I guess I’m still in that naive new owner place where I’ll give anything a go and worry about the consequences later. That said, I bought this car to DRIVE and so drive her I did, across on the Spirit to Devonport for a 2 week tour hanging out with friends and exploring some of the beauty of our southern most state.
I had a ball. Even with the hiccups one associates with traveling with an older vehicle, there is nothing but good things to say about the people I’ve met, the conversations over the roof of the car and the stunning scenery of Tasmania.
First off I had a week in Wynyard, so having already pinged the Tasmanian club’s facebook page in advanced looking for conspirators, one evening I was joined by 3 other mini club alum and their partners for a short coastal drive between Wynard and Ulverstone.
Funnily, each of the cars represented something different, my Mini variant, an original Clubman, a modified one, and a slightly modified Austin Cooper S. It just goes to show that no two cars are truly alike, each as individual as their owners. It was a lovely evening, the company was great and dinner together was truly enjoyable! (The scenic drive, also magnificent!!)
Because the Hobart contingent of the club had a meet planned, I changed my schedule to head down to Hobart a bit earlier in order to join them. Again, either or naive or optimistic, I took the road less travelled and drove down through the centre of Tassie, via the Lake District, WOW. Even given how dry the countryside is in the height of summer, it is spectacular. I’m all revved up to come again sometime… I mean, really, let’s do a Southern tour… this place is phenomenal.
So the January Mini Club of Tasmania drive was a country tour from Hobart to Kettering. What fun! It was a bush route, skirting around the bottom of Mt Wellington and up hill and down dale with lots of curves to put driving skills to the test. We finished at a popular pizza truck, and sat out in the car park chatting all things Mini, and Tasmania over pizzas and beer. Another great evening. If you’re travelingI highly recommend reaching out to locals as a great way to connect with other enthusiasts… if only because you’ll never know when you need them… and it was sooner rather than later for me.
My last day in Tassie was due to be Sunday, with a leisurely drive from Hobart to Devonport to take the evening sailing. I headed north picking up the Great Eastern Drive at Orford and proceeded without any issues, heading for Bicheno and Scamander… that’s when things took a turn for the interesting!!
As I was coming down the hill into Bicheno, I applied the brakes to slow my descent and bang, clank… nothing… no brakes. Fortunately, I wasn’t going too fast, and was able to get some traction, using my gears to slow me down I coasted off to the left of the road where there was enough lay-by for me to be out of everyone’s way.
Hands shaking, I tried moving forward and testing my brakes just to feel how off they were… yeah… no good. Stopping here for a bit obviously.
Given the wonders of modern technology (i.e. smart phones) I called the Spirit and rescheduled my trip, called the RACT and let them know I was stuck, got onto AirBnb and booked a night’s stay (with an option for a 2nd) and then sat back in the passenger seat dug into some of the Tasmanian produce I was packing and had a perfect car picnic while I waited for rescue.
Of course, it’s summer holidays and everyone’s on the road, so it wasn’t a short wait, but the forward guard from RACT arrived after a couple of hours, approved the tow, and took me to my accommodation where I settled in for the evening..
The towie arrived at 10.30pm.Together we picked up the car and the last of my gear from the back seat (I’d left the gin behind… CATASTROPHE) and I went to sleep waiting to hear just how bad the damage was… there was no loss of brake fluid which was encouraging, so I wasn’t desperately worried. But at the end of the day, it’s country Tasmania, and no idea what the parts situation was going to be.
I wake the next day, the phone rings, it’s the mechanic who says I just need new front brake linings, that’s the good news, the bad news is that he doesn’t have parts… can I tap my contacts to find any?
Thankful for having met James Willson at the mini meet up I gave him a call and he put me onto Mini Bits, in, wait for it… Bicheno… I mean, of all the places they could have been.
Calls made, and rendezvous set, I parked myself with cash in hand at the local bakery with a coffee and within 15mins someone shows up with brake linings, another 10mins later, the mechanic arrives to pick them up and I head back to my AirBnb to get back to work. It couldn’t have been any smoother. So I could then relax, confident that it was all resolved in a day, certainly more relaxed than I was that I was able to make the Wednesday ferry. And grateful again that the people in this small, enthusiastic community are ready willing and able to help when the need arises!