An Aussie Road Trip

This road trip that I’m going to share with you came about as a result of an accidental internet find.

I was looking through some websites of Australian Car Museums and noticed that one I particularly wanted to visit (sometime) was going to close down in a few months!

Lost in the 50’s would be lost FOREVER! I had to photograph it!

The Lost in the 50’s Museum

The Lost in the 50's Museum

So I started thinking seriously about it, initially getting in touch with the museum owner (Glen) to ask if he’d mind me coming in and taking a bunch of photographs. He didn’t mind in the least – so it’s on!

Initially I considered flying to the museum, which is situated about 1500 kilometers from my home in Adelaide, South Australia.

Then I thought “why don’t I do something a bit special here, make it a trip to remember, and gather lots of material for my Web-Site and DriveTribe Virtual Museums Tribe?”

So I switched my plans to be based around a road trip which would take in as many Car Museums as practical. A quick chat with my good pal Neil who I thought might be interested in coming along, and we started firming things up.

This trip would have us leave our better halves behind (hey, somebody had to look after our respective fur babies!), cover over 4,000 kilometers, three Australian States, and take about 5 days.

Accomodation and a rental car were booked, the chosen day rushed up, and we were set!

We picked the car up late on a Wednesday evening, grabbed a few hours sleep, and about 4:15 on Thursday Morning we threw our stuff (mostly photography gear) in the shiny clean Holden Calais, and hit the road!

The rent-a-ride

As expected, traffic was light and we made good time driving across sleepy Adelaide and onto the Adelaide Freeway, quickly settling down to an easy pace that would have the big Holden cover the kilometers we needed to make on our first day out – Destination : Bathurst, New South Wales. Distance : 1184 kilometers!

About 6:00AM we turned off the Freeway at a town called Tailem Bend (If you’re not an Aussie, be prepared for some funny town names on this trip!). We were going to stop for an Egg and Bacon Breakfast Roll, but nothing was open so we kept moving.

A few minutes later the sun started to rise and we drove into a spectacular morning. Now we could see the countryside around us, and started to take note of the rural scenery.

The first thing that caught our eye was a paddock (field!) that contained what looked at first glance to have a number of really old Army Tanks in it. Not something you see often, so we pulled over for a better look. Sure enough, there were about a dozen very old and rusty Tanks in various stages of disrepair – some complete, some just a gutted shell. First chance for a few pictures! A few minutes later we were back on the road again. We drove through Underbool, and finally found some breakfast in Ouyen (Told you there’d be some funny town names!). Car re-fuelled and Sausage and Egg Rolls devoured, we’re moving again. Got to keep moving to get to Bathurst today! 798 Kms to go and it’s almost 9AM already! Just before 10AM we drove through Tooleybuc. Not much to see here!

Two hours later we passed through a town called Hay, which sits on the edge of the wide Hay Plains. A quick stop for an Iced Coffee, and we were on our way across the Plains, watching out for a landmark that I’d heard about and desperately wanted a photograph of.

I present to you : Mini on a Pole!! Down the sides of the road were drifts of what looked a lot like snow, but was actually cotton that had fallen off the trucks passing through here. Almost two hours of one of the worlds most boring drives later and we passed through a little town call Weethalle. We were almost across the Hay Plain now. Half an hour later and we were done with the Plain, and in West Wyalong. The drive got more interesting from here, with numerous towns, and even an occasional tree! Only 266 kms to Bathurst! We could almost see it from here!

At 4 pm we drove into Cowra for another fuel stop and a bath-room break.

And after a very long day, we were finally overlooking Bathurst, which sits in beautiful rolling hills and valleys. It’s 5pm, and we’d made better time than we expected thanks to a trouble-free run and light traffic. Time to stretch our legs, and book into our home for the night, a little family-run Motel strategically located just a few minutes from our first stop tomorrow – Mount Panorama! Fish and Chips for tea, and an early night. See you all tomorrow!

