20th May 2013
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The 2013 All British Rally
One of the biggest annual gatherings of classic British bikes doesn't happen in Britain. In fact, it's about as far from Blighty as you can get without actually leaving the planet. Derek Pickard explains...
One of the world's biggest gathering of classic motorcycles took place among the autumn mists in Australia's south during April 2013 when over 1600 classics came together in the one small town. It was all part of annual All British Rally organized by the Melbourne BSA Club.The entry has the simplest of announcements to the sprawling camp site
The event is the biggest of its type in the island continent and is now in its 37th year. It is a typical DownUnder motorcycle rally in that enthusiasts ride there from all points of the compass, camp for the weekend and ride home again. The camp was at the race course just outside the central Victorian state town of Newstead.The nearby historic gold mining town of Maldon, had its central streets set aside for classics only
The leading attraction at this event is always the Saturday ride to a local small town. This year it was the sleepy historic gold mining town of Maldon. The police had been warned, so they banned all cars from the streets to make way for the massive motorcycle parking line-up. At midday a count was made which far exceeded 1500 bikes so with those left behind in Newstead that means over 1600 classics were involved.As the camp site is in the dirt then off-road classics are very welcome. Stan Jones shows off his 1966 Triumph 500 engined 1968 Greeves. His Bultacos are behind
As in previous years, the event attracts British bikes of all years - from antiques to modern Triumphs and Nortons. They travel for up to a thousand miles to attend what has become Australia's largest classic bike event.A bright Panther outfit pulling a matching trailer is certain to lift the appearance of any camp site corner
Most riders turn up with heaps of camping gear lashed to their bike, camp for the weekend while standing around talking classics, and only go out for the Saturday midday thrash to the huge lunch gathering. Those who don't attend the camp, ride to the lunch venue knowing it is an old bikes-only festival where many streets become a unique sight.Barn finds are always popular. This late 1940s Ariel 500 twin was discovered a year previous and needed the minimal work to fire up and make the ride to the rally
Sunday is for packing up and beginning the ride home. Fortunately this year saw nothing but good weather - blue skies and warm nights so everyone left in good spirits. For the distant rally-goers the return trip was the same one or two day affair as getting there. Stop-overs were planned the check the bike and give older bodies a rest to recover.A blast from the past was this old rocket powered bike which was used on the main Saturday night to light the huge bonfire
By far the majority of the DownUnder All British Rally attendees return every year. Maybe next year a next restoration will be finished or the existing bike rebuilt. One thing's for sure: the once-a-year rally in central Victoria is a time when up to 2000 Brit bike fans meet up once again and admire each other's classics.The world over, high-priced old oddball bikes appear at the trade stands. This assortment had an $18,000 tag
Photos by Derek Pickard. More rally info: www.bsa.asn.au/html/events/abr/index.html
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