Travelling with the MGs from Australia

Photo for Travelling with the MGs from Australia

Any journey in an MG is fun, but travelling with a great group of people makes it a great experience. Sitting down at the end of the day with fellow travellers, sipping a cold beer, and talking about the roads and the spectacular scenery, just adds to the pleasure of the day’s drive.

We recently had the opportunity, along with other members of the Canadian Classic MG Club, to drive for five days with the Aussie Adventurers. The five cars from Oz had been stored for a year in Vancouver, BC, after their epic drive through South and Central America. Following a week of preparations, they started their drive across Canada and the US from west coast to east coast.

We learned that the five cars Blue B, Green Car, Red Car, and Navy Car (plus RIP), got their simple names when they started an earlier journey from Beijing to Abingdon. The local Chinese people referred to the different cars by their color as this was the easiest way for them to identify each car.

5 Aussie MGs at Van Dusen

The occupants of the five cars are:

  • RIP – Dave and Laurel (team leaders) – MGA with 1800 engine, 5-speed, and 4.3 diff
  • Blue B – Ross and Shez – MGB Roadster
  • Green Car – Peter and Wendy – MGB Roadster
  • Red Car – Ken and Sue – MGB GT
  • Navy Car – Simon and Maddy – MGB GT

For the first five days of their Trans Canada journey these cars were joined by nine cars driven by CCMGC members. Following the Aussie’s car names, the CCMGC group named their cars by their color also, but with a Canadian twist:

  • Blue Eh! One – Steve and Sheila
  • Blue Eh! Two – Tony and Judy
  • Old White Eh! – Peter
  • Tyrollite Eh! – Rob
  • Red Eh! One – Hayes and Sheelagh
  • Red Eh! Two – Patrick and Amanda
  • Black Eh! – Stephen and Stephanie
  • Green Eh! – Blake
  • Heal Eh! – Brian

(8 MGAs and one Austin Healey)

Canadian MGs

The first five days of the journey covered the Coastal Mountain Range of BC and the Canadian Rockies. The distances covered each of these five days were quite modest to allow the visitors from Down Under time to enjoy the spectacular scenery, and the twisty roads.

Day 1 Vancouver – Whistler, BC: 75 miles (121 kms) on the Sea to Sky Highway. In Whistler, the group rode up Whistler Mountain to 7,200 feet in the gondola.

PeaktoPeakThen they transferred to the Peak to Peak Gondola – a span of 1.88 miles (3.024 kms), and height from the ground 1,427 ft (436 metres)! At dinner that night we met the group’s local “fixers” – Lennox and Mei. Lennox, it turns out, was a veteran of international car events having done three Mille Miglia races, and he also drove in the “Around the World in 80 Days” event. Blue B had some accelerator cable issues on the road to Whistler, but these were resolved that night.

Blue Car in Trouble

Day 2 Whistler to Clearwater, BC: 263 miles (423 kms). The entourage of 14 cars drove through Pemberton and Lillooet on the Duffey Lake Road, arriving in Kamloops for lunch after a spirited drive. Their lunch hosts were Ken and Lorraine Finnigan, members of NAMGAR and the Okanagan Chapter of the Old English Car Club. Ken has been involved in British cars and racing for almost 60 years, and showed his MGA MK II, his MGA Coupe, his Austin Healey project, and his MG TD. In his back yard he also had various MGA parts and a Magnette for anyone interested in reviving these.

Lunch at the Finnigans

After lunch, the group proceeded north to Clearwater, BC, to stay in a motel overlooking a beautiful lake. At dinner that night, the Canadians were grilled by the Aussies on various topics including the significance of July 1st, and their views on Justin Trudeau!

Day 3 Clearwater, BC to Jasper, AB: 197 miles (317 kms). The road continued north and east through the Jasper National Park, and around Mount Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 12,973 feet (3,954 metres). The usually cloud shrouded mountain appeared clear against the blue blue sky. In Jasper, we saw big horned sheep, their white winter coats being replaced by the brown summer one.

MGA Group in the Rockies

Day 4 Jasper – Banff, AB: 179 miles (288 kms). The road now turned south and we drove along the Rockies all day. Spectacular scenery included side trips to Athabasca Falls, the Athabasca Glacier, and Peyto Lake.

Athabasca Falls

Athabasca Glacier

Around mid morning, the starter on Old White Eh! jammed in the ring gear. The starter was removed after much rocking of the car refused to release it. This starter had been installed in the car the previous week, and was replaced by the original starter.

MGA in Trouble

As the first group of cars arrived at the lunch venue in Lake Louise, Red Car suffered clutch failure. Fortunately members of the MG Car Club of Calgary had met the group just before Lake Louise, and they organized a car trailer from Calgary. One of their members had a garage with a hoist, and a new clutch plate, pressure plate, and thrust bearing. Once the engine and gearbox were removed, it became apparent that the carbon ring on the thrust bearing had broken up.

Red Car

Day 6 Banff to Calgary, AB: 78 miles (125 kms). An early morning drive around Banff include a visit to Banff Hot Springs, a drive around the Banff golf course, and a drive up Norquay Mountain. Then the group drove the short distance to Calgary, where they reunited with Red Car, which was back on the road that evening. The next day they visited the Royal Tyrell Museum to view dinosaur fossils, and were hosted at a barbeque by the Calgary MG Club members.

At this point the Canadian Classic MG members bid their farewell returning west, while the five Aussie MGs continued on their journey east. They will be at MG2016 in Louisville, KY, from June 13th to June 17th. If you get a chance to meet them, you will hear about their incredible experiences during their trip around the world. In 2017, some of the cars will tackle the Trans Siberian Highway, while others will tour the UK.

On arrival in the UK, four of the five cars will have then driven around the world.

After the Canadians left the five Aussies their cars incurred some mechanical issues, a failed alternator, a failed coil, and starter problems. For more information visit their blog.

Postscript on Travelling: Having stayed in four different motels in four nights on this trip, we have to say that motel owners have got the "free soap and free shampoo" down to a fine art. The bars of free soap have always been small, but in one motel the soap was about one and a half inches round, with the thickness of an After Eight mint. In another, the shampoo smelled, and felt like, car wash shampoo! This came in a 2" x 3" sachet, but the sachet contained about a teaspoon amount, fortunately.

Photos by Laurel Godwin, Sue Slater, Shez Letten, Blake Cowan & Peter & Anne Tilbury.

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Reader Comments (1)

Picture of Stuart & Irene Mumby
Stuart & Irene Mumby (Yorkshire, England)
on June 11, 2016 12:40am
What a fabulous adventure. I organised the 10-day, 1,550 mile Land's End to John o'Groats tour in September 2015 and we were honoured to have 18 Aussie cars do the trip with us, including Dave & Laurel.

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Last updated on June 7, 2016.