Trip Leader: Rob Nankiville
Co Trip Leader: Gary Arcus
October 27th – 29th 2017
The idea of our weekend in Koorda came about from a few members passing through Koorda on their way home from the Easter Four Lakes Tour earlier in the year. Once we realised that the big screen in the paddock was actually a working Drive In, there was a chance to “relive” some memories from the distant past. A few phone calls and a couple of visits back to the town and we secured the very capable services of the local Community Resource Centre to arrange an interesting range of activities for a special weekend.
First order of business was to select which movie we would like to see from quite a comprehensive list of new releases available to us. The winning movie actually only received a total of 3 votes such was the disparity of choices from those going and the size of the list. A total of 21 Family Memberships, and 2 regisered Visitors began arriving on Thursday and most had arrived and settled in by late Friday afternoon. As more arrived the area we had chosen for the club became “quite cosy”
First activity for Friday, not counting a very early happy hour started in the Caravan Park, was to walk around to the Koorda Hotel for a group dinner. Problematically for the hotel staff our pre-arranged numbers had increased from 20 to “33 for dinner”. This, along with a local pub card jackpot bringing in an extra influx of locals, really had the place bursting at the seams.
Great credit to the hotel chef for getting out so many meals in a timely manner for us, even though we were not in any hurry to finish up and leave. The evening was getting quite cool outside and we were nice and warm inside. It was our pleasure to host the Manager of the Community Resource Centre, Kim Storer, and her husband Rick (who is also the Shire President) as a way of expressing our thanks for all the work Kim had put in to make our weekend an interesting and enjoyable one.
After everyone had returned to the caravan park, we were able to have a small camp fire. At Bridget’s request we had secured a fire permit from the Shire.
A further group of 6 memberships arrived on the Saturday and had the local hotel booked out for the night.
Saturday dawned fine and windy with so many bacon and egg breakfasts on the go it seemed as if the previous nights fire had been re-ignited ! Most of our crowd wandered through town to check out the local car and military museums and generally have good look around the place. And icecreams.! A nice gesture from the local IGA brightened our lunchtime gathering when Rachel and Muzz, finding their hotel didn’t do lunches, and arriving at the IGA store just as it was closing, on mentioning they were with the visiting Club, the store owner stayed open long enough to make them some lunch. That type of response was found to be typical of everyone that we came into contact with in the town.
Our convoy of over 20 vehicles slipped out of town and headed south to the Boyne Family farm. I did wonder what the family thought they were in for when 20 4Wds turned off the road and came down their drive way.
Over the next few hours the Boyne family shared their farming history, provided us with an understanding of local farming techniques and allowed a bunch of 4WD enthusiast into the farm sheds to view much bigger 4WDs than we were used to.
While outside in the museum yard, we listened to the history of the old and extraordinary vehicles and machinery in various stages of restoration.
A busy afternoon, and with the additional members who were staying at the hotel for the night, it was a very large circle for our traditional Happy Hour around the caravan park fire pit. A roisterous gathering that could have continued for long hours into the night but for Guy and Wendy announcing they intended to get to the drive-in early to be the first to enter and to get prime spot for the movies. Just like they used to over 40 years ago ! Then the race was on to get to there before all the good spots were taken. You’ve never seen a happy hour gathering finish so spectacularly, tables and chairs going everywhere, drinks being skolled on the way to caravans. So very undignified. I’m sure Paul thought he would beat everyone there in his blue Mustang but he also became stuck in the bottleneck at the park entrance !!
Down to the Drive In, which was all of 500 metres away, you start to get a feeling of what social life is like in a small country town with none other than the Community Resource Centre Manager, Kim, also being the happy local taking entry fees at the Drive In gate.
Once people had parked up on their preferred spots the next matter of import-ance was to hit the canteen and indulge in some local fare. The primary school P&C run the food canteen and the profits go toward supporting school projects. There was quite a selection of tasty food and all at very reasonable prices. This no doubt inspired John King to attempt a “onesy night” at the Drive In, not in a pyjama sense but in the way of 1 pie, 1 hot dog, 1 hamburger, 1 … 1… ! He was even seen to be still going after the movie break with 1 popcorn & 1 ice cream ! He even scammed 1 pie when the P&C ladies offered the excess food free around the cars when the canteen closed.
Several members accepted an invitation to view the modern equipment now being used to show digital films and were permitted upstairs into what used to be called the “projection room’ but is now called the “digital room” Hasn’t quite the same ring has it ?
Typically while weather stays fine, the temperature drops dramatically at night and most people ended up in warm gear for the rest of the evening.
Amusement for some, and frustration for those experiencing it, was the difficulty of getting their sound systems set up to listen to the movie soundtrack. Being the new digital set up, the Drive In does not use the old wired speakers that used to hang onto the drivers’ windows. To hear the movie, one tunes in to the correct channel on fm radio.
Oh if only it was so simple for owners of modern high tech vehicles !!
While several vehicles moved to positions in front of the main building to get inside the “cone of sound” from the resident fm transmitter (It was at this point others became aware of just how intrusive our uhf antennas can be at a Drive In) other drivers resorted to reading owner manuals to figure out how the radio could work without a key in the ignition. While yet others sought similar makes of their vehicle to check how those owners were getting sound. One vehicle was parked right in front of the pavilion so with the windows down, they listened to the soundtrack from the external speakers on the Canteen. It was a very cool experience in a very literal sense..!
Another vehicle had to be restarted every 15 minutes to allow the radio to ‘wake up’ BUT with the headlights coming on at the same time..! Also noted was that the sound system in a high performance Ford is exactly the same as the one in a standard Ranger – who knew !
This was certainly a very different Drive In experience from those long gone days of our youth .. but then this was the very reason for our visit to Koorda after all.! After such an enjoyable and interesting experience it was back 500m to the caravan park, around midnight, and sadly too late… or more likely too cold.. to take advantage of the massive mallee roots that Shire President Rick had again provided at the fire pit.
A fine and sunny Sunday morning around the various coffee machines that many consider indispensable to caravanning these days was not a bad way to pass the time at all. As the coffee grounds grew cold and the smell of fried breakfasts wafted in the breeze, folks started packing up and preparing to head for home after first attending the Sunday opening of local craft shops with the prospect of morning tea in town and a post lunch departure.
A small group opted to head a few kilometres north and visit the Koorda Pistol Club who were having an Open Day for Visitors. While the club is quite small, the members provided us with a competitive range shoot-out with Rachel taking out the prize for the “Biggest Bang of the Day” with a huge magnum handgun, a la Dirty Harriet.
A major part of the success of this whole weekend trip was due to the attention and co-operation of Kim Storer, at the Community Resource Centre, and the warm welcome from local residents.
For our own interest and to evaluate financially a 4WD Club’s visit to a rural Centre, on our return we conducted a quick survey of members’ expenditure for this weekend. The results were quite surprising, including the cost of fuel purchased on return home, we estimate that $4500 was spent over this weekend. Hopefully this event was able to inspire more of the local Koorda businesses to get behind any future such weekends to be organised by their CRC.
Well done Koorda, we had a wonderful time, and good luck with your Drive In.
Trip Report: Peter Cole