Location: Manning Valley
Date: August 2008

August 30, 2008. Taree again... this time the Show 'n' Shine exhibition by the Manning Valley Cruzers Club, a bunch of hot rod enthusiasts. One section of the main street was blocked off to traffic this morning for the assembly of about 100 awesome cars, attended by quite a large crowd of admirers. Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the end of this article.

This was a surprise to me. I knew the rods were in town for the Mountains to the Sea Rod Run, but I didn't know they'd planned a Show 'n' Shine. It was just down the road from my place, so I threw the camera bag over the shoulder and walked down there. Earlier, I was standing on the front verandah after hearing a series of thundering V8s outside and wondered what the hell was going on. Ah, hah! So I checked the local council "What's On" page on the net and discovered the story. Boom, boom.

Those cars are a real credit to the enthusiasm and dedication of their owners. They are genuine works of art. If I owned one I'd be terrified to take it out of the garage. In fact, one bloke I spoke to said some of them would be lucky to do 10 kilometers a year! He drives his regularly, and for quite long distances between capital cities... Melbourne to Brisbane. He's the bloke who owns the blue 1935 Ford Coupe (pics 086-090). "I do all the mechanical work myself," he said, "and I've got a few mates who do things like upholstery and painting for mate's rates."

Another bloke - when I asked about the bucks involved in rod building and restoration - told me that 40 grand is about the starting point for something basic, but if you want something outstanding, it's no problem to spend 100 g's up to about 120 g's. Whoa! That ain't no cheap hobby, folks.

I suggested to the owner of the Ford coupe that he'd never be short of conversation with strangers. "No, it's a head turner, and a great way to meet new people." I asked him if his car had a name. "Just the 'old girl'." He says it runs very well, is roomy and comfortable, and is a great car for everyday use.

By the end of the photographic session, I was pretty much car'd out, so it was a relief to see a couple of kids, busking for a few bucks with their guitars and harmonica. One was dressed up as a clown. I asked for permission to take a few pics, and was surprised by their shyness. Hey guys, there's no room for shyness in showbiz ya know!

And the Fish 'n Chip shop? That's where my mate Josh works... Taree's ORIGINAL fish 'n' chip shop!

My favorite rod? I dunno if I have a fav, but I was rather impressed with the early '40s Hudson (pics 032-035). My guess is that it was made in about '41 or '42 before the Americans joined WW II. I rather like the red Ford Custom because it reminds me of a tailor who gave me a lift home in one when I got lost as a little kid. Yes, I was mightily impressed at being driven home in a limo! "Hey, mom! Check this out!" But all the cars are wonderful, each special in its own way, and each a living icon from days past. It was a great show, and I'm glad I was there to share it with you. And yes, I made sure a couple of old Holdens like mine got a Guernsey. Click here for the photo album

August 9/10, 2008. You know the old fishing adage 'you should have been here yesterday'? Well, it also applies to a championship dog shows. "There were 600 of 'em here yesterday," said the Taree Showground caretaker. And today? Well, all the dog owners - what was left of them - were packing up to leave when I arrived. The show was over. Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the end of this article.

Then a storm approached - nothing major, but the wind gusted, sending people scattering, and a few drops of rain fell... one of them on my camera lens. So all I managed to photograph was a few dogs before everyone disappeared. Well, I did manage to capture a pink 1955 FJ Holden towing a horse float. The local pony club was there too. And I got a few shots of motorhomes parked in the grounds. I WANT ONE!

Yesterday, Saturday, I wandered down to the Manning River to get a few shots of a dragon boat. It was a promotional "Come and Try Day" organized by the recently formed Manning River Dragon Boat Club to interest newbies in the sport of dragon boat racing, which has its roots in ancient China but is now popular around the world. Most of the newbies were middle-age wannabes, not to mention wobblies. Paddle synchronization was not one of their strong points. Try to picture 10 paddles a side all doing their own individual thing hehe. However, and probably miraculously, they managed to stay afloat out on the river.

Nope... not the most thrilling of weekend Odysseys but worth a look. Click here for the photo album

August 3, 2008. Off to Taree Showground again for the Taree Model Railway and Hobbies Exhibition. And what a glorious day it was/is weatherwise. It's winter here but you'd swear it was a late spring/early summer's day, warm with bright sunshine. Click here for the photo album or read on and click the link at the bottom of this article.

First off, $5 entry but that's okay... it all goes to charity. Then to pavilion # 1 where I photographed a couple of displays as well as stalls that sell locos and rolling stock plus model buildings and other decorations for full-scale layouts. One of the displays was built into a cupboard that folds away out of sight, which means young Billy can play with his trains in his bedroom, and then pack it all away again at night.

The second pavilion was much larger, with bigger displays that were not confined to just model railways. Actually, some of the displays were so large I wondered how the dickens they could be packed, unpacked and transported. One operator told me his wife had banished him and his layout to the garage. Women simply don't empathise with boy's toys littering the living room.

Photographing model trains indoors with only a flash for lighting is fairly restrictive but I think most of the shots are okay. I was desperate for kids, though. A kid's face makes a picture so much more interesting. Fortunately, I found a few.

With all due respect to the rail freaks, I was fascinated by a guy from Narooma, a NSW south coast town, who builds model boats. "I'm also into model railways," he said. Anyway, he's a retired engineer who has a love of boats - all kinds of boats. The scale model 12 meter yacht featured in the photo album is stunning, with incredible attention to detail. The space age sails are so lightweight, he had to add extra lead to the keel. According to strict club regulations, those particular models need to weigh between 11 and 11.1 kilograms. Not much room for error. The hull is the same design as the model used for tank testing the 1966 Australian contender for the America's Cup, so it's the true blue, fair dinkum article. The deck is made of strips of cedar, perfectly shaped and fitted together, and then polished with a special weather-proof marine coating. The hull is fiberglass. The boat's rudder is controlled by an internal battery (below the middle hatch) that sends a wireless signal to a remote device on shore. It took the guy 17 months of labor to complete the project. He and his fellow club members often enjoy a day by the water's edge racing their boats... and trust me, the competition is very serious! Just like the real thing! "I got to the buoy first you mongrel, so get out of my way!"

Ah, yes, the Shetland ponies... irresistible to anyone with a camera. Love the little dudes. Across the way, there was a display of radio controlled model toys. And no, the boss and I share the same first name but that's it. Later, I took a few pics of those big-wheeled racing cars doing their thing. Boy! Can those things travel or what? Whooosh! And they're bloody noisy as well. And older bloke standing alongside me said, "Who wants to grow up and miss out on all the fun?"

I took two lots of pics of the Shetlands. The first time they had their rumps to the sun. When I bitched about the sun being in the wrong situation, a nearby bloke said, "hang a towel over it." He meant the sun. Yeah, right. Cheeky bugger. When I emerged from the second pavilion an hour or two later, I noticed that the Shetlands were facing into the sun. Perfect!

Not a bad day, and an interesting way to spend a few hours. Click here for the photo album


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