The Big Lap

In 2013, members of the Morgan Owners Club of Australia completed a very successful 90 day “around  Australia” tour, with 4 Morgans achieving the whole trip!  That’s 20,000km in a Morgan!  Oh what fun!

The selected photographs below are from parts of the “big lap” as the intrepid Morgan owners drove around this vast country. The story of the trip is below the Gallery. Photographs and story provided by Judy Mitchell

A REPORT ON THE MOZZIE TOUR – June – September 2013

(The First Half)

Members of the Morgan Owners Club of Australia have recently completed a very successful 90 day “around Australia” tour, with 4 Morgans achieving the whole trip!  That’s 20,000km in a Morgan!  Oh what fun!

The idea of the trip was introduced to members of the club about 12 months ago, and was enthusiastically received, so planning began in earnest.  We called it the “Mozzie Tour of Australia” and guaranteed an interesting trip between the main cities of Sydney – Cairns – Darwin – Broome – Perth – Adelaide, all on sealed roads, with the promise of warm temperatures and sunny skies for at least half of the winter trip!  The tour began on 10th June with a fanfare send-off by a large group of envious club members who were unable to come on the journey – and we were off on the “adventure of a life-time”!  19 members were on the start line; 6 Morgans and a collection of “tin tops” headed for the first overnight stop at Port Macquarie.  The next 2 weeks were spent visiting Yamba, Maroochydore, Hervey Bay, Yeppoon, Cape Hillsborough, Airlie Beach, Townsville, and 3 nights in Cairns. This was leg 1 completed; we had left a very wet Gold Coast behind us and were enjoying beautiful blue skies and lovely warm sunny days.  Perfect Morgan touring weather!  The lush tropical scenery and picturesque flowering cane fields were magnificent to drive through; a leafy treat before we headed west towards the drier inland areas.

The second leg of the trip was from historic Cooktown to Darwin, via such varied locations as Atherton and Mt.Surprise, to Karumba on the Gulf.  No time for fishing, but we thoroughly enjoyed the magnificent sunsets up there!  The stark reality of the rugged industrial town of Mt.Isa was in direct contrast to the beauty of the tropical Queensland coast, but lead us directly to the magnificence of the central outback stops at Barkly Homestead and Heartbreak Hotel.  Driving the long straight narrow Tablelands Highway was, for me, one of the most impressive sections of the trip.  We very quickly learned to respect and give a wide berth to the huge cattle road-trains that ply this highway, but when we had times to enjoy the road to ourselves we were able to stop and listen to the silence!  The scene was 360 degrees of flat dry tree-less plain, with an occasional distant windmill and small groups of cattle standing by water-holes.  Obviously no rain had fallen in these parts for a long long time!  Extremely harsh – but with loads of big sky beauty.

This trip was planned to offer surprises, and loads of contrasts.  The next stop, Mataranka Springs, was warm, tropical, colourful and in direct contrast to where we’d been during the previous few days!   Swimming in the thermal stream was one of the highlights of the whole trip – hard to beat!  A visit to Katherine was next on the agenda, then on to Darwin for 4 nights to complete the second stage of the Mozzie Tour.  At this point we had 5 Morgans and 27people on tour, and this group travelled together until after Kakadu when several members headed for home via inland roads.  This flexibility in planning was emphasised from the beginning of the tour – and people were encouraged to come for as much of the planned itinerary as they were able to, and make their own arrangements for their return journey.

Stage 3 was Darwin to Broome!  A big distance with many more interesting places to visit.  The beauty of Kakadu with its amazing rock formations, ancient Aboriginal artworks, lush wetlands and abundant wildlife was enjoyed by the whole group.  Two days there was not enough, so another visit will be high on the list of places to return to!  We then travelled to Kununurra to enjoy yet more impressive landscapes, then to Fitzroy Crossing and Geike Gorge, and on to Broome for 5 nights.

Big travel distances deserved a few days of relaxing – giving both drivers and cars a break from the highway – so it was nice to be able to spend time “chilling out”, enjoying leisurely walks along Cable Beach, a camel ride at sunset, learning about the history of pearl farming and sharing the warmth and casual life-style with many other tourists!  It didn’t feel like winter at all!  On 22nd July we embarked on the next spectacular leg of our journey – Broome to Perth; first stop, Sandfire Roadhouse, which was a fun place to celebrate a birthday, and enjoy the quirkiness and history of this watering hole mid-way between Broome and Port Hedland, before experiencing driving through the fringe of the Pilbara.  Mining activity is everywhere over there!  Roadside signs to mine sites, temporary villages, lots of mine-related vehicles plying the highway, and huge machinery, construction materials, site huts, etc. being moved by extremely large transporters all added action to the remote areas we drove through.  As we neared Port Hedland the amount of traffic increased, and we were astounded at the amount of road-works and industrial infrastructure being developed around that busy city!  Another stark contrast to the serenity of the tropics a few days’ drive away!  Our next stop was Karratha – more massive industrial development, with associated road-trains, extremely long ore trains (155 bins on one train waited for at a crossing!) emission stacks, communication towers, pipelines, etc. all servicing the surrounding mining areas and the huge oil and gas industry.  One of the highlights of this location was, once again, the magnificent sunsets – and we made a special visit to Hearson’s Cove to see the famed “staircase to the moon” which we had missed by a day in Broome!  We waited, and waited, and finally witnessed a magnificent scene; after an exceptionally beautiful sunset, the full moon rose and reflected on ripples of wet sand at low tide across the bay.  The contrast to this serenity was the glare from the array of lights at the huge oil and gas refinery behind us!  Industrial lighting: “interesting” – moonlight over the cove: “magnificent”.  Enjoying a glass of wine on a shelly beach, watching a pink sunset light up the red rocks on the headland: “priceless”!

From there we left the red earth behind and headed to Exmouth – a long drive, but worth the trip.  There were many excursions to be enjoyed from this town, so 2 full days there gave enough time for those who wanted to experience swimming with whale sharks, snorkelling, walking in gorges, watching whales play near the coastline, birding, etc. to have an interesting visit.  Next stop, Coral Bay (our family favourite) didn’t disappoint.  A swim in the pristine lagoon, feeding fish in the shallows, and more wine on the beach while waiting for the magnificent sunset!  Another “priceless” experience!  Denham was the next port of call, and yet more natural beauty to be enjoyed, and history to be admired.  This is inside the Shark Bay World Heritage area, and is preserved for good reason.  Most impressive were the pristine waters surrounding this peninsula;  the magnificent stromatolites (living fossils)  at Hamelin Pool, and the historic white shell buildings at the old Telegraph Station.  Another place that is well worth the long drive in! Good roads for Morgans, too, and without the big trucks!  What a treat!

Judy Mitchell