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Melbourne and Return Please, by Cooper S M.I.N.I.

I recently had a need to travel to Melbourne urgently to attend a funeral and visit a hospitalised 90 year old father-in-law. The question was how to get two people there and back again from Canberra in the quickest and most economical fashion. Having successfully participated in the Club organised trips to Nowra and the Hunter Valley in my Cooper S, the answer was obvious.

My wife Anne and I left Canberra midweek at 7.20 am, made a 10 minute pit stop at Yass.30minutes for morning tea at Holbrook and had a one hour lunch at Euroa. Arrival time in Melbourne 4.30pm. Car travel time 7hours 30 minutes. Cost of petrol approximately $30. The return journey was accomplished in the same time and at the same approximate cost. The car travelled 1800kms in 4 days. Security for the trip took the form of a CB radio, mobile phone and a hastily rearranged NRMA service membership.

The biggest problem I faced was icing-up of the carbies out of Canberra which was solved at Yass with the use of a piece of plastic attached to the radiator grill. This was removed at Holbrook. I learned this little trick on the trip to the Hunter. The same problem reocurred on the return journey. I started to wish I had left the standard air cleaners on the car instead of fitting sports air cleaners.

The only other incident which initially worried the hell out of me was hitting a speed hump in Melbourne at 40mph. The speed hump had been built near my sister's place since my last visit to Melbourne, so I was not expecting it. It was poorly sign posted. It shook the living day lights out of the car. When we arrived at my sister's place, Anne quickly alighted and made a rapid surveillance of the car for damage. She discovered a large patch of oil and extensive spill marks on the road in the direction of my U-turn. I was promptly informed that I had stuffed the car. However closer inspection revealed that the oil on the road had been there some time. Relax. The only damage to come out of all this was a slightly dislodged radiator cowl which trimmed the size of the plastic fan blades. Northern Mini Parts in Heidelberg checked the car for any other damage and repaired the radiator cowl.

The car drew quite a bit of attention in Melbourne wherever we went. Naturally, I had to wash the car each day (not quite - I didn't have the time) to keep up appearances. Anne said that she was quite comfortable on the trip and did not arrive at either destination with her usual headache a la Ford Falcon. Cruising speed was 65-70 mph (3800-4000rpm). Top speed for the trip was 90mph (5000rpm) losing a modern 4 wheel drive which was tailgating.

Who said Minis were only good for around town.

Colin Hirst

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