2018 Spring Tour

'Forays in the Central West'

Alpine Alfisti Spring Tour 2018

Thursday 18th October to Tuesday 23rd October

From Canberra to Bathurst, Mudgee & the Hunter Valley


The 2018 Alpine Alfisti Spring Tour incorporated four days of touring - Friday 19th to Tuesday 23rd October - travelling to Mudgee via Crookwell & Bathurst, around the Hunter Valley and returning via Lithgow and Taralga.

20 Alfisti, in 13 Alfa Romeos, participated in this Spring Tour. While half of the Alfisti were from Canberra, there were two each from Brisbane, Orange, Melbourne and Sydney, and one from Ballarat.

Alfisti @ Mudgee

Alpine Alfisti @ Mudgee (Photo: L Cottle)

The Alfas on Tour included: 2 Alfasuds, 2 (116) GTVs, a 33 P4, 2 (932) GTs, a 159 Q4, a 4C, a (940) Giulietta, 2 (950) Giulias and a Stelvio; representing five decades of Alfa!

Alfas @ Mudgee

Alpine Alfas @ Mudgee (Photo: L Cottle)

On Thursday evening a ‘Pre-Tour’ dinner was held at ‘Blackfire’ restaurant in Braddon.

Tour Day 1 (Friday): Sutton to Mudgee via Bathurst

Alfisti gathered at ‘The Baker’ in Sutton for an early breakfast before heading north towards Bathurst. A brief stop for coffee in Crookwell, and everyone was back on the road.

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Image: (Google) Route map

The first place visited in Bathurst was the very interesting ‘National Motor Racing Museum’ - full of fascinating displays featuring Australia’s motor racing history.

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Alpine Alfisti @ NMRM Bathurst (Photo: L Cottle)

Lunch was at Rydges Hotel, located adjacent to the Mount Panorama circuit’s ‘Conrod Straight’.

The Tour group members were not the only motoring enthusiasts in Bathurst that day. While enjoying lunch, overlooking The Chase & Conrod Straight, a large collection of very impressive Morgans, both elderly and millenial, was seen to set off and motor around the track. The Morgans were in town to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Morgan Owners’ Group.

Mt Panorama scenic road

View from Rydges (Photo: L Cottle)

After lunch the Alfas too, headed out onto Mt. Panorama’s scenic drive for a few sedate laps of the iconic circuit.

A member reminisces: “As I carefully steered the GT across Skyline at the Top of the Mountain and then down through the famous ‘Esses’ & ‘The Dipper’, I was thinking ‘How did Peter Brock race through those tight, downhill turns, at full speed in his Toranas & Commordores, often with one arm resting on the open window, dodging other cars, while casually chatting to the world on live TV?’ Even at the posted ‘60’ speed limit, parts of this 6.2km racetrack were frightening, yet exhilarating!”

From Bathurst the Tour headed further north to Mudgee via Wattle Flat and Ilford, and were delighted by some very scenic vistas along the way.

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Image: (Google) Route map

Dinner was at Parklands Resort’s ‘Vine’ restaurant in Mudgee.

Tour Day 2 (Saturday): Ballooning then Sofala & Hill End

For some, the day started at 4:30am, as they had an appointment with a Hot Air Balloon. "The early start was tough, but it was a perfect day for Ballooning – cool, no wind and no rain, despite warnings of a possible thunderstorm!"

For the rest, it was a leisurely breakfast followed by – when the balloonists returned - a herding exercise to assemble the crowd for the obligatory 'Tour Group Photo'.

Car park

Alpine Alfisti @ Parklands (Photo: A Sadow)

Following the photo session, the group headed south of Mudgee to tour the quaint and picturesque villages of Sofala and Hill End followed by an excellent buffet lunch at Robert Oatley’s ‘Craigmoor Pavilion’.

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Image: (Google) Route map

After an afternoon free of driving, the group reconvened in the evening for fabulous dinner (a 5-course ‘degustation’) at the ‘Pipeclay Pumphouse’ restaurant located at the Robert Stein Vineyard.

