Len and I needed no excuse to leave Victoria for a break and after an invitation and conversations with Jim and Virginia about the Presidents Weekend at Wallerawang NSW from 12th -14th March, we decided to leave on Tuesday 9th and spend a few days at their new home address at Yerrinbool, which they had only moved into weeks before. The Buick had a service, some new shoes, a wash, it was ready to put kilometres on the clock.  We left home heading to Gundagai  our usual stopover to break the 7 hour trip. We fuelled up at Tallarook at $1.59 which was not surprising as fuel is expensive everywhere at the moment.  We then decided to stop at Wodonga for lunch and then went onto Gundagai arriving around 3.30pm booking into our favourite motel. We took a drive around the town, upset to see so many shops closed due to the pandemic, the small regional towns are doing it very tough. Took a photo outside The Gundagai Theatre which is in the process of restoration, thank goodness, as it is a beautiful old  building and town people are trying to keep their heritage alive.

Next morning Wednesday 10th on the road again only stopping at Goulburn for a bite to eat, we have about one and half hour’s drive to Jim and Virginia’s and, when we arrive, Phil and Margaret Smith are behind us and are going to stay as well. We chat on and wait for Virginia to get home from work, then having a lovely dinner that Jim has prepared.

The next morning being Thursday 11th, Virginia has to go to work and Jim is going to do some jobs around the new abode. Us four decide to go in Phil’s 1947 Super Sedan for a scenic drive into Bowral.  This is a lovely older town and we enjoy a nice lunch together and take a look around the huge indoor market called “Dirty Janes” who knows why!!,  but there are more than 100 stalls with lots of goodies.  We do a shop for dinner and have a relaxing drive back to Yerrinbool. After dinner, we pack and get ready for the journey the next morning to Wallerawang.

Friday 12th we are up early and leave after a photo of the 1947, 1948 and 1980 Buicks out the front of Jim and Virginia’s.  We have a leisurely drive through Bargo, Mulgoa and then onto Glenmore Park to meet the other Buick members. From there we drive in convoy through and past Faulconbridge, Woodford, Hazelbrook, Wentworth Falls, Katoomba, Victoria Pass and other tiny towns. We meet more members at Lithgow to do our tour through Eskbank House, an old colonial homestead where we are organised to have lunch.  However, the weather is not good for outside dining so alternative arrangements are made and we drive onto the Small Arms Factory, Blast Furnace Park and the Lithgow State Mine Heritage Park. Lithgow has a long strong history as a successful mining area and the many heritage sites are preserved and carefully maintained by the local supporters and volunteers. We have our lunch in the mess hall of the Small Arms Factory while one of the locals gives us a talk about Lithgow and the surrounding area.

It is time to move on and after a nice drive we arrive around 3.30pm at our accommodation for the weekend, Black Gold Motel. This was once the local school and has been made into a motel. It is a huge complex and our accommodation has four bedrooms and is fully self-contained. We are sharing with Jim and Virginia and Phil and Margaret…so good.   We unpack, relax and then get ready to be picked up by the shuttle bus taking us all to the Wallerawang Bowling Club for dinner. We all enjoy the good food, good company and return by bus later that evening. Chatting over a nightcap we flick on the TV to watch a little Netflix,  I think we are hooked on Bridgerton!!!!

Saturday 13th 9a.m, we all drive at Portland to visit the township via Pipers Flat. We visit the Glen Museum and have a guided tour of  “The Foundations”, a developing historical site which is at the old  cement works which has amazing silo murals.  Our tour guide is 84 years young and worked at this site for most of his early life and now volunteers to proudly show visitors his town. He has been painted on one of the silos. At 12 midday we leave Portland driving through Sunny Corner along the Diamond Swamp Road towards the Tarana Hotel where we are having our lunch today. It’s a country style pub and we sit out on the deck overlooking the hills and beautiful countryside. After lunch we head back approximately 72 kms to Wallerawang.

This evening we have pre dinner drinks in the lounge area of Black Gold Motel before our 6.30pm dinner in the restaurant. There are special surprises tonight, a quiz and a talent quest!!!  We enjoy a great meal, good company and then it’s time for the entertainment.   Paul White played his guitar and very well. Peter Panich recited a poetry piece about a racehorse and the jockey, it was very moving.  Keith Packham told a lot of excellent jokes. John and Maggie Saddington sang a song they had arranged about  our Buicks.  Colin Castle is now a magician and you have to see with your own eyes how he performs such a difficult trick. Wendy and Claus sang a song and were hilarious especially with the actions.  Frank Sinatra joined us for a song ,and took the Winners Award!!!   We retire after a wonderful night of fun with good friends.

Earlier that afternoon, Helen Stewart organised on the grounds beside our motel a photo of all the cars that had participated on the run, what a line-up of beautiful Buicks.

Sunday 14th we say goodbye to the Buick members heading home but we six are going to stay on for another night. We walk into town and have a coffee and cake on the platform of the railway station which has the cute little café. We take a look around the town and shops and go back to our accommodation to relax for the afternoon. We go to the restaurant for dinner and chat to the owner and his wife, Paul and Linda, who have been renovating this old school for many years. They thank us for having the weekend with them and putting much needed funds into the area.

Monday 15th we have to say goodbye to Jim and Virginia as they are heading back home and we will travel south with Phil and Margaret till they branch off for Canberra where they live. The four of us decide to go into a tiny historical town Carcoar and have morning tea.  From here, we go onto Cowra passing  through Mandurama and Lyndhurst. We ring a friend in Cowra and call in to see him, check out his collection…a rusty 1950 Dodge, ZH Fairlane,1955 Mainline Ute and Valiant Panel Van, also heaps of memorabilia. Craig is Aboriginal, loves all cars and has owned his home in Cowra for 30 years, a lovely man.  We leave there and drive through Kootawatha and Young and stop at Cootamundra for fuel, on past Coolac and into Gundagai at 3.45pm……our motel is booked out so we drive onto Holbrook where, while on the road, I booked a room. We take a drive around the town and decide to have dinner at the local pub. There is a couple from Byron Bay staying in the same motel driving a very nice red convertible Thunderbird having dinner at the pub too.  Tuesday 16th we head to Yackandandah to have a look around this trendy old town. No sooner pull up when a couple on a motor bike travelling around decide to chat about the Buick, they come from Leongatha.  One word leads to another and I ask, do you know Edwin Wright, Len’s brother, What!!!  He drove the school bus everyday that our kids caught,  many years ago of course as Len’s brother just turned 90 years young!! It’s a small world!!   We finally get on the road again and call into Beechworth to check out an old service station which has an old tow truck, RACV panel van and lots more memorabilia too. A gentleman walks up checking out the Buick, says he has a Cadillac, and asks if we know John Bergen!! The world just got smaller again.

Fuel stop at Violet town $1.26…fill her up!!! We are doing well getting down the highway till “Ring Road Incident” and get held up for about an hour. The freeway is gridlocked, the Buick is not happy, she starts to boil. We manage to get off and into a service station, the guys there in the car wash section were amazing, brought over heaps of water and finally cooled the car down. As we are ready to drive out he brings over bottles of cold water for us and says bring the Buick back another day and he will gladly wash it “for free”!!

We finally drive into 50 Lorimer Street, Docklands at 5.30pm exhausted, but still have unpacking to do!! I think we will sleep well tonight!!!

Len and I would like to thank Peter and Margaret for organising a fabulous President’s Weekend and the hospitality from everyone in the club that made us so welcome and our hosts Jim and Virginia.   Thank you all we had lots of fun.

Len & Fran