MGCC of QLD., Inc. Capricorn Chapter.
Run Report; FAR NORTH QUEENSLAND RUN 2023
7 August - 16 August
By Jim Armstrong
Photos by Phil Henry, Sandra Armstrong, Bill Heraghty & Jim Armstrong
Early morning Monday and the traffic was buzzing between Yeppoon and Rockhampton especially around the Silos in Parkhurst where our tour group were to meet and depart.
The cars, all nineteen of them, looked absolutely magnificent parked in a row in front of the bright green painted silos adorning a message to the government to Start the Ring Road in Rocky. Jo Emmert came to wish us well and take a few photos. The local press was present (courtesy of our Media Liaison officer Phil Henry) and interviewed yours truly and took photos for our local paper CQ Today. I must apologise here to the other Chapters of the MGCC of Qld as I was slightly misquoted. What I actually said to the interviewer was “we are an active chapter” but I am sure you will understand. See attached article.
After our initial introductions by Gordon Kelsey (our appointed Tour Leader and Tour Coordinator) and safety talk by myself, the group was divided into two smaller groups, group 1 being led by Gordon and group 2 by me with a five-minute break between the two parties. Group 1 headed off first stop Marlborough for comfort and fuel stop. Group2 followed five minutes later. All good to Marlborough, next stop Waverly Creek (group1) and Clareview (group 2).
Still all good or so we thought, Wayne and Megan zoomed past in their bright red MGA while we were stopped. Group 2 were lucky enough to be able to purchase fresh home-made scones with jam and cream at their stop in Clareview.
Then it was off to Sarina for lunch at the sugar shed. We arrived a little late but that did not faze the volunteers working at the Sugar Shed.
The meal at the Sugar Shed was delightful and very fresh. The service was quick and pleasant. After lunch we were treated to a tour of the Mills’ sugar processing procedures. Very informative and covered the history form the bygone days as well. There was another tour, this time of the rum distillery, however only about half of our combined group elected to do this tour.
Now off to Mackay to our motel, the Windmill on the Northern side of Mackay. Happy Hour saw most of us gather in the area beside the pool for our first get together. Well, most of us, Jack Cowie reported an electrical problem with their car and no sign of Wayne and Megan and we were unable to contact them. Jack’s problem turned out to be some faulty wiring, but it was noticed that his serpentine belt was about to come off. It was decided to change the belt first thing in morning as the engine was hot and the belt is in in a confined space after an air conditioner was fitted especially for this journey.
Dinner bell rang and into the restaurant we went. Unfortunately, the chef got called away (urgent family matter) in the middle of preparing our meals, so the Manager stepped in and took over. Despite a delay she did an excellent job in catering for us all.
As we were leaving the restaurant at around 9:30pm, flashing amber lights alerted us to Wayne and Megans MGA being delivered on the back of a tilt tray. Apparently, they were stranded in Sarina with numerous electrical issues that the young RACQ man couldn’t fathom. Gary Kunst checked it out and had diagnosed the major problem before retiring to bed. The pig tail leads to the points and condenser had broken. The battery had gone flat and so was left to charge overnight.
Everybody carries a battery charger, right? Well Wayne does.
That ended Day 1, nine more to go!
Day 2 saw an early start for Gary Kunst to work on Wayne and Megans car and myself and Bill Heraghty to work on Rae and Jacks car. Believe it or not Mackay was quite chilly at 6 o’clock in the morning. As the Sun rose gradually into the sky, most of our group took off on a walk to the nearby Kerb Café for coffee and a bite to eat. By the time they had returned Gary had Wayne and Megans’s car running with the normal onlookers help and Bill and I had Rae and Jacks car ready to go also with the help of curious onlookers.
Our Media Liaison Officer, Phil Henry had arranged for the local 7news team to come to see us all which resulted in a very interesting interview of Gordon and Myself which was beamed up and down the east coast of Queensland that night highlighting our glorious cars.
At our daily safety and run briefing we bade farewell to Robbie and Gary Galloway who had always planned to travel only to Mackay as they had family commitments to meet on the weekend end. However, were joined by Whitsunday Chapter representative, Rogue Verde (Rodger) with his immaculate MG RV8 who came with us to Proserpine.
On our departure, given the Media were filming us leave we did not break into two groups which must have looked impressive as we drove up the highway to some but attracted some grumbling over the two-way by transport drivers. We stopped at the huge coffee shop and rare bird aviary just north of Proserpine before heading north to Bowen this time in our two-group configuration.
