Stanthorpe Murder Mystery Tour
Friday 23 August started out like any normal South East Qld day.
Story by Rob Preslmaier, photos by Gloria Wade.
The day was sunny and a tad cool in the morning, but by 0900 it had started to warm up was looking normally wonderful. The ladies and gentlemen of the Lotus Car Club gathered in the bucolic location of Marburg in their generally charming contrivances, gossiping gaily about the upcoming weekend. It all seemed so normal. But everything was about to change. Within 5 minutes of departure the motor vehicle of Nigel and Allison suffered a catastrophic mechanical failure that could have ended badly. Coincidence? Read on!
As Nigel and Allison retreated home with their Lotus on a flatbed to fetch another vehicle for the purposes of bravely rejoining us, the remainder were left to proceed to the morning tea destination (Allora) still in a state of blissful ignorance. The route was devious and tortuous, and good fun was had in the Lotus with the Main Range and eventually Allora attained in good time. Ultimately Stanthorpe was reached and everything was well with all.
The dinner at the fine Italian dining establishment of Anna’s, an iconic Stanthorpe family restaurant, was tasty and enjoyable. I can say that the pasta meals and roast vegetables drizzled in oil were wonderful. But was the experience lulling attendees into a false sense of security?
Saturday morning another member of the Club simply disappeared! One minute Vyvyan (with the two vs and ys, which annoy people who enjoy traditional vowels), resplendent with beard and traditional English driving cap, was with us, the next he was gone. Vanished! Car and all.
Was there a murderer in our midst? What was driving this strange chain of events? Read on or go and make yourself a cup of coffee and get on with your day’s activities.
Saturday was an unusual day also in that, for a driving weekend, there was no need to actually drive a car. A bus magically appeared and it was all aboard and off to visit the wineries. Before lunch the tour visited Summit Estate Wines for a well-informed, sit down wine tasting to delight the oenologists amongst the group, and Stanthorpe Cheese, where there were many tasty cheeses and sausages on offer.
Lunch was taken at the delightful Blue Pot Pantry where there were also varied home-made jams and chutneys available. The freedom of being able to enjoy a wine or other drink with your meal and not have to worry about spearing the Lotus into the wilderness has to be experienced to be fully appreciated.
After lunch the magic bus took us to the Golden Grove and Ballandean Estate wineries, where more oenophiles were amused, entertained and encouraged to part from their hard earned, and finally to the Heavenly Chocolate shop to sample some delicious chocolates and to watch the antics of the rooster and his harem.
Later that evening the magic bus returned and picked us all up from the motel and transported us to the Granite Belt Brewery where there was much jovial conversation, sampling of beers, ciders and wines, and eating of delicious food. Late in the evening the charity raffle was decided. Lucky ticket holders received one of four bottles of very old port generously donated by Daryl Wilson. Given that these bottles had sat unattended for many decades they were in surprisingly good nick. Recipients were somewhat rudely required to open and partly drain their bottles into the glasses of the assembled masses. Satisfied patrons stumbled out into the cold night air for a comfortable bus ride back to the motel and a good night’s sleep.
The next morning Peter Watters and Stephen Tancred from the Stanthorpe Rotary Club joined us for breakfast at the motel where they were presented with $750 collected by Steve Lennox and Daryl Wilson levying various and generally spurious $5 fines for infractions of the Lotus Car Club Behaviour Code (no-one told me that wearing a hoodie in a cold location was an finable offence!).
While it was obvious from the sight of the arid state of the countryside and empty dams that Stanthorpe is in drought, the anecdotal evidence provided by Peter from the Rotary Club provided further evidence that the funds collected on this run will be put to much needed use.
But I digress from the mystery! In the same manner that you, dear reader, have forgotten about the sorry state of affairs (where was poor Vyvyan?) behind this tale of wine tasting and charitable works, tour attendees had forgotten about the potential murderer lurking in the shadows! Ken Philp watched the sun rise on an otherwise lovely Sunday morning feeling very unwell as he had spent an awful night creating multi-media Jackson Pollocks in his motel bathroom. Was Ken the victim of foul play? Had some mysterious malefactor slipped a toxin into the meal of our event organiser? Was Ken the intended target and the others merely cunning distractions? Did the events described above actually happen or is it just simply the demented ramblings of a brain addled Lotus driver? To find out you will have to come on the next Lotus long weekend. To those of you that missed out or could not attend please consider coming along on the next one. They are a lot of fun and exceedingly well organised.
By no means an anticlimax to the events of Friday and Saturday, the troupe of Lotus departed Stanthorpe for lunch at Mt Alford via Spring Creek Rd (a great road, pity they couldn’t afford to make it wide enough for two cars) and morning tea (melting moments yum!) at the Spring Creek Café.
All up a great weekend. Thanks to Ken Philp, Daryl Wilson and Craig Wilson for organising the event. A ‘great job’ to Steve Lennox and Daryl for organising the charity run. And thanks to everyone that came along and enjoyed the weekend, and put their hands in their pockets for a good cause (especially Craig and Caroline for throwing in a little extra cash and Daryl again for contributing his dad’s port for the raffle).
On a final note, Ken would love to hear from people with ideas as to where we should run future long weekend events. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.