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Australian Lancia Register - Mountain To Surf Tour

19 - 25 October 2015

This years post Castlemaine tour was bravely organised by Brain Long with vast assistance from Fergus Anderson and Rob Scaife. There were about 45 Lancias entered with about 100 people in total travelling. From the entry list I counted 5 Lambdas, 2 Augustas, 1 Astura, 3 Aprilias, 5 Aurelias, 1 Appia, 2 Flaminias, 4 Flavias, 11 Fulvias & 5 Betas, plus a few moderns.

Brian handed us all an extensive tour guide, with directions, maps & tourist information of things and places to see along the way. Some of us even read it!

Andrew Cox was my co-driver/room sharer this time with his Aprilia under the control of Ben & Niki Courage.

Day One: Monday.

Castlemaine to Halls Gap.

After yet another large breakfast we loaded the Aprilia and headed towards Clunes for our first stop, more coffee and morning tea! You have to understand I'm currently on a diet of no sugar & grains so all this eating was going to be a challenge.

Brian had given us a choice of routes all on quiet country roads so we could spread out and not overwhelm the local cafés.

Next stop was the old Talbot Railway Station, the trains still pass but there is a new station up the way, the last train stopped at the original station in 1993 when the line was closed but it was reopened in 2010. The building is leased out to a picture framer and is full of junk and stuff, see the photo collection!

We all meet for lunch at Hendon Farm Vineyard in Avoca for lunch. A perfect spot to eat under the gum trees complete with fine wines, an excellent buffet and plenty of bush flies.

Andrew had driven the morning roads so I took over for the run to Halls Gap. We were in the Western District now, much larger farms, the weather still warm, windows wound down and the temp gauge sitting around 65ºC.

We took the route through Elmhurst, Landsborough, Stawell to Halls Gap. We had a brief stop in Stawell to search for an Auto parts store as Stainless Stephen had broken an indicator, we didn't find one there, "go to Ararat" we were told. It could wait until the next day.

Arriving in Halls Gap around 4pm we booked in to the Pinnacle Holiday Lodge Motel, we were here for two nights and Andrew and I were lucky to get a double room suite, no single bed to toss the coin over!

The only car trouble was Merv Concanen's Flavia with a leaking brake booster, was using a lot of fluid. Unfortunately he decided to head home to Perth on Wednesday morning, the system was just a little complicated to repair on the road.

A refreshing beer or two was enjoyed in the garden surrounded by Little Corellas, Musk Lorikeets and a few Eastern Grey Kangaroos.

Click to see my Mountain To Surf Tour photo collection.

Day Two: Tuesday.

In and around Halls Gap.

Another good breakfast at a local cafe and we were set for the day. Andrew went with Ben & Niki in Stainless Stephen in search of an indicator.

I had Per Edvardsson as passenger for the morning. First stop was Boroka Lookout for a view over the valley. The road was steep and twisty, 3rd gear most of the time, the Aprilia hummed along nicely.

Next was Mackenzie Falls. Sight of a huge bush fire in January 2014 that burnt out over 54,000 hectares. Surprisingly there was a fair amount of water coming over the falls, I guess being released from Lake Wartook to supply irrigation water for properties to the west. The workers rebuilding a viewing platform told us the kiosk had also burnt in the fire and it used to have excellent coffee and ice creams!

Lunch was at Best's Vineyard in Great Western. Following Brian's directions we made good time and didn't even get lost. Lunch was again outside under the gum trees and this time the bush flies definitely won. A warm but pleasant 40km drive and we were back in Halls Gap.

Geoff Goldberg asked for a drive of the Aprilia, always good to get a new impression of the car. It was getting towards dusk and the many local kangaroos were coming out. Geoff said the car was a delight in the short distance we went, of course with me in the passenger seat was else was he going to say. He also seemed to misunderstand the kmh speed limits signs for mph, the power slide into the side road to the motel was most impressive, Chris Long thought otherwise as he dived for cover!

Dinner that night was at the Kookaburra Hotel Bistro, what a great surprise to find such excellent food. Highly recommend the  Blackened Barramundi, delicious.

