What’s left to­day

Australian Muscle Car - - Sacred Sites -

When AMC walked the track in early 2014, we found it re­mark­ably in­tact, al­beit af­fected by a land­slide and fallen trees. Who­ever laid the sur­face over half a century ago should be build­ing roads to­day, as the full 2.2km of bi­tu­men is in rel­a­tively good con­di­tion con­sid­er­ing its ne­glect.

The cir­cuit is lined by twisted, rusty Armco and di­lap­i­dated wooden fences that add to the place’s nos­tal­gic, slightly spooky at­mos­phere. As do signs (quite lit­er­ally) of its rac­ing past, as shown here on these pages.

Not that ev­ery­one cel­e­brates the time when mo­tor rac­ing came to Frank Wal­ford Park, how­ever. A sec­tion of the cir­cuit’s in­field has been beau­ti­fied by Coun­cil in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Gully Tra­di­tional Own­ers, an en­tity with the acro­nym, iron­i­cally, of GTO. The ‘in­ter­pre­tive walk’ in The Gully tells the his­tory of the site and the dis­play boards make it clear that the con­struc­tion of the cir­cuit caused much trauma for the lo­cal indige­nous com­mu­nity.

“Homes and bush­land were de­stroyed,” one dis­play board out­lines. “Bull­doz­ers gouged through the aquifer and de­stroyed the orig­i­nal spring. The loss was ex­tremely dif­fi­cult for The Gully people and their friends to com­pre­hend.”

En­quiries to Coun­cil in re­cent years by mo­tor rac­ing en­thu­si­asts keen to hold ‘Re­turn to Catalina Park’ ac­tiv­i­ties, in­volv­ing putting cars on track for the first time in two decades, have been de­clined.

On one hand that’s dis­ap­point­ing. How­ever, it’s also true that re­spect­ing the GTO’s wishes has helped pre­serve what re­mains of the venue’s rac­ing past. And is likely to do so long into the fu­ture. A walk around the track is in­creas­ingly a must-do stopover for rac­ing folk mak­ing the pil­grim­age to Bathurst from Syd­ney. It’s about half­way, so it’s a great way to break up the trip.

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