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Australian Lancia Register - Lancia Alpine Tour

20 - 27 October 2013

Day One: Sunday 20 October.

Big Hill Winery, Ravenswood to Yarrawonga. 233 kms

After lunch at the winery the tour participants headed off to Yarrawonga carefully following Russell’s instructions regarding the suggested route.

According to the official list there were 1 Tri Kappa, 7 Lambdas, 2 Aprilias, 4 Aurelias, 3 Flaminias, 1 Appia, 3 Flavias, 7 Fulvias , 3 Betas & 5 moderns.

By now it was getting pretty warm, so with the windows down and Ben at the wheel we set the compass to find Shepparton. The roads were flat, the traffic virtually nil, I believe we even passed a Beta HPE, the fields were as green as I’d ever seen and all the irrigation channels were full.

The Shepparton Motor Museum was our first, and only stop. A welcome cool drink and a browse around their nice collection of mostly Australian cars and memorabilia.

The next leg was a fairly simple route to the evening’s destination at Yarrawonga.

We spent a pleasant night at the Belmore Motor Inn Dinner at the Criterion Hotel across the road was ok even though the locals were a little feral. The Simpson Lambda was having starter motor problems and I believe Michael Wapler decided not to continue as the Flaminia had a steering issue that he didn’t want to risk driving in the mountains. The Aprilia was showing signs of an old problem, an oil leak coming up the distributor shaft. More annoying than anything else it just made a mess.

Day Two: Monday 21 October

Yarrawonga to Cooma – 450 kms

This was going to be a long day with some spectacular, steep and challenging roads to travel. An early start got us onto the first section to Tintaldra.

We headed off across the Lake Mulwala bridge into the foreign climes of New South Wales. Taking on fuel at Howlong showed the Aprilia was getting around 10l/100km. Following the northern shore of the Murray River the roads were flat and again very little traffic. First coffee stop was on the way out of Albury before crossing the Hume Dam back into Victoria. The Murray River Rd is made for quick Lancia driving, following the shores of Lake Hume and then the Murray it winds and twists with some gentle hills. The sight of Neil Pering’s Flavia parked in front of a Police highway patrol car with blue and red lights flashing made for an interesting distraction, we wisely decided not to stop. Luckily Neil got off with a warning for allegedly doing 108 km/h! Lunch at the historic Tintaldra Hotel was excellent, Alf and Maija turn on a terrific roast from locally raised cattle, I believe it was Bessie we ate! Dessert and a coffee fuelled us for the afternoons challenging drive.

Next stop was Cabramurra, Australia’s highest town at 1,488 meters following the Elliot Way and Goat Ridge Rd.

Ben had the morning shift so it was my turn to take the wheel for the afternoons run. This route was a challenge for the little 1350cc Aprilia with a lot of 2nd gear uphill climbs and testing for the brakes and steering on some steep twisty descents. The weather was also getting warmer which set engine temperatures climbing and fuel vaporisation becoming a bit of an issue. Happily we made it to Cabramurra with just a bit of rough running. Others had more dramas, Tony Kovacevic and Merv Concanen had fuel filter blockages and Rob Rowbottam ran out of petrol! Iain Simpson was happily telling everyone the Lambda made it mostly in top gear.,_New_South_Wales

After cooling off the next section on to the evenings stop at Cooma was just a pleasant run on the excellent Snowy Mountains Hwy.

Day Three: Tuesday 22 October

Cooma to Canberra – 107 kms

Today was a short run down the Monaro Hwy to Australia’s capitol Canberra. The map is only a guess at the route we took as we got totally lost close to Canberra!!

The Wilson Aprilia left the tour and headed back to Queensland. On the way out of Cooma we had a look in the Snowy Mountains Discovery Centre were there is an excellent display and history on the Snowy Mountains Scheme

We had slight drama about 20 kms out of Cooma when we heard a tinkle/rattle noise from under the Aprilia. Ben was driving and felt everything was fine and that we could have run over something. 5ks up the road we stopped to check and found the radiator cap was missing, bugger. We turned around and went back to see if we could find it, an impossible task as we were doing 90 km/h and the chances of it sitting on the road were next to nil. Sure enough it was nowhere to be seen. Continuing back we decided to double check at the spot we’d first stopped, lifting up the other side on the bonnet there it was, lying on the undertray still with the rubber seal and all. It was slightly bent were it had hit the fan but screwed back on. I have to admit this was my fault as I had checked the radiator that morning and obviously not secured the cap tightly.

Approaching Canberra we decided to take a detour to the Tidbinbilla Tracking Station. By now it was raining and after spotting the first brown tourist sign we got totally lost. We had to ask at a petrol station where we were, which by now was in the suburbs. After receiving some directions we set the satnav to the hotel, this made things even worse as my maps are 5 years old and the roads have changed, a lot! Eventually, more by luck than skill, we found the Rydges Hotel and checked in.

The rest of the arvo was spent visiting parliament house.

Day Four: Wednesday 23 October

In Canberra

Today I spent mostly doing some family research at the Australian War Memorial; while others did the optional tours.

Day Five: Thursday 24 October

Canberra to Jindabyne – 178 kms + 76 kms

We were now down to 15 cars as those from NSW and Qld had left the tour. A slow morning start after a yummy breakfast at the hotel. Another easy drive back along the Monaro Hwy through Cooma and on to Jindabyne.

An early check in the Horizons Snowy Mountains Resort gave us the opportunity to take the road up to Charlotte Pass.

The road was steep and winding but an excellent surface as it goes through the Smiggin Holes and Perisher Valley ski fields.

