Our second campervan & motorhome rally
10 Nov 2006
Having read our copy of The Wanderer (the magazine of the campervan club) we realised that the Nepean Nomads were holding a social event on 3-6 November at Lake Goldsmith, near Beaufort. As this was close by to where we were travelling we contacted the President, Fred Smith to ask if we could join them. We discovered him to be originally from England, having lived over here for approx 50 years or so. After a chat he said we would be more than welcome to join in the weekend with the group and gave us instructions as to how to find them.
We arrived at the town of Beaufort, and did our weekly shop before heading out to the rally. On arrival we were met by a number of the group members and they soon introduced themselves to us. Betty, Fred's wife, came over and introduced herself saying she had got our original message on the answering machine and had also seen us up in Beaufort. Just goes to show the Brewer's are known every where they go, is that a good thing or a bad one?
We joined the group for 'Happy Hour' and were given the information about the weekend, and of the bush camp taking place afterwards. On the Friday evening there were 22 motor homes and campervans' at the camp and about 1000 flies. Just shows this was going to be a popular rally.
After happy hour everyone returned to their vehicles to cook dinner. The group had planned a camp barbeque but due to the fire restrictions in place in the state this was not possible. Once dinner was over we noticed most people out and about talking to one another so we joined in and found everyone most welcoming. This weekend was going to be the next big event in the life of the intrepid campers, Jeff and Sylvia. We were going to attempt to put our awning up. Along side our van was one owned by Barbara and Peter, who looked as if they knew what they were doing, (to tell the truth every one except us, on the site looked like they knew what they were doing). We asked them about putting the awning up and they offered to assist tomorrow.
There was a steam rally taking place in the area adjacent to the field we were camping in so that is where everyone would be going on Saturday.
Saturday morning dawned and was very sunny, so after breakfast we set off like the rest of the group to the steam rally. The rally was organised by the Lake Goldsmith Steam Preservation Association and this was their 88th such rally. The Association is Internationally recognised and is the largest and oldest of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere. The site is a permanent one and the association sets out to encourage and demonstrate technical, agricultural and life skills associated with the industrial era as well as preserve and develop a heritage collection. They run two rallies each year and if attendance at this one is an indicator, they are well attended.
The theme of this rally was to celebrate 60 years of the Ferguson System, or the Fergie as it was referred to. We wandered around the different sheds looking at all the old steam engines lovingly restored by enthusiasts till we found the stall selling strawberry pancakes with cream and ice cream, well we just had to see if they were as nice as our strawberries. I couldn't decide on one tasting so will just have to try more. It was nice wandering around the site meeting people we knew from the rally and saying 'hello' to them, it made us feel accepted. At one point two ladies were heading our way and Jeff said "isn't that Betty over there" and said "Hello" to her just too late as we realised it was not Betty but two people we did not know. These two ladies kept looking round at us wondering who on earth we were, we thought they might have come over and asked if they knew us.
When we arrived at the main arena we watched the association's biggest attraction, the 1924 Ruston Hornsby Class No 20, a Steam Navvy Crane. It weighed 90 tons and was donated to the association in 1983. We were told it was one of the machines used to excavate the Suez Canal and came to Australia in 1924 being used to quarry cement until 1980.
At 12.30 we were given a boiler house tour in the Founder's Building. This was conducted by Trevor who demonstrated his enthusiasm for steam engines in making listening to him talk about steam boilers really interesting.
Later in the afternoon there was a grand parade of over 60 fergie tractors followed by the steam engines, big and small. The arena events were rounded off by a demonstration of steam ploughing. This involved two steam engines being stationed at either end of a field and pulling a plough between them on a cable, something unique to see now but used a lot in the past.
It was now back to the site as it was 'Happy Hour' once more. A few more vans had arrived to join us and we all sat around talking and sharing munchies. The Brewer's managed to win one of the raffle prizes and when asked to draw out the next number I said "I'll pull out our other one now" Imagine my embarrassment when that is exactly what I did, so I passed it to our neighbour.
It was now time to try and get our awning up, so Jeff assisted by Peter, or was it the other way round, set about the task only to find there was a fault which we are going to have to get fixed.
After dinner some of the group went off to the movie being shown in the hall at the steam rally, but as we were too whacked to move we gave it a miss. We must have been really tired as it was a free show.
Sunday morning arrived and at late morning those going on the bush camp set off to buy supplies at Beaufort before heading off. We had been invited to join them and Jeff will tell you about that adventure.
We would both like to thank all the members of the Nepean Nomads for making us feel so welcome and a part of their group over the weekend.