Day 19 Tue 3rd April
Bathurst to Penrith - distance 149 km
Today was very special as we progressed our way from Bathurst over the Beautiful Blues. Graham Donges and I were backup and waltzed into Lithgow and had arranged to meet with Craig Lamond driving Brush - entrant 2 to assist his "lovely lady" go over the hills without too much trouble. In the local park on Main Street our mobile workshop promptly took form again. Legs hanging out from under vehicles is a very common sight. I don't think they are taking cat naps. Andrew, Craig's brother is driving an Indian bike and after a drink and bite to eat he and his back up vehicle with drivers Steve and Hamish prepared for the back road less travelled via Hartley village. The usual Highway approach direct to Victoria Pass is too steep for us and under major road works. Way back 100 years ago this was the place were the bullocks and horses pulled many a stationary vehicle to the top @ the historical village of Mount Victoria.
Then Craig left and within minutes a call to say his front left tyre had rolled off and down the street. A quick change and on the road again. Still in Lithgow and his suspension snapped so we all rolled our wheels into a garage. Oh as we backed the trailer and something else broke that required a man to two to roll under the trailer a few times. So into welding both vehicles and yes we had all the gear and even the safety goggles or is it googles? Completed both welding jobs and anxiously proceeded. Then little Red Brush started shaking and Craig let his Red Brush know she is so cherished then her shakes soon soothed away. At a gentle pace and then moving at a strong pace Craig drove his "lovely lady" over the mountains and safely into Penrith.
For those who are counting, we had three repair and replace stops in Lithgow plus our trailer within a couple of hours. The men quietly worked away until the vehicles were ready to go, again go and then finally really GO YES GO!
Indeed our veteran vehicles are 100 years old and the roads are 100 times better.
Oh yes we were the very last entrants to arrive. So lots of cheering and Red Brush needed her nanny nap. I have a special fondness for Red Brush and Craig has invited me on occasions to motor with him, but certainly not today. Like him I am learning to listen to the symphony of good motor and the grinding squeak of bad motor. Even the style of exhaust fumes tells a caring owner how well his veteran is faring.
Our Expedition Family all enjoyed dinner and then our leader and man of vision Bob Lamond made presentations and gave trophies and Certificates of Achievement. Kal Birtles the nephew of Francis came to our dinner to share his memories of Francis the great overlander. We have enjoyed the company of descendants of Sid Ferguson and Frances Birtles travelling with us. They have flagged us off each morning and welcomed us at the finish every day. Also we have met the other Birtles family on the track near the Nulla. That was very special as we are honouring our forgotton heros Syd Ferguson, Francis Birtles and mascot Rex the dog.
This was the place where many family members and close friends came to greet their loved ones and prepare for the run tomorrow into Martin Place, Sydney. We were just west of Sydney. The evening sky was city style. The sounds of the night have changed and the feelings of "we are almost there, Sydney is our "FINISH". The was nervousness in the air. The FINISH and final run tomorrow.
This journey is very exciting I do not want it to end. Sleep seems a waste of time just now. Strangers have become friends. Our lives have been enriched by this experience. The welcome and support in the 18 overnight places we have stayed has been amazing. Faces of disinterest have been transformed by these "little things", "bicycles with motors" and other names given by truckies. It is fun to chat on two way with the truckies and tell them who we are and what we are doing. Most people we meet other then Veteran Club Members and motor vehicle fans have not ever seen such cute machines.
The wonder of the wheel invention and then the motor and later seats, then a moving vehicle was created. So distance and travel on ground was forever changed. Today I saw a skate board with a wireless motor - surprise!
Judie Stephens OAM - Expedition Director