Copyright © 2010 Bentley Drivers Club of Western Australia

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

2019 The Great Australian Drive:

Members and friends are gearing up for the Great Australian Drive Rally of 2019. If you haven't already heard about it click here.










Days 21 - 23 - Kakadu - Darwin (the last leg)...


The 200 kilometre distance from Jabiru to Darwin was just a short jog in comparison to previous days, and there were plenty of sight seeing opportunities for those who did not want to rush the last leg of this marathon run from Perth.

It almost ended in disaster for Julian and Cheryl Walter when the Blower burst into flames in a service station.

Flanked by two Bentleys (Briggs and Lenz) and with other Bentleys fore and aft it was set to be the most horrific Bentley catastrophe when fuel poured out of a hole in the Blowers tank. A back fire did the rest setting the spilled petrol on fire that instantly consumed the rear of the Blower.

Former Concorde pilot Keith Barton moving at the speed of sound grabbed the fire extinguisher from his 3-litre and attacked the flames holding them at bay long enough for a garage attendant with a far larger commercial fire extinguisher to join the battle and ultimately take control before it exploded.

The flames were extinguished before too much damage was done – just the rear number plate (and Julian Walters' poor heart) were damaged.

The Walters motored on to Darwin with Cheryl clutching a fire extinguisher just in case. They were flagged in at the Darwin Sailing Club where the party was already in full swing.

All entrants managed to 'officially' finish after almost 6000kms of outback motoring.

The following evening a spectacular Black Tie event staged under the stars in the grounds of the derelict Darwin Town Hall wound up the 2010 Bentley Drivers Club Over The Top event.

Prizes were awarded as follows:-

The Pebble Beach Concourse Trophies
Best Modern Bentley - Alistair Head for his Continental S1,
Best Derby -  Ken Lea’s 1935 3.4 litre Derby,
Best WO - David Cohen’s 3/4.5 litre.

Ladies award went to Janet Simpson in her 1939 Derby.

The Maurice Brockwell Memorial Trophy “Spirit of the Rally” went to back up genius and all round great bloke - Kevin Cochrane.

Tour Director Michael Hood was presented with a mural signed by all the entrants that featured all cars and entrants in the Australian outback.

While many took the soft option of an aircraft ride home (shipping their cars), several opted to drive on another 3000kms to take part in the Bentley Drivers Club National Rally being staged in Queensland.

It was easy to see why some people just can’t get enough of the Australian open road in their burbling Bentleys!

Day 20 - Katherine - Kakadu...


As predicted the back-up team of Cochrane and Benington working with Ken Lea had the UK Derby Bentley back on its wheels and under its own power before lunch.

They caught the main body of the rally at Yellow Water but missed the lunch cruise by a mere 10 minutes.

Some wag involved in the motor industry worked out taken only the labour costs into consideration the back-up volunteer team input is around $100,000 – and the rates he used for his calculations were not Bentley workshop rates just regular garage rates.

There should be a lot of vehicles going home after this run better than when they arrived.

By the way, apologies to Evan Edwards who we said was a Victorian, it turns out he is now a resident of Western Australia. But through him the Derby head gasket was organised with the help of the Victorian Derby community.

The highlight of the run from Katherine to Jabiru was the lunchtime cruise on the wetlands in the Kakadu National Park spotting crocodiles and birdlife.
Then on through a hot afternoon to Jabiru where the cars were met by Crocodile Holiday Inn staff with trays of icy cold beer arranged by WA Chairman Alan Tribe.  Even the non-beer drinking ladies couldn’t resist the “coldies”.

The evening function in a remote part of the National Park  saw Paz Mueller fulfil her promise to dance a flamenco if Spain won its game against Germany in the World Soccer. German Juergen Lenz for his part had promised to do a lederhosen thigh-slapping dance if Germany won.

Most were relieved that it was the talented Paz who got to performed.
Her husband Patrick then gave a professional performance with his guitar and was eventually joined by Elizabeth Head. Together they performed a duet.

A great night had by all especially the back-up team that for once were able to relax and party because all the cars are running well and the next day is a lay-day.

