by John Jennings:
Tuesday’s ride through the Ferguson Valley east of Donnybrook saw those who came prepared with a Velo gnome create our own Club headquarters at Gnomesville, a miniature town set in a glade by a large roundabout in the middle of nowhere. The original gnome inhabitants were placed as part of a fund raising drive around WA in 2003 and since then various Clubs and families have visited and left their gnomes to create a rambling gnome community. During our pilgrimage we were fortunate to have a full sized gnome in the form of Trevor Cason, who dressed accordingly and ushered the family of Velo gnomes to their new home. The following lunch stop at the Wild Bull Brewery with its spectacular mountain top views was well received by the riders.
Friday’s ride to Augusta gave the opportunity to visit the place where two of the great oceans meet. This popular, wind-blown spot below the Cape Leeuwin Lighthouse marks the boundary between the Indian Ocean to the west and the Great Southern Ocean to the east. Apparently this is one of only four such points on earth, so it was well worth the walk down from the car park. A nearby rock cairn turned out to have a direct and poignant Velocette link. South Australian based entrant Keith Milich’s brother was one of 10 sailors on the night watch washed overboard from HMAS Nizam on a stormy night in February 1945. The Nizam was hit by a freak wave while passing 11 miles off Cape Leeuwin. The sailors’ bodies were never recovered.
Saturday provided the opportunity for another display, this time in the nearby town of Manjimup, regional base for the Royal Flying Doctor Service. This was our chosen charity for the TT Rally so the local townsfolk gave generously as we roamed the streets rattling our tins for the cause. Many a motorcyclist has been grateful for the Flying Doctor when things go wrong while travelling on two wheels in remote parts. The presentation dinner on Saturday night saw Hall Green turn into our equivalent of an Irish pub, when local folk singer John Wilson (whose father owned 3 Velocettes and was a personal friend of Stanley Woods) was joined on stage by our own Velo-riding, banjo-playing maestro, Dennis Quinlan. It rapidly developed into a sing-along that saw the crowd party on into the early hours, singing badly to old standards and doing the Hall Green boogie in the aisles. Nights like that can’t be planned – they just happen. And when they do it becomes a very special memory for those who were there.
I’d like to think that 25 or 30 years down the track, I’ll be doing an Uncle Ted, still riding a Velo and telling Tall Tales to my mates over a beer or two at some future TT Rally. Roll on October 2010 where we will do it all over again at Lennox Head NSW.