The winery is also home to a Vintage Motorbike Museum – so a pre-dinner visit to the museum was a mandatory item on these motoring enthusiasts’ Tour itinerary.

The museum then doubled as the venue for the Alpine Alfisti AGM.

Tour Day 3 (Sunday): Mudgee to the Hunter
- via Bylong Valley Way & Broke

Day 3 took the Tour group from Mudgee to the Hunter Valley via the Bylong Valley Way, then Denman for an obligatory coffee stop, to Broke for lunch.

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Image: (Google) Route map

While the countryside was quite green and picturesque, the surface condition of some of the roads – potholes, patches of gravel and uneven asphalt – was demanding for drivers of cars with low ground clearance or low-profile tyres!

The lunch stop was welcomed by all, and the group enjoyed a wonderful three course meal at Margan Restaurant in Broke.

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Alfas @ Margan (Photo: L Cottle)

After lunch, the Spring Tour trophy was awarded to the crew deemed most deserving – a couple who had travelled from Melbourne to join the Tour.

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Alpine Alfisti Spring Tour trophy (Photo: L Cottle)

From Broke, it was a short trip to Pokolbin and the Hunter Valley Resort - where the Tour was based for the next two nights. Free time in the afternoon to explore Pokolbin and its surrounds was followed by dinner that evening at Il Cacciatore in Pokolbin.

Tour Day 4 (Monday): loop to Clarence Town

After an early breakfast, the Tour Group was back on the road and heading east via Maitland and Seaham to Clarence Town. While it was a long way to go to get a coffee, we were joined there by a quartet of local Alfisti in their Spiders.

The group then headed back west, ably lead by the new Tour recruits, touring through Wallarobba, Paterson, Branxton and back to Pokolbin.

Once again, some rough roads and a lot of single lane bridges, but the scenery – and the green Hunter Valley landscape - made up for it all.

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Image: (Google) Route map

Lunch was held at ‘Café Enzo’ in ‘Peppers Creek Village’ under umbrellas in the restaurant's garden. A very pleasant and relaxed setting.

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Alpine Alfisti at lunch at Cafe Enzo (Photos: L Cottle)

After lunch was another ‘free’ afternoon to rest, walk or explore. A few of the group visited a grand old historical building called ‘The Convert’.

This imposing timber building, with its 17 bedrooms, was initially built in 1909 to house a small community of Irish-born Catholic nuns in Coonamble – 500km north-west of its present location. Now it’s a stunning five-star guest house, amongst some amazing gardens.

Alfas at the Convent

Alfas at the Convent (Photo: L Cottle)

The final Spring Tour dinner was held at ‘The Cellar’ restaurant in Pokolbin .

Tour Day 5 (Tuesday): return to Canberra
- via Putty Rd & Bells Line of Road

This was the final day for the Tour, so it was time to point the Alfas towards Canberra. We left Pokolbin and headed west to Milbrodale and south via the wonderful ‘Putty Road’ and then turned towards Lithgow along another great Alfa drive, ‘Bells Line of Road’.

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Image: (Google) Route map

These are great roads, running along the top of the Great Dividing Range and rising to an altitude of 1,355 metres above sea level. It offers some spectacular scenery and a clear sunny day of 26 degrees – perfect for a drive with the Alfas.

This was a completely different vista to the wineries of the Hunter Valley as we travel through the high country with its many tall trees and orchards.

The group called for a brief visit to ‘The Blue Mountains Botanic Gardens’ at Mount Tomah.

Alfas at Mt Tomah

Alfas at Mt Tomah (Photo: L Cottle)

As well as the impressive gardens themselves, it has a wonderful vista over a wide expanse of the Blue Mountains – quite spectacular.

Vista from Mt Tomah

Vista from Mt Tomah (Photo: L Cottle)

Back into the Alfas and a short drive to Lithgow - in time for lunch at the ‘Tin Shed’. The group then headed south with a quick stop in Taralga, arriving back in Canberra that evening.