Only one more driving day to Darwin with an official reception for the 44 Bentleys, mostly pre-war that will have completed this almost 6000km Over The Top run from Perth to Darwin.

Days 17 - 19 - Kununurra - Katherine...


As the motoring enthusiasts pointed their cars east from Kununurra to Katherine, they charged across the WA/Northern Territories boarder cheering the sign that said “Speed Limit 130 km/h".

The big Bentleys stretched their legs and bounded along superb roads through sensational scenery. They were also celebrating the fact that they had passed through Fitzroy Crossing in the nick of time. An unexpected down pour for this time of year has cuased floods and road closures.

Entrants not cheering were Ken and Catherine Lea because their 1935 Derby Bentley was on the trailer and they were driving the back-up Ford Focus.

Derby Bentleys are prone to blow head gaskets and for this reasons Ken Lea (UK) was carrying a spare head gasket.But in Exmouth he had donated it to Eckart Moltmann (Swiss).

Ken and the BDCWA back up team did a top overhaul and had the Moltmann team back on the road in a day.But during the lay day in Kununurra  Ken found he had blown his own head gasket and now had no spare having donated it to the Moltmann's.

Earlier in the Tour it was mentioned that Roger Cameron from Melbourne had a shipment of inner-tubes freighted up from Melbourne to Broome when cars had been plagued with it was Victorian, Evan Edwards that stepped up and before we left Kununurra tracked down a spare head gasket in Melbourne, and had it flown to Darwin.

It was then brought by road (courtesy of Kevin Cochrane’s vintage car contacts) to Katherine and was waiting for Ken Lea when we drove in to the All Seasons Hotel in Katherine.

That evening the Lea/Cochrane/Benington team worked until midnight to strip and refit the new head gasket. They returned to the loaned workshop at 6am to finish the job planning to get the Lea’s back on their wheels to finish the final two stages of this very long trans Australian haul in cars most of which are pre-war.

Evan Edwards, who also drives a Derby Bentley, was duly awarded the Top Hat for his outstanding efforts.

The back-up team are determined that every car will be running on its own wheels under its own power when it motors in to Darwin on Saturday.

Days 15 & 16 - Halls Creek to El Questro...


The sweeping bends and long straight roads through the picturesque Kimberley (made internationally famous in the movie Australia) had the international visitors in awe.

Most voted today's run the best so far with perfect weather and excellent roads.

The exceptions were those who fell victim to enthusiastic driving on the Gib River Road.

Two continental GTs blew out rear tyres and finished travelling on “get you home” spare donut wheels that restrict them to very low speeds. A Derby Bentley was brought to an unscheduled halt when it got a rear puncture.
The other two victims were Barry Batagol in his speed six and Alan Tribe in his eight litre.

Alan Tribe pulled into El Questro’s Emma Gorge Resort in the nick of time. The engine simply stopped and was later diagnosed with electrical problems.

Barry Batagol was less fortunate. He was motoring with enthusiasm on the wonderful Kimberley highways when smoke suddenly poured from under his dash. He screeched to a halt and hit the kill switch before too much damage could be done.  His Speed Six was towed into El Questro.

Sunday was a lay day and Barry and Kevin Cochrane set about rewiring the car under a makeshift garage. The other member of the back up support crew, Craig Bennington set to mending punctures.

The rest of the entrants took the day off to take helicopter flights through the gorges, boat trips to see spitting fish, and long walks to enable them to soak in natural hot mineral pools. There was nothing but praise from the entrants for the organisation of the tours and the amazing natural phenomenon of this ancient land.

Two birthdays were celebrated on this El Questro stop over. Ken Lea provided a crate of champagne and aussie canapés (including witchetty grubs) for the entrants to toast his wife Catherine’s birthday in a sundowner on the El Questro airstrip.

Then David Hughes celebrating his 60th at dinner was so elated to find his son David Jnr had secretly been flown in from Hong Kong by his wife Loraine for the occasion he opened a bar tab for the entrants. His hangover doubled the next day when he settled his tab at the bar.

The luxury of this resort and the bon homie of the entrants , not to mention the birthday celebrations, made this a memorable stop over and most were reluctant to load up and head north for Kununurra. Everyone wanted more time here...

Days 14 - Fitzroy Crossing to Halls Creek...


