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Me on the phone to the new director of Wakefield Park Raceway six months ago: Have you ever seen a 1967 BT23A-1 Brabham go around a track?

Him: No.

Me: Would you like to?

Him: Absolutely! That sounds fantastic!

Me: How about if it brings some friends ...

Him: Who is this?

Sometimes the best adventures start this way.

The National Museum driving team at Wakefield Park

Songs have been written about cars, plays and movies feature them as characters and everyone has a memory or a story that involves a vehicle of some description. Everything from family holidays squabbling and sticking to your car's hot vinyl to your first car, first kiss and first road trip with friends.

Happy, and sometimes sad, memories of cars are inextricably tied to our social history and are woven into the fabric of Australian life. In a landscape as vast as Australia, the motor car helped reduce the tyranny of distance.

The Museum’s vehicles tell the stories of industry, adventure, multiculturalism, Indigenous land rights and so much more. The Crossley Landaulette was at the opening of Parliament House in 1927. The ‘Type C’ torpedo Citroen was the first to circumnavigate Australia. The Sundowner was driven by adventurer Francis Birtles and held the speed record from London to Melbourne in 1927–28. The Bedford truck carried supplies to the Wave Hill protesters and the Daimler and the Royal Rover were fit for a Queen.

So many fabulous stories are woven into the very fabric of these vehicles. They were there as history was made, and they help us tell the story of Australia.


Brabham Repco BT23A-1 racing car, 1966

Brabham Repco BT23A-1 racing car, 1966

Model-TT Ford Truck, 1924–26

The Sundowner Bean 14hp car, 1925

5CV ‘Type C’ torpedo’ Citroen, 1923

Australian Six, 1918

Model 48/215 Holden FX sedan, 1949

Bentley ‘S’ Series 3, 1964

Wolseley 1500 saloon, 1959

The ‘Canberra’ car, Crossley Landaulette, 1926

On Saturday 17 August we will be privileged to take a selection of the cars from our collection out to Wakefield Park Raceway to let them run. We are inviting everyone to join us in a family friendly celebration of Australia’s motoring history.

As the majority of our large objects collection is a working collection, it is essential to run these beautiful pieces of machinery to keep them in peak working condition. However, we will not be racing them. As the custodians of these objects, it is our responsibility to care for them for future generations.

Twelve of our vehicle collection will be participating in this rare activity, motoring sedately around the track driven by a select few Museum staff.

The planning has been intense. Every car has been removed from its protective carcoon, checked for condition, started and run. They are ready to go!

The drivers have been to Wakefield Park for training — you'd be surprised how often Museum staff do not drive on a racetrack as part of their daily work. They are excited, terrified and as ready as they will ever be to pilot these priceless objects.

There will be food trucks, the Taste of Goulburn market, and entertainer Frankie J Holden will be our celebrity MC. Car clubs from all over the country will be attending to show off their much loved treasures in the Show ’n Shine event.

Wakefield Park Raceway is thrilled to be partnering with us in this project, providing invaluable advice and throwing their gates open in welcome. Shannons Insurance have come onboard as program partners, understanding how much we love our old cars, just as they do.

We’re now polishing these beauties and waiting for 17 August 2019 to roll around. We’d love to see you there.

Postscript: watch footage of the vehicles at Wakefield Park in the caring for our collection video on YouTube.

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