The Buick Car Club of Australia was founded in Melbourne in 1967 and since then separate clubs have been established in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia with well over 600 members between the four clubs. In April 1977, the Victorian and New South Wales clubs got together to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the formation of the Buick Car Club of Australia. Further interstate trips occurred over the ensuing years, but it was not until 14 years later that a NATIONAL MEET was held where Buick owners from all over Australia were invited to gather together.

In 1991 the very first National Meet was held in Dubbo, NSW. The event was organised and hosted by the NSW club and with well over 100 cars attending, it was deemed a great success. Since that inaugural event, National Meets have been held in Bribie Island (Qld) in 1993, Ballarat (Vic) in 1995, Bathurst (NSW) in 1997, Toowoomba (Qld) in 1999, and Launceston (Tas – hosted by the Victorian Club) in 2002.

In 2004 it was Western Australia’s turn to host the National Meet. It was decided to incorporate a south west tour that would enable visiting members from states all around Australia to see as much of that area as possible. A pre-National Meet tour of Kalgoorlie/Boulder (in the goldfields) was held to welcome members driving across Australia.

WA National Rally, 2004 – Eric and Margaret North recount their adventures and invite you to enjoy the pictures

By Eric & Margaret North

Our Buick was delivered to TNT Transport at Villawood on Mon 30th Aug and despatched in a container, by train to Perth, it arrived there on 3rd Sept. We flew to Perth on Thurs 9th and the Buick was waiting for us at the motel, a friend who had arrived a day earlier had collected the car for us. A welcome for the interstate visitors had been arranged at the motel on the Thursday night, but because we had to take a late flight that was almost over by the time we arrived at the Motel.

Friday was registration at Burswood Park near the Casino, but the Buick decided not to start, the battery was flat, apparently the accessory switch had been left on and because the battery was some years old, it was decided that a new battery was the order of the day. The car was jump started and we called into REPCO on the way to park and bought a new battery, fitted it in their car park and still arrived at registration on time. After a “cuppa” it was off to W.A. member Les Woodruff’s “House of Buick” for lunch.

Les and June Woodruff own a magnificent property at Bedfordale south of Perth, it is called Mandalay and has a lovely garden, an ornamental pond, I believe stocked with trout, and of course the “shed” or “House of Buick”. Les has collected many Buicks over the years and has some 24 Buicks displayed here. The latest acquisition is a 1959 Invicta convertible and it also contains a 1953 Skylark, a 1936 Convertible Sedan (phaeton), 1939 Convertible Coupe and many other desirable Buicks. He also has two Diamond Trucks and has just finished restoring a 1956 Ford F500 truck which he bought new to use on his farm.

After a delicious roast lunch around the pool (above) we were sent back to Perth via the ‘scenic route’ through Karragullen, Canning Mills and Kalamunda. It really was a scenic route too, through timbered and grazing country, it was a real treat to see everything so green after our drought conditions here on the East Coast. A cocktail party was arranged at the motel for the evening.

Saturday we again assembled at Burswood Park and then to King’s Park for morning tea. Kings Park is a magnificent area just out of the Perth C.B.D. The gardens, fountains, treetop walk and the views of the Swan River are all really great, helped by good weather, which we had all weekend. Then we were sent on a tour of Perth’s elite suburbs along the Swan River and across to the beach at Cottesloe and down the beach area to Fremantle where the cars were displayed at the waterfront park. I believe the club had to get special permission for this display as cars are not normally allowed on the area. The public seemed to thoroughly enjoy the cars, something like 70 cars were displayed. We had the opportunity of looking at the attractions of historic Fremantle and of course the car museum.

The evening entertainment was a dinner cruise on the Swan River from Perth to Fremantle which was very enjoyable. Buses were arranged to take us from the Motel so the cars would not be left unattended at the wharf.

Sunday was the main day of the event and we all assembled at Guildford for a drive through the picturesque Swan Valley with it’s many wineries and places of interest to “crafty” types and on to Bullsbrook for morning tea. From there we did a loop into the foothills of the ranges, again with great scenery, some wildflowers were out and many of the orchards were in blossom. It really was a very pleasant drive for all of us except a member from Albany whose 1930 seized the fan and the fan belt caught fire. Fortunately there was little damage and he was able to get the car back to Perth. It was then on to Whiteman Park for the “Show & Shine” and the “People’s Choice” judging.

