Lake Goldsmith Rally

Lake Goldsmith Run October/November 2014


I have just got off the phone talking to one of the participants who said that he had to come home for a rest. While there were opportunities for a bit of a spell by not doing things along the way, most chose to do and see as much as possible, so it really was fairly busy. But it was certainly a lot of fun and we definitely did lots of interesting things.

Leaving from the Clubrooms on Wednesday 29th of October, a very enthusiastic group headed to Tailem Bend where we picked up the equally enthusiastic “caravan contingent” and set sail for Horsham. The group consisted of :-

Glen and Rosemary Boerth (1966 Holden HR Premier X2)

Roy and Elaine Bretag (1974 Mercedes Benz 450 SLC)

John and Vicki Courtney (1976 Ford Fairmont XB)

Graham and Maureen Edwards (1961 Ford Zephyr)

Kevin and Helen Hosgood (Modern)

Neil and Ricky Kaak (Modern)

Trevor and Deirdre Kitto (1964 Holden EH and Franklin Caravan)

Eric and Pat Kuss (Modern)

Leon and Jill Matschoss (Modern)

Jim and Kath Stocker (Modern)

Paul and Val Wade (1972 Toyota Corolla)

Howard and Myra Wright (1960 Jaguar Mk II)





We were travelling in a total of 12 vehicles, 7 of which were “historic”. The traffic on the Dukes Highway was quite heavy, but we managed to keep out of the way of the trucks reasonably well. First stop, Coonalpyn, for smoko. It was ideal travelling weather. Next stop was Tolmer Park in Bordertown for lunch. A lovely, picturesque spot for a break. Then off again for Horsham, the first nights stop of the trip. Most stayed in the caravan park, so a “happy hour” seemed an appropriate way to relax before a great and cheap meal at the RSL club.

Thursday morning we departed for the Grampians, picking up those that had stopped at Green Lake for the night, along the way. A very scenic route was followed to Halls Gap, where we had coffee (and some had some very tempting looking sweets) while some with caravans disconnected them or jumped in other vehicles, for the drive in the Grampians. The day was spent sightseeing at whatever pace individuals wanted before returning to Halls Gap to pick up the caravans and an ice cream that Pat Kuss insisted we needed. She was right too. Then on to Ararat and another happy hour.

First up on Friday morning was a tour of “Aradale” lunatic asylum, but not before those nasty Victorians tried to sabotage Neil Kaak’s bus on a low bridge. However, Neil was a wakeup to their dastardly plan, avoided the bridge and then took another route. Our tour guides, John and John, did a marvellous job of showing us over Aradale. The tour was supposed to take two hours, but took us two and a half, with a lot of walking, but extremely interesting.

Construction of Aradale was commenced in 1864 and was completed in two years, remarkable when you consider the size and complexity of the place. The asylum was built as a town within a town with its own market gardens, orchard, vineyards, piggery and other stock kept on the grounds. At its height it had over 500 staff with 900 inmates and as it stands today the complex is made up of 63 buildings ranging in age from the original wings built in the 1860s to the modern forensic unit which was built in 1991 – only two years before the facility closed. Despite being closed as an asylum, the facility then continued to house female prisoners right up until its current management took over in 2001. No restoration has occurred and the buildings are falling into disrepair. This is very sad as the buildings are very imposing, but the cost to do so would be enormous.

Most then grabbed some lunch and retired to the Alexandra Gardens to await our tour of “J Ward”, situated opposite. The gardens are pretty interesting as well, with a spectacular orchid display in the greenhouse, so most had a bit of a look round either after they had finished lunch or after the tour.

“J Ward” is quite different to Aradale. Building commenced in 1859, opened in 1861, it started out as a goldfields gaol. Three prisoners were hanged there. In 1887 it was converted for use as a maximum security psychiatric ward for the criminally insane. In other words, not only were the inmates insane, many were extremely violent. J Ward officially closed in 1991 and in 1993 it was re-opened as a museum. It is in very good condition and well looked after, but much, much smaller than Aradale. This tour was supposed to take one hour, but again we had an excellent tour guide in Ken, and it took about two hours. Back to the caravan park for a quick happy hour then we all then headed out to the Golf club for another excellent meal. It had been a big day!

