The Grand Tour 2021
After months of preparation on the little old red car we were on another exciting Ken and Margie adventure of fantastic scenery, Lotus driving roads, great restaurants and the obligatory patisserie or country bakery. We had it all in this GT21 which promised to be the biggest yet with 4 days and a bigger group of friends and cars. Covid19 was not going to stop us.
As we drove through the Nimboida Valley and Dorigo Areas, we remarked how many unlucky Australians will never experience what we have this weekend. We have such amazing rural areas and some brilliant back roads like the Waterfall Way from Bellingen through Ebor and on to Armidale. This is one of the most amazing Lotus roads to just sit back and enjoy the Lotus dynamics and the scenery.
It is also great to see that most of the old architecture of these old towns is being preserved as many towns become trendy hubs again like Bellingen.
We finished the run, on Monday morning with a very icy -3 deg C in Armidale which tested a few Odyssey batteries but thanks to a local tradie with his jumper pack, we were on our way for a quick run to the border with Q passes in hand to beat the pending lockdown.
The accommodation was spot on, the food and menu pre-ordering went well and the organisation by Ken, Margie, Carol, Daryl and Steve was amazing.
We enjoyed another fabulous Grand Tour weekend with great friends, lots of new experiences, Ken’s geography lessons and so much more. The Elan got us home and after such a major rebuild went very well despite a few interesting problems that were fixed with the support of clear heads of Colin and Greg. Bring on next year. – Carolyn & Craig Wilson
“365, 364, 363 …… Is next year a leap year? No. 362, 361… days to the next one. I had a fabulous time and feel my motorsport mojo has been relit but I gotta get me another Lotus.
I’ve heard about the “GTs” for years and have now experienced one first hand. What a hoot. Fabulous roads, company, venues and Australia at its best.
Following in ACBC’S footsteps I fashioned my own nine of clubs to help form a flush in the poker run. (BTW I had to check the difference between “spades” and “clubs” as I am not a card player.) My ACBC version enabled me to pick up a $50 gift card.
To quote ACBC “Rules are for the interpretation by wise men and obedience by fools”.
Thank you again and please put me down for next year.” – Anne Blackwood
After many months planning by a dedicated LCQ group the Grand Tour got off to a rocky start on Friday 25 June due to the Covid outbreaks in Sydney, which caused the withdrawal of the CLA members who had planned to join us. Their problem was coming from a Sydney Covid hotspot they could not risk cross infecting us Queenslanders as we would then have to do 14 day quarantine when we returned to Queensland, NOT GOOD! Probably just as well after the flogging NSW gave us in the State of Origin!
Special thanks must go to Ken and Margie Philp who did a mountain of work investigating and planning the four (4) day route, so we had interesting Lotus friendly roads to travel on without damaging our stressing our cars. Ken and Margie also located and negotiated with the various motels and restaurants, so everything was within walking distance and we had a variety of excellent food and watering holes at the end of each day.
It was also an LCQ team effort with President Steve working closely with us all to make sure he kept us all on track. Steve especially worked closely with Ken and Margie to draft and format the Route instructions which we had printed as a booklet similar to the Lotus Notes magazine. The route instruction booklet was very well received by everyone and I suspect will be kept as a souvenir of a great weekend.
Secretary Carol took responsibility to manage all the email traffic to entrants and especially collating the pre ordered meals at each restaurant which I suspect was a huge juggling act which Carol managed to handle extremely well.
As for me I just followed the money and made sure everyone paid on time and paid the motels and restaurants to make sure we locked in the dates.
Overnight Friday Day 1 was Grafton where we had pre dinner drinks at the pub overlooking the river, then dinner at the Grafton Hotel. As Saturday Day 2 loomed we checked for Queensland Covid updates and no change, so we headed out for Coffs Harbour via Dorigo for lunch and an excellent dinner of local produce at the Mermaid Beach House at Coffs Harbour that night.
Regrettably the Sydney Covid situation got worse/uncertain by the Sunday morning Day 3, so many members decided to cut and run after breakfast at Coffs Harbour Surf Club and head back to Brisbane in case our esteemed Premier Anastasia decided to shut the border and we all had to do 14 days quarantine!