Whiteman Park is a huge public area to the North East of Perth and is set aside for recreation. The area where the cars were displayed was part of an area where there are steam train rides, tram rides, a tractor museum, a car museum, a pioneer village plus open playing and picnic areas, shelter shed and a kiosk. In all a really delightful area, there is no admission charge to the park but the volunteer run museums make a small charge. There were some 80 odd Buicks displayed at Whiteman Park ranging from 1918 to 1974. Buick members were asked to vote for their favourite cars in the 10 year blocks, 1940-49 etc plus an overall favourite. The overall winner was Colin Castle’s 1929 Master Roadster, and this car has only recently been put on the road after a full restoration.

The culmination of the weekend was the Presentation dinner at the Midland Sporting Club, again a bus transported us from the Motel to the Club. Part of the evening’s “entertainment” was identifying car parts which were left on each table. It?s amazing how different parts look when they are away from their normal environment and all clean and painted with silverfrost, but it was entertaining. The meal was great and the “formalities” didn’t take too long, so there was time to socialise and say good bye to the people who were not joining us on the tour.

In all it was a great time and as always it?s good to catch up with friends from all over the country. Three Buicks had driven from Queensland, two had driven from NSW and one was trailered, several were driven from Melbourne, but the majority of the interstate were transported, as ours was, by TNT. There was also quite a number of people who came without cars. Les Woodruff lent out a lot of his cars to these people for the weekend, a really nice gesture.

A tour of the south west of WA followed commencing on Tuesday 14th Sepr starting at Armadale and continuing on to Pinjara for morning tea and a viewing of a local museum. Following the morning tea stop and a quick look around the picturesque village, it was on to one of the more formal events of the tour, the dedication of the Buick Gnome at Gnomesville.

Gnomesville is at a roundabout in the middle of nowhere at a junction on Ferguson Road. Apparently the local council built the costly roundabout which the locals considered stupid, and to celebrate the stupidity they arranged Gnomes in the centre of the roundabout. However, the vandals did their thing and destroyed the Gnomes. This prompted the locals, through much publicity to restart the display alongside the roundabout. Since then many people and organisations have contributed Gnomes to the cause and the area has become known as Gnomesville. The dedication of the Buick Gnome was performed by Geoff Hender, President of the W.A. club, assisted by the gnome’s creator Cheryl McDermid, and a very dignified ceremony it was too.

After this inspiring ceremony we proceeded to Donnybrook for lunch, then on to Busselton where we would spend the next three nights. Wednesday morning we assembled at the Busselton beachfront and travelled south to Dunsborough and on to Cape Naturaliste. This was a pretty drive and there were many wildflowers out in the coastal regions. Unfortunately, we were not able to go up the lighthouse, but nevertheless we enjoyed the area, some of the holiday homes in this area are fabulous.

Then it was on to Yallingup for a picnic lunch near the sea, very pleasant but cold and windy. Yallingup is a famous surfing beach and there is a marked contrast in the population, the “surfies” and the obviously “well healed” whose weekenders overlook the beach. After lunch it was on to Canal Rocks a picturesque and interesting part the coastline, then back inland again to visit any number of local craft shops and galleries, and of course Simmo’s Ice Cream parlour.

Thursday we again assembled at the Busselton beachfront and had tram rides out along Busselton Jetty, which is about two kms long and is the longest wooden jetty in the southern hemisphere. It was a great day topped off by a whale swimming near the jetty and pod of dolphins playing nearby. After a healthy morning tea of scones, jam and cream, some went on a winery tour while others just enjoyed the peace and tranquility of the local area.

Some of us went to visit a local Buick Club member who is about to restore a couple of early 50s convertibles, I have to admit he has more “heart” than I have to attempt these projects.

Friday morning we again assembled at the Busselton waterfront for the short journey to Margaret River. There were however many local galleries and craft shops to visit, not to mention the tea shop and lolly shop at Cowaramup, the Cheese factory and the chocolate factory. Margaret River is the centre of a thriving grape growing area and wine industry and has a number of interesting shops in the main street as well as a visitor’s centre which has an interesting wine industry feature.

Saturday assembly was at the Margaret River Aquatic Centre and it was off to Augusta, there were a number of caves to visit along the way if you so desired. We first travelled to Prevelly where the Margaret River joins the Indian Ocean. Augusta is a pretty coastal and River town and we assembled for morning tea at the local bakery and were allowed to use the parking lot of the Catholic Church next door. The church itself is very impressive. It has a magnificent view of the river, and the building itself is very modern and the communion table is a huge piece of kauri. A trip to Cape leeuwin Lighthouse from here is worthwhile. Cape Leeuwin is where the Indian Ocean and the Southern Ocean meet.

