iMotorhome Event - The Vans from Snowy River
Last weekend iMotorhome readers took over the sleepy town of Dalgety in South Eastern NSW, nestled on the banks of the famous Snowy River.
Months of waiting were finally over and although our get-together took place from Friday afternoon until Monday morning, the first attendees rolled into town and staked their claim at the Snowy River Holiday Park on the preceding Monday!
Above: Now here’s a bunch of happy campers! Thanks to you all for making the weekend such fun.
In all there were 22 motorhomes and 40 enthusiastic attendees, plus motor writing doyen Allan Whiting and wife Kezzie (who run the Outback Travel Australia website), me and eventually Mrs iMotorhome. I say eventually because in the days leading up to the event a lurgy laid her low and on the Friday morning of departure I made the difficult captain’s call for her to stay in bed. This she did and by Friday evening was confident of being up to travel on Saturday, so first thing Saturday she was on the fast train to Canberra. Polly and I dashed back to our National Capital to collect her and we were back in Dalgety in time for lunch.
Suffice to say there was great excitement at her arrival!
Backtracking a little, by the time of my arrival in Dalgety on the Friday afternoon – a full hour ahead of the official check-in time – it turned out that I was about the fourth last person to get there! The weather was perfect as forecast, which was a relief because I left the Southern Highlands in fog, scudding cloud and drizzle that didn’t clear until after Goulburn. The sun itself didn’t appear until south of Canberra, but by the time I reached Cooma it was sunny and things were looking good.
Sometime after 4 o’clock Friday afternoon a progressively larger happy hour circle developed. It eventually drew everybody in and gave me the chance to welcome everyone and say a few words. Okay, quite a few words as it turned out, because I was encouraged to ‘spill the beans’ on the Big Announcement I alluded to last issue (see Editorial). After that we kicked off the ‘official festivities’ with an informal sausage sizzle in the adjacent CWA hall, put on by the local cricket team (but largely done by Sue and Colin), with part of the cost going towards the team as a fundraiser.
That night I thought an earthquake struck as in the wee small hours Polly rocked quite vigorously from side to side. I then thought it was Allan waking me up and that I’d slept in, except it was still pitch black outside.
There was no noise and the next morning the consensus was it was a wombat scratching itself beneath Polly! I rated it a magnitude 7.5...
Just some who helped make this a great weekend: Rich and Sue, Les and Allana, Peter and Julie with Wayne and Marie, and Allan (without Heather!).
Views from Dalgety
Saturday morning kicked off with bacon and egg rolls before a guided historic walk around the town.
Sadly, I was absent for that due to my unscheduled Canberra dash, but by all reports it was interesting and very well lead by local historian Julie Pearson. The afternoon was free and many people either chatted to new friends, explored the town further, visited the pub or went for a walk along the river. Once again the weather was perfect and as the sun began to dip we headed across the road to the Buckley’s Crossing Hotel – the only pub in town – for dinner after drinks in the courtyard. Despite filling the historic dining room and their being at least a dozen or more other diners in various parts of the pub, the two junior chefs and small army of specially recruited young wait staff did an outstanding job of delivering a country sized three course dinner. When people started to drift back to the campsite one of our group – Phil – brought to life the old piano in the corner and entertained us while some danced. Despite speculation there was a decayed wombat inside the piano, Phil did an excellent job that really added to the night’s atmosphere.
A predicted “extreme weather event” with winds gusting to 100 km/h rolled in at 2:07 Sunday morning. I know that because we were sleeping with Polly’s rear doors ajar and the insect screen doing its best to keep out the warm night’s bugs. After hastily closing the doors Polly rocked and rolled for the rest of the night, but this time it was no wombat. Though I didn’t hear anything as we were in the non-powered section on the far side of the park, I’m sure there were many people scurrying in the darkness to secure awnings around that time.
Sunday morning was free, but before the minibus arrived for the first of two shuttle trips to the winery for lunch we had a group photo. That entailed Sue clambering up a ladder onto the roof of a cabin in the strong winds and left me wondering what could possibly go wrong. Fortunately nothing did and that was followed by a demonstration of screw-in tent pegs by Allan, and ladies’ shoes and skincare by Mez. You can guess which demonstrations attracted the guys and gals!
Just part of the Friday afternoon happy hour, which grew to include all comers before we headed to the nearby CWA Hall for a sausage sizzle. The 5th wheeler with impressive custom Iveco Daily tow vehicle belongs to Neil and Gayle (checked shirts on right). As you can see, the weather was perfect for our get-together!
Dave was a founding member of Mental As Anything and played with Dragon and Men At Work. He has also been inducted into the Australian Record Industry Association (ARIA) Hall of Fame. Similarly, Gunter is rock a legend, having been part of Daddy Cool and writing the hit song Come Back Again (I’m just crazy ‘bout you babe), which they later performed. Gunter also played with Sherbert and Ol 55.
Perhaps the most remarkable story from the weekend was when solo traveller Chris came up and said she’d just reacquainted herself with Gunter. It turns out they’d caught the school bus together some 40 years earlier, in Merrylands in Sydney’s west! The reunion was even more remarkable given Chris had no idea of Gunter’s rock music career – he was Ian at school, she said – but she eventually recognised him after watching him play. I later asked Gunter if he remembered Chris and he said he did, because she been a very kind girl in what he went on to explain was quite a tough neighbourhood. The band played until around 5 o’clock and we had some other seriously awed Australian music fans in our ranks, with some chasing autographs and photos for mementos or bragging rights with family and friends.
There were plans for a campfire on our final night but continuing strong winds and falling temperatures put paid to that. Well, almost. A few of us sat out in the only sheltered place we could find – close by Allan’s Landcruiser with slide-on camper – until an approaching thunderstorm forced a hurried pack-up. We adjourned to a big picnic shelter by the river and right by the park fence, where we sat while the storm passed, after which the wind completely stopped and stars appeared. It was a unbelievable change. By this stage it was around 9 PM and too late to call out the troops, so we took advantage of the wood thoughtfully provided by Sue and Colin and made ourselves a campfire. We sat around it, sharing yarns, red wine, Anzac biscuits and chocolate (as you do) until late, by which time the wind returned although not with the same force. The temperature was forecast to drop to 2°C and by the time we retired for the evening it was well on the way.The feel good story of the weekend was Chris catching up with rock guitarist and Australian music legend Gunter Gorman, 50 or so years after they used to catch the school bus together!
Fortunately we had another bacon and egg roll breakfast arranged for 8 AM Monday, for those like us who needed an early departure. Once again, Dalgety, Sue and Colin turned on another picture postcard morning. Speeches, thanks, hugs, promises and email addresses were given, received, appreciated and swapped before it was time to hit the road.
Many of us made our way back to Cooma across the spectacular Monaro Plain, with its bare granite-boulder studded hills and distant views of snow capped mountains. It made a fitting end to a wonderful weekend. As the Vans from Snowy River headed home I believe more than just a few were filled with happy memories and the desire to soon rekindle old and new friendships. Some days I think I have the best job in the world. Other days I know I have.
Polly in the check-in queue behind John and Mez’s Longreach
Stunning scenery on the drive in from Cooma;