valley below.

Dinners were at the hatted restaurant Darley’s in a split sitting for both groups.

 
         
     
Day 9: 25 April 2015...Bowral to Katoomba
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Australian Drive has been skipping up and over the Great Dividing Range for a week and following breakfast, a rallyists left in their own time to once again climb the range  bound for the Blue Mountains and Katoomba.  The roads over the last week have been a great challenge for all the drivers: little travelled byways, free of traffic and with endlessly changing scenery.

The roads today were unusually quiet, even for Australia, no doubt caused by the commemoration of Anzac day across the country.  Through Goulbourn to Taralga for a coffee break and the impressive site of Bentleys lining the main street. A few locals appeared to look at the cars and at the hotel, the main bar had a handful of diggers enjoying an Anzac Day drink ( and probably a game of two-Up afterwards). Good coffee was to be found at a little bar behind the main bar.

 
         
     
Day 9: 25 April 2015...Anzac Dawn Service at Bowral
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

After the revery of the World War 1 them night which ended on a sombre note after the words of the war song “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?” the sound of vintage Bentleys roaring into life in the pre-dawn darkness of Anzac Day showed that while we have been on opposing sides during times of war, we can always forgive and grow together, sharing the tragedy of the past.

One by one, the cars drove towards town through the blackness, arriving in a country town like hundreds of similar towns across Australia which for one day of the year local people shuffle through the early morning chill to remember the casualties of war.  Several thousand were gathering at War Memorial Park on Bong Bong Street (named after the first town settled by Europeans in the Southern Highlands).  The rally participants were faces in the crowd as wreaths were laid at the memorial and short speeches given to remember the men of Anzac who came ashore at Anzac Cove on Gallipoli at this time exactly 100 years ago.

Lest We Forget.

 
         
     
Day 8: 24 April 2015...Milton Park, Bowral - Free Day including a visit to the Private Car Collection
 
 

 

 

 

 

The Hordern family would have been delighted to have so many fine cars parked at their country estate.  In their heyday, the Horderns exerted an enormous influence on life in the colony and later State of New South Wales.  Milton Park near Bowral is a testament to their wealth which grew through the drapery trade, and extended to bloodstock breeding and stockbroking. The Hordern family name is still dotted around Sydney. Milton Park was one of the family homes until 1960, and in recent years it has been turned into the hotel enjoyed today.  

Bentley Club members are dotted al over the countryside and we were invited to visit the unbelievable car collection of one member who lives in nearby Mittagong.  Unbelievable is not a word used lightly as the collection numbers more than 400 cars and many more motorcycles.  It is housed at his country estate, well away from public gaze but rally members were privileged to view it.

 
         
     
Day 7: 23 April 2015...World War 1 Theme Night - Milton Park, Bowral
 
 

 

There were enough nurses to go around and even a ring-in in the form of Roger Goodwin who offered his considerable assets to anyone who fancied a squeeze.  Gerhard and Juergen got into the spirit of things as Kaiser Bill and his lieutenant and they were joint worthy winners of tonight’s Top Hat award.

Fortunately we had a platoon of  British and Australian officers to keep them in line.  Tony Sinclair came as Captain Mainwaring from Dad’s Army to organise the rabble.  

After Peter Briggs’ talk about the meaning of Gallipoli, Graham Gallop and Jon Collins got the evening into song with Patrick Mueller’s guitar talents.  Soon David Webster on the fiddle and Patrick on the guitar began a singalong with tunes from the Great War and a sombre anti-war song, “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”.

 
         
     
Day 7: 23 April 2015...Lake Crackenback Resort to Bowral
 
 

 

 

It was cold and wet for the drive through from the Snowy Mountains through Jindabyne then down and out of the high country down into the sun again.  

When the former English colonies became a federation under the name of Australia and each became a state, one of the big questions was which city would become the national capital.  The biggest cities of Sydney and Melbourne vied for the honour but a compromise was decided and a city was built half way between Sydney and Melbourne and it was called Canberra.  It is a planned city, designed by the American Walter Burley Griffin, with a series of circular roads and promenades.  This makes it quite a challenge to quickly drive in to see the Parliament House and then to exit on the other side of the city.

