Sid Armstrong's BLOG - November 2013

Sid Armstrong, a proud member of the Armstrong Siddeley Car Club of Australia

The 13th Goldfields Weekend

One of my treasured joys is travelling around Australia and meeting people who have an interest in Armstrong Siddeley cars.

During November I attended the 13th Goldfields weekend in the Ballarat District of Victoria, travelling there and back with our President and his good lady.

We set out from Quirindi driving through dry, dusty, dour, droughty conditions and we came across some cattle domiciled on The Long Paddock somewhere just before Coolah. I assume the cattle were on their way to Southern markets.
Cattle on The Long Paddock near Coolah

As we drove along on our merry way, the constant hum of the engine and the vast distance took its toll on me and I began to snooze off for a bit. I had been reading Bruce Lindsay’s wonderful book ‘ARMSTRONG SIDDELEY – The Sphinx with the Heart of a Lion’ just before my nap and I suddenly awoke from a terrible dream with my left foot frantically tapping on the floor of the car. I had been dreaming of tapping on the preselector peddle of an early Sapphire and it just wasn’t working!.

Distance, trucks and long, straight roads

Eventually we arrived at the old Learmonth Shire Hall to be greeted by Club Stalwarts John Day, Anna Lees and Cameron Wright who had gone to no end of trouble to give us a very warm welcome. I was filled with great anticipation of a forthcoming weekend full of genuine Victorian hospitality, certain (as ever) to be brimming with joy and mirth. My ever-filled glass quickly contributed to a wonderful feeling of bliss and contentment.

The great part of the Goldfields Weekend is seeing many Armstrong Siddeley people not only from Victoria, but also from South Australia and New South Wales. This contact is always so important in such a large country. I recall President Tony telling me he lives one thousand miles from Adelaide and that he sees these trips as a very important part of his role. We stayed in an excellent motel at Cardigan Village outside Ballarat. Dear Tonkin and Sandy and the Carsons too were there. Given my age, I managed fairly well, only occasionally needing to grab a bit of a rest from all the activity.

I recall at the old mining town of Clune seeing a comprehensive bottle collection and thinking about all the gallons of grog the bottles would have once held. It makes my tippling of fine red wine appear such an innocuous contribution to the huge quantity of bottles in a collection such as this.

It was while visiting Clunes that I came upon a figuarine that looked exactly like my Brother (the complete picture of which is definately not suitable for this website). This sibling is the Black Sheep of the family and the sight of this small replica upset me dreadfully. Just thinking about him has put my report all out of context and me in a bit of a dither. What's even more alarming is that I think I also saw his wife's hat!

The Black Sheep of my family

Having travelled through so much drought stricken countryside to reach the Ballarat District, the soft green of the Victorian countryside was really a joy to my ancient eyes.

Soft green Victorian countryside

But alas my owing to my dithering confusion again, which picture was taken in Wiltshire and which was taken near Ballarat?

Cameron took us out to see some bent planes and his description of the work he does was enthralling. He also has a number of car projects (both "real" and toys) in hand.

Cameron's cars

Whilst looking at Cameron’s projects I spied this thingamajig. The craftsmanship is divine. Isn't it just beautiful? I'm hoping some knowledgeable person may be able to identify what it is. "Isn’t it the ideal something with which to grace a mantelpiece?" I thought.

I did hear a report years ago of one enthusiast reputedly keeping an Armstrong Siddeley engine in his lounge-room - that's showing considerable dedication to the cause! By comparison, a small mantelpiece thingamajig seems such quite an appropriate item of home-decoration.

A Whatsit for the mantlepiece

During the weekend I saw two excellent Sapphires and the neatest Baby Sapphire. Often I write in raptures about Hurricanes, but these three showed some real class.

A fine trio of Armstrong Siddely Sapphires

After Cameron’s tour we feasted at Anna Lees home and afterwards the Victorian Branch conducted their meeting.

And then, suddenly, it was all over!

The next day saw us back on the road heading for home. As soon as I saw the roadsign showing that we were approaching Coolah I knew that Quirindi was only a relatively short drive away and our trip was almost coming to an end. Thanks Tony for being my chauffer and for arranging my "travelling bottle shop".

A Beaut Breakfast at Beaufort

To John, Anna and Cameron and all those who contributed to my enjoyable weekend - a very big thank you from me for giving me such a memorable time.

Don't forget to keep watching my Blog.

'Til next time,