ALVIS CAR CLUB of VICTORIA

 


Alvis Motoring at its Best - approaching Cradle Mountain, Tasmania, photography by John Hetherington

With ever darkening clouds, 12 Alvisters made their way to the Spirit of Tasmania ferry. Many were starting to wonder where they had packed their Kwells! Waiting in line were John & Margaret Hetherington in the 1935 Speed 20, Chris Higgins and Eric Nicholl in the 1923 12/50, John and Annie Link in the 1951 TA21 Special, Andrew and Frances McDougall in the 1926 TE 12/50, Chester & Sally McKaige in the 1923 12/50 Ducksback, Alan & Noeline McKinnon 1925 12/50, Dale & Maritta Parsell in the 1929 Silver Eagle, Richard Tonkin and Peter Mitchell in the 1953 TA21G, David and Kay Webster in the 1930 Silver Eagle as well as Ian and
Jo Todd in the MGA, Peter and Ann Mott in the Mark 4 Jaguar DHC, David and Margaret Caldwell (modern) and Darrell Horton and Jocelyn Coates (modern). It was
wonderful to have the Websters and the Todds join the tour from the UK.

Once on board and when we had found our cabins, it was time to adjourn to the bar and then to dinner where there was plenty of chatter and time to watch the Melbourne
skyline disappear behind us. Unfortunately for the Motts, the Caldwells and the Todds, their Alvis cars let them down at the last moment, which resulted in having to bring other cars.

The crossing of Bass Strait ended up being quite smooth and we were all eager to start the tour after arrival in Devonport. Waiting to join us were Merv Coombs and Robert Smith in the 1952 TC21 and Mike and Liz Williams in the TA14 Carbodies DHC. It was a cool but fine morning for the drive to the Christmas Hills Raspberry Farm, where breakfast was awaiting us. The autumn colours were wonderful as we drove along the highway and the hearty breakfast and warm fire were appreciated by everyone.
Above: McDougall’s 12/50, Parsell’s Silver Eagle & Hetherington’s Speed 20

After a bit of fettling to the Webster’s car, we were off via back roads and the scenic route to Deloraine, Westbury, Hagley, Bridgenorth and Beaconsfield and Beauty Point. Many stopped off in Beaconsfield for a very interesting visit to the Gold Mine museum. Then it was on to Beauty Point and a visit to the Seahorses and the Platypus & Echidna House. They are breeding the Seahorses for export and sale for aquariums – it was fascinating to see how tiny the baby seahorses are and to watch them just floating around in the tanks. In the Platypus and Echidna area you got to see both being fed – the echidnas were running (they move very quickly) around our feet.

After such a promising start to the day; by mid afternoon those black clouds were threatening again and most got caught in some very heavy rain on the way to the National Motor Museum in Launceston. While in the museum we all had a chance to see Mike & Liz’s 1925 12/50 Ducksback, which is on display as well as the rest of the cars and bikes that are in the museum. John Hetherington needed to do some serious fettling on the universal joints on the Speed 20, which were sorted out the following morning. A couple of batteries were in need of a charge once we got to the hotel. Graham and Ann Hesse joined us in Launceston in their 1935 Speed 20 DHC and we had a very pleasant opening dinner at the hotel.

The following day saw us heading to Ross via Evandale and Campbelltown for a guided walk around this lovely old town and to the bridge and to the Female Factory. Our guide was an enthusiastic local who made the history of the area come alive for us and to make us realise how tough it was to be a convict in those early days. Our journey home, took us via an old property Connerville, which has been in the same family for 7 generations – the present owner gave us a wonderful talk about his family and the property, followed by a walk through the extensive gardens around the house. Again the autumn colours were spectacular.