We stopped for lunch at the Horseshoe Café at Bowen’s Horseshoe Bay. It was quite packed as there were a lot of American service men there because of multinational military exercises being carried out in the Coral Sea which also would account for the huge number of Army vehicles we encountered along the Bruce Highway.
Despite the crowded café, the meals were good and the service quick, that is except for Brian Russel who was still waiting on his meal when we were about to leave. His meal came out and Brian hurriedly consumed it in enough time before Gordons talk on the activities we could expect in Townsville which was a free night.
The trip from Bowen to Townsville was relatively trouble free however Barry Lutwyche and Jan Burkes’ MGB who somehow got ahead of the pack was parked in cleared area to the entrance of a country house. Unfortunately, we didn’t see them until we had gone past, but a quick phone confirmed they were ok and they had experienced a problem with their bonnet. A local good Samaritan had stopped and helped them get underway again. On arrival to the outskirts of Townsville the traffic had intensified however we all seemed to find our Motel which was conveniently located in the centre of the Strand precinct, a very nice three story place well decorated with secure parking but the hot water was not working, so we had to do with a cold shower or none at all.
Happy hour was held in the pool area but as it was a free night most people had dispersed to their elected eating houses which are plentiful along the busy strand.
Days 3, 4 and 5 - Townsville to Cairns
We awoke to a beautiful North Queensland day with the locals out and about running and walking and using the exercise equipment placed on the Strand by the local Council with the majestic bay and Magnetic Island in the background.
Our group of travellers gathered as planned at 8:00am and it was decided that given on day 1 and day 2 we were falling behind on our schedule, the excursion to Wallaman Falls would be optional as it added some 2-3hrs to our day trip time. Then splitting into two groups again and heading off further north. Gordon had relegated the lead of group 1 to Garry Kunst and 5 minutes later group 2 waved goodbye to our lodgings in Townville with me in the lead.
First stop was Ingham where group 1 stopped at a local park on the way into town for smoko and Group 2 stopped at a park in the main Street of Ingham. Two of our group, Wayne and Megan and Barry and Jan opted to go to the falls whilst remainder travelled on.
We paused for a while to take in the vista of Hinchinbrook channel before continuing to Tully for lunch. Here most took the time to explore the main street before having lunch at the very busy bakery. Of course, we did the mandatory tourist thing and climbed the Big Gumboot and a had a group photoshoot before heading off to Cairns.
On our arrival to Cairns, the skies had darkened with the threat of rain but it held off until we were settled into our digs for the night. Happy hour was an impromptu affair held outside the motel’s laundry. Dinner on the other hand was somewhat confusing as the motel’s restaurant which was one of Cairns most favoured Chinese Restaurant was completely booked out until around 8:00pm so some stayed whilst others strolled down to the esplanade which was extremely busy.
Those who stayed commented on how good the restaurant really was. All good so far or so we thought. Apparently, Wayne and Megan who I might add are both electricians experienced more trouble with controlling their electrons to the fuel pump of their bright red MGA. We experienced heavy rain though the night.
Next day, Day 4, was a free day and so our group went all different ways. Some elected to travel the Sky Rail and the train to Kuranda, others decided to take a drive to various parts of the countryside, others visited relatives while others went shopping.
Gordon and Phil took the time to visit the military museum which was by all accounts was very well stocked and had some very interesting display and equipment.
On my arrival back to the Motel where happy Hour was again in full swing, as I was parking the GTV8, the left-hand flexible brake hose burst. Luckily for me Gary had a brand new one in the boot of his car. Who carries brake hoses? Gary did thank goodness.
Dinner that evening was more organised and we all settled in for a hearty feed of excellently prepared Chinese.
Day 5 - Cairns to Yungaburra vis Pt Douglas and Mt Molloy
More heavy rain fell through the night. However, an early start for a couple of us changing the brake hose and bleeding my brakes while Wayne had amassed a crew to change yet another fuel pump on his car. I am assuming the problem was electrical as at one point no less than five electricians all from our group had the head in and around Wayne and Megans car with their meters at the ready.
Meanwhile another patron of the motel whilst backing out her Toyota Corolla hit Gordons newly restored and beautiful E Type Jaguar. Gordon was not present (away getting his early morning coffee fix with Phil), however there was enough of our group present and confronted the driver who vehemently denied it. Their number plate was photographed and at least six people witnessed the incident. On Gordons return, he inspected his car and found no visible damage. It must have hit the bumper bar of the Jag which was more than a match for the plastic bumper of the offending car.
All cars right to go, Gordon held his daily meeting highlighting the day events. Us usual, Group 1 headed off with Gary in the lead followed by group 2 five minutes later. Up the magnificent scenery of the Cook Highway overlooking the glorious Coral Sea we went stopping at various lookouts along the way.