The remains of winters snow was still lying on the ground at the top, enough for a rouge snowball to find it’s mark, my revenge will come, Ben! It was pretty chilly there but we managed a view of Australia’s highest peak, Mt. Kosciuszko (2,228 meters) and the source of the Snowy River. I’m not sure if Lancias have a soul but I felt the Aprilia thought she was almost home here amongst the snow and mountains! A group meal at Jindabyne ended another excellent day. The Aprilia had some issues with juddering rear brakes and Bill Renou’s Saab starter motor died, worn brushes was the diagnosis.

Day Six: Friday 25 October

Jindabyne to Wodonga – 300 kms

Some were worried about radiators freezing overnight, most of the early cars don’t run modern anti-freeze, but the temperature only got to minus 2 and we all had undercover parking so there were no issues.

Another hearty breakfast and we hit the road. The morning’s run took us up through Thredbo ski resort over Dead Horse Gap and down the Alpine Way.

After Thredbo the road became narrower and the descents  winding and steep. One thing on the to-do list is to fit a passenger grab handle, in the confined space of the Aprilia cabin there is nothing to hang on to apart from fingernails in the window channel. With tyres rubbing on the outside edge of the guards Ben worked the steering, brakes and gears like the 49 year Aprilia owning veteran he is!

Near the bottom of the Alpine Way we stopped at the Murray 1 hydro power station in time for the 11am inspection. You weren’t supposed to take photos but I didn’t know that until later!!

After getting fuel at Khancoban we crossed the Murray River back into Victoria and speed along the C546 to Tintaldra for another delicious lunch at the Tintaldra Pub.

The afternoon’s run was back along the Murray River Road and on to Wodonga.

The warm spring weather had also bought out numerous snakes, we passed many dead on the roads and one red belly black that slithered off into the long grass. The Blazing Stump Motel was our digs for the night. It was ok but not quite as luxurious as their webpage indicates!

Steve Boyle had some cooling issues with his Flaminia, removing the thermostat apparently solved the problem. Our Aprilia was making a nice mess of the under trays with oil still leaking from the distributor shaft.

Day Seven: Saturday 26 October

Wodonga to Mansfield – 227 kms

This was the final official day of the tour. First location to visit was the Australian Army Museum at Bandiana, just up the road from the motel.

There is outstanding collection of military vehicles, weapons, guns, uniforms and much more. Put aside a good two hours to cover all that’s there.

A gentle 50 km drive got us to Beechworth and lunch. Beechworth has many interesting historic sights.

On the way out we visited the Eldorado Gold Dredge, what an amazing piece of engineering, read about here: Heritage-story-Eldorado-Dredge.pdf

Russell had provided two routes to Mansfield. I had decided to take the flatter option, which turned out to be a mistake. That evening everyone commented on the spectacular view from Powers Lookout that we had missed, sorry Ben!

Our final night was at the Alzburg Resort an old convent at Mansfield.

An excellent farewell dinner was organised and enjoyed by all. Finally a huge thank you to Russell Meehan for his wonderfully planned tour.

Day Eight: Sunday 27 October

Mansfield to Venus Bay – 331 kms

Today we were all heading off to various destinations, some going home, others heading back to distant locations. For me it was down to Wheelers Hill to drop Ben off at his daughters and then on to Venus Bay.

I had the pleasure of Pat Ure driving the Aprilia to our morning tea stop at Yea. I couldn’t believe it when she said this was the first time she’d ever driven an Aprilia. She knows Anthony Dady, the previous owner, so hopefully she’ll pass on a good report.

The final distance for both Castlemaine and the Alpine was 2439 kilometres. The Aprilia used around 240 litres of petrol, which works out to 9.7l/100km (just over 29 mpg). And one litre of oil, most of which was from the leaking distributor shaft. There were a couple of brake issues. On the third day she started pulling to right, probably some oil on one of the front linings, but that corrected itself a day or so latter. And the above mentioned judder, worn splines on the rear drums is the most likely cause. Plus we picked up an incredible number of insects in the radiator and engine bay, running over a swam of bees near Milawa didn’t help!


October 2013

For a different perspective have a read of Ben’s write up, click on his picture:

Russell Meehan bravely took on the task of organising this years post Castlemaine Tour. The invitation in the newsletter was too tempting to resist:

The Tour will traverse the alpine region of New South Wales, the highest area in Australia. Following an overnight stay at Yarrawonga, we will travel beside the Hume Weir, which is presently near full and very picturesque, to Tintaldra Hotel for lunch. After lunch we will make a steep descent into the beautiful Tumut River Valley climbing out the other side to Cabramurra, the highest town in Australia and on to Cooma.

The next day we will arrive in Canberra for a two night stay where various options will be available for the free day including lunch at Lanyon Historic Homestead, the Tidbinbilla Deep Space Tracking Station and a dinner cruise on Lake Burley Griffin. We will return through Cooma to stay at Jindabyne overlooking the Jindabyne Reservoir and the following day pass through Thredbo ski village on the way to Tintaldra for lunch again and Wodonga that night.

The last day will be a relaxed tour to Mansfield with various options available along the way before a final dinner in the former convent building. This tour will take entrants over most of the major high alpine roads in Australia and will be an enjoyable and satisfying challenge for cars and drivers.

Before leaving we had received Russell’s brilliant road book of information and touring notes - see example ➠

Ben Courage was to be my co-driver/co-navigator for the duration.

Carrying on from the Castlemaine 22 Rally (see report here - Castlemaine 22)

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