I’ve just returned from a week-long trip to Whanganui Vintage Weekend – an annual event held on Wellington Anniversary weekend, and what a weekend it was.
We are fond of old things, as you can see. I write about olden times and he drives cars from earlier eras and we have a few antiques in the house to keep up grounded.
My OH is a member of the Vintage Austin Register (VAR) and since it was their big 50th Anniversary, they decided to travel in convoy to Whanganui to join in the Vintage Weekend.
Our group of five vintages (ours is the dark red Austin 10, fourth one in) plus two more on trailers and a couple of modern cars and their drivers met at Ramarama. We headed off along the back roads to Tuakau to the west of the Waikato River and on through Pirongia, where we stopped for lunch before continuing towards Taumarunui our overnight stopover.
Stopping along the way for refreshments and to take in the some views, all was going well… until one car developed a fuel problem and decided going uphill wasn’t a very good idea. We continued with one car short after making room for the passengers and their luggage. Not a mean feat in small cars without boots.
Next day, we headed south again and as we approached National Park in the misty, foggy rain, another car developed a loud knocking sound and lost oil pressure. A few more slightly frantic phone calls later and we are on our way again – this time with the poor unfortunate car owners are in a borrowed modern vehicle. Not quite the same when on a Vintage Rally.
Two cars down, we turned away from the main route and took Fields Track through to Whanganui. All, except for two brave souls – us and Camp Father in the large 16/6 who led the unwary over the Burma Hills Road and eighteen miles of loose metal. Up, up, up and round the corner and down, down down and… repeat… Not lost but out of sight and out of cellphone service, but we made it!
The weekend was a great success. Vehicles came from all over. Not all Austins, but about 50 of our sort and another 50 or so other vintages and shiny classics went on display through the streets. Steam traction engines gave rides, steam trains took visitors on trips and the paddle-steamer Waimarie churned up and down the river to the delight of many.
The only downside was one 16-year-old lout who is now in the hands of the police decided to torch one of the cars, which damaged one other. Horrendous and unforgivable. Over thirty cars were parked side by side in a locked carpark. We were fortunate that only one vehicle was lost. But it takes a lot to dampen the spirits of ‘Austineers’ who just love the challenge of rebuilding old cars.
We compared the weekend to the likes of Napier’s Art Deco with a twist. Not as many people dressed up but there were bands playing all day Saturday and well into the evening. An excellent market emptied many a pocket and we ate and talked and talked and ate until the timetable insisted we do something else.
Nearly 750 miles later, our 1937 Dear Old Red Austin (Dora) delivered us home safe and sound, if a little stiff and sore. It can be a rather rocky-rolly-bouncy ride at times, but we kept up a regular speed around 40mph (except on the hills). Lots of gear changing and working the clutch, but great fun.
We hear the weekend gets better each year, so I recommend you give it a go and visit Whanganui at Vintage Weekend.
Next time, we plan to use Bridget our 1929 Burnham (left) who turns 90 this year.
Have you got any stories to share of adventures in cars of that certain age?