Well, since this is the blog area and I've never done one before, I thought I might dribble on a regular basis about some of my adventures in and around the great city of Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. We moved here just on two months ago from Perth, Western Australia (I was Andy in West Oz on the old forum) after my wife (a consulting mining engineer) cracked it with her job and happened to find a similar one here in Melbourne. She's originally from here so we'd always figured we'd move here eventually...say, within 10 years. Turns out the job was offered in mid-March, I got a transfer and we were committed to the move by the end of March!
I'd lived in Melbourne before back in 1979 for a couple of years. I was at least three at the time so it was a little daunting moving to a new city as a 31-year old - especially after having lived in Western Australia for the previous 18 years and having a good feel for where I was at all times. We get to Melbourne and you could drop me anywhere and I'd have no idea where I was. The street names don't mean much, I have no idea where the freeways go or what suburb is where etc etc. If you can imagine a big black canvas which represents Melbourne - now add in a couple of tiny bright spots at about the mid "3:30" area, the south-east where we live. That's the pieces of the puzzle that I'm getting to know plus some dim areas just above dead centre - that's the CBD where I work. It's coming together but I could easily be here for 10 years (and more hopefully) and still be finding new stuff (won't mention the trip to the airport to drop Jodi off, brother-in-law along as naivgator, we chatted on the way back, missed a turn off and started heading in the wrong direction, even crossed a large, well-known bridge that we hadn't crossed on the way in before I saw a sign and mentioned that I didn't know you could get to that destination going this way...my brother-in-law orientated himself quickly and we did a u-turn!). Awesome city, by the way...and very conducive to old trucks.
Speaking of old trucks, within two days, we had come across a Leyland Octopus tanker, say 1958, that a mate of a mate owns and stores in the hills nearby. He has a number of immaculately restored trucks and the Occy was in at our local tyre place getting some new steers. A couple of days later, the circus arrived in our suburb and I was pleased to note the two very early '70s Kenworths they were using (photos later). Good start - add the couple of Petes (rare sight in Oz) and Atkinsons seen on the freeways and Melbourne was shaping up quite nicely.
In mid-June, we headed 2.5 hours NNE of Melbourne to the Alexandra Truck and Hot Rod show. Now, hot rods aren't my thing bya long way but the show basically takes over a small country town and parks all its exhibits up and down the main street and connecting side streets. Great idea but add in a lot of people and it gets a bit hard to move, hold on to the nephews who were interested in trucks until they saw the bouncy castle and take good photos for my magazine. Having said that, with a lot of the old gear parked in among the modern gear, it was like a treasure hunt...and some real gems were found (photos to follow) - late 30s Chev one-tonner with matching water trailer, stunning Model TT in Jack Daniels guise, recently retired Foden 8-legger tipper, F-model Macks etc etc.
Roll forward to last weekend and I'm off to the Melbourne Steam Traction Engine Club's grounds in Scoresby (same way to Alexandra but turn left instead of right after 25 minutes from home - easy for me!). They had just brought their 60-year old Rapier W90 walking dragline home after the resources to recover her (108 tonnes) finally fell into place. Checking out their large collection of standing steam and diesel engines, variety of traction engines, boilers, tractors, trucks and earthmoving gear was enough to forget the chilling wind and occasional spots of rain. The Rapier's 5-cyl National was started up several times and on idle you could stand 15 metres away and feel the ground shake - awesome. At first I thought this was the steam roller getting around but when I saw it parked up, I knew it was the Rapier. A video of her walking before disassembly and recovery can be found here - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PZvquNAXRe4 I also managed to meet a few of the guys I have been chatting to over the phone and email for ages. Most are good contributors to the magazine so it was good to thank them personally. I also delivered some Leyland Super Hippo cab parts to a mate who is well into a stunning restoration of a low mileage (40,000 miles) example and its original low boy.
Have had some awesome emails come in recently. A mate of mine, a well known Mack nut who has also branched into old KWs, snet me a pic of his mate's Superliner (with B model crane on back) "pre-restification". They cleaned her up, gave her a respray etc and well, that was the second pic, this time with a 6WD Autocar on the back with rock body. As a sucker for anything with a dump body, it was a great "after" pic. It's amazing how many angles you can get out of a simple photo. There's at least three stories in those two pics alone!
Well, that's the first entry, I'll post some pics on the next post.