Australian Lambretta Jamboree, Mornington Peninsula (March 2017)
The 2017 Australian Lambretta Jamboree was held over a long weekend in March at the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, some 997 km away from our home in Sydney. Never being one to let a long distance deter him, Steve rode down to Victoria on his Lambretta, while I chose to drive down in the car with our children and luggage.
What’s a Lambretta, you ask?
First up, for anyone reading this who doesn’t know what a Lambretta is, and perhaps wondering what would possess someone to ride around on one of these things, I offer the following insight:
- They are not mopeds. If built and worked on by a decent mechanic, they can travel at freeway speeds, over 100kmph. They have even been known to beat a Ferrari – video proof here: Lambretta v Ferrari.
- They are super cool and stylish. Originally manufactured in Italy by Ferdinando Innocenti and designed by the top design houses in Italy including Bertone, they became iconic in the 1950’s and 1960’s and made famous by the Mods.
- They don’t make ’em any more. The first models were manufactured from 1947 and the last Lambretta came off the assembly line in Milan in 1971, so they are becoming increasingly rare and collectable. India continued to make some models under license until 1997 although the later scooters are not as highly regarded. Fortunately due to demand, spare parts are now being manufactured again in Italy and the UK making it a little less challenging to restore and keep these scooters on the road.
- They are so much more than a means of transport. The Lambretta and scootering scene has become somewhat of a cult (particularly in the UK) with organised rallies offering people from all over the country a chance to get together and have a laugh and some fun. Some Lambretta enthusiasts tend to be quite obsessive about collecting and conserving these scooters, while others ‘chop’ them up into different shapes and tune them to see how fast they can go. Some scooterists own more than one if they can afford to – unlike other modern forms of transport the values of these historic vehicles are increasing.
How our weekend transpired ~
Just like the year before at the first Australian Lambretta Jamboree in Canberra, we once again had a great weekend. We enjoyed some fun activities, lots of laughs and good times with friends, old and new, with the backdrop of some gorgeous scenery.
This is how our weekend went.
Thursday 9th March 2017
Steve left home around 4.30am riding his Lambretta (a spanish Jet 200), fighting winds and annoying light rain but avoiding the peak hour traffic to get out of Sydney. I couldn’t get back to sleep after he left. Although he is a seasoned rider and highly accomplished mechanic, I can’t help worrying about things outside his control, like bad weather, potholes and other drivers. He texted me each time he stopped to let me know how he was doing, his first SMS coming in around 5.45am as he reached Pheasant’s Nest for his first fuel stop and breakfast combination of Nurofen and coffee.
Having a small fuel tank, he needed to stop at least every couple of hours. This proved to become quite a challenge because the further south he rode, the less frequent the Services stops became. Steve found himself having to take some detours into country towns in search of fuel, which frustratingly extended his riding time and journey even longer.
Finally embracing Facebook after many years, Steve posted regular updates of his stops and the odd photo. Anyone interested in his plight learnt he made it to Yass Services by 8.40am by which time it had finally stopped raining. He checked in at Holbrook at noon while filling up, Wangaratta at 2.15pm and Tallarook Roadhouse at 4.40pm.
Steve finally arrived at the outskirts north of Melbourne around 5pm. At this point he struggled without a GPS or map to work out where he needed to go. The freeway signage wasn’t entirely clear, especially to someone who had been riding for over 12 hours, and I received a panicked call asking which freeway he should be choosing (I didn’t have a clue and was driving so couldn’t look it up). My advice was to head for Southbank in the city at which point he could pull over and call his friend, Chris, to come and meet him and guide him to his place which wasn’t far from there. After knocking on some windows of cars to ask for directions – you can imagine the reactions he got – he finally worked his way slowly to Southbank. Not a good way to finish his journey after 12 hours of riding. He eventually arrived at Chris’ place around 6pm in time for a well earned beer (or three).
Meanwhile, later that day, I picked up our kids from school and by 4.15pm we were headed out of Sydney, getting stuck in heavy traffic on the M5 westbound along the way. As we cleared the city around Campbelltown the traffic eased and we stopped at Pheasants Nest for fuel, drinks & sweets. Back in the car and driving into the sunset, we made small talk while listening to some good music (which I was in charge of), before stopping next at Marulan for some dinner at Hungry Jacks (where the burgers are better). We then drove on to Gundagai where I had booked a motel for the night, arriving around 9.30pm. We were all in bed by 10.30pm and fell asleep quickly. The motel was pretty basic and not entirely sound proof (I could hear trucks passing and someone snoring next door) but I was so tired after the long day that I had no problems getting a decent night’s sleep.
