Conrod Weekend 13 – 14 April 2024

For over 45 years, motor vehicle enthusiasts and collectors from Murray Bridge, the Riverland, Bordertown and Mallee regions have taken part in the “CONROD CHALLENGE WEEKEND”. 

Initiated in 1978, club members, families and friends from the Bordertown Vehicle Restorers Club, the Riverland Car Club, the Murray Mallee Auto Club and the Auto Collectors Club of Murray Bridge have come together annually, for a weekend of fun and friendship-albeit with a somewhat competitive undertone.

Up for grabs, was the coveted Conrod Trophy-a rod from a 40hp single cylinder tractor, mounted on a polished wooden board and which bears the names of all previous successful club winners.

Proudly kept by the winning club for the following year, the Conrod trophy symbolises the strength, resilience and fundamental necessity of such a piece of equipment in a vehicle. One could use this analogy to represent these automotive enthusiasts. Just like the conrod-which converts energy, guides connecting parts and is responsible for the proper operation of an engine-so too are the committees and members of these car clubs, whose common interest in motor vehicles has brought them together for decades.

And so it was once again, that early on the morning of Saturday April 13th, that 25 vehicles ranging from a 1928 Oakland, a ’62 Zephyr, a ’69 Jaguar, right through to more modern vehicles-a Statesman, a BMW Roadster, a MazdaBT50-assembled at the ACCMB Clubroom. But when the Denning Coach pulled up, driven by Riverland Club member, Richard MacLean, everyone was especially impressed. The Denning brand is Australia’s oldest bus manufacturing company, with all products fully designed, engineered and assembled in Australia.

Travelling together in a convoy, the destination for the morning was Mypolonga, the 2022 Primary Industries and Regional Development Agricultural Town of the Year recipient.

The first stop was to “Aussie Apricots”, where we were treated to an informative talk given by Kathy and Paul Prosser and their daughter Jade. Kathy has owned and operated the chocolate-making side of the business for 18 years and visitors were kept both amused and satisfied by the light-hearted banter between the trio and of course, delicious chocolate-covered fruits and other delights.

A quiz sheet was given out to all clubs’ members, with points to be tallied and accumulated during the weekend. (Points were awarded on day 1 of the weekend, for correct answers which went towards the determining of a winner for the Conrod trophy, after the next competition on Sunday).

Following on from Aussie Apricots, we proceeded to the nearby “Revolution Motor Museum”, also owned by the Prosser family, where members and visitors were privileged to view over 30 vehicles and motor bikes, as well as innumerable pieces of automobile memorabilia.

Quiz sheets were again frantically being filled out…..

Our hosts provided a delicious barbeque lunch and conversations revolved around the enormous task that Paul and Kathy have undertaken, but all acknowledged its impressiveness and tourism potential in a regional area.

Saturday night dinner was spent at Swanny’s Hotel and Bistro, where fun, laughter and fellowship were continued to be enjoyed by all.

The weekend’s activities recommenced bright and early on Sunday morning, (day 2) where a Putt Putt Golf challenge at the Avoca Dell Holiday Park had been arranged. Suffice to say, there were no Tiger Woods or Greg Normans among the 50 competitors, but some good scores were achieved, with several “holes-in-one” being recorded.

Accumulated scores from each of the three participating clubs were again tallied and recorded…….

A casual luncheon, including a celebratory “2024 CONROD CAKE” for dessert, culminated an enjoyable weekend of activities, fun and laughter, with just a hint of competitive camaraderie!

After intense scrutinising of the quiz sheets and golf scores, the Auto Collectors Club of Murray Bridge narrowly defeated the Bordertown Club to reclaim the Conrod Trophy, with the Riverland Club coming in at a creditable third place. The ACCMB will be the custodians of the trophy until next year, when the Mallee Auto Club will host the Conrod Challenge weekend-then let the games begin………