At one of the lookouts, a group of hand gliding enthusiasts were preparing their hand gliders for take-off. One our group Ewan Sutherland, himself a light aircraft pilot took particular interest in the activities, so much so the remainder of us thought he was going to take one for a spin. But no, it didn’t work out that way and we were soon on our way again.
Next stop was Pt Douglas where most patronised the Tin Shed Restaurant overlooking picturesque white sand, a mouth of a creek spilling into the Coral Sea and the Pt Douglas Marina. The restaurant was busy, but we enjoyed a quickly served wholesome lunch. Then on the road once more heading toward Mossman but turning left to Mt Molloy. The road to Mt Molloy was excellent MG and sports car territory. Up a range with very twisty bends, up and up to the top we went and all good or so we thought!! Low and behold, Wayne and Megan who were travelling with first group had pulled off to the side of the road, the volts, amps and ohms having another domestic resulting in yet another fuel pump failure. Out come the tools again. Another fuel pump change. We got Wayne and Megan’s car going once more and took off to Yungaburra.
On reaching Mareeba, rain started to fall. We said goodbye to our Brisbane friends, Beth and Bill Heraghty here as they were staying with Bill’s sister for a couple of days whilst the rest of the group explored the country around Yungaburra. The rain continued to fall until re arrived at our respective Motels at Yungaburra. Happy hour was held at the Curtain Fig Motel a pretty boutique style nestled in the heart of the quaint township of Yungaburra.
That evening we as a group dined at Nicks Place a very well patronised Italian Restaurant just a stones throw from our motels. Again, a very busy place. The décor was equally striking with its Italian Alps style. The genuine Italian food was even more amazing and larger helpings than most of us could handle.
Days 6, 7 and 8
Day 6 - Yungaburra and surrounds
Drizzling rain greeted us this morning, however that did not deter our group from the day’s activities. Early morning stroll up the road for some brekky at the Whistlestop Café for coffee and maybe bacon and eggs for others.
Gordon at Phil called us to order at 8:30am for our morning briefing. Local attractions were highlighted but we were to meet at Lake Echam at 11:00am. Just down the road from our motels was a platypus viewing platform where we witnessed a young platypus playing in the pond. For most this was the first time a platypus had been seen in the wild. Then on to the Curtain fig tree a little way down the road. The dense rain forest still dripping from the rain, opened to where this very old fig tree was standing which was host to a huge strangler fig. Very impressive. Then on to Mt Hypipamee Crater Lake however the sign there was a bit misleading stating that it was an 800mtr walk to the lake. As time was marching on and we had to be at Lake Echam to catch our booked 12:00 noon boat ride on Lake Barrine, most elected not to do the walk but to continue to Lake Echam to our meeting place.
On to Lake Barrine where Gordon had organized to park near the shore of the lake for photos. A local who had heard we were in the area turned up in his beautiful British Racing Green Triumph TR3. He explained that they lived close by and that this was his closest coffee house.
Soon we were on board our cruise boat discovering the wilderness that surrounded this volcanic formed lake. As we cruised around three enormous amethyst pythons were stunning themselves, well, one was and the other two were enjoying each other’s company. The boat skipper called out for Harry about three or four times over the loudspeaker explaining that Harry was her husband and that she had left him here four days ago. Harry didn’t appear so we moved on. The lady skipper explained that this time of the year the water in the lake turns upside down due to the hotter water below rising. This gives the water a murky appearance as apparently in summer the water is crystal clear.
Our boat ride was soon over and it was up into the Tea House for lunch. Whilst we were waiting, our own multi-talented Phil henry treated us all to classical rendition of a tune on the Tea House piano. Well done, Phil!
After lunch it was off to Lake Tinaroo to pay respect to our fallen troops in the Afghanistan conflict. The “Walk of Honour” is a very moving memorial to those who gave the supreme sacrifice. It was not long before many residents joined us relishing in looking at our spectacular cars parked in a row alongside the “Walk of Honour”.
After some time our group dispatched with most returning to their respective Motels while others took advantage of more local attractions like the Giant Tinaroo Dam.
Happy hour once again and we gathered under the Sail covering the barbeque area of the Curtain Fig Motel. Most decided to eat at the Yungaburra Pub just a short stroll up the road. The pub was a well refurbished country pub and as we were prebooked were given an area to ourselves. After a few noggins, Phil once again tickled the ivories and our group had a hearty sing along. But the highlight of the evening watch watching the Matildas defeat France in the FIFA Women’s World Cup. Well done girls!