Saturday started out OK and we left Ararat for Lake Goldsmith in bright sunshine that lasted all the way there. Then the wheels fell off. Up until then the weather had been great but we did not even get our club flags up before the rain came down, followed by hail. The rest of the day was very cold with quite a few showers, but the advantage with Lake Goldsmith is that there is always a shed nearby to shelter from the rain or a steam boiler to warm yourself by.

This was Lake Goldsmith’s 104th. rally and the theme was Caterpillar. Now I am not really into crawler tractors, but some of those on display were just so primitive you had to love them. The most impressive of all, to my mind, was the 1914 Holt 75 owned by Gary Williamson. Not only is this an important historical artefact, being bought new by the Officer brothers to transport wool from their station Kallara on the Darling River to Bourke, a distance of 120 miles, taking 5 days, but the restoration is also a marathon effort. The story is too long to repeat here, but appears in Restored Cars # 160. A truly remarkable and dedicated restoration and I am pleased I have now seen it.

The huge Ruston Steam Face Shovel, all 90 tons of it, was in operation, as was the rail mounted Bucyrus Steam Shovel, weighing only 65 tons. Impressive. But all the usual Lake Goldsmith sheds were in full swing as well. Lake Goldsmith is all about demonstrating how old stuff was meant to work, so there was a working dairy, kitchen cooking and serving scones, a steam powered gold battery with Wilfrey table to separate the ore, a fairground organ, a fully stocked general store (still selling lollies!), fully furnished old house providing Devonshire teas, the list goes on and on. There were even some people selling a bit of stuff, and I noticed a few of our members made some purchases. There were wooden clocks (made using no metal at all), huge power generators and a baker making bread. There is just no end to the things that interest some people and all of them being demonstrated by a really friendly mob only too happy to talk about their “special subject”. As well as our own little display of cars, there was an array of other vehicles scattered around, but none so impressive as the Hupmobile display. These guys were holding their national rally and with cars from all states, made a beautiful and very large collection.

Ran into Bob Hunter (I think Lyn was sheltering in the mobile home!) as well as Neville and Carlene Braendler and Joe and Betty Van Eck having a good look around. Eventually we wandered off and made our way to Ballarat and our accommodation for the night,

Sunday morning we were greeted by Daryl Crawley from the Ballarat Vintage and Classic Car Club, who led us to the SpringFest, on the banks of Lake Wendouree and invited us to display with their club. What a great bunch of people, they made us very welcome, but although there was no rain, the wind was whipping straight across the lake making it freezing cold. Never the less, we managed to find some shelter behind some huge old pine trees for a good chat before having a good look at their cars, although only a relatively small display, as they have over 500 members! There were also a number of other clubs attending, as well as the Hupmobile mob from the day before, so there was no end to the cars to look at.

SpringFest had a reputed 300 market stalls spread around the 6km of the lake, so that was the next mission. A number of purchases were made before we eventually made our way back to the caravan park for an impromptu happy hour, the last before some went their separate way next day. That night, most of us attended the “Blood on the Southern Cross” sound and light show at Sovereign Hill and left mightily impressed.

Monday was a free day, some left for home or various other destinations, the remainder spent the day looking around Ballarat. There are certainly some beautiful old buildings showing the affluence that gold brought to the city. As this was the last night of the “official” Lake Goldsmith run, what better way to celebrate than another good meal in a pub, so we did!

Tuesday Morning was time for Paul and Val Wade and Vicki and I to return home while everyone else continued their holidays by departing for various other locations before they too returned home. There had been very few vehicle problems and none serious. We saw a lot of stuff, did a lot of stuff and I believe we all had a really fun time. It was a great trip.


Report and photos courtesy John Courtney