2019 Tour of the 1981 George Derrick Memorial Trial

The 2019 Tour of the 1981 George Derrick Memorial Trial  was held on 26 & 27 October 2020 in Victoria’s Wimmera – Mallee. It was organised by the HRA (with support from CCRMIT) and directed by Geoff Byron.

Boinka Section in Linga State Forest
The Boinka Section through the Linga State Forest

At midnight on Friday 8  August 1981, Ross Runnalls on behalf of the CCRMIT sent  42 crews off from Horsham to embark on the adventure through Victoria’s Wimmera and Mallee that was the 1981 George Derrick Memorial Trial.

The tone was set in the first competitive in the Wail Forest where the field was bogged and most crews scored minutes lost in numbers that most Australian batters would have been happy to achieve on Boxing Day.

Over the next 20 or so hours the crews experienced everything: desert country, forests, sand dunes, grasslands, lake beds (both dry and wet), superb landscapes and essential team work.

The event was called off at Murrayville, possibly by crew mutiny, after two divisions and 800km. It was one of those events that became even more enjoyable over the years and eventually achieved legendary status.

In 2019, the HRA with Ross’ cooperation and participation and with the agreement of the CCRMIT, took on the task of creating a tour to revisit that legend. The route for the 2019 tour followed as closely as was possible the original, as it ran.

The Rallypedia entry for the 1981 George Derrick Memorial Trial may be found here.

Davies, Williamson, Huntley 404 on Raak Plain 1981
Park, Ward, Davies Isuzu on Raak Plain 2019
At far left the Peugeot 404 of Richard Davies, Richard Williamson and Mark Huntley on Raak Plain in 1981.
At near left the Isuzu of Richard Davies, Greg Park and Brian Ward at the same location in 2019.
Rod Martin XU-1 bogged in sand during survey.

Rod Martin’s XU-1 surveying the limits of 2WDs in the infamous Wail State Forest July 2019.

1981 Derrick bridge, now derelict.

When the George Derrick Memorial Trial ran in 1981, this bridge was adjacent to the start of the second competitive and actually in service. The “new” bridge was commissioned in 1982.

Tourists relaxing on balcony of Victoria Hotel Ouyen. Tourists relaxing on the balcony of the Victoria Hotel in Ouyen after Division1 of the Tour. As distinct from the exhausted, cold, wet, muddy people and vehicles who got as far as Ouyen in 1981.
Nowingi Line from Watson/Watson Adventra. The Nowingi Line – a 1920 election promise to open up Sunset Country. Photo: Jenny Watson, from the cockpit of Bob & Jenny Watson’s Adventra.
Pop up Tea and Coffee Rocket Lake Craig Rooke’s Pop Up Tea/Coffee/Biscuit Service at Rocket Lake was very popular with our tourists.
Boinka Section, inside the Linga State Forest Again in the Boinka Section, inside the Linga State Forest. This photo was taken during a 2018 survey for the Tour. Note the evidence of approaching rain in the left hand sky.
Mallee Fowl Hotel at end of Division 2

Socialising again, this time at the end of Division 2 in the Mallee Fowl Hotel, Murrayville.

Lister's Star Picket

As part of his report on the 1981 George Derrick Memorial Trial (see entry for the 1981 event), Stuart Lister spoke with fondness of the star picket he and Bill Bennett carried to use as an anchor for winching out of sand. The star picket saw action in the Dattuck dunes where Bennett/Lister were bogged more than once. Our 2019 Tour pop-up cafe man Craig Rooke set up camp under a tree and what should he discover: The Star Picket. Mr Lister later denied that this was the 1981 star picket.

The Entry List:

1Rick HartmannPauline DukeMitsubishiPajero
2Bob WatsonJenny WatsonHoldenAdventra
3Tom KaitlerFran KaitlerGreat WallX240
4Doug NormanTim ShepherdMitsubishiPajero
5Kate OfficerRo NixonMitsubishiPajero
6Tony AhearneLaurie GarthPeugeot505 Gti
7Brian CannyMatt HoskingLand RoverDisco 4
8Dave SmithSteve FarrarSubaruOutback
9Bruce WilsonPeter FraserMitsubishiTriton
10Paul EcclesRobin SmalleyFordEverest
11David McKenzieJohn BirrellDavid GibbsPorscheMacan
12Alan HallLaurie PelechRoss KellyToyotaLandcruiser
13Ross RunnallsChris RunnallsSubaruForester
14Kim HarperSteuart SnooksIsuzuUte
15Barry FarrnellPhill GallagherJeepCherokee
16Greg ParkBrian WardRichard DaviesIsuzuD-Max
17Angelo CuricGerry BashfordToyotaPrado
18Alan UptonMark LaidlayMitsubishiPajero
SweepGeoff PortmanLisa Portman
Pop-up CafeCraig Rooke
DirectorGeoff Byron