Fitzroy Crossing coincidentally was hosting a rodeo and as most of the drivers had never see one in real life, the opportunity was not to be missed.

So instead of turning left out of the Fitzroy River Lodge and heading north to Halls Creek, they headed south to visit the rodeo and spend a couple of hours watching the outback carnival.This meant a late start for most but it was a relatively short run that day, just under 300km.

So the back-up vehicle postponed its departure until 11am expecting all the entrants were now in front of them.

Nicky Bailey and Laurance Roe were in fact behind them and of course, as Murphy’s law dictates, they had problems. They eventually rolled in to Halls Creek in the dark running on only one inadequate 1926 vintage headlamp.

The tales of their adventure at dinner involved being chased by crocodiles, bison, eagles and ending with them having survived the trials and tribulations of Australia's wildlife, when they were eventually thwarted by an aboriginal spear cast at a kangaroo, which had missed, and pierced their tyre instead.

Truth be told, it was a punctured tyre - not usually a big deal, and easily fixed if you have a spare inner-tube or even a repair kit, but this is the Irish Team! All the spare inner-tubes carried for such emergencies were found to be punctured. Also the small compressor they needed to re-inflate the tube once patched didn’t work so they couldn’t blow the tyre up.

This involved the wheel being taken back to Fitzroy Crossing in the Boot of John Maloney’s Continental GT, but the garage was closed for lunch! So they kicked their heels for some time before they eventually got the repair done and re-loaded it in the GT boot, tied down the boot lid again with some string, and headed back to the stranded car where Laurence Roe and Alan Wilkie had been guarding it for several hours.

The Irish Team were eventually were back on the road well behind the rest of the rally but unfazed – even though they had to run in the dark.

The irony being, that Nicky had been helping all the other stricken motorists only the day before, fitting new inner tubes which were flown up by Roger Cameron from Melbourne...he just forgot to pack one for himself...

Days 10 - 13 - Broome...


The three night stop-over in Broome was well timed – although the tourism side of things didn’t seem to work too well according to anecdotal reports from the international entrants.

The weather didn’t help with cloud wiping out the steps to the moon, although the cocktail party at the Golf Club went down extremely well. Some of the tours were either cancelled or late.

Rising at 5.30 am for some tours to find departures were postponed to 8.30am stretched the mood of some – especially given the evenings were full on rollicking fun.

The top event was the Arabian night when entrants were collected by camels and carried down to the beach where a marquee was set up. Even the light showers couldn’t spoil this terrific evening. Fez adorned waiters and waitresses in veils added to the colour. But the top act was the belly dancer flown up from Perth for the evening.

The two motoring free days enabled all the cars to be fettled. Roger Cameron was the hero of the stop over when he flew a shipment of inner tubes up from Melbourne to help out the vintage drivers experiencing tyre problems.
A replacement magneto was flown up from Perth to get Paul Keane’s 1939 Derby’s erratic electrical behaviour sorted out. It had an electronic ignition modification and as with most problems in these ancient vehicles it is the modern mods that cause the problems.

The net result was that we had every car starting out for Fitzroy Crossing well sorted, and the back up crew of Kevin Cochrane and Craig Benington had a trouble free run to Gieke Gorge only to find on arriving the tourist boat had pushed off without them and a dozen other entrants. In fact six of the international visitors jumped from the dock on to the boat as it pulled away to be on the tour. They will probably never be back here again so they risked falling in to the river

Others that were not so quick were left gob smacked and stranded on the dock, because the boat man had simply cast of at 3pm on the dot even though there were plenty of seats on the boat and several people still walking down the jetty to board.

To come half way round the world and drive 450kms in vintage vehicles to have the boatman leave  in such a rude and arguably unsafe manner took some believing.

Eventually the Gieky Gorge people brought out a smaller boat for the 17 disappointed entrants and the commentator was a rather excellent lady who did extremely well. So they all left happy and drove on to the over-night accommodation in Fitzroy Crossing – especially as there had been no mechanical issues that day.

The Aussie dinner that night which kicked of with Kangaroo tail soup and ended with an aussie fashion show and Roger Cameron being awarded the Top Hat for tyre services rendered.