It was 9AM Friday Morning, and we had booked out of our Motel and driven the kilometer or so to Mount Panorama, or “The Mountain”. The Mountain is probably the most famous spot in Australia if you have any interest in Motor Sport. It is a 6.2km long street circuit which runs around and over a small mountain, resulting in a circuit with a rise and fall of 571 feet! Most of the year the Mountain is a public road providing access to local residents, and limited to local street speed limits. But twice a year, in February and October the race cars turn up for a 12 hour and 1000km race (respectively). And the crowds go wild! Since opening in 1938 the Mountain has set the scene for the best, most watched motor races in Australia, over the years attracting world-famous drivers like Stirling Moss, Jack Brabham, Alan Jones, Jensen Button, Tom Walkinshaw. The legendary Denny Hulme actually passed away due to a heart attack whilst driving in a Bathurst 1000. The Mountain has also contributed greatly to the history of many legendary local drivers – Peter Brock, Dick Johnson (Truly!), Allan Moffat, Alan Grice, Jim Richards, and Craig Lowndes to name the first few that come to mind.

The Mount Panorama Start/Finish Line I’d driven around the circuit a few times previously, but Neil hadn’t so we did a couple of gentle laps, stopping a couple of times for me to take pictures. It really is a beautiful spot and an amazing race track. Skyline, at the top of The Mountain. Mount Panorama At the entrance to the track was our first target – the Bathurst Motor Racing Museum. Outside the museum is a fantastic bronze tribute to local hero and legend, the late Peter Brock, who won the Bathurst 1000 9 times! Some pictures taken, we went on into the Museum. I’ll post articles on this and the other museums soon! Peter Brock.. Legend and a really nice guy (I met him a few times)

Only a couple of hundred kilometers to travel today as we drove through Lithgow (didn’t stop) and up into the stunningly beautiful Blue Mountains. We paused for a scrumptious light lunch in a town called Wentworth Falls, and then drove on to our hotel in Hornsby, on the outskirts of Sydney. The traffic was atrocious – we’re definitely in Sydney, Australia’s biggest city!

With another big day ahead of us on the Saturday we decided to eat in the hotel and grab an early night. The Hotel was threatening a Live Band starting up at about 11, but either they played quietly or we slept right through it.

Saturday morning, and I was very excited about the plans for the day. The GPS led us a bit astray, taking us about 20km the wrong way before deciding it was wrong. The scenery was pretty spectacular though, taking us through mountain cuttings, sweeping bends and stunning views through green valleys.

Our first stop today was the Gosford Car Museum, only 40 minutes away. This museum is the largest in Australia, with over 400 cars. When we arrived, the car park was full of Minis! Watch for the article on this museum – it really is something special! Here is a teaser! Oh, that Countach!!! I thought my heart would burst!

The museum was only opened in 2015, and every car there is for sale, which is a pretty clever idea as the museum will always have something new to see when you visit. We missed a LaFerrari by just a few days, evidently, but there were plenty of other amazing cars there. The manager was extremely friendly and helpful, allowing me close-up access to the exhibits, and answering all my questions about the cars, the museum, and even the owner. I highly recommend a visit if you are ever in the area.

After several very happy hours taking photographs we continued driving North toward Newcastle, our destination for the night, and home of the real purpose of the Road Trip – the “Lost in the 50’s” Car Museum. See you all in the morning!

An early start this Sunday, as I had organised with the owner (Glen) from Lost in the 50’s to be allowed in a couple of hours before the museum opens in order to take some pictures of the exhibits.

And Wow! The museum is simply amazing! As well as having some of the most spectacular, beautiful, and often unique American cars from the 50’s the museum is PACKED full of memorabilia – 50’s Diners, Jukeboxes, Mannequins, Elvis stuff.. just amazing! It is SUCH a shame that this is all going to be pulled apart and sold in a few short weeks. It is my duty to record as much of it as I can in photographs for posterity. I strongly urge you NOT to miss the upcoming piece on this museum, it will blow your mind! The best Batmobile I’ve ever seen! As I was close to finishing taking my photographs the doors were opened and a gape-mouthed public streamed in. Admittance is by prebooking only, so the numbers are sensible, but I am so glad i was provided with the opportunity to walk through and do my thing while it was deserted – it would have been next to impossible to photograph everything with people milling about. I took a few last shots and we left the museum. Out in the carpark was another pleasant surprise – a local American Car Club had set up some of their cars as a farewell to the museum. Always the opportunist, I took some more pictures and Neil and I sadly walked back to the car and slowly drove off, with more than a few wistful backward looks. There were even two fantastic Classics parked out on the street!