Above Chris Higgins 12/50 & the Webster’s Silver Eagle

Day 3 saw us heading for Pipers Brook Winery, for a sumptuous morning tea and then to Scottsdale and Legerwood where the pine trees that were planted after
WW1, in memory of the soldiers from that area who died, have now been carved by chainsaw. Each tree tells the story of these veterans and it was a fitting place to stop, as it was Anzac Day. Some also decided that they really wanted to see Launceston again and ended up heading in that direction. They eventually made it back to lunch at the Weldborough Pub. We passed through some spectacular scenery as we made our way up the Weldborough Pass and down into St Helens. Our stop for the night was at The White Sands Resort at Ironhouse Point. Here we were treated to a magnificent sunset and a dinner to match. The night was crystal clear and the following day one of those champagne days that autumn manages to produce.

The journey down the East Coast was fantastic with the sun shining, the water very blue, a crisp edge to the air and wonderful views over to the Freycinet Peninsular. There are quite a number of vineyards on the East Coast and the vines were all turning yellow, which just added to the picture perfection of the day. Morning tea was had at the Spiky Bridge, which was built in the early 1830s to provide access to a convict station and has rocks placed on their ends across the parapets of the bridge creating the spiky effect. Great place to photograph the cars.

The rest of the day was spent making our way to Port Arthur via Orford, Sorell and onto the Tasman Peninsula at Eaglehawk Neck and a chance to see the tessellated
pavement. That night we were treated to a wonderful meal at the Felons Café (there were a few dodgy looking characters amongst us) and then a Ghost Tour of the ruins at Port Arthur. We heard plenty of stories but saw no ghostly presences that night. The following day was spent at Port Arthur, with a guided tour of the ruins and a boat trip out on the bay and around the Isle of the Dead and the Point Puer Boys prison. This was the first time in the British Empire where the boys were separated from the men – the system that still exists today in our juvenile justice system. After the tour we were able to spend time wandering around the site and taking in more details about how Port Arthur operated and a visit to the Separate or Model Prison. This was quite a harsh system as the only time the prisoners were allowed to
speak, was when singing hymns at Sunday church services. While experiencing a completely dark solitary confinement cell, it was possible to imagine why many of the inmates went mad.


Above Mike William’s TA14 DHC & the McKinnon’s 12/50

Later afternoon saw all heading for Hobart and The Old Woolstore, our accommodation for the next few days.Saturday was a free day to explore the delights of Hobart – some headed for the Salamanca Market, others to Mona – the Museum of Modern and Ancient Art, while we went to visit friends at Collinsvale on the slopes of Mt Wellington – it proved to be very cold and a bit of sleet was falling as the temperature in Hobart headed south. Our entertainment for the night was a ride in an old red double decker London bus which brought back memories for our English visitors and the Hetheringtons. The bus duly conveyed us to the Eastern Shore and Mike & Liz Williams’ place for a BBQ and a wonderful view back to the lights of Hobart. It was a wonderful evening and a chance to see Mike’s latest
purchase - a TA14 (once owned by Andrew).

Sunday and it was time to hit the high seas again and travel to Bruny Island and to see where the Parky’s live (unfortunately they were not in residence). It is a lovely
island and we managed to cover most of it – both north & south Bruny. We stopped at the Neck – a spit of sand that joins the two islands and climbed to the lookout in a roaring 40’s wind, with a wind chill factor to match, all made worthwhile for the view. The more intrepid of us ventured down onto the beach to explore further.

Monday saw us heading out of Hobart to Huonville and the southern forests, ably led by Merv & Robert to our destination of the Tahune Airwalk. This is a spectacular aerial walkway through the rainforest that borders the Huon River. We had a guide who was most informative about the different trees that we were looking at and the views over the river to the snow speckled Hartz Mountains were superb. Quite a few stopped at the Wooden Boat Centre at Franklin on the way back to Hobart to view the marvellous hand built wooden boats – what craftsmanship is being applied to the boats that they build.( They are currently looking for a new commission – any takers!!)

