Wrapping Up the 2023 MG Pre-war and TY Centenary of MG Rally – Canberra

Thanks to Robert Smith’s  foresight, Sydney Club members met en route to Canberra for a coffee and chat. This was the beginning of a fabulous weekend organised by the Canberra MG Club and the Pre-War MG Register.

Friday night saw everyone gather for a Noggin ‘n’ Natter and registration with a fantastic and delicious array of pizzas for dinner. Such a simple, tasty and efficient means to cater for a casual dinner for the people attending.

Saturday saw a superb collection of MGs line up outside the National Museum of Australia. On the approach to the museum, visitors wandered through a magnificent display of vintage MGs, M Types and Triple M competition cars including J3, K3 and Q types, all in concours condition. All these cars attracted a great deal of interested attention. The MG afficionados were particularly interested in the replica of Old Number 1. Old Number One was built especially for Cecil Kimber to compete in the annual London to Land’s End Trial to promote his new line of cars, then known as the MG Super Sports models.

All the T Types, and MG saloons were parked on the concourse and grass area overlooking Lake Burley Griffin. Again, this was an impressive display which attracted an admiring audience throughout the day. My beautiful TA held its own among a very impressive collection of MGs.

This was a perfect venue for the display and Canberra turned on a fabulously sunny day with a sparkling lake as a backdrop for the cars. The museum cafeteria did a roaring trade and provided all those attending with the opportunity to catch up with friends over coffee and lunch.

Sunday saw all the cars participating in one of two runs. John and I took part in the longer run which took us from Parliament House out to Queanbeyan and then on to Bungendore. A very gusty wind saw the TA wandering a little but we arrived safely in Bungendore. Bungendore provided all with plenty of opportunities for coffee as well as some interesting shops to browse through. I spent a great deal of time in the Wood Works Gallery and had mentally discarded all my current furniture to redecorate with the beautiful furniture on display. A quirky and beautiful hall table particularly appealed. Sadly, perhaps luckily, it did not fit in the TA!

Then it was back to Queanbeyan by a different route for a picnic lunch in Central Park. This is a beautiful park with old established trees providing shade for both cars and people. Lunch was catered for by the Canberra Club with an appetising array of sandwiches and wraps followed by yummy slices, cakes and fruit. Again, this event allowed people to catch up with friends from the MG family who they might not see regularly.

This run was one of the best marshalled events I have participated in. You could not have got lost unless you deliberately tried. Huge thanks to the organiser and all the marshals for a superb event.

There was a more formal dinner on Sunday night where various awards were presented. Scott Humphries’ TC did not make the event, and so Scott won the Hard Luck Award.

I was the recipient of the Claude Harris Award which is presented to the owner of a pre-war T-type MG (TA or TB) attending the rally. The recipient is chosen by the rally organisers in consultation with the Harris family and is awarded to encourage participation by pre-war T-type MGs. Criteria include length of ownership, attention to detail of originality, extent of use and contribution more generally to the spirit and community of MG. These attributes reflect the approach to MG ownership exemplified by the late Claude Harris who had owned his MG TA (TA1980) for over 70 years at the time of his death in 2019.

I cannot express how honoured I was to receive this award. Claude was always so interested in, whenever I spoke with him, and supportive of my efforts to restore my TA and get it back on the road. His ownership and passion for his TA is memorable.

Can I say the TA, which I sometimes dub The Phoenix, performed admirably on the 95 km drive at the rally. However, 95 kms did reveal the need for a really good tuning and so it is off to club member Peter Fogarty for a masterful fine tuning! My thanks to Peter for agreeing to take on this task.

Also, Matt Crawford was awarded People’s Choice Award for Y Types for his very elegant Y-Type.

Monday morning saw all interested drivers offered the opportunity to do a self-guided drive around the embassies and high commissions of the national capital. John took our host for the weekend, friend Lindsay Forrest, on this drive which both found highly interesting.

Finally, on Tuesday morning we visited the workshop of the National Museum of Australia. Of course this visit was to the automobile workshop where a fascinating array of cars are stored, restored and kept in operating condition by our guide for the morning, Craig. We were privileged to see the late Queen’s Royal Tour Daimler, Jack Brabham’s first Formula 1 race car, a unique and beautiful old Holden and other fascinating vehicles. 

On a more personal note, and nothing at all to do with MGs, Canberra offered me the opportunity to visit a fascinating dolls house and miniaturist shop. I have undertaken the restoration of a dolls house my father built for me when I was about 8. A labour of love, much like restoring the TA except of a vastly different scale. Victorian Dollhouses and Miniatures of Canberra has the most extraordinary and extensive range of dollhouse furniture and miniatures I have found anywhere in the world. Can I tell you I have driven John nearly crazy tracking down miniature shops wherever we have travelled!

So, our hostess for the weekend, Frances, and I took off for an indulgent, for me, trip to the dolls house shop. I came away with a kitchen bench inclusive of sink, a set of cannisters, a kitchen table which I will need to take apart, cut down and rebuild, a brown paper bag of groceries, a watering can, a set of books for the library and handles for the dining room sideboard I am building. So indulgent!

I must congratulate the MG Club of Canberra and the Pre War Register for a superbly organised weekend where everything ran smoothly and to time and was vastly enjoyable. Particular thanks go to the organisers: Brian Calder, Kent Brown, Malcolm Robertson and Ewan Ward. Congratulations on a great weekend which I know all enjoyed immensely.

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