The Easter weekend, 2016 proved a very thrilling weekend away. Skip organised a rally to Lightning Ridge - in his Simca P60 wagon! A 1962 model, she performed admirably, and was quite pleasant to drive, albeit sans air-conditioning! Sufficient room for three adult men and their luggage. I do, suspect, however, that I will be required to repack my bag and leave some items at home next time! Skip was not expecting me to have bought such a large bag. It wasn’t THAT big, honestly! I must admit, I had taken more than I really needed. With the cargo area loaded up, not being able to see out the back window when one is sharing the Newell Highway with various trucks at 110 km/h, isn’t the most fun! It was however, an absolute hoot sitting behind the wheel and actually driving a Simca - who could argue against that?

There was much happening in Lightning Ridge that weekend, so we were never left wondering how we were going to fill our time. There were various activities celebrating all that is good about Lightening Ridge, and a variety of tours that one could do, including self-drive tours – just follow the red car doors, or the yellow car doors, or the green car doors……….

Doug also came for the weekend, although Skip’s was the only Simca there. The Bowls Club took responsibility for providing lunches and dinners, and the two cafes we visited were great for breakfast and other snacks! We certainly didn’t starve, and were kept well nourished.

Sunday morning saw Skip, Mark and I embark on the Black Opal Tour. We were the only ones on it, so Larry, our driver, looked after us, showing us various mines and equipment, and sharing many anecdotes about various characters from times gone by, as well as more recent events! Later that day, he took us on our own special tour of various car graveyards, usually kept away from prying eyes. It was a great privilege to be taken to meet some of the local folk and talk about their interests in cars, and to walk around the beautiful old cars that I for one would love to take home and provide some TLC in order to get them back on the road!

We learnt a great deal about mining for opals, as well as opals themselves, and although we had plenty of opportunity to purchase some, they were a little out of my price-range. Absolutely gorgeous, though, I must say.

We had such a fabulous time, we stayed an extra day! So, on the Monday, we drove out to “The Glengarry Hilton”, via “The Club in the Scrub”. We were planning to have lunch at “The Club”, but a tour bus arrived just before we did, so we had a drink and a packet of chips, and headed out to “The Hilton”. They were very busy, but we managed to arrive in time to order before the kitchen closed, and we waited a good hour for the meal. Just about everyone else who had arrived at the Club for lunch, all had the same idea – the Hilton was busy!

After we left “The Hilton”, we accidentally drove into somebody’s property. It was fantastic – absolutely packed with old cars, many of which seemed in better condition than many of the ones we had seen. There were a couple of guys working on an old Valiant, but we thought it best just to continue our drive around the shed, and back out onto the main road. They basically ignored us, but I am sure they were watching us out of the corners of their eyes. Perhaps they were hoping we would pull up so they could ask us about the Simca? Who knows, but we will never find out now!

All in all, it was a great weekend away, and I thank Skip for organising it. I look forward to being involved in more runs in the future.

David Reeves