Friday 10th March 2017
I woke the next morning around 6am to my daughter having a sneezing attack. We all got up at 7am, got ourselves ready for the day and packed our bags and the car. By 8.15am we were back on the M31 freeway, but only briefly for a couple of minutes as we decided to stop in at McDonalds just outside Gundagai for breakfast (I desperately needed coffee).
Having driven in the dark the night before we hadn’t truly appreciated the beauty of the surrounding countryside but we certainly got our chance to admire the scenery over the next few hours as we worked our way southbound down the M31. We stopped in at Tarcutta for some fuel, then arrived at Holbrook around 10.15am where I took the opportunity to stretch my legs and take a few photos of the submarine (has always amazed me why a submarine is in the middle of the country, miles from the coast). This turned out to be a longer stop than planned as I needed to make a couple of work phone calls and answer some emails which couldn’t wait until Monday. I was a little disappointed that the children didn’t show much interest in seeing the submarine at Holbrook, especially after noticing other children climbing on top of it. I convinced Brandon to get out of the car, only to walk around the car twice, but Cordy stubbornly remained sat in the car happy to look from afar and continue listening to her music through her iPod.
We kept heading south, driving straight through Albury-Wodonga, stopped for a few minutes at Balmattum to stretch my back and then pulled in to the Services on the other side of the freeway at Avenel around 1pm, just in time to see a convoy of hot rods and other cool vintage cars pulling in for fuel. After refuelling and a toilet stop, we got back on the freeway heading into Melbourne. Thank goodness for my GPS on my iPhone, which took me a convoluted way around Melbourne through Greensborough, Eltham, Templestowe and Doncaster to the M3 that I never would have worked out on my own. From there we headed down south through Dandenong and then took the M11 towards our destination at Cape Schanck on the Mornington Peninsula.
Throughout the day I learnt that Steve met up with around ten other Lambretta riders at Brighton at around 12 noon, who all rode together down the beach road towards the Mornington Peninsula. Their journey took longer than expected as apparently they didn’t know exactly what route they were supposed to be following and the leader of the pack made a couple of wrong turns.
Late in the afternoon, the children and I arrived at the Ace-Hi Ranch at Boneo near Cape Schanck about 10 minutes after all the scooters. We found our lodging: a cute, simple timber cabin consisting of two bedrooms, each sleeping 3-4 with ensuites, a main living area and kitchenette. The ranch itself was set in 200 acres of beautiful countryside with rolling hills and horse grazing areas and provided several cabins, a camping area and other main buildings for functions. The ranch also offered horse riding and school camps and everyone agreed it was the perfect location for our Lambretta Jamboree.
After a quick drive with Sean up to Rosebud to get some beer, cider and crisps, everyone then hung out together in front of our cabins, catching up and having a laugh …. Cordy and I explored the grounds a little before the sunset, discovering some kangaroos grazing nearby and some cows a bit further afar. Then after the sun set we all had some BBQ for dinner and whilst most of the guys kicked on until late I took the kids back to our cabin around 10.00pm to put them to bed and I was also fading fast, in need of some sleep after the long drive that day.
Saturday 11th March 2017
In the morning, after a lazy start I decided at around 10am to drive up the winding steep hill to Arthurs Seat lookout to see the lovely views over the Mornington Peninsula. Steve and the children weren’t interested in joining me, preferring to relax at the ranch, so they missed out. It wasn’t very far and was a bright day so I could see for miles. Then I drove down and popped back into Rosebud to pick up some supplies for lunch and afternoon snacks. Rosebud was quite a busy little area with plenty of shops and supermarkets to get anything you need.
Some of the scooterists went for a morning ride out around 10.30am, I believe they planned to head up to Arthurs Lookout too (I’m not sure how they coped going uphill with the steep winding roads). Steve and a few others were happy to stay behind and hang out around the ranch talking with mates, having a go at fixing the odd scooter and generally relaxing.
After lunch and a bit of chilling out we headed over to the gymkhana area, which Chris had set up earlier.
We were in for a surprise as Chris and Sandy both turned up in fancy dress – Chris looked hilarious in an Indian Bollywood costume complete with turban and red and blue satin robes, and his Lambretta was even decorated with Joss sticks, little indian shoes on the front and a cobra coming out of a basket on the back. Sandy also got a few laughs dressed up in an Elvis styled shiny black and gold jumpsuit. We heard later that neither of them had talked or planned about dressing up together, they both decided to do this on their own accord. They have surely set the bar for future years…
After the scooters lined up on the hill first for some photos, everyone then found a spot to sit and view the hilarious Gymkhana antics. Chris outdid himself with the course design this year. It had the usual slalom turns, see-saws, ramps and limbo.
Though Chris added a wild west theme to fit in with the ranch location and included a section where they had to dismount, put a horse saddle on their scooter and horse riding helmet on their head, then ride another part of the course before dismounting and taking them off again.