Day 9 - Port Hedland to 80 Mile Beach...


For some inexplicable reason several cars had tyre trouble and roadside wheel changing and even roadside tube replacement were frequent. Why so many punctures on this day is anyone’s guess.

However for entrant Pas Mueller from China, the day will be unforgettable – riding in her father-in-laws beautiful 1935 Derby she was concerned when the door popped partially open. Not used to vintage vehicles she opened it to slam it shut. Unfortunately, her husband was driving at 100km/h and the door is hinged at the back – euphemistically known as a suicide door.

Before she realised her mistake the door was ripped from her hand and then torn from the car, shooting off into the bush. Her Father in law Jean-Pierre Mueller on the OTT run in his 1927 4.5 litre car, shrugged off the tragedy saying: “This door we can remake. It is more important that nobody was hurt.”
The incident got the other entrants with coach built wooden frame cars fitted with suicide doors thinking about some sort of safety strap to ensure it doesn’t happen to them.

Another casualty of the day was Car 3 Roger Cameron from Victoria. A short distance out of Port Headland the chassis on his 3-litre cracked
The car was loaded on a trailer and returned to Port Headland where a Caterpillar agency rolled out their welding gear and did a fantastic job of re-welded the fracture. The car was still on the trailer when it arrived at 80-mile Beach however, because it had fuel problems.

The little Ford Focus that travels on the back-up car trailer has certainly earned its keep.

The gravel road into 80-mile beach was a touch rugged for some and a few nuts and bolts needed tightening when the cars finally made it to the idyllic holiday caravan resort.

After finding their tents and unloading their overnight gear a bunch of strong armed chaps gathered to refit the door to the Meuller Derby. They managed to refit it but unfortunately it no longer works as a door and Pas now has to board through her husband’s driving door.

All the entrants then gathered for an open air aussie style barbecue dressed in Hawaiin outfits. It was amazing to see the effort that all entrants went to, and despite the traumas on the drive from Port Headland, the evening was a roaring success – 'roaring' being the operative word when one of the campers in the Caravan park set up a large screen outside the caravan and invited the Bentley drivers to watch the soccer match between England and Germany.

The 4-1 win for Germany had Juergen Lenz strutting around the next morning at the open air continental breakfast while the English entrants hung their heads in sheepish shame.

Pas Mueller was awarded the Top Hat for wrecking the car and allowing so many men to flex their muscles.

Day 8 - Paraburdoo to Port Hedland...


Rising in the dark the majority of entrants shrugged off their under-canvas experience and headed to the local social club where a continental breakfast was provided.

Most opted to forego a shower in the unisex sports pavilion saying they were keen to get to Karajini National park and enjoy a swim in the Fortescue Falls.
But only the two hardy sons of Ireland (Bailey and Roe) made it down to the falls and a swim. The rest decided it was too far to walk – it wasn’t the walk down that was the problem but the climb back. They settled with an ice cream at the visitors centre and exploring the spectacular Dales Gorge.

The afternoon run to Port Hedland from the Park was long and hot.
Matt Telling’s Mk Vl Bentley decided to dump its water and cook its generator. After an 90 minutes sitting on the side of the road he eventually gathered enough water from passing entrants to refill the radiator, but not before the back up team analysed the problem. Fortunately he and co-driver Graeme Ryan had deck chairs and a full fridge.

The radiator leak was easily fixed but the generator was a job for an auto electrician. Kevin’s solution was to disconnect the charging circuit and run the car on battery power to Port Hedland. Matt Telling’s immediate concern was that the battery would not be able to cope with both the cars needs and the oversize fridge in the boot.
“It’s about priorities,” he said. Kevin assured him it would. In fact it run on battery power for two days and finally got it fixed in Broome.

The Car Park at Port Hedland became a hive of activity as engines were fettered: while several had to fine tune magnetos and carburettors the only major job in the end was to Julian Walter’s Blower which had developed a serious magneto problem that took some time to fix.  Kevin laid magic hands on the car enabling all entrants to adjourn for a curry evening and cooling ale.

It was with a sigh of relief the entrants were told at the dinner they could leave their departure the next morning to 8.30 for the run to 80 mile beach – the first day they would not be getting up in the dark.

