ALVIS CAR CLUB of VICTORIA

HOLBROOK RALLY 1972 (printed in Alvic Jun 06)

Organising an Interstate or National Rally is no easy task but one of the very best and the easiest that I was asked to organise, was the Holbrook Rally (NSW) in 1972. Our Club Committee at the time chose Holbrook over the border as it would be shorter for Sydney members to attend, well by some miles anyway. The idea of Holbrook did not appeal to me, as all I knew, and wanted to know about the town was a blur on the way north up the Hume, but I got one hell of a shock.

Not knowing a living soul there I contacted the Holbrook Shire Clerk by phone who asked if I could attend a council meeting in two days time, as they were very enthusiastic for us to come and assist their tourism promotion. I did attend and met a group of down-to-earth people whose one aim was to put their town on the map. Two motel owners attended and accommodation was arranged as well as meals. They suggested a visit to a local Hereford Stud Farm with an invitation to view a private art collection and would we like them to organise a barbeque, etc. etc.

The enthusiasm was overwhelming when we rolled into Holbrook to start the rally. I was a mite awestruck to find banners reading "Holbrook Welcomes Alvis Drivers" across the highway in the town and each of the ladies attending were given a small posy of local flowers on arrival. That was the Friday night and the next day we drove the short distance to the Stud Farm and the art collection in the adjoining home. The quantity and nature of the art was quite incredible and its value both fiscally and aesthetically, breathtaking. The large air-conditioned barn of the stud farm housed many contented, prize winning and obviously expensive Hereford bulls in separate enclosures with softly playing classical music. All the men viewing were naturally thinking of reincarnation!

Next day we formed a convoy and followed one of the locals a few miles out to a large holding where, after topping a small ridge, there was the barbeque. An astonishing site - a pretty creek fringed by red gums with trestle tables laid out. The barbeque was going and attended to by locals in striped aprons and straw decker hats. The gloss on the whole arrangement came from a refrigerated semi-trailer parked close by to keep the drinks cool! By this time I was getting sore from pats on the back from members and I lapped it up.

 The last day was spent on a sheep station with - refreshments taken in a shearing shed. So ended a short but one of the best Interstate or National rallies. Arranged by a small town that showed its pride by being over-generous with their friendship and hospitality. I had very little to do with the organisation of the rally, the town of Holbrook did it for us and became the forerunner of many future rallies.

Here is a little bit of Holbrook history that shows what can be accomplished by a proud and united community. Originally the town was named Germantown but in 1918 the Shire Council renamed it Holbrook after an English Naval Officer who commanded the British submarine HMS B 11 during World War One. The Officer Captain Norman Holbrook was awarded the French Legion of Honour and the Victoria Cross. The Captain visited the town in 1956, 1969 and 1975 and was honoured by a model of his submarine being placed in a park named after him. Just before he died in 1976 he set about trying to obtain a decommissioned Oberon class submarine to replace the model. An amount of $30,000 was raised but this was not enough with the Government selling it to a scrap metal merchant. Norman Holbrook's widow in England then donated $100,000 and a neighbour a further $ 10,000 and finally the submarine was purchased. It was brought to the town in pieces, assembled and set up in Holbrook Park where it now rests. The ninety metre vessel attracts at least 150 visitors a day with up to 500 during holidays and has done much to keep Holbrook a vibrant town. The town and its park are certainly worth a visit when travelling the Hume Highway and could be considered for a future rally location or stopover.

Holbrook will always be a top town for me and for all who were lucky enough to be there way back in 1972.

 Ron Wilson

Holbrook (printed Alvic July 06)

Well, I learn something new every day. From Ron Wilson's article last month I now know that Holbrook was a Naval gentleman. Perhaps what Ron doesn't know is the importance of that particular Oberon class submarine to the defence of the nation. I used to have Dad & Dave (Dept of Defence to youngsters) as a customer. You will no doubt recall all the froth and bubble in the national press about the troubles which beset the building and commissioning of the Collins class submarines which were selected as the replacements for the Oberons?

You recall smart remarks about the need for sump guards on the periscopes? (Think about it!). Well all the delays meant that the Oberons were required to be held in service far longer than planned, and they were truly well past their "use-by" date. So much so that at one point I am told a Naval engineering crew was sent to Holbrook to negotiate with the shire council to "borrow" some components (ballast pumps if I recall correctly) from the Holbrook one! Incidentally, the media never reported what a success the Collins turned out to be in the end.

The DSTO (Defence Science and Technology Organisation) did a lot of splendid work at Maribyrnong, including finite element analysis on the crankshaft vibration in the Swedish Hedemorra deisel engines, which was addressed with some sophisticated balancing technology. The result of this and a lot of other work culminated in a successful "attack" on a US carrier, while fully protected by its escort fleet, during joint exercises in the Pacific. The Americans were decidedly un-amused! Needless to say a lot of this technology has now been heading to the US which makes a nice change. (I know none of this has nothing to do with Alvises, but I don't care!)

Steve Denner