Wonthaggi Rally report, 5 – 7 May

“Wet Weather but Wonderful Wonthaggi Weekend”

The Wonthaggi Rally was prepared and organised by Graham Boulter and Alan and Michelle Prentice, who were our local Wonthaggi hosts. Their combined work with the itinerary, Admin, accommodation, meal bookings and Alan’s ride leading ran like a Swiss watch as we have come to expect, but never taken for granted, as Ian expressed with gratitude at the farewell gathering after Sunday’s lunch.

Let’s deal with the Pink Elephant that was not invited to the rally … RAIN! “It was what it was” as they say, and most had good riding gear and stayed reasonably dry, but the heavy persistent rain on Sunday morning tested the truth of some labelling to the point of realising the word “waterproof” might just be another modern marketing scam. Thank you to the 6 members that still came a long way to join the rally, even though they had to use 4-wheeler machines. Ray Harrison’s old Holden Ute fitted the classic sentiment, and we were spoilt with 2 back-up trailers hitched to Peter Cullen’s and Phil Holland’s cars ready for a rescue if needed (Thank You). Unfortunately, they had to endure the dry warm comfort of full bodywork and no leakage through their waterproofing … AND windscreen wipers!

On Friday, we are on our way to the rally, cruising along the Bass Highway towards the Wonthaggi turn off before Phillip Island, and up the road are 2 large classic touring bikes on a trailer … they have to be going to the rally. A big BMW R80RT and a Guzzi California … these are club regulars but as we approach, what is that towing the trailer, it’s an Australian Army big 4WD in full war theatre camouflage paint and tonneau cover with all the trimmings. It’s Ron and Stan from our Geelong regiment that have come on the Queenscliff ferry, up the peninsula and across to Wonthaggi … that’s a rally trip all on its own, plus the same to get home, and what an interesting and serious rig to carry your classics. The only thing better for this weekend would have been an “Armyduck” amphibious vehicle.

It was great to welcome some rally riders that were not the usual suspects. Jacinta Costello joined Greg on their R75 and brought another happy and bubbly personality into our girl’s pillion partners group. Greg was all smiles to have her aboard and the Beema running perfectly since a certain Richard Fanning waved his magic hands over the bike. Steve Inman’s son Tom came along for the fun on his Yamaha XSR modern classic in a retro inspired colour scheme. This is based on the proven and advanced MT07/09 platform and no doubt Tom is enjoying all the modern performance and tech beneath the classic look (really nice bike Tom).

We checked in to the plush modern room at the newly built McMahon Motel with a VERY comfortable bed and everything you would need for a weekend stay, with the added bonus of undercover parking to shelter the bikes from the overnight rain. Graham advised us that the Wonthaggi Working Man’s Club that runs the Motel was interested in having a couple of bikes displayed in their foyer for interested patrons to see. John’s Matchy and Colin’s immaculate “silver” Norton Commando (that is even better than his “red” one) were duly parked in the reception area for Friday night, making an impressive and appropriate display for our Club. Thanks guys. Our welcome dinner was in this Club and judging by the conversational noise, I’m sure everyone enjoyed the night and a hearty country pub meal.

On Saturday, we left our Guide Park assembly point and headed south to Cape Patterson and along the coast to Inverloch under dark cloudy skies and rain/showers that followed us all day. North into the hills, we went to Mirrboo North for morning tea and caught up with Val Smith, then down to Mirrboo, Dumbalk and a backroad circuit to Meeniyan. We parked in Tompkins Rd and walked through to the Pandesal Bakery for our lunch. Not much shelter so we squeezed under the bakery eves enjoying our individual platters. Nice food and enough to fuel the trip back.

The rally assembly at Guide Park

Val Smith & some very wet riders.

Some shelter & good food at Meeniyan.

We headed west through the hills, winding along the ridges above green valleys as far as you could see, it certainly is beautiful country. With some of Alan’s expert backroad trickery (I am sure we passed that building before, going the other way?), we ended up on the Korumburra Rd coming back down into Wonthaggi after a big day out. Glad to see the dry motel room and relax and warm up a bit. We put our glad-rags on for dinner at the Whalebone Hotel, just a short walk downtown, where we again had our own separate dining room, a good meal and a great night. Ian gave out raffle tickets to all and made a point of stating that there were prizes worth winning, so don’t lose your ticket as it will be drawn at Sunday’s BBQ lunch. I diligently put our tickets in my wallet, thinking this will be just like us always having the wrong numbers in Tattslotto! Gotta be in it to win it!