Click for more detail

Day Three: Wednesday.

Halls Gap to Port Fairy.

An overnight shower of rain had freshen up the car and cleared the air, although Merv Concanen decided to head home with brake booster problems on his Flavia. With Andrew behind the wheel we took the route via Mirrinatwa Gap and Cavendish, coffee at the Bridge cafe, to our lunch stop at Hamilton. The roads were again free of traffic, the country side slightly green,  we were driving though proper Western District sheep station country. Decedents of my family had first settled here in 1838.

In Hamilton we spotted Campe's Motor Museum on the road in. A call to Glen Campe and five minutes later he was there to open it up for us. Have a look at the photos for an idea of how large his collection is. Lunch was at the Hamilton Club, no dress code for us scruffy lot, but the food was excellent.

The afternoon was a simple drive down south to the coast and Port Fairy.

Day Four: Thursday

Port Fairy to Apollo Bay.

Today we began to drive the Great Ocean Road. Wikipedia tells the story in a fashion.

Andrew had taken his Aprilia along the road back in April so I could drive the entire route. We first stopped at Tower Hill Wildlife Reserve just before  Warrnambool. The first time I saw this was back in 1961 and it was just a very large empty hole, today this extinct volcano it is a magnificent wildlife reserve with emus, koalas and many waterbirds.

Turning off the Princes Highway at Allansford we started at the other end of the Great Ocean Road. Luckily traffic was light and we had no problem finding parking spots to view the sights.

At Lavers Hill the delightful "Shoppe" cafe was slightly overwhelmed with about 7 Lancias in their small carpark but the service was great and lunch very good.

After lunch we dropped in to the historic Cape Otway Lighthouse before heading back and on to Apollo Bay for the night.

Day Five: Friday

Apollo Bay to Lorne.

This mornings the run to Lorne was only 45 km so we took the opportunity to turn off at Skeens Creek and head up to Beech Forest and on to the Otway Fly. The drive into it along Turton's Track was terrific, 40 km/h with twisty left right 3rd gear turns all the way.

The tree top walk was excellent, through mostly regrowth mountain ash forest with the odd old growth monster. The infamous 1939 Black Friday bushfires and timber logging had decimated most of the original forrest.

A little further up the road were the Triplet Falls providing some well needed exercise and some water flowing down the falls, we even spotted an Otway Black Snail - Victaphanta compacta.  We then returned back to the Great Ocean Road and slowly, stuck behind a very slow Audi rental car, on to Lorne and the Mantra Resort.

Day Six: Saturday

In Lorne.

Today was spent in and around Lorne. It had been arranged for our cars to be displayed on the front lawn of the hotel in the afternoon. Iain Simpson and Peter Renou both had a drive in the Aprilia, Simmo was impressed, Peter didn't like my rebuilt brakes, I think they are fantastic!

We finished off the rally with a farewell Dinner in the hotel ballroom

Day Seven: Sunday

Lorne to Venus Bay

An early morning start, breakfast and checkout. Andrew was driving Stainless Stephen home, so I had more space!

I continued along the rest of the Great Ocean Road then over to Queenscliff to catch the ferry across to Sorento and eventually home.

For the entire Castlemaine and Rally we did just over 1,800 kilometres, got a fuel average of 10 litres per 100km, didn't use a drop of oil or water and the diff didn't leak. However there were some problems. The steering got heavier and developed a nasty vibration at speeds between 85 - 95 km/h, the front left tyre was badly worn on the outside. The left rear brake drum came loose on the spline. The front suspension leaked all it's oil from the dampers. The left side trafficator lost the will to live, and my bottle of sunscreen leaked inside the glove box!

Campe's Motor Museum, Glen Campe

Halls Gap - Pinnacle Holiday Lodge.

Geoff Goldberg likes the Aprilia!

Best's Great Western Vineyard

Mackenzie Falls

Hendon Farm Vineyard

Morning tea at Clunes

Loch Ard Gorge

Cape Otway Lighthouse

Otway Fly Tree Top Walk

Tour organisers. Fergus Anderson &  Brian Long  

Great Ocean Road near Lorne.