I received the invitation sometime in April and noted that the heading was ‘The Mildura Meander’, Saturday and Sunday 19 and 20 May 2016. The closing date was 30 April 2018. I duly copied the form and sent it off to Geoff Barnesmy without copying it, so being elderly, I then forgot that I’d sent it and had to contact Jack McCarthy to verify that I’d sent it!
I had decided to take my newly rebuilt Honda 750 K1, which, after a few hick ups was running beautifully. I managed to get a big strong mate, one Merv Edwards, no relation that I know of, to load it onto Mike Apthorpe’s trailer on the Thursday, so I could take off for Mildura the following day. I had phoned Jack McCarthy the previous evening to check the weather in Mildura, but took wet weather gear just in case. Well, on the Friday it bucketed down, I can’t remember seeing rain so heavy. The outside of the roads adjacent to the gutters was flooded and this lasted until about Truro. I had to clear the windscreen which was fogging up, by turning the air conditioner on every few minutes. Halfway to Blanchetown I stopped at the spot where the Half Way Hotel had been, there is a plaque there that acknowledges the site. I then pressed on in dry weather to Renmark where I always have lunch at the old cemetery and see Mum’s mother and father in-law. Then on to Mildura, around 145 kms, and arrived at the Central Motel where I’ve stayed for many years, at about 5.00 pm. The place is now under new management and they were quite obliging. Fortunately there were a couple of jokers there from Broken Hill for the Meander with a couple of Hondas, they unloaded the 750 and parked it and the trailer safely. This was a stroke of luck because I thought I had arranged with Jim Nixon and Bluey Hillman to unload it. When I rang him to say that the Honda was off the trailer, he announced that he was at home and they weren’t coming! Bewdy Newk! Nor were the BSA Mob there, dunno why.
That evening the Barnes and Hellena’s sister in-law, Elaine and friend picked me up and we went to the Working Mans Club for a great meal and a cordial. I had a restless night that night and got up at 6.30 am to get started on preparing for the ride. Got to the Club rooms and met the Mildura Mob and finally we took off for somewhere with the best marshalling that I have seen anywhere. The ride was about 130 kms all up with stops for morning tea and lunch at interesting places where there were either museums, old machinery or vehicles. It was here that I mentioned to Geoff that his rear tyre looked a bit flat. He maintains that he only uses about 25 lbs in both, but as it turned out he did have a puncture and someone took him to a tyre fixeruperer. They duly caught up with the Mob later in the day. We had an excellent lunch of fish and chips at a cafe near the river in Wentworth .
That night we were booked into a boat trip down the river for three hours, again with lots of eats, so at the end of the night we were all over fed. While the scenery along the river was good it was very cold out on the balcony so I didn’t spend much time there. That night I was stuffed and slept well.
ON Sunday I arrived at the Club Rooms a bit later and the ride went down river in Victoria, into country that I’d not seen before for 60 Kms and arrived for morning tea in Wentworth at another machine and vehicle museum. After this we rode a fare way up into NSW and finally arrived back in Wentworth, adjacent to the race course where there was a vintage machinery museum in a shed. These machines were massive oil engines used to pump water for irrigation years ago and the star of the show was a two cylinder engine that drove a pulley about ten feet in diameter that would have been a belt drive for a water pump. I asked one of the attendants how they started the oil engines and he showed me a massive air compressor that blew compressed air into the engine to build up compression until it fired the oil fuel. These were diesel engines running on low grade oils, nothing sophisticated, and I noted the big one was built in 1943 in England.
While all this was happening the ladies there had organised a BBQ lunch, followed by some nice cakes, so again we had an excellent lunch. I took my leave there and after finding out how to get back to Mildura, set out with some confidence, only to get lost. However, I realised I was on the wrong track and went back to Wentworth and found the right one. Back at the motel the two Broken Hill jokers were already there and smartly put the Honda on the trailer for me. Well done chaps!
Sunday night Jack had organised a dinner at a Pizza joint and Elaine again picked me up and away we went. I’ll have to let Jack know that we have much better Pizzas in Adelaide at Marcellinas, but that can wait.
On Monday I was to pick up anything that Geoff could do without on the way home, but again got lost on the way out to Elaine’s pad where they were staying. Fortunately I had put some credit on my mobile, so I rang Geoff and he directed me to the house. I picked up his gear and instead of going back the way I had come, he directed me to a short cut back to the road to Renmark. This was another disaster, I was lost again and it took me about 40 minutes to get back on the road and I didn’t see them on the BSA until we were way past the civilisation around Mildura. However I made it home in quick time, having gained half an hour when crossing the border. Rotti was very glad to see me and I was glad she was OK!