On Sunday, all of the rally group had packed up and booked out of the motel, gathering at the Fincher St. Reserve in the rain. Plenty of parking for cars, trailers, the Geelong regimental vehicle and a “Booze Bus”, a what? I thought the cops must have heard the rowdy group of bikers the night before and decided to spring a breath test. Turned out the boozer was just parked there and not “Operating”. No one did a “runner” even though Rob had done such a diligent job with his frequent wine bottle delivery to each table at last night’s dinner, everyone was OK.

Our Fincher St. Reserve assembly.

The Geelong Regiment transporter & what?

From the Fincher St. Reserve we went up the Korumburra Rd into the hills and the Glen Alvie Rd. Alan had briefed us that the ride would be shorter due to the rain and he was right … now it wasn’t just raining … it was bucketing. We had a couple of re-group stops in between stints through the best rolling hills scenery you could possibly see in Gippsland. Put the Glen Alvie Road on you ride bucket list. We headed back into Wonthaggi on the Loch Rd, through Archies Creek, Dalyston and the Bass Highway. The club’s corner marshalling system worked great with each rider “following orders”, so no one got lost in the flood and the group stayed together.

My Favourite Bike of the Rally.
The group is splashing its way along country roads through the green hill’s and above the noise of the rain bashing against my helmet visor there is that characteristic pulsing cracking exhaust note of a big single ahead of us. I am transported back in time to pictures I have seen of an English winter countryside in the early 1950’s where a classic motorcycle of the era is pressing-on against a storm to get its rider home. It’s John Mannu piloting his G80 Matchless expertly along the twisty roads through Sunday’s challenging cold deluge. He under-played this achievement done on old skinny tyres and “Classic” suspension with BAD visibility. Truly memorable as John and his G80 are a great example of enjoying the historic motorcycles that we love.

Sunday Lunch
We have ridden most of the rally cold and wet and we headed back the last 20kms to the Wonthaggi historic coal mine museum for lunch. Murphy’s Law of course cleared the skies as we ended the rally rides and yes, now the sun comes out! Michelle with her daughter Laurie, and Clint Sanderson have prepared a sumptuous BBQ lunch for all tastes and it was goooood. I don’t think I have ever been so happy to see a BBQ sausage in my whole life, plus hot coffee and shelter. The cold wet group thawed out, devoured snags and burgers and talked about the day’s experience. Stan compared this to his very wet and almost unrideable excursion in Vietnam that we had watched on video at a past club meeting.

The Coal Mine BBQ lunch. John’s Matchless is on the right, in the middle.

Ian called us to order, thanking the participants for coming and our organisers, and drew the raffle. Now where did I put the tickets? … Wow, we won a prize, a Bunnings voucher and a certificate titled “I Survived the Wonthaggi Rally”, that’s appropriate and “going straight to the pool room”. Sadly, it’s time to head home, so with bikes, trailers, cars all packed, farewells exchanged, we had a sunny blue sky for the trip home.

Thanks to all of you on the rally, for your smiles and good humour under adversity. Thanks to Graham and Alan, we appreciate all the work you’ve done, so all we have to do is ENJOY … and everyone did! All the rally riders will have some bike cleaning to do, so I better go and get started as poor Thruxty looks like she spent the weekend “Mud Wrestling”. Ride safe and see you on the next adventure.

David and Mez.

Wonthaggi Rally Participants List – 5th to 7th May 2023

Rider Bike Year
John Mannu Matchless G80 1950
Jimmy Linton Triumph 1970
Greg & Jacinta Costello BMW R75/5 1971
Colin Borthwick Norton Commando 750 1972
Martin Easton Moto Guzzi 1973
Franco Trento Ducati 750GT 1973
Ian Snadden BMW R90S 1974
Stan Rogers BMW R80RT 1980
Ron Study Moto Guzzi California 1981
Alan Prentice (Ride Leader) Honda 1984
Laurie John Suzuki RG500 1985
Rob Mullins (TEC Sunday) Honda 1995
Paul Clayton Honda VTR1000 1997
Steve Inman Triumph T100 2013
David & Mez McLennan Triumph Thruxton S 2016
Tom Inman Yamaha XSR900 2019
John & Vicki Best Suzuki SV650 2022
Graham Boulter (TEC Saturday) Triumph Tiger 2022
Adrian Nash Car
Bill Garner Car
Peter Cullen Car & Backup Trailer
Mike Pougher Car
Ray Harrison Car
Phil Holland Car & Backup Trailer