HOW THE CLUB CAME TO BE
By Werner Brocks
article from the Club’s 30th Birthday Newsletter (May 2003)
In late 1971 I was living in Gladstone Old where I was a founding member of the Gladstone 4WD Club and enjoyed many trips out and the companionship of other families who shared the same interests (camping, 4 wheeling and great outdoors) My employer, an American construction firm, asked me to relocate to work on a new job site in Geelong. In late 1972 we arrived in Geelong and our children, Darren and Trevor, were of school age so we decided to sell the caravan we had been touring the East Coast in and buy a house to make Geelong our home which is where we are today.
After living in Geelong for 6-9 months, we looked around and found no local 4WD clubs in the area so decided to place an advertisement in the paper to find other people interested in starting up a Geelong 4WD club. Much to our surprise, Les Crowe showed up on our doorstep and said he had several other fellas who were also interested and they had been talking about a club but never got around to it.
In the first five years … On the 6th May 1973, we all got together at 5 Karner Street, Grovedale and started the club (I was voted in as the first President). For the first few years we held our meeting in Les Crowe’s garage (5 Karner Street) and we were always reminded to bring our oWn chairs. In our first year we had 12 to 14 members. The main vehicles at the time were Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser and Nissan Patrol and one lone 1942 ex-army Jeep. The first trip was to the Brisbane Ranges.
Shortly after forming our club, other clubs approached us to create the now known Association. We were one of four clubs in Victoria to be involved in forming the Victorian Association of Four Wheel Drive Clubs, which has grown to date to include over 70 four wheel drive clubs.
Later on … After a while we found a club room at DW Hope Centre which was a former Migrant Hut. We were there for several years until the Centre was demolished. We then drifted from school to school to hold meetings (over a period of about 8 years) and then we found the Wood Street Reserve where we now reside today (approximately 6 years).
Over the years we have worked in liaison with several councils to remove car bodies from the bush and other scrapped metals. We’ve also worked in conjunction with the Clean Up Australia Day effort. The Geelong City SES was created through volunteers from the Geelong Four Wheel Drive Club and some of our members today are still highly recognised in the State Emergency Services. Both David Dixon and myself were awarded the National Medal through the SES for service over 15 years.
Our first interclub activities were held at Forrest at a quarry and we camped at the football oval which went approx 8-10 years in a row. Then came Quarry Capers at Maud, then back to the Forrest area, Gellibrand and Dando’s, then it became Forrest Frolics and now Otway Antics. Of recent years we’ve developed a good relationship with the Bendigo Club who we meet at least 3 times a year (Forrest, Avoca and Hopetoun). Our club activities on regular basis include:- January at Beachport for a week (we used to stay at Robe); Easter is usually the Dargo/High Country area; and, in the winter time we often book out the Woods Point Hotel for all our members and have a great weekend there driving in the snow. John Foot, now deceased, was one of the first members to initiate Snow trips to the Woods Point area.
We have had many of our members leading long trips into the outback such as Alice Springs. the Kimberleys, Birdsville and also to the Curdimurkah Ball. Not only have we got together in the bush, but often enjoyed social evenings in the club rooms:- Be it a few drinks after a meeting; the large Christmas Parties; Presentation Night held mid year (and even the fancy dress ones); hot dog nights at the club rooms and fundraisers -they have all been great.
Over the last 30 years since the club was formed, I have met some wonderful people and enjoyed many a good time with them. Their children are now members themselves bringing their families along on trips.
After the 25th Anniversary and now the 30th Anniversary, it has been great to catch up with past and present members. I am now looking forward to possibly a 40th Anniversary.
A club is only ever as good as its members and in my opinion, our club is, and always has been, a fantastic club. Well done to everyone, past and present.
Catch you all on the tracks,