Then on to Nannup for lunch, the slower cars bypassed Nannup on their way to the Karri Valley resort north of Pemberton. It was a pity if they missed Nannup as it is a quaint old town decorated by wooden flower pots with lovely displays of tulip in them and some interesting “junk” shops. Karri Valley Resort is an “upmarket” resort on an artificial lake, some of the accommodation is in motel type units built right on the edge of the lake and you can fish from the balcony. They said the lake was well stocked with trout. Other accommodation was hillside 2 or 3 bedroom chalets, all of which had views over the lake. They were nicely furnished and wood was provided for a fire, a nice touch if you could actually get the fire to light and keep going. A balcony is provided where you can sit and enjoy the view and share your eats with local parrots. There are some nice bush walks form the resort too.

On Sunday we went into Pemberton, a small town whose history is connected to the timber trade. The visitor’s centre has quite an interesting local museum. It is also the home of the “Gloucester Tree” a huge kauri which you can climb on spikes if the desire takes you. We had a forest “tram ride” on which the driver explained the local history and points of interest along the way. There is also a steam railway operating from Pemberton.

Monday we travelled via Northcliffe to Walpole on the south coast, an estuary boat cruise was organised there. This was an extremely entertaining couple of hours. The boat operator, a local all his life gave an interesting and entertaining commentary on the local history and land features. Then it was on to Denmark for the night. Tuesday it was only a short trip to Albany. Unfortunately we had rain most of the morning but the trip through the dairy country was still pretty, and the rest of the day was spent wandering around Albany, which is an interesting city on a magnificent bay, with waterfront facilities for grain and wood chip exports. There are some fine old buildings in the town and an interesting museum complex. Local members of the Buick Club organised a tour of the area on Wednesday morning, showing us the varied sights and points of interest. I’m sure we saw more than most tourists, due to this local knowledge.

The afternoon was a whale watching cruise. We saw three Southern Right whales, one coming extremely close to the boat, what a great experience. We also went close to the old whaling station on the other side of the bay. This non-operational whaling station is now a museum and we visited it on Thursday morning, a guided tour then films tell the story of the whaling station and this gruesome industry. It must have been a horrible place to work. One of the whale chaser boats is on display and can be inspected. On this trip we also visited the local wind farm and the Natural Bridge and The Gap. In the afternoon several of us visited a local who had restored an old wooden boat and fitted it with a steam engine from 1902 Locomobile car, the restoration was great but apparently the reliability is still to be sorted out. On the way back to town we visited a local club member who has some nice “Star” model Fords as well as a Buick.

The evening was the final dinner of the tour held at the Dog Rock Motel where we had been staying, there were no awards but thank you’s and farewells were made. It had been a very well organised tour and the W.A. club is to be congratulated.

On Friday we farewelled the people who were driving east and the rest of us headed north through the Porongurup National Park to Mt. Barker. What a pretty drive with many flowers out alongside the road, fields of Canola in full bloom and the Stirling Ranges in the background. Then on to Katanning and to Wagin for lunch. Wagin is a wool growing area and the town has some nice old buildings, in the Park at the northern end of town a huge concrete Merino has been built. Then onto Narrogin for the night.

Saturday we farewell others who lived south of Perth and we continued north through Beverley where we visited Barry Ferguson’s “Vintage Display”, a huge collection of all kinds of domestic, agricultural and industrial “junk”, a worthwhile hour or so. Then on to York for lunch by the river and of course a visit to the Motor Museum in the picturesque main street. Back to Perth in the afternoon. With the tour now all over we decided to go to Rottnest Island on Sunday, so we drove out to Fremantle and caught the ferry for the 30 minute, high speed trip to the island. The weather was fine but there was a fair wind blowing and the water was a little bumpy for the crossing. We had no idea what to expect of the island, but what a fascinating place. We had a bus tour around the island before exploring some of it on foot, it has had a really interesting and varied history and is very pretty. In all a very enjoyable day.

Monday was our last day in Perth and we decided to go back to Kings Park for a final look at this great area. Left the car there and got a free bus downtown where we spent the rest of the morning exploring some of the interesting old and new buildings like the Royal Mint and Bell Tower, before delivering the car back to TNT for its trip back home, and we flew out to Sydney later in the afternoon. We travelled just over 1350 miles in the time, the car performed splendidly all the trip and averaged 17.5 mpg. The car arrived back in Sydney two weeks later, filthy dirty and with a flat battery, but unscathed. A really enjoyable time.

Posted 12/2004