We had a reasonably long drive (500km) ahead of us to reach our overnight destination, and we wanted to visit the fourth and final Car Museum before it closed so that we could make an early start toward home in the morning – we would still be a little over 1,000 kms from home.

Our day took us through some beautiful hills and forests, travelling along some fantastic driving roads which had me wishing often that I was driving one of my own sports cars. My Drivers Licence is thankful that I wasn’t, as speed cameras were not rare at all. We saw hundreds of Sports Bikes, the roads obviously being a favourite of locals. Several nice cars and car clubs were spotted driving in the opposite direction to us – Mustangs, Classic Holdens, and a sweet Ferrari F430 to name but a few.

As we drove back across the Blue Mountains the temperature (according to the car computer) dropped to 3 degrees, and we saw what looked suspiciously like snow drifting slowly down and settling briefly on the windscreen. Thankfully the big Holden had a good heater! A single stop in Lithgow for fuel, some absolutely atrocious sandwiches and a cold drink and we rolled right on through to our last stop, the country town of Forbes, NSW. Arriving about 3:30 in the afternoon we popped straight into McFeeters Car Museum for a couple of hours of photography.

The owner of the Museum, Bill McFeeter, took us through and told us a bit of the history of the place, and of some of the rarer cars, and left us to it.

McFeeters is a bit unusual, in that it has some nice cars but no real theme or pattern. The building also has low lighting levels and tall clear glass windows behind the exhibits, which makes it a bit of a challenge to photograph.

Pictures done, we checked into our Motel for our last night before driving home.

Early Monday morning and we were on the road again. Our route soon had us back in West Wyalong and starting to back-track on our outward journey. A quick stop for essential supplies (Pringles! and some bread rolls, sliced cheese and leg ham for a lunch on the move) and we were back on the Hay Plain.

One major difference we noted this time across the Plain was the constant stream of Semi-Trailers loaded up with Hay. North-East Australia is currently being ravaged by drought, and the live-stock needs food. The majority of the Hay had been shipped from Tasmania, the very deep south of Australia, we later found out. Hopefully it will work out OK for the farmers and their animals.

We stopped in at the Hay Road-House for a last tank of petrol, stretched our legs, and we were off again! Passing through little townships and past old homesteads, I kept the camera at the ready and was able to grab a few interesting pictures – like this old Ford Falcon Ute which had been converted into a prop car for a local High School production of Grease.

Australian roads are not kind to wildlife, and the sides of the roads were littered with roadkill in places, mostly Kangaroos which come onto the road at night, seem to get confused about oncoming headlights and often jump in front of your vehicle at the last moment. It’s the reason that all trucks have massive “bull-bars” up front, and it’s a brave person who drives a car out in the country at night. People do though, and we passed several wrecks on the side of the road, some in a really awful state after rolling.

Kangaroos generally sleep during daylight hours, so it’s rare to see them moving around. Emus are different though, they graze along the roadsides constantly, and we had been seeing them in ones or twos occasionally most of the way home. That is until we came across this Mob (that is the correct name for a collection of Emus!) who initially tried to race us along the highway, and then dashed across the road between us and an oncoming truck.

I’d never seen so many in one place before, but soon they had all made it across the road OK and we could get back up to cruising speed.

We soon crossed the Border fruit quarantine station (it is illegal to bring fresh fruit into South Australia) and passed through some pretty towns like Pinaroo, Lamaroo, Mallee, and Walpeup, watching out for trains at crossings which sometimes had warning lights, sometimes didn’t. Another good reason not to drive at night! You can be right on top of a train before you even see it. We did get to sit for about 10 minutes watching a freight train shunting backwards and forwards across the road, but otherwise it was an uneventful trip from here on (bad drivers on the Freeway excepted).

I love travelling, but it’s always good to get back home after being away, and this was no different. As we drove closer and the roads and places became more familiar there was a definite atmosphere of relaxation and contentment. The long road to home

And our Road Trip was done. We’d arrived home about an hour ahead of schedule and received a very warm welcome at Golden Retriever Central! Now I just had to work through the several thousand photos and start writing it all up!

If you want to see the Museum photographs, check out the page linked below!

Car Museums Page  

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