Not everyone stopped at Parliament House but those who did got a picture for the family album.  Nobody could stay too long, however, as security was tight with Anzac Day approaching.  

 
         
     
Day 6: 22 April 2015...Beechworth to Lake Crackenback Resort
 
 

 

 

 

 

Once a decade storms have been hitting Sydney and Newcastle but you wouldn’t know it in Beechworth.  Sunny skies made a great start to the day.  Everything seemed to end in “a” on the road. There was the road to Wodonga, then to Tangambalanga and Tallangatta.  The roads are empty and wide, the country still dry and yellow from summer.  The tour makes a right turn towards the Snowy Mountains, passing from the State of Victoria into New South Wales.  For the first time, rally participants remarked that it was warm in autumn sun, a short-lived pleasure.

Australian cannot claim great mountains but the five tallest peaks are in these ranges, and the job of the Bentleys was to deliver the rally contingent to the Lake Crackenback Resort near the ski resort of Thredbo. This entailed climbing once again up mountain passes to the Alpine passes at more than 1500m, and as we climbed the rain returned.  Just in case the Bentley crew thought that there climbing efforts were heroic, a group of veteran cyclists were pounding the pedals up to Dead Horse Gap in the blinding rain as well.  At 1568m, Dead Horse Gap marks the watershed between the Snowy Rivers Scheme and the Murray  River System: the two sides of the  Great Dividing Range which the Great Australian Drive will follow all the way to Port Douglas In Queensland.  

 
         
     
Day 5: 21 April 2015...Beechworth
 
 

 

 

 

Beechworth has always been more than a bakery.  It’s been known for two quite different men. One was the pillar of the colonial establishment and the other was the enemy of the colonial hierarchy but they were both glorious failures in their own way and they both have museums in Beechworth which are dedicated to their memory. 

While some Bentleyists preferred to sample the region’s excellent wine at Brown Brothers Estate, other decided to find out a little more about these two men of Beechworth.   Robert O’Hare Burke is known as the leader of the ill-fated Burke and Wills Expedition, a massive undertaking which sought to discover the lands between Victoria and the northern coast of Australia.  His aim was to determine whether the Australian continent had an inland sea.  We now know, of course, that it doesn’t and Burke and Wills died whilst attempting to find the answer in 1861.  The Burke Museum was established soon after and it has a small number of artefacts relating to the man, including his revolver which was presented to him by the people of Beechworth in appreciation of his policing efforts in the gold rush town.

 
         
     
Day 4: 20 April 2015...Lakes Entrance to Beechworth
 
 

 

 

 

 

Rain and wind didn’t cease overnight and as the Bentleyists awake, one or two brave souls wander into the car park of the hotel to check their cars.  Conclusion: they’re wet; but  the blue sky came back by breakfast.

Snow began to appear on the branches of gum trees as we climbed toward the ski village of Mount Hotham, built in the 1920s.  Soon it was snowing, and at about 1800m at the village the snow was horizontal, driven by 40 knot winds. Desa McMillan and Kim Laub had the right stuff -- getting out of the seats of their respective Speed 6s to scrape the snow of their windscreens.  Now that IS commitment.  

The slippery and freezing conditions caused Deborah Harding in the Mark VI Special to take a spin in a tunnel but otherwise once everyone was over the peak and into the valley below, the weather rapidly improved, the sun came out and it was time to slip into Harrietville for a welcome coffee then onto Bright in bright sunshine.

 
         
     
Day 3: 19 April 2015...Mornington Peninsula to Lakes Entrance
 
 

 

 

 

The early starters such as Richard Fenhalls and Heather Milne Taylor were on the road early as the sun shone over the brilliant green turf of the golf course.   Perhaps the rain would hold off today, but it was not to be.  A few showers swung across the dairy lands to remind us all that we were still quite close to Melbourne.

