Down dirt bike memory lane

This picture was taken in 1979 in the Woods Point area. Pictured were club members Mark O'Hehir, Steven Webster, Chris Fisher, Lindsay Hansen, John Spencer, Murray Webster, Peter Scott, Jack Koopman, Cally King, Bob Clark and Frank Camp. 102376_01


REMINISCING about the “good old days” of dirt bike riding in the 1970s will certainly rev up some memories for local motorcycling enthusiasts.
Later this year, the Kooweerup and District Motorcycle Club will celebrate its 40th anniversary by hosting a reunion at the Nar Nar Goon Hall.
John ‘Spanner’ Spencer from the club attended the first meeting back in ’73 and recounts the changes the club has seen as well as the sport itself.
“The club was first established in 1928 as a result of keen local motorcycle enthusiasts,” he said.
“The first Kooweerup Motorcycle Club event was held at a “diggers” carnival on Australia Day 1928.
“The RSL offered £10 prize money for two handicap races in which nine riders competed around a pony racecourse at the recreation reserve.”
By the time the ’40s rolled around, the club was disrupted by World War II and it took 30 years for it to start up again.
John said that when the club started up again in 1973, members hadn’t known about its roots in the late ’20s.
“One of the original 1928 club badges is in existence today with a current life member,” he said.
“The first meeting was held in the Kooweerup RSL Hall on a cold winter’s night in 1973 to establish the KWRMCC.
“This was around the time of the Japanese trail bike boom, and the local lads weren’t immune from it and purchased trail bikes from local motorcycle dealerships including the Hansen brothers’ Kooweerup Motors, Don Ellis’s Kawasaki and Wally Webster’s Nar Nar Goon Honda.”
The initial plan was to set up grass track racing on a farm owned by the Clarks on the south side of Monomeith Road, bordering the Bass Highway.
A couple of club events were held but without council approval it soon came to a grinding halt.
“Meetings where held on a fortnightly basis and after a short period at the RSL Hall, meetings relocated to a better equipped Memorial Hall in Kooweerup,” John said.
“As the age of members increased, the meetings moved to an even better equipped Royal Hotel Kooweerup and remained unchanged for many years.
“It was around this time, in the warmer months, rides would take place after meetings along the drain banks well into darkness of night.
“On a busy night, there might have been 20-plus headlights riding in line along the drain banks towards Kooweerup North or south towards the Bass Highway.”
In the ’80s, the name of the club changed to incorporate the rest of the district and the club continued to grow.
Most of the current members reside outside of Kooweerup.
At the time, a motion was moved to rotate meetings between the swamp, Nar Nar Goon and Pakenham.
John said it was a great idea in theory, but poor in practice as members became confused on meeting locations and meeting attendances dropped as confusion set in.
After an arm wrestle and a flip of a coin, it was decided that Pakenham would be the appropriate location for all future meetings.
The Pakenham meetings were originally held in social club rooms at the old Pakenham Football Ground on Henry Street and remained there for several years before moving to Purvies Pakenham Hotel.
Meetings remained there until the hotel couldn’t accommodate club meetings any longer when major renovations took place a number of years ago.
John said the Pakenham Bowls Club became the new home for the club and has remained so to this day.
“This has developed into a wonderful relationship if not an unusual one – with the bowls club, allowing the club’s history and honours to be displayed in amongst the bowling club’s own history,” he said.
“Maybe a sneaky ploy by the bowls club to capture and entice future members.”
A large part of the club’s history has been its relationship with the old gold mining town of Woods Point between Warburton and Jamison. Leaders of the club booked the Woods Point pub for the Queen’s Birthday weekend trail ride back in 1974 and a $10 deposit was handed over to book the pub for the following year.
To this day, that $10 deposit remains, in what is a source of amusement and pride among the current members.
“A great tradition has developed with 39 continuous years on that weekend,” John said.
“Many past members would remember the many good times spent at Woods Point.”
Club members have been active over the 40 years including scrambles, now called Motocross, enduro and desert racing with more than a fair share of success at state, national and international levels.
There is also growing popularity of vintage motocross racing with a number of vintage members and bikes participating.
Back in the day, there were more members of the motorbike club than there were in the local footy club and it was typically the domain of young men.
This was reflected in the boom years of trailbike riding popularity in the ’70s.
“In the early years, it was primarily a group of people who enjoyed dirt bike riding both socially and competitively but as time moved on the club has grown into a family oriented club with many full family memberships with both genders, old and young, getting involved in the joy of motorcycle riding,” John said.
“The club has awarded many life memberships over the years to help celebrate both the contribution and longevity of its members.
“There’s still some, though not many, foundation members capable of throwing a leg over a dirt bike saddle which gives our younger members something to aim at in their old age.
“The club also has a small amount of road bike activities throughout the year with the more popular rides heading to Dargo and Snowy Mountains.”
John said today’s club is very active within Motorcycling Victoria’s Gippsland Centre Region and respected for organising, running and assisting in high quality motorcycling events.
“The club’s Motocross track, located off McGregor Road, has been developed after many years of work to enable year round usage by members and visitors,” he said.
“The track is operated by qualified club officials and first aiders, keep an eye on the club website for upcoming track days.
“If reading this has brought back any memories please get in touch and join us in what will be an entertaining but above all, a fun reunion.”

THE Kooweerup and District Motorcycle Club will hold a reunion on 9 November at the Nar Nar Goon Hall.
John Spencer from the club encouraged past and present members to come along.
“It will be a great chance to meet and catch up with past members and talk about the good old days of dirt bike riding.
“Walking frames will be available free of charge on the night,” he joked.
“We look forward to celebrating this milestone with current and past members.”
Invitations with further details will be supplied closer to the event.
It is planned as a non-profit low cost get together for all past and current members to catch up and enjoy including a collection of old bikes.
Back then, John remembers the uniform was jeans and boots, very casual compared to today.
Club members always look forward to the annual trip to Woods Point, where they are served by Barb at the local pub.