After a very busy day we all retired to our lodgings for the night.
Day 7 - Yungaburra- Herberton-Mt Surprise.
At last clear skies.
Roll call at 8:00am. After our normal briefing and a warning that we were about to enter road train country, we again split into two groups before heading off towards Herberton where we were booked in to visit the Historical Village. On Arrival, a designated area was reserved for our parking and we were welcomed to the Village by a lady volunteer who explained what was where and points of interest.
The village is very large and well spread out. Cars of yesteryear, old shops and the wares they sold, old clothes and sewing apparel, working blacksmith shop, bakeries, Butcher shop, service stations, crawler tractors, John Deere tractor shed, old sawmills etc..
It would be easy to spend a day or even two just looking at all the displays. They even had a working steam train that they had restored themselves using 100o/o volunteer labour that took 80k plus hours. Some took advantage of the train ride along a short rail line to their most impressive rail workshop
Day 7 - Yungaburra- Herberton-Mt Surprise. (cont.)
At last clear skies.It was explained that the Village owns the rail line back as far as Atherton and it is their ambition to restore the line but need to raise some 6M to 8M dollars to do so.
Lunch was at the Village Café and here we were met by several members of the Far North Qld MGCC Chapter who chapter Coordinator John Fransen had organized to come out from Cairns on an impromptu run to catch up with us. This highlights the comradery of MG owners throughout the State.
Lunch over it was time to travel out to Mt Surprise for our next overnight stop. Here we also bade goodbye to Brian and Glennis as they had made alternative travel arrangements.
Now you would expect that out here that is very isolated that the roads would be narrow and in disrepair but in fact the opposite is true. The roads were wide smooth at appeared quite new so the trip out through Mt Garnett and on to Mt surprise was very comfortable and event free. The countryside was still nice and green from the recent rain and so no kangaroos or wallabies were encountered. There were a few stray cattle on the side of the road, but they seemed to be traffic conscience and so behaved themselves.
Mt Surprise is aptly named at it is a little oasis in the middle of nowhere. We had arrived in the true outback. The caravan park where we were booked in to though was very pleasant and the cabins were very comfortable, however we were warned not to drink the water as the potable treatment plant had broken down. None the less this did not stop the Happy Hour and later a delicious home style cooked roast meal in the parks’ community kitchen by the host was plentiful and enjoyable.
After our meal a few gathered for post dinner drinks but did not stay long as most were exhausted from a tiring but enjoyable day. Credit to you both Gordon and Phil.
Day 8 - Mt Surprise to Charters Towers.
Today again, a very pleasant and cool day. We were once again faced with choices. Visit the Lava Tubes at Undara or travel through the Charters Towers stopping at Greenvale for lunch.
A few elected to go to Undara which meant an early morning start whilst most elected to drive straight through to Charters Towers. The group travelling to Charters Towers once again divided into two groups with Gary leading and me the other. During the briefing Gary didn’t quite burst int song but did recite the first verse of Slim Dustys’ “Three Rivers Hotel”.
So off we go once more, the road just as good as the day before and we made good time to Greenvale for lunch. Greenvale is a little ex Mining Town established in the late 1970’s early 1980’s. The Nickel Mine it was built for has now closed but instead of bulldozing the town it was sold off very reasonably and is now a very well maintained tidy town. The pub where we had lunch was named the three River Hotel as in Slims’ song and had a huge rendition of the song sign written on one wall absolutely a must have backdrop for Slim Dusty and Stan McCoster fans. Lunch was quickly served and soon we were off once more although Trevor Andersen’s SP250’s gearbox had developed some strange noises so he, Phil Henry and Barry and Jan decided travel at a more moderate pace and left earlier than the rest of us.
Still good roads and we made good time to Charters Towers without any issues. The first thing we noticed on arrival at the Towers was an unusually big cemetery which we later learned was a result from the activities during WW11.
After settling into our respective Motel rooms, Phil Henry had planned for the Mayor of Charters Towers, Councilor Frank Beverage to meet and address us on the hilltop of Towers Hill. Frank (the Mayor) was a very interesting person and was obviously beaming with enthusiasm toward his community. He spoke proudly of the fact that his father had preceded him as mayor too. He answered many of our questions and Phil, through some investigative work, had found out it was in fact Frank’s Birthday. Phil then led us all in signing Happy Birthday to him. Frank also pointed out a few other places of interest so we set off to see as many as we could before sunset.
In the meantime, back at the motel, Wayne was changing yet another fuel pump. In the course of his work, the motelier was speaking to Wayne and offered for us to use the motels barbeque area for dinner. Wayne quickly phoned around and in no time had organized what many refer to as the best dinner of the trip. The lighting was poor, but a couple other residents (young tradesmen) offered their portable floodlight. We accepted on the proviso they join us which they did. And so ended another busy day.
