We had an idea that we were going to love the Steamfest weekend but it exceeded all expectations. Mark had us camped right in the thick of it as a living display. One of our first tasks was to write up some explanation sheets to leave on the bike and tent so we were free to check out some of the other action. We just had to decide where to go first as already our neighbours for the day were beginning to show up. There were displays of classic cars, bikes, tractors, machinery and special guests each day. On day one the Triumph TR owners club rolled in and displayed their cars next to us.
Early one morning we gravitated to the Traction engines to photo them before the public came in. I soon ‘lost’ Kev but he found me an hour later on the footboards of the Boon traction engine. I had befriended Bernard who had shown me the intricacies of his 100yr old engine and we had just built up enough steam for Bernard to steer her towards the hay threshing machine. Kev’s timing was perfect and he hopped on board for a ride on the wood basket.
Here we got a birds eye view of the old threshing machine and later got to see the bailer in action. Bernard’s traction engine can be seen in the first photo providing the power.
It was action everywhere and we needed the three days to absorb everything. We witnessed a bullock team loading logs, they are big animals up close but they were so well behaved and what surprised us was how manoeuvrable they are in a small space. The last photo is them hauling the log up on to the cart for transport.
We watched some of the tractor pulling events, they drag a tank full of water which progressively slides closer to the front of the trailer it’s mounted to, this creates more drag to slow them up. Day one was very successful but on day two with a full load something in the mechanism broke. The driver saw the red flag waved and slammed on the anchors only to have water container nearly rear end her cab as it slid free of its moorings. Fortunately no one was hurt but it damaged the trailer so badly that it was the end of play for the big tractor pull for that day. They have a mini sled for ride on mower tractors too which could still continue. Some of the tractors have big V8′s fitted and some even have two V8′s hooked together. They were impressive to watch.
It was a good job there so much else going on, we watched the traction engine powered rock crusher in action and the portable saw mill. Later we had a ride on the steam train, watched the medieval sword fighting and looked around some of the many stalls. Yes that is tons of baby tiger snakes one of the more deadly snakes out here.
Saturday night they had bands on in town, walking up the high street in the dark we heard clank, chink, clatter, clatter and laughed when we saw two traction engines looming out of the darkness on their way back from the pub. You could hear them before you could see them.
The bands were all good and a very diverse mix from Blues steel guitars to an eclectic mix of funk and pop.
There was a parade lap each day and Mark persuaded us to follow the traction engines around one day whilst he reeled off the highlights of our travels. It was hard to go that slow but the crowd seemed to appreciate it. We had to let him know that we couldn’t do the parade next day. Bernard had promised us a ride on the foot plate of the traction engine which was too good an offer to refuse, 3pm had us eagerly climbing up on board but Bernard had one more surprise up his sleeve, after a quick test lap around the field he allowed Kev to steer the first lap and me the second. Mark was surprised when he saw us steering as we went past, thank you Bernard and Dave (for giving up your steering job) for making our day we had the biggest grins ever thanks to you. What a hoot !!!
We did our bit as as a display as well and every now and then popped back to the crowd around the bike to answer questions, our neighbours on the second day were lots of classic American cars, one car still had the original tool kit. It was all too much exitement for some people.
On Sunday evening there was an organised barbeque but by the time we got there they had sold all the tickets. We had some of our own food left but we were going for the social as much as the food. The local scout group stepped in and saved the day cooking bangers and mash for everyone who missed out on the bbq. They were a really nice bunch and we spent the rest of the evening around the campfire chatting with the leaders and scouts. (All two of them currently, Tasmania only has 500,000 people in the whole state). Two nicer kids you would be hard pressed to find though !
I managed to find the juggler on Monday and was pleased to discover although I was very out of practice I still had it.
We also saw an absolutely beautiful hand built boat made out of Huon pine, even better it was a steam boat. Whom ever built this should be justly proud, what a beautiful piece of work.
Everyone was so friendly and Jim from Hog Hill Silver made me a silver ring and adjusted Kev’s necklace so his pendant could hang more freely and he wouldn’t take anything from us. It was fasinating to watch the process.Jim is self taught and very talented, he also rides a Guzzi !
We even got a little taste of home with some scottish bagpipers that we followed in the parade lap, I made Bernard laugh when I said mind you don’t run them over, imagine the noise that would make.
Traction engines are incredibly powerful but in quite a gentle way, each day they rounded up hundreds of kids for a tug of war with one. We watched from the engine end, he was just playing with them really knocking it into reverse now and again to let them think they were getting somewhere. Even the army turned up to fire some mortar rounds and demonstrate an old anti aircraft gun.
In the true sprit of the event the bands during the afternoon performed on the back of a wagon and entertained the crowds.
Mark wanted to give us a send off so at 1pm on our last day we did a lap of the grounds whilst he told everyone about our adventures and they all waved us off. We owe a huge thank you to Mark for allowing us to enjoy an absolutely fabulous weekend, if any of you where thinking of going to this event we would thoroughly recommend it.
We exited the showgrounds with big grins and good memories, waving goodbye we headed on to our next destination Hobart.