Upon arrival in the seaside community, the weather had closed in and everyone was pleased to zip up the tonneau covers and retire to a warm room.  Michael Ryan’s bottle of Scotch was a welcome way to warm the soul before dinner.

 
         
     
Day 2: 18 April 2015...Mornington Peninsula to Moonah Golf Course
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Mornington Peninsula is a golfer’s dream, boasting 30 golf courses with holiday and retirement homes and resort facilities scattered through the sand dunes between Port Phillip Bay and Bass Strait. And between the golf courses there are wineries.  What could be better?  Peppers Moonah Links Resort played host to the Great Australian Drive and for those who fancied their golfing prowess it was a  simple matter to hire some clubs and a buggy and head for the links.

For others, however, it was a chance to head into Sorrento and Portsea to see what the local shops and restaurants had to offer.

 
     

 

 
     
Day 1: 17 April 2015...Werribee to the Mornington Peninsula
 
 

 

 

 

There is always a sense of excitement at the start of any rally.  Have I done everything that I needed to do to give me and my Bentley the best chance of completing the rally?  Would the small niggles with the car turn into big problems? Will I chance it and let them wait until we have more time to give it a closer inspection? Have I packed the toothpaste?  All these questions will soon be answered.

The rally begins with a national flag and ends with the chequered flag but the most important thing on day one is to make it to the starting line and some cantankerous Bentley’s required a little pushing and shoving to make it to the line.  An 8-Litre towed by a Derby to get a start showed that even WO’s finest occasionally need a helping hand.  Even Ian and Sue Owen made it to the start in their Speed Six.  They arrived arrived at the Mansion from Melbourne Airport after a long flight from London only an hour before.

Barry Batagol, a veteran of previous BDCWA rallies, raised his flag at about 9am to wave away Peter and Robin Briggs in their 3-Litre Bentley, the oldest car in the rally and appropriately numbered as car one, marking the beginning of the Great Australian Drive. Then a succession of Bentleys crossed the line as Barry individually wished every crew the best of luck for an enjoyable drive to the tropical north.

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Day 0: 16 April 2015...The Melbourne Cricket Ground
 
     

David Jones, Bentleyist and past Chairman of the Melbourne Cricket Ground, arranged a special treat for the participants who arrived early for the start of the Great Australian Drive.  The Committee Room of the MCG is the inner sanctum of the ground where the big decisions are made and entry is only for those with special privileges, and now, for the members of the Bentley fraternity.  Some brave drivers weaved their Bentleys through Melbourne’s city trams and traffic whilst most took the leisurely coach trip from Werribee.

The Mansion played host to the pre-rally briefing and the first Top Hat Award for bad luck or deviant behaviour went to Kevin Cochrane for getting lost four time in Melbourne in just one day.  Bon vivant Peter Briggs spoke of the history of Werribee during dinner at the Mansion Resort Theatre, the first of many such speeches.



 
         
     
T- 1: 15 April 2015...The Prologue
 
     

Werribee open range zoo allows animals from the plains of Africa to live in a natural habitat, and nearby, beasts of another kind were gathering to live in their natural habitat.  It is the open road, where the throttles of vintage Bentleys can be opened wide to eat up the miles of open highways, arriving at the best hotels Australia can offer for nights of cameraderie and fun.  This is the Great Australian Drive of the Bentley Drivers Club of Western Australia in April 2015.

Like all great occasions, the sense of expectation of the drive ahead goes hand-in-glove with frantic work behind the scenes to bring the multitude of details together.  Michael Hood, mobile phone in hand, walks the corridors of the Mansion at Werribee with that slightly worried look of a rally director who has done as much as he can possibly do to make the event a success and is now seeing his creation take shape, occasionally knocking off the rough edges of small details which may not have gone according to plan but are easily fixed.  

Kevin Cochrane, Cameron Donaldson and Eric Green collect cars and people from Linfox Transport or the Melbourne Airport, delivering them to the Werribee Mansion.