Day 9 - Charters Towers – Emerald
An early morning start saw a beautiful clear fresh North Queensland winters day in Charters Towers. Some elected to head downtown for coffee whilst others enjoyed a hearty breakfast. The usual drivers’ briefing was held and once again the group divided in two. As Lyle and Pat and Kev and Yvonne were leaving us today goodbyes were said.
The road we travelled was the Belyando Development Road and again it was a good wide road, that is, until we came to the Belyando Crossing roadhouse where the road narrowed considerably.
We stopped at the Belyando Roadhouse for morning tea and to top up with petrol for those who needed it. No 98 RON here only diesel and 91 RON petrol of which there was only one bowser. John Newton inadvertently put about 10litres of diesel in his Jaguar E type before realizing. Oh no we all thought, but John calmly then filled his tank with 91. Guess what, the Jag ran perfectly fine with this concoction!
This is a very isolated place and you would expect prices to be a little higher, but Clem Hill couldn’t believe his ears when he was charged $21 for a pie and two sausage rolls!
Group 1 then headed off and shortly after group 2 followed. Next stop was Clermont for lunch. The bakery was well patronized by us all and lunch was in the park. Then it was off to Emerald, our final overnight stay. The motel in Emerald was probably the most spacious and well organized that we encountered for the whole trip. Soon we were all again enjoying our last Happy Hour.
Gordon and Phil were each presented with a bottle of Glenfiddich Malt Whisky and a card as a token of appreciation by their fellow travelers. Jan Burke also presented Gordon with a bottle of MG labelled red wine also in appreciation. Gordon also handed over his “come here and pay attention hooter” to me to be handed to the next long run organizer in 2025.
Dinner that evening was at the Star Hotel, which is noted for its evening meals. Tonight was the last of our overnight stays and the end of an excellent trip as a group.
This morning Bill and Beth Heraghty headed off early for their trip home to Brisbane. Trevor Andersen did the same, still concerned about the noises coming from his gearbox in his Daimler SP250. Sue and Ray along with Jan and Barry also headed for their long drive home taking a different route than Bill and Beth.
The rest of us took off at our own leisure with Warrick and Juliana (our NZ friends) electing to stay another night in Emerald. Smoko was at Duringa and it was arranged to stop at Westwood (a local pub frequented often after our Capricorn Chapter runs out west) for a final goodbye beverage. Rae and Jack elected to continue on. Just as we were leaving, my phone rang and the conversation went something like this. “Jim, it’s Rae. Our car has just stopped.” ” Where are you?”
“Just outside Gracemere.” “Ok will be there shortly”. Gary was the first to arrive and found that the battery was dead flat and suspected that the alternator had failed. So near and yet so far. On my arrival, I told the others to go as it was so near to home and everybody was by now itching to get home. Nothing much we could do, so Rae called the good old RACQ to finish their journey home on the back of a tilt tray truck. At this point it should be mentioned that Rae drove the total tour of some 3,500klms and that she and Jack were tail end Charlie most of the time carrying our defibrillator and our first aid kit which was, thankfully, not needed. Thank you, Rae and Jack.
That ended our 3,500klm (approx.) 2023 Long Run which was so well organized by Gordon and Phil and the cumulation of about 10months work by them both.
Thank you on behalf of all participants.
Those in Attendance were:
Gordon Kelsey. Series 1 2+2 E Type Jaguar
Phil Henry. MGTF 2004 anniversary Model
Wayne Kirwan and Megan Perritt. (Gympie) MGA
John and Gail Newton. Series 2 2+2 E Type Jaguar
Gary and Julie Kunst. MGB
Bill and Beth Heraghty. (Brisbane) MGA Coupe
Clem and Jean Hill. (Biloela)Mazda MX5
Brian and Glennis Russell. ( Biloela) MGB
Paul and Jo Anne Davey. MGB
Barry Lutwyche and Jan Burke. (Brisbane) MGB
Lyle and Pat Fielding. Audi TT
Trevor Andersen. Daimler SP250
Ewan and Merith Sutherland. BMW Z3
Jack and Rae Cowie. MGB GT
Warrick and Julianna Protheroe. (NZ) MGB
Ray Edwards and Sue Sommers. ( Brisbane) MGB
Kev and Yvonne Carr. BMW Z3
Gary and Robbie Galloway. MGB (to Mackay only)
Sandra and Myself. MGB GT V8
For Sale now in Classifieds