Words and pics by Shane Murphy
A couple of years ago, while we were lolling about in the Noosa Hillclimb Pits, marvelling at our brilliant driving skills, Peter Quinn was extolling the virtues of this central Queensland event, a genuine must add to your annual competition calendar.
In an absolutely brilliant collaboration between the community, local and state government and the local landholders, the Burnett Highway is closed for five days and a race up the incredibly smooth highway is conducted.
It was a tortuous path to this year’s participation for me. In 2021 I entered but my engine troubles forced my withdrawal. In June this year the event was postponed due to rain, and finally after the eight hours haul up the potholed and “under constructed” Bruce Highway, we arrived in Rockhampton ready for the 2022 sprint.
The course (about 30 minutes south-east of the beef capital of Australia), is a one of a kind in Australia, starting at the Poison Creek Bridge at the bottom of the Mt Morgan Range (Burnett Highway) and featuring over three kilometres of tarmac with 26 corners and 160 metres change in elevation.
The inaugural one-day event in 2018 attracted 75 competitors and over 1,600 spectators. Since then, the event has grown from strength to strength, with plenty of withdrawals due to the reschedule, it still managed 124 competitors.
Adding to the mystique of the event, the regional history is worth a mention. Mount Morgan commenced operations in 1882. The mine became one of the richest gold mines in Australia, and for a period of time – the world. During its 99 years of operation the area declared a total of 225 tons of gold, 50 tones of silver and 360,000 tons of copper. The town itself has seen better days though, and luckily for the townsfolk, Jason, Max and Curtis holidayed in Mt Morgan itself and added to the town’s GDP over the weekend.
Our crew consisted of Hillclimb regulars
• Shane Murphy – Lotus 7
• Jason McGarry – Lotus Exige
• Peter Quinn – Lotus Elise
• John (Ross) Johnson – Toyota 86 Coupe
• Max Stephenson – Aston Martin Le Mans
• Robin Manning – Morris Mini
Scrutineering was mainly conducted before the event, so setting up on the Friday was pretty social with plenty of laughs, however an eye was on the sky with pending rain and wind heading our way.
As predicted by the BOM, the rain came Friday night and we arrived at the track on Saturday morning to a delayed start. By lunchtime we got one run in for a total of two runs on Saturday, which was frustrating as times were not published at all. By Saturday evening the sky had cleared, the sun was shining but the wind was up, so the pits were a bit chaotic as the wind blustered everyone.
Sunday morning all was well, we started only an hour late and we managed to get 4 runs in over the course of the day. The organisers extended the running time on Sunday afternoon to get that final run in. Well done, it was certainly appreciated by the competitors.
The track is brilliant – fast with a mixture of progressive and tight corners, huge hay bales intermittently placed, very smooth tarmac and generally plenty of room to cater for the occasional overzealous bit of driving.
Prior to the event, Peter and Pat raced to get Peter’s Elise race ready, a big job well done.
As usual a few highlights; Peter Quinn racing up to the first chicane with his handbrake on, added to his weekend woes; Jason getting genuinely outpaced by a VF Valiant, purple no less; Robin’s little Mini throwing its supercharger belt; No problems, speeding fines or new spark plugs for Max. A proposed upgrade will be the introduction of a BBQ so we can cook up the next meat tray sourced by Max.
I am pretty sure Jason is angling to get the Caterham back on the road and on top of the timing pile. Dick, Pat and smokin’ Jon were certainly missed.
Don’t forget to watch out for the event footage and interviews on Blokesworld, screened on Seven Mate within the next few months.
Really looking forward to next year, hopefully the potholes on the highway have been filled in by then
2022 Gold Rush Hill Sprint experiences – Ian Loxton, Car 81
The 2022 Gold Rush Hill Sprint was conducted over the weekend of September 3-4 on the Mt Morgan range near Rockhampton.
I competed in my 1989 Toyota ST185 Celica GT4, a rally car with 20 years rally (gravel and tarmac), Hillclimb and Supersprint provenance. There were some Brisbane LCQ members also competing and I caught up with Shane Murphy who I had met at Noosa Hillclimb some years previously.
This was my second Gold Rush Hill Sprint which is a superfast 3 km hillclimb on a perfect tarmac road. While my times do not reflect superfast, however many competitors are very rapid. There were six runs over the weekend, with a long delay to the start on Saturday morning due to early morning rain and a slowly drying road.
There were some delays due to breakdowns, while there were a few cars with tell-tale signs of contact with hay bales (two chicanes) and Armco with left front guard damage quite popular.
The 2022 Gold Rush Hill Sprint was originally scheduled for early July, however due to heavy rainfall had to be postponed to September. Entries were down a little however there were over 120 competitors, which is a very good field for a regional motorsport event. The Gold Rush Hill Sprint continues to grow in popularity, with a good number of entries from north and far north Queensland, including Mackay, Whitsundays, Townsville and Cairns.
For competitors who like a long hill climb, the Gold Rush Hill Sprint is fully recommended.