Above: Chester McKaige’s 12/50 & Peter Mott’s Mk4 Jaguar

It was an early start for our longest day of the tour from Hobart to Strahan. The route took us by the Lyell Highway through the farming districts of New Norfolk, Hamilton and Ouse before we hit the winding mountainous section past the Hydro dams and power stations of Wayatinah, Tarraleah and Tungatinah. Then we climbed up and onto the Central Plateau at Derwent Bridge. Here there were the most marvellous wood carvings we have ever seen at The Wall. When finished it will be 100m in
length (its at the half way point now) and will be made from 100 laminated pieces of Huon Pine each one metre wide and three metres high. Each panel is carved in bas-relief by Greg Duncan using only a mallet and chisel with the background tooled horizontally. The subjects of the carvings are based on forestry and hydro – the two main industries in the area. If you ever get a chance to go to Tasmania, this is well worth a visit and for most of the entrants it was the highlight of the tour. After
Derwent Bridge the road climbs up over Mt Arrowsmith, with expansive views to the mountains of the south west wilderness area with Frenchmans Cap being very visible. Soon we were rounding the numerous bends of Mount Owen that lead into Queenstown. The hills no longer quite look like the moonscape of a few
years ago – the trees and the vegetation are slowly taking hold. The windy roads hadn’t quite finished and we still had to contend with the road down to Strahan – it was a case of “where are the Kwells?”

Our next three nights were in Strahan and a couple of days of non driving as we took to other forms of transport – the ABT Railway and the Gordon River Cruise. The group was split on each day and what a marvellous two days. The weather was cool and misty which made for atmospheric views along the railway line and the Gordon River. The railway takes you on the old line from Strahan to Queenstown, along the King River and up and over the hills via the cog railway ABT system to Queenstown. We were treated to wonderful service and food in our carriage as we traversed the track with stops at a number of the restored stations along the way, where there was time for some short walks. The station at Queenstown was like something from the 18th century with steam locos filling the arched roof with smoke.

The ABT Railway train, along the line to Queenstown

The cruise up Macquarie Harbour to and through Hells Gate and then up the Gordon River was also magical as the clouds, mist and sun continually played out across the hills and the river. The reflections in the still brown tannin waters of the Gordon were a sight to see. Again the service and food were excellent. We also made a stop at Sarah Island, a convict penal settlement that was used before Port Arthur. Conditions were very tough and for part of the time quite brutal – it had been described as “hell on earth” by the convicts who were sent there. Both trips were a great way to see and appreciate the environment of the West Coast of Tasmania.

The cold overnight temperature caused a few problems on the day we were heading for Cradle Mountain – cars that didn’t want to start and had to be pushed or towed, We had a lovely run up the West Coast to Zeehan and a visit to it’s superb museum, onto Rosebery where the McDougalls caught up with an old work colleague and then onto Cradle Mountain, where our well heated cabins awaited us. There was time for a walk around to see the waterfalls, wallabies and wombats before our final dinner. This was a night filled with laughter and fun as the results of having to feel two black stockings filled with an assortment of female and male items were announced – the spanners didn’t fool anyone, but the hair plats took more decoding.Our final day was a run through the rolling hills of the northwest coast, with lunch at a winery where David & Jan Seath joined us, before we headed into Sheffield and its murals,
Railton and its topiary and Latrobe where there is the Axeman’s Hall of Fame and an intriguing shop of 19 rooms absolutely crammed full of all sorts of oddities – you had to be careful where you walked. Then it was a short drive to Devonport and back on the ferry to Melbourne, where yet again the Kwells weren’t needed.


The tour was a fantastic two weeks of driving our Alvii on some of the best vintage car roads you will find, a wonderful group of people, magnificent scenery and champagne autumn weather – what more could you ask for.

To Noeline and Alan, from all the tour participants, a very big thank you for all the work you did in organising this great tour.

Photography and text Frances McDougall


Across the Central Plateau

Heading up the Weldborough Pass


Above: Graham Hesse’s Speed 20 DHC


Above: Todd’s MGA, Richard Tonkin’s Graber & Merv Coombs’ TC21

 


Above: John Link’s TA21 Special