The big finale was parking their scooter, putting on a head mask (strangely scary baby face) and running to the finish to ding a bell. As occurred last year, it became very competitive towards the end as a few people took more turns to get the shortest time, especially when they discovered Derek’s small frame Vega gave a slight advantage.
The highlight of the afternoon for me was watching Derek’s style over the see-saw and ramps (he dismounted and ran beside the scooter) and Sean’s ‘spill’ on one of the ramps (fortunately he wasn’t hurt too much – just a slight gash on his leg).
After the gymkhana finished everyone headed back to the area where the cabins were and continued chatting and drinking. There were a few kids around and Cordy managed to make a friend playing in the sand in the beach volleyball area. Then all 28 scooters lined up for the Show ‘n Shine judging and some photos.
Later on in the evening, we walked over to the function room for some music and presentations. When the trophies were handed out we weren’t too surprised to learn Chris had won the gymkhana, although it was very close. The presentations were fun and turned quite hilarious, running slightly longer than planned due to being hi-jacked by Billy and his spontaneous comedy show.
It had been a fantastic day all around. Everyone agreed the organisers had done a brilliant job with the Jamboree. The event couldn’t have taken place without the generous time they had voluntarily put in to plan the weekend, and along with some sponsorship obtained from various local sources including local Lambretta parts dealers and the Lambretta Club of Australia, this had led to another successful event which was very much appreciated by everyone who attended.
Sunday 12th March 2017
The jamboree was continuing on Sunday with a few more events like ‘slow ride’, mystery bucket and another ride out planned, but as NSW didn’t have a public holiday on the Monday like SA and Victoria, we had to leave early to get back to Sydney.
After a very rainy and windy night Steve got up early and headed off at 7.15am in gusty conditions and a light sprinkling of rain. I stayed a little longer packing up the cabin while the children had breakfast with the local peacock and then we left at 8.30am to head back to Sydney.
Rather than the odd detour we took on our way there, this time our route took us through Melbourne, so the kids got a chance to see some of the city high rises, Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Star Observation wheel from the freeway as we went by.
We stopped at Kalkallo just north heading out of Melbourne to refuel and so I could get a proper coffee and of course the kids also wanted food again.
While back on the road at about 11am we looked up Steve’s whereabouts on ‘Find iPhone’ and discovered we had somehow passed him, perhaps while he was stopped for fuel. Then when we stopped at Euroa for toilets and more coffee we found he had passed us. We got back on the freeway and caught up to him around Benalla – he looked in a whole world of pain and it was still blowing a gale, but he still had no problems keeping up a speed around 100kmph. We stayed behind him until the next stop at Glenrowan when he needed fuel again. Steve needed a drink and some anti-inflammatories for his sciatica which was playing up, so he said we may as well keep going ahead of him and pick up more speed so we could get home at a reasonable hour.
So Steve stayed behind for a quick 10 minute rest stop and we kept on going. Aside from a fuel top-up at Wodonga and a toilet stop at Tarcutta we kept on driving northbound until we started to get hungry.
We thought we would have a late lunch when we got to Gundagai’s ‘Dog on a Tucker Box’. Once there we parked up, all got out and had a quick look around before heading into the café/shop. Unfortunately having just gone 3.30pm their kitchens had closed and they had no hot food left. It was a little disappointing so we decided to keep going until we found the next Hungry Jacks.
At 5.20pm we found ourselves back at Marulan although on the other side of the freeway from where we stopped on Thursday night. We stayed here for about half an hour while we ate, as I needed a break from driving having been on the road all day, apart from a couple of brief toilet stops. At this stage Steve was still back at Gundagai, so was a good couple of hours behind us now, but he sounded like he was in good spirits (after doubling his dose of anti-inflammatories).
The children and I eventually arrived home at 8.30pm, (12 hours door to door) just in time to settle the kids in and coax them to bed as they had school the next day. I continued to keep watch on Steve’s location, tracking him on the iPhone. Other than a near-miss when he hit a pothole near Marulan and loosened a headlamp wire, he managed to ride his Jet all the way back without any mechanical problems, finally arriving home at 11.15pm after a 16 hour long journey.
I admit it was a long way to go for a weekend, but we all agreed it was totally worth it. We saw some beautiful countryside that we wouldn’t have seen from an airplane journey, met some great people and had plenty of laugher over the 3-4 days. For me, in the car with our two children for so many hours, with minimal fighting and plenty of adventure, it was a positive experience and created some memories I’m sure the kids will have forever, just like I still remember family car trips I had as a child.
For Steve, he has the satisfaction of again having ridden a very long distance (even at his age) plus the pride of riding without mishap on a 45 year old Lambretta that he restored over 10 years ago and has maintained ever since.
Holbrook, NSW (March 2017)