The Top Hat award went to Alan Tribe for donating all the bedding for the previous night’s stay in the Pirupardo Resort.

Day 7 - Exmouth To Paraburdoo...


With a long hot drive through the Pilbarra ahead, the entrants were up well before dawn and literally set out as the sun rose (Pictured Tribe's 8-ltr silhouetted against the sunrise).

It turned out to be the first incident free day for the back-up team luring them into a false sense of security as the 44 vehicles cantered towards the mining town of Paraburdoo. The only major chore that confronted the back up team of Kevin Cochrane and Craig Benington on arrival was to re-tension the cylinder head of Eckhart Moltmann’s 1934 Derby Bentley – the fourth since the new head gasket was fitted in Exmouth. Nobody wanted to see this one blow.
Eckart had the car restored in Switzerland and when he rang his mechanic to say it had blown a head gasket they said they would send a truck to collect it – that was until he told them where he was! Exmouth Western Australia didn’t come up on their satellite navigation system. He jokes he would like the Over The Top team to do the rest of the car for him.

In Paraburdoo the entrants were told to expect a stay over in the luxury Pirupardo Resort.  The initial shock of finding the “resort” was a ring of tents erected for the night on the local oval evaporated as they popped the corks on a few wine bottles to celebrate the first trouble free day.

Those not occupied with fettling their vehicles took in a tour of the Rio Tinto Eastern Range Iron Ore mine before gathering around with a few coldies to observe and encourage the Cochrane-Benington team as part of the camaraderie that has developed among this international group of motoring enthusiasts.

The rally entrants moved on to “dinner” at the arguably historic drive-in-theatre for a taste of yesteryear Australian lifestyle. The meal was of course hamburger and chips as one would expect but washed down with cold beer or wine followed by the screening of Priscilla of the Desert.

While chairs were supplied for those who had had enough of leather bucket car seats on the long days drive, there were a few who opted to drive-in, and sit in their cars – especially the vintage owners who found that by lowering their windscreens they had a convenient table for the glass of wine as well as a clear view of the screen.

Despite predictions of a 3C overnight temperature the tents and beds proved very comfortable after a warming Jameson at the nightly Bentley Team Irish Whiskey Club car park session that has become an integral part of the rally routine. However it has been noted that a Scotch whisky group now gathers on the periphery of this select group of connoisseurs led by Dr Mike Morgan who prescribes this nightly medicinal as a healthy defence against blocked arteries and potential rally stomach bugs.

Day 5 - 6 - Carnarvon to Exmouth...


Today started badly for Trevor and Judy Eastwood when an eagle hit and shattered the windscreen of their 1930 8-litre less than an hour from Carnarvon. They were forced to turn back to get a new windscreen fitted while the rest of the tour headed to Coral Bay for lunch and a swim.

With focused driving the Eastwoods caught the rally at Pebble Beach in time to enjoy a beach side cocktail party featuring oysters and champagne.  The event was planned and staged as a parody of gthe famous and very exclusive Pebble Beach concourse in America.

A beach side golf driving range had been provided enabling those of talent to show of their ability in whacking golf balls into the sea and it was no surprise to see a bunch of Dodgy looking characters in colourful Bentley blazers judging the car in an Aussie outback Concours d’elegance.

Another casualty of the day was the 1939 Derby Bentley from Ireland. Driven by Paul and Georgiana Kean the car’s distributor stripped its gears.  The car was loaded onto the back-up trailer and transported to Exmouth while they continued the day in the Ford. A new distributor was ordered and flown overnight to Exmouth to be fitted on the lay day in Exmouth.

Another casualty on this eventful day was Eckart Moltmann’s 1934 Derby Bentley from Switzerland.  He blew a head gasket but managed to limp in to the Exmouth Novotel  Resort.  Ken Lea from the UK, driving a similar model Bentley, was carrying a spare head gasket. During the very welcome lay day in Exmouth the back-up crew stripped the engine and fitted the new gasket. The car was back together and running by lunchtime.

So when the tour leaves Exmouth tomorrow heading for Paraburdoo all should be present and accounted for.

