Sixteen brave souls set off from sundry Bunnings car parks for Beverley one sunny but cold Sunday in September. First stop was York where we did our level best to lose one another around the coffee shops in an impromptu game of hide and seek.
Refreshed and on the road again we were treated to radio documentaries brought along by the ever thoughtful Alan Naber. The hour long ABC Hindsight programme “Allez Oppy” was fascinating and included interviews with Oppy himself as well as his son and others close to his career.
Once in Beverley we made a beeline for Mark Taylor’s shed in the light industrial area, home to a collection of 20 or so vintage caravans. Stepping up into any one of Mark’s old ‘vans is a step back in time. Many of his caravans are wonderfully preserved examples of how early motor tourists travelled in style, complete with flamboyant period fixtures and appliances.
Caravans are only half the story though. Mark has a matching period car to go with each caravan; a 50’s Hudson, 40’s Chev ute, ’38 Buick straight 8 and HR Holden wagon are clustered round the door vying for attention.
The legendary Barry’s Toys can be overwhelming for the first time visitor. Room after room of Barry Ferguson’s sprawling sheds unfolds with untold treasures from the wheat-belt’s early years. How many clearing sales has Barry been too? Probably Barry himself would be unable to answer that question. He has collections of everything from tractors to toasters, and harrows to hats. He even has a few bikes, most notable of which are two of Beverley’s original delivery bikes, the baker’s and the grocer’s, complete with their number-plates BE•1 and BE•2.
While at Barry’s we were tracked down by an amiable gent asking when we’d be getting ourselves down to the Dead Finish Museum as he was set up and had been waiting for us - a confusing turn of events as we had no fixed itinerary. The Beverley bush telegraph is alive and well. Local farmer (and old bike nut) John Hawkes had got wind of our plans and hauled ten bikes in from the farm in a horse float. Once the last of our party was dragged kicking and screaming out of Barry’s we presented ourselves at the Dead Finish. John’s son was cutting laps on a dragster that has seen better days and members lapped up the rest of John’s collection which included a five swan Swansea and an early gents Runwell (Geoff Pianta, Collie) sporting a Major Taylor stem, (pictured).
Lunch was a bit of bleak affair with an unremitting westerly continually upsetting cups, lunch-boxes and otherwise good tempers. Beverly, like many wheat-belt towns, has a surplus of commercial real estate and one generous soul, with the assistance of the Beverley Shire has fitted out and made available an old shop as a lunchroom for travellers. Sadly, it was discovered too late!
A couple of us visited the air museum which, having had its central exhibit reclaimed by family of the donor, is a bit of a shadow of its former self.
The journey home presented riders with an opportunity for a much needed rest; heads were duly nodded and the insides of sundry pairs of eyelids careful inspected.
A big vote of thanks to Phil for organising the bus and Fred for his impeccable driving.