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Early Morning Run to

Winery in the Strathbogie Ranges

With the MG Car Club of  Victoria, South Australia,

Y and Magnette Register - 10 August 2008

Report by Rhys Timms,

photographs by John Hastie, John Russell, and Loz Scott

An extract from the B52’s classic song, Love Shack “Hop in my car it is as big as a whale…, were about to set sail” just about explains the context of the MG Saloons. Whilst the 2 seaters can have all their fun, as soon as the family expands, the local constabulary frown upon carting around the future MG drivers hanging off the boot rack. Fortunately, along came Gerald Palmer and saved the day so all of the family can travel under MG power safely, not without style with a genuine MG badge on the grill.

So it was the MG Car Club Vic Y & Magnette Register lunch run around the Strathbogie Mountain range, 90 minutes out of the Melbourne on Sunday 3 August 2008. To get there we took a mix of highways and back roads and all 5 Magnettes, 2 Y Types, MG GT and a Brock Commodore for good measure made it comfortably. Including the unmentionables (garden variety Fords x 2 & Toyota, now mentioned), the headcount was 23 Adults and 12 children.

The transit stage was just long enough to make it to the Ruffy Store to stave off caffeine withdrawal. The 22 kilometres off the highway from Yarck to Ruffy - through the hills, over the single lane bridges, and roads which magically wind through the ranges was a drivers delight and the passengers treated to many fine views, we cruised into Ruffy. The children were entertained during the drive by showbags which included toys, colouring in and MG Trivia.

After a shot of coffee and warmed our backsides by the open fire, it was back into our whales and we sailed off the back roads, which went from a single lane roads to gravel. With the heavenly dust suppression measures in place (ie light drizzle) we cruised through these roads until out of nowhere a modern winery emerged nestled on top off the granite outcrop of the Strathbogies. We were ably led through these back roads by the black Magnette, all to ensure the school of whales remained on course.

At the winery, we were met by the chief winemaker Sam Plunkett of Plunkett Fowles, where half the convoy stopped. Sam's enthusiasm in taking an intimate tour group through the catwalks, fermenting tanks and barrel room kept the group thoroughly entertained and slightly more knowledgeable about wine from when we first arrived. We were able to taste the latest vintage maturing, and we all tasted many cool climate wines, and we spat out, didn’t we ! We appreciated the private tour, as the winery is not open to the public, and does not run tours, hence Sam went out of his way to ensure we could visit on his day off. Also Sam is a part owner of a Y Type in the family since new, we hope the oil we dropped on his forecourt will inspire Sam to get his part of the Y Type back on the road.

Lower down the range, where it wasn’t cold nor wet, the families with children visited the Avenel Maze to run the legs off the kids before lunch. Whilst this park is normally closed the owner, a friend of Sams, was happy to open the park up for just our group, and 12 children tried to unravel the clues of the local boy Ned Kelly. (For the international audience, Ned was a bushranger 150 years ago who was hanged for his crimes). For the kids, the different mazes confounded them, the clues confused them and mini golf entertained them. When the wine tourists ambled by, we were all ready to continue onto to our final stop the Plunkett Fowles Restaurant, perched on top of a local range with views across the valley, nestled in the vines and gum trees.

The meals were absolutely superb, and the adults enjoyed a kid free lunch as much as the kids enjoyed an adult free lunch in the courtyard and playground. A bottle of commemorative wine was presented to each participant over the age of 18, with MG’s featuring on the label of course. Unfortunately all good times must come to an end, and we were pleasantly surprised that it was almost dark by the time we started our drive home. We were unpleasantly unsurprised by the lack of candlepower on the 50 year old headlights in the dark.

At this stage my children were re-enacting the “Rumble in the Jungle” as fisticuffs and elbows entertained them in gaining & losing valuable space in the back row. A slight change to seating arrangements with the referee relocating to the middle back seat (ie Mum), the excitement of the day wore off as everyone feel asleep, except the driver. We can thoroughly say that we had a whale of a time, and look forward to planning more adventures in the MG.

Footnote:

To the uninitiated, the term “Whale” was originally applied to the Z’s when they hit the roads, and still seems apt today.

Please don’t write to me, yes I know the B 52’s didn’t write about the Magnettes in their song, the car they used in the film clip had double the cylinders of a Magnette in the one engine.

Distant shot of the winery. Loading bay/car port was quickly taken advantage of.

After a talk from our guide we had a chance to do some sampling from outside storage vats.

Picture taken at ground level of us departing and gives some idea of scale and complexity.

Cars aligned in the [Lunch time] cafe.

To enlarge the pictures, double click on them.