Day 3 - 4 - Kalbarri to Carnarvon...


The lay day in Kalbarri proved vital allowing Kevin Cochrane to lay his talented hands on several cars to get them ship shape for the Carnarvon leg.

Alan Tribe’s eight litre magneto turned from a five minute re-tune to a rebuild that took a lot of the day. Nicky Bailey made it possible with a donation of laminations that are very hard to come by outside the spare parts scheme.

Bailey also sorted out Julian Walters Blower that was blowing black smoke and had proceeded erratically on the run so far. It turned out to be a stuck piston in the SU Carburettor.

These acts of kindness from Nicky Bailey won him the 'Top Hat' award in the overnight stay in Carnarvon.

On the way to Carnarvon, Paul Keane’s 1939 4.25 litre Derby Bentley stopped proceeding in a most undignified manner.

However fellow Derby owner Ken Lea came to his rescue with a spare petrol pump and a spare rotor cap.

The net result was everyone arrived in Carnarvon on their own wheels instead of the Cochrane trailer.

Billabong Roadhouse was left in a spin when 44 historic Bentleys with thundering exhausts swooped in treating it like a Le Mans pit stop.

Lunch also had a pit stop atmosphere as motorists anxious to get the long drive over munched packed lunches provided by the organisers on the lookout 150km south of Carnarvon. They gazed in fascination at the vast flat landscape as the munched on cold chicken   and salad washed down with bottled water before racing on North.

Outside of Carnarvon a coffee stall was set up under the shadow of the historic Satellite dish that was part of the NASA space tracking mission that beamed images back to earth of the first moon landing.  

While the coffee was well appreciated the priority for most drivers was to press on to Carnarvon to service the ageing vehicles after the 450 kilometre dash from Kalbarri.

As the cars settle down, the spirits of the drivers are noticeably more buoyed, and a party atmosphere is starting to kick in.



Day 2 - Geraldton to Kalbarri...


Overnight in Geraldton the backup crew of Kevin Cochrane and Craig Benington, aided by a mortified Morelli, stripped the majestic radiator complete with its massive rhinoceros mascot from the car.

Kevin Cochrane was eventually able to solder the wound and the Morelli team were back on deck early the next morning to re-install the monolithic radiator and have the car back in the pack heading north on the picturesque ocean road to Kalbarri.

Ian and Maxine Holdaway however had less luck. Their recently acquired 1929 4.5 litre WO presented clutch problems and given the car was untried they decided on discretion over valour and opted to return to Perth and swap it for their turbo.

There was some pressure for the Holdaways to bring their 3-litre WO that performed so well in Canada and East Coast of America last year but given the rally would continue to head north as they headed back south meant the turbo would be the quicker and more sensible choice.

Maxine denies she brought any pressure to bear but had no complaints as she settled back in air-conditioned comfort while other ladies huddled down as they were battered by icy cold winds off the ocean on the coastal run in open vintage vehicles.

Minor problems haunt some of the other entrants, so the lay day in Kalbarri after the 750 km two-day run north was well planned and very welcome – especially as the sun shone and shorts replaced jeans and jumpers.

The Rally entrants also agreed to taxi a group of Kalbarri children to school as a special treat on the lay-day. The mother of one of the children responded by inviting entrants back to her home for morning tea and an opportunity to enjoy the view out over the Kalbarri ocean side National Park.

The Pinnacles....

Two days in and the bon homie over-rides the disquiet as drivers anxiously waited for their vintage motor cars to settled down as they cantered through the first 620km of the 6000 km run from Perth to Darwin in this Bentley Driver’s Club Over The Top Tour.

First casualty of the 44 entrants was Peter Morelli’s beautiful 1931 8-litre from New Zealand that lumbered to a halt at the Pinnacles. Despite a two year meticulous rebuild a washer worked loose and was thrown into the radiator.

Day 1 - Saturday 19th June: And they are off...

The OTT was officially flagged off from the Vines Resort by David Shephard, the Tour Director of the 2005 Bentley Down Under International Tour organised by the BDC of Western Australia.

The evening before at the OTT launch dinner Tanya Evans was awarded the Rally Top Hat for her behind-the-scenes efforts in the two year run up to the event.