The rest of us decided to risk it and soldiered on to Armidale for our last overnight stop. The days schedule was modified a little, but we still managed to see and do everything on our route instructions and finished the tour in a great motel, with drinks in a brewery pub and dinner in a nice Italian restaurant right next door to our motel.
Day four was Armidale at leisure back to Brisbane and still no word from Anastasia on Covid or border changes! We had all been advised to apply for our Border passes, so after trying to clear the ice from our car window at minus “C” temperature, we headed home via the New England Highway.
Thanks to everyone who came along for your participation and friendly company on a great weekend. – Daryl Wilson
Have driven these Northern NSW and New England roads many times before, and never tire of them. The GT21 committee chose the best of them, and suspect that there would be no complaints from the many club members participating in GT21.
A few of the many highlights for us:
- Driving The Waterfall Way from Bellingen to Ebor
- Visiting the Wollomombi Falls
- Being passed by a V8 Esprit at full song with 17 year old Aston Greensil at the wheel with his dad, Wade, waving Aston’s P plate out of the window. Pure magic.
GT21 was also a chance to meet up with other club members unmet in recent times due to obvious reasons.
Robyn and I would like to thank Ken, Steve, Daryl and Carol for a great GT21. – Colin & Robyn McKay
As always with the Grand Tour we select a local regional charity to support. This year it was BackTrack Youth Works based in Armidale.
As the President I made sure we ran a successful Protection and Extortion Racket to collect $1,500 for the charity. Thanks to all on the tour for participating and having fun with the fund raising. – Steve Lennox
Thanks to Ken, Carol, Steve and all involved for arranging and organising such a fantastic GT21. So many great roads and amazing scenery it’s hard to choose just one, however a few memorable moments come to mind – turning the corner we noticed a troop of kangaroo in the field about 30 meters from the road bouncing along in the same direction as we drove, not as majestic as a leopard or lion but still a reminder of how fortunate we are to live in this beautiful country.
The other must be the Mermaid restaurant, really enjoyed all the fresh ingredients and clever use of ‘in season’ produce, highlight for me was the heaters, great company and the lamb! Looking forward to next time. – Sam & Justin Goosen
A couple of old sailing mates. We have spent years scrambling around on trailer sailors, beach cats and a large cruising cat. So Bruce came along to be what sailors call “the guesser! He did a sterling job!
We had a great time. These Lotus rallies are a lot of fun, no wind changes, dragging anchors, flapping sails, bar crossings and big waves to worry about!
Thinking about Tour Tasmania 2022 if its on.
Have introduced him to Alex one of our Targa navigators. – Tony Smith & Bruce Randall
Dad and I had been looking forward to the Grand Tour for some time. Only problem was which car to take as I had an exemption for the Elan but not the Esprit and we knew which would be better for the long journey. Thankfully my exemption for the Esprit came through with a week to spare. (Third world problem I know)
We were in group 2 and spent most of our time behind Steve in what appeared to be the very softly sprung Europa S. (we would grimace approaching bumps that seemed to bounce the Europa’s rear wheels off the road only to hardly feel them at all). We had thought about the faster group but Steve seemed to push ahead pretty hard with Greg and Colin in their amazing Elans keeping up often with a bit of a gap to the rest.
We had a great weekend of driving, eating, talking, and sightseeing. Plus got some great photo memories even managing to clean the car in Coffs Harbour for some seaside shots. Only a couple of hiccups along the way. Mostly on the trip home when we found out the Esprit’s heater is less than adequate (read non-existant) leaving Armidale in minus 4 degrees and that Ballandean is a lovely spot but you do not need a forced 4 hour stop over to find out (bloody immobilizer).
“Ruby” (yes I have named her) decided to miraculously start an hour before the RACQ truck turned up so we bolted for home arriving home after dark.
Thanks to Ken and the team and we are looking forward to next year and special thanks to Eddie for letting me have a drive of the Europa S2 (and letting dad see if he could still squeeze into it – which